The Importance of Content Marketing in an ABM Strategy

November 18, 2015 LeanData


The best way to get the attention of a potential customer is with a story. Tell them a tale about how you can help them make their business more successful. But then how do you get that narrative in front of prospects?

With so many marketing channels now available, it’s easy to spread yourself too thin as you try to get relevant information in front of the people who are most likely to buy your products or service. Technology tools have made it so much easier to reach out to would-be customers. But without a well-designed strategy, “more” actually can be “less.” That’s why narrowing your focus on select accounts not only is an effective way to leverage content marketing – it’s a must.

A recent study by Content Marketing Institute and Marketingprofs showed that 93 percent of marketers are using content marketing. However only 42 percent indicated that those efforts were effective. The same study found that only 14 percent of Marketers use content marketing for upsell/cross-selling and only 21 percent for customer loyalty. So while there is clearly great promise in using content, marketers still believe that it’s falling short.

Meanwhile, MarketingSherpa research has indicated that 82 percent of prospective customers value content targeted to their specific industry.

So all of this leaves an obvious question: Why do so many marketers still seem obsessed with quantity rather than quality?

A great way to get more out of your content marketing is to align it to an account strategy. In fact, tailoring your content to a smaller number of high-value targets is a core tenet to Account-Based Marketing (ABM) – the increasingly popular strategy for companies to navigate the complicated B2B landscape. The goal is to target the most suitable and likely-to-buy accounts as well as the key decision-makers within those businesses. The result is greater visibility within key accounts as well as more personalized interactions with the important players.

When thinking about your content marketing plan for target accounts, there’s a lot to consider. But here are three key elements that are particularly important: account personas, marketing channels and metrics.

Account Personas

Common trends and themes are apparent across your closed-won accounts. And that’s where you can start to focus an ABM strategy – by identifying a target list of prospective customers that match the profile of those accounts. Then you want to think about the kind of content that you’ll need to direct toward them. Here are some questions to answer:

  • Which account demographics have the most success with your solutions? The size of the company. What industry. Growth and revenue estimates.
  • For recently closed-won deals, what sort of content did they consume?
  • Which campaigns touched current and recently closed-won opportunities?
  • What other products or solutions could they be interested in purchasing?
  • How many touch points were involved in previous sales?
  • Who were the stakeholders? What were their titles? When were they involved?

Once you have a clear picture of what the ideal account looks like, you must decide how best you can support the sales team with content. That mean choosing what kind of specific pieces of content address the unique needs and concerns of those accounts as well as for each decision-maker involved.

Marketing Channels

Marketers should always be thinking about what content they can create to help sales answer their buyers’ questions. That has become more critical as research has indicated that potential customers now do the majority of their investigating long before they even show up on the radar of the sales team. CEB found that the average B2B buyer is 57 percent through the process before engaging a sales representative. This is why the holistic approach of Account-Based Marketing – where sales and marketing work closely together – is so vital. The content that marketing is pushing out to target accounts is helping those possible customers better understand your solution well before sales is involved.

One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to content. Instead, you’re customizing your content in a way that speaks specifically to the individuals within a target account. Here are a few ideas to help buyers along their journeys:

  • Direct Mail: It used to be so abundant that it became meaningless junk mail. But today, physical mail is becoming rare. Use that to your advantage. Direct mailings with a specific message and targeted call to action can be effective. People actually like getting cool things in the mail. That’s why it could be part of a larger, coordinated outreach strategy.
  • One-to-One Offers: Buyers, especially existing accounts, like to get offers that are just for them. It makes them feel special. Frankly, if they already are your customer, then you ought to be making them feel valued because they will be your best salespeople. Offers such as free assessments, diagnostics and consulting are great ways to get buyers on the phone to discuss any ongoing challenges and areas for improvement.
  • Personalized Web Pages: Tailor your website so that when someone from a target account visits, customized content specifically for that business will appear. A personalized web experience is a creative way that content marketing can be part of an integrated experience for high-value prospects.
  • Content Library: Make sure you have a method for categorizing your content. Create a central “library” of all your different pieces of content – white papers, blog posts, videos, webinars and so on. This will help you assess whether or not you have enough material for each of your buying audiences, and what additional types of content you need to create.

Metrics and Analysis

An ABM strategy should increase the velocity of deals through the pipeline and refine your strategy to increase your revenue potential. The only way to get better at something is to capture objective data. This way, you can identify what you are doing well and what needs improvement.

You need to determine if you are creating the right kind of content that not only is helping deals close, but also close faster. Here are two suggested Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) you should focus on:

  • Time to Close: How fast you can help sales wrap up a deal is an important variable to track. This will help you identify bottlenecks where improvements can be made in the sales process.
  • Average Selling Price: Increasing the amount of revenue from target accounts is one of the benefits of ABM.

Content marketing is a crucial component of an Account-Based Marketing plan. Target-specific content can make all the difference when you’re trying to cut through the noise and create real relationships. Tell a story where the ending results in greater success for the prospect, and you’ll improve your chances of having a new customer.

To learn more about ABM, check out our Account-Based Marketing content.

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