Technology marketers need to align ABM strategies to support the customer buying journey.
Technology marketers need to take a close look at engagement and orchestration tactics in their account-based marketing (ABM) programs if they want ABM to deliver against goals such as prospecting, customer acquisition and retention, and business growth.
“ABM go-to-market strategy is fundamentally different from traditional demand generation. It requires technology marketers to orchestrate coordinated touchpoints together with sales throughout the buying journey,” says Gartner Senior Director Analyst Jenifer Silverstein.
Gartner identified three elements that must be defined and agreed upon across stakeholders since they each influence the combination of channels and calls to action (CTAs) chosen to drive engagement:
No. 1: The program’s objective
Is the goal of the program new account customer acquisition, customer retention or customer expansion?
What this means for ABM: For new account acquisition, marketing-led channels may precede sales-led channels to build awareness. For customer retention or expansion, sales-led (or customer success-led) channels may be applied sooner given existing relationships, while marketing-led channels are used to sustain awareness.
No. 2: The chosen approach to ABM
Is the program taking a one-to-one approach (up to about 50 target accounts with customized content), a one-to-few approach (between 50 and hundreds of target accounts with segment level personalization), or a one-to-many approach (hundreds or thousands of target accounts with light personalization)?
What this means for ABM: CTAs should be personalized according to the chosen approach. For example, a one-to-one approach may include personalized landing pages offering customized thought leadership articles and personalized web chat. A one-to-few approach may include landing pages that are personalized only via the web chat and offer relevant, but uncustomized, thought leadership articles. A one-to-many approach may include the same landing pages and articles as the one-to-few example, but with web chat optimized for a specific business problem or topic.
What common traits do your target accounts have? What sources of information do the personas trust? What other information consumption preferences do they have?
What this means for ABM: These preferences will directly shape the channels and CTAs you choose. For example, is your audience on social media? Does your audience prefer visual or text-based content? Does your audience seek advice from peer groups?
Additionally, where target accounts currently are in their buying journey should be understood and reflected in ABM engagement plans. Are accounts:
Exploring why they should change, and why now?
Evaluating which options exist and the differences between them?
Engaging with potential providers to understand what it will be like to work with them?
What this means for ABM: CTAs should seek to answer the questions asked by target accounts at each of these points in the buying journey. For example, it’s common for programs reaching an audience exploring a business problem to offer thought leadership content that builds trust with readers through paid social media. Yet, a program targeting accounts evaluating solutions might offer product review materials from sales-led calls or emails. Finally, a program reaching those engaging with providers might include implementation guides or an invitation to visit and experience an online customer community.
Jenifer Silverstein is a Senior Director Analyst on the Gartner technology marketing team. She provides research and advisory services to help clients establish and optimize their demand generation, ABM and digital marketing strategies.
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