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ABM Blog Series: Level 2 – How Do You Optimize Your ABM Strategy?

By Christian Montalvo

Note: This is the second article in a series of blog articles detailing different levels of ABM maturity. If you miss the first one, refer back to that article in order to put this one in context.

As mentioned in our first post, adopting ABM is not a unilateral change for organization. It is a transformation that requires commitment to the way you operate technically, tactically, and culturally.

  • On the technical side, you have to set up your company’s sales and marketing systems so marketers can target specific accounts and tailor both campaigns and assets to ensure that leads can flow through the funnel and get automatically routed to sales reps in an efficient manner.

  • Tactically, accounts must be scored against an ideal customer profile.

  • And culturally, your sales and marketing organization need to be committed to this change, which has been established by way of a pilot ABM team.

With the fundamentals of ABM in place, refining a company’s ABM strategy becomes a process involving:

  • Prioritization,

  • Automating the engagement process for your top accounts,

  • and fine tuning the account scoring model with connected data.

Prioritization means homing in on the accounts with the highest propensity to buy and investing time and money into supporting those accounts. Since account scores can be interpreted differently, defining ‘high priority’ or ‘marketing qualified’ accounts should be a standardized effort done by ABM leaders. But how? What is the cut off for qualified or unqualified account? The definition does not need to be binary. The most effective method is to break accounts down into three distinct levels.

Tier 1 accounts are those that fall within your target market. They are the accounts for whom your product or service was designed and meet all of the most heavily weighted criteria as defined by your account scoring model. Another important step in defining your upper echelon of accounts is creating a revenue distribution model to answer a vital question – what percentage of your accounts drives the majority of your revenue? The number of Tier 1’s should be proportional to this percentage of accounts.

Tier 2 accounts are those that fulfill the criteria for niche use cases or are those that do not purchase or subscribe to the products and services that are the primary drivers of your business. But Tier 2 accounts still exhibit some propensity to buy, which is different than your Tier 3 accounts. This bottom tier of accounts are those that marketers and sales should not prioritize. With a tiered model in place, companies can not only benefit from a laser focus on engagement with the most qualified accounts but can also save time and cut costs by lessening their investment in weaker accounts.

Your Tier 1s then become the accounts for which you must tailor the majority of the planning, content, and messaging. Prioritizing and thus reducing the number of these accounts makes it easier to personalize to them. Furthermore, you do not need to create campaign triggers and dynamic content rules for every type of account that may engage with their brand. Instead, focus on deploying sophisticated campaigns that adapt to the experiences that your audience expects, which takes much less time. This also frees up time for marketers to create account-specific content. This could mean greeting accounts that come to your site and sharing stories about how you’ve already partnered with their competitors. It could also mean designing omni-channel marketing programs that use triggers based on granular buying signals. For example, marketers at a company that produces IT hardware and infrastructure could use ABM to target Enterprise IT companies that are building data centers or new field offices with a campaign featuring multiple customer testimonials and a well-produced vlog series. Sellers could then be armed with value propositions tailored to the benefits to companies growing in these ways. However, creating bespoke content, messaging, and campaigns only becomes possible once marketers and sellers are free to concentrate time and money on prioritized accounts.

Yet you have to be able justify this money, time, and effort with data. Oracle has written extensively on the importance of closed loop reporting as well as revenue attribution for marketers, and ABM-style marketing is no exception. We must be able to tie a costly approach to an improvement in the bottom line. The difference with ABM is that attributing engagement is done at the account level and with a modern Marketing Automation Platform, like Oracle Eloqua, we meaningfully can roll engagement from individual contacts up to the account level. This sort of data-driven approach not only optimizes your ABM strategy to maximize profits and engagement but can also create a positive feedback loop that ties account-level engagement back into your account scoring model. This, in turn, allows marketers and sellers to retarget accounts that are responding positively to your efforts or inquire as to why a top account is not resonating with your brand message.

Finally, just as stated before in our first post in this series, you should not have to go through this process alone. Technology providers can be contacted to help optimize your approach even if you’ve already made a purchase. Customer Success organizations are especially invested in your success, as it is how they measure their own.

Learn how to adjust your ABM strategy by reading “Don’t Give in to Account-Based Confusion.”

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