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How to Generate Relevant Messages and Content for Account Based Marketing

Account Based Marketing (ABM) has the most mojo in marketing right now. It’s an evolving practice that will progress differently in different organizations, but when you look at the most successful ABM practitioners, a pattern emerges. Most ABM journeys follow a familiar, six-step process:

  1. Select accounts
  2. Discover contacts and map to your accounts
  3. Develop account insights
  4. Generate account-relevant messages and content
  5. Deliver account-specific interactions
  6. Orchestrate account-focused plays

I’ve written an entire eBook around this process: The Clear and Complete Guide to Account Based Marketing, but in this post I want to focus on generating account-relevant messages and content. We start off with how to use insight to fuel your ABM efforts, follow that up with how to nail personalization, and end with examples you can use immediately. You can find some good posts about the other steps, but I think generating account-relevant messages and content is one of the more exciting pieces of the ABM puzzle.

Before we dive into messaging and content, we first have to develop account insights. The power of ABM comes from personalization—without it, you’re contributing to the generic marketing spam that plagues everyone’s inboxes.

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The 5 Types of Account Insights for Effective ABM

In order to generate personalized messages relevant to your target, you need to know as much as you can about them, otherwise they’re going to tune out, opt out, or toss out.

Here are five types of insight to look for at each target account.

  1. The target account’s market—The market dynamics, news, trends, growth drivers and inhibitors, M&A activity, and so on.
  2. The target company—Their stated strategy, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; competitors (and which similar companies use your solution already); their organization chart and unique buying centers; which buying centers own your products, which own competitors’ and which are open (whitespace analysis); any recent sales triggers (new funding, new hires, etc.); their culture and values.
  3. The target personas—The agenda of each member of the buying team; their priorities, prejudices, preferences, styles, tactics; where they’ve worked in the past (and what systems that company used).
  4. The relationships inside the account—How each key contact relates to the other members of the team; who reports to whom; who holds budgets; who are the influencers, blockers, mobilizers, enablers etc.
  5. Your connections to the account—Your existing connections to the key contacts; previous deals; customer service experiences; your experience with their close competitors; LinkedIn connections to people you know; university or past company ties.

If you’re able to uncover insight at each level, this translates directly into relevance and personalized content, which drives engagement, and ultimately, closed deals.

Creating the Right Content From Your Insights

The insights you generate are only an asset if you use them—in every sales interaction and in all of the messages, offers, and content you send to the buying team in each account.

The idea is simple: every sales process is the sum of its engagements. Dial up the relevance and resonance of your interactions and content and you increase the quantity and quality of your engagements.

Every kind of content you’d use in a normal sales and marketing process is effective in an account based marketing program—as long as it’s targeted and relevant—including emails, eBooks, webinars, white papers, web pages, blog posts, SlideShares, videos, infographics, podcasts, social media posts, interactive content, surveys, quizzes and graders.

The key is to focus on tactics and formats your audience engages with. Some personas read eBooks widely, others don’t. Some will happily watch half-hour videos; others won’t even watch a one-minute video.

Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) research shows 75 percent of executives will read unsolicited marketing materials containing ideas that might be relevant to their business. Would you read unsolicited marketing materials containing ideas that might be relevant to your business such as success stories, research reports, or webinar invitations? Would you pay attention to these marketing materials even if they were from solution providers you had not previously done business with?

Every piece of content does not have to be specifically created for a target account—that approach doesn’t scale. Instead, think about a balanced mix of content, with each piece falling somewhere on the content personalization spectrum:

Content personalization spectrum for account based marketing

Simple Personalization Versus Super-Personalization

Simple Personalization

You can turn a relevant but broad piece of content into a super-relevant piece with some simple tweaks, including:

  • A targeted title or subtitle
  • Imagery that reflects the target industry
  • Case studies from the target market
  • Tweaking the introduction and conclusion
  • A targeted landing page and email

This allows you to scale up your content personalization efforts without breaking the bank.

“Persona plus Industry is where the magic happens. That’s powerful targeting.”

  • Johan Sundstrand, Freya News

Super-personalization

Content prepared ‘just for you’ can be the most compelling of all. Consider using your company’s unique expertise, resources, or assets to produce a special report specifically on the target account and its key challenges. Email and direct mail done right can be a great channel for highly personalized plays.

For example, OpenDNS created a custom visualization of the network for each target account and used it in their campaign. And a network security company would get meetings by scanning a client’s network, finding vulnerabilities, highlighting some of them, and asking for a meeting to go over the rest. Other vendors make highly personalized ‘Annual Reports’ for each major account (especially powerful for existing customers).

While these may be labor-intensive exercises, there are automated approaches. For years HubSpot’s ‘Website Grader’ was a top-performing content asset that auto-generated a report from the target’s website URL.

Start Using Content in Your Account Based Marketing Program Today

At TrackMaven’s Spark Roadshow stop in San Francisco, Dayna Rothman, VP of Marketing at EverString, gave some great examples of how to use content in account based marketing. Once you’ve gained insights into the account, try something like this:

  • For highly customized content, use a platform like Vidyard for delivering a video experience to target accounts. Vidyard allows you to sync with your marketing automation platform and CRM system, allowing you to keep tabs of who is watching.
  • Create a customized cover to an existing eBook or whitepaper with your account’s logo on it. You can even tweak the content, such as the introduction, to show something unique to the target account. We all get excited when we receive something personal, which makes us read it. Sometimes, we even end up keeping it.
  • For top Tier 1 accounts, you can go even further by producing a webinar for just one account. Make this unique content around a challenge specific to the target account while positioning your company as the experts.

One of the keys to creating content that drives your ABM program is the need for content for each buyer persona and at every stage of the funnel. Remember, taking an account based approach means quality over quantity. It has to deliver value for the prospect and keep them moving down the buying process.

But wait, there’s more! Not only do you have to create content for each stage of the funnel and for each buyer persona, you also have to diversify your channels. Channel diversification is a critical factor for account based marketing success. What does this mean? Don’t use just one channel—a single piece of relevant content isn’t enough. One eBook and a Vidyard video isn’t enough either.

Here are some ideas to help you diversify your channels. They don’t all have to be highly personalized and customized, but they all have to be relevant and valuable:

  • Social media: Follow your target accounts on Twitter, comment on their blog posts, sign up for their newsletter, join the LinkedIn communities their influencers are a part of, and so on.
  • Micro-ad targeting: Using a platform like AdRoll allows you to pull in segments from your CRM or marketing automation and launch campaigns against those specific segments. You can also use ad targeting on social media to accomplish the same thing.
  • Earned media: Hire a research firm or pull together a research report on an important matter to your target account. Better yet, include them in your research. These reports are a great way to get press, and now you’ve gained free press for your target accounts (as long as you show them in a positive light).
  • Owned media: If you have a podcast, webinar, or interview series, invite a key influencer to be an expert guest. This is a great tactic for initially breaking into an account and building rapport quickly. Another approach to owned media is to create specific landing pages that talk their language.

As you can see, there are countless ideas for how you can leverage content to fuel your account based marketing program. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s a lot more that goes into successfully deploying a successful ABM program. We cover that and a whole lot more in our upcoming webinar: How Content Marketing Fuels Account Based Everything.

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Jon Miller

Jon Miller is the CEO and co-founder of Engagio, an account-centric platform to orchestrate and measure Account Based Marketing and Sales Development efforts at named accounts. Previously, Jon was a co-founder at Marketo, a leader in marketing automation.

He is a recognized thought leader and evangelist, speaker at conferences including Dreamforce, MarketingProfs B2B, Marketing Operations Executive Summit, OMS, and the Marketing Nation Summit. He is a blogger and author of numerous eBooks, including the Complete and Clear Guide to Account Based Marketing, and the Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation.

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