In traditional Lead Based Marketing, the objective is to generate and nurture leads. This approach usually includes a frictional user experience (gated content, emails like spam, and cold calls). Timing is everything; contacting potential clients too soon or too late won’t make it. In this approach, businesses pursue MQLs, though these offer few insights about their motivations or where they are in the buying journey.
Understanding B2B modern buyers
According to Gartner, customer experience is responsible for more than ⅔ of customer loyalty, surpassing brand and price combined. In 2010, we entered what is known as the Age of the Customer. This era is about how well you empower your customers and the value you create for them. Users are more digitally savvy and expect the same ease of use in their apps and business solutions. They require a higher level of personalization. The pandemic accelerated digital change. In fact, 2020 was the first year smartphones moved to the top of the table for workplace devices.
According to the B2B Institute, 4 out of 10 decision-makers cite improving efficiency as an important initiative for their company, 1/3 name ROI, while 1/4 say finding the best supplier. B2B buyers get through 70% of their buying journey without speaking to a sales representative, and these hidden touchpoints provide no valuable insights for sales and marketing. Users are resistant to engage and fill out forms until they have completed their own research and product comparison. The average form-fill rate in the Information Technology industry is 3% making it increasingly necessary to de-anonymize web traffic.
Another interesting fact is that only 17% of B2B buyer research occurs on vendor sites, making it necessary to acquire signals from 3rd parties to have a holistic look at buyer behavior. In other words, users became anonymous, fragmented, and resistant to giving away their data. Understanding how modern buyers buy, the stages of engagement, and when to act in order to improve customer experience and scale revenue growth is essential for any B2B marketing strategy framework.
B2B “buyer” became decentralized and is no longer an individual, but a group, a B2B buying committee integrated by approximately ten decision makers of an organization (the size of the buying committee varies according to the deal size). For instance, the first contact may come from a manager. Along the process, more individuals become involved. After a considerable timeframe, which varies by industry, which is the lifecycle of an opportunity, the deal reaches the final stage (the opportunity is won or lost). The ultimate decision maker may be the manager who made the initial contact, a director, CTO, or even a CEO.
Continuous disruption will mark our future. Therefore, business planning must become dynamic. Prospecting needs to change. This implies a mind shift from Lead-Based Marketing to Account Based Marketing (ABM), a strategic approach to B2B marketing based on account insights, where sales and marketing target a list of accounts (companies) and execute personalized campaigns to proactively generate leads. It’s not about quantity but about the quality of the prospects and the conversations you have with them.
Sales, marketing, and customer success teams are all part of a larger team accountable for generating and protecting revenue. This team must be aligned in order to achieve success and contemplate the lifecycle of the potential client (including retention and advocacy).
ABM at scale is impossible without the right technology. By using account engagement platforms, businesses can leverage big data, artificial intelligence, and machine learning to target accounts that are in-market- not inbound; in other words, accounts actively searching for services, products, or solutions. These tools offer insights about who is on the buying committee, intent data (1st and 3rd party data), and data regarding where they are in the buying journey.
Based on the engagement of known and anonymous visitors, this prediction allows sales and marketing teams to know when it’s time to engage. It translates into journey-based campaigns, which then result in dynamic segmentation. Accounts can progress in the buying journey or rewind a stage, so this smart play adjusts the audience based on real-time behavior. This means targeting potential clients with the right content, on the right channel, at the right time, removing friction from their journey, and improving overall customer experience. In other words, offering consistent, engaging experiences across the board and providing value in each stage of the buying journey. The number of accounts reached, increased engagement, and intent signals are KPIs crucial to measure success and tell us much more about real intent compared to legacy metrics such as impressions and CTR.
These account engagement platforms have an embedded customer data platform (CDP) and integrate with CRM, MAP, Sales Engagement platforms, and advertising platforms. Considering accounts that previously opened up opportunities and firmographic data – such as revenue range, employee range, industries, country, and region – they evaluate what accounts and contacts fit your business. This data-driven approach allows teams to take more precise and targeted actions to uncover demand, prioritize efforts, and work with accounts more likely to open an opportunity. It’s not about generating leads but about capturing demand.
These tools empower teams to significantly improve pipeline quality, accelerate sales velocity, increase conversion rates, and increase predictable revenue.
Fundamentals steps of an ABM Strategy
- Select the best accounts
- Know about them
- Engage the right way
- Collaborate with sales
- Track real stuff
This digital transformation also implies changing the lead scoring process -from manual to AI-based scoring- and acquiring other capabilities for your tech stack. It becomes imperative to adopt custom orchestrations. These software-driven features can trigger automated actions based on logic built around states, buyer behavior, and accounts, contacts, and opportunities data. Operations, marketing, and sales can benefit from automated actions that are personalized in response to data and deliver value. For instance, organizations can avoid manual enrichment and dynamically update contacts, leads, and accounts in CRM and MAP or fire alerts to take action on accounts showing increased engagement, among other workflows. Working with dynamic data accelerates this transformation and is crucial to scale business growth.
7 steps to scale ABM
- Define the business vision, objectives, and martech stack
- Define KPIs (main and secondary) and budget
- Identify & prioritize opportunities to grow
- Design your go-to-market plan
- Execute, learn, and iterate the 5-step ABM-based formula (mentioned above)
- Measure success
- Communicate + iterate + scale
To scale this ABM plan, the first step is to set the vision. Think of a sense of purpose and long-term goals, and establish the next steps. Select the martech stack required to accomplish your goals.
Secondly, build the plan. Establish, connect, and assess your business. Evaluate opportunities for growth and challenges to overcome. Map the journey. Think of the entire journey from the hidden touchpoints to lifetime value. It’s time to look at the entire revenue process.
Defining the go-to-market plan requires an extensive understanding of your business capacity. This is what we like to call the capacity plan, which considers the coverage you need to reach your goals, including the team size, skills, resources, and deal cycle time.
Measuring success involves focusing on account-based metrics and in-market accounts and tracking budget and ROI in real time.
Strong customer experience programs will center on brand, company values, and talent. To be successful, ABM strategies must be embraced by the entire organization since fully connected organizations translate into fully connected customer experiences.
A 360-degree view of the entire journey is a game changer in long-term transformations and plays a massive role in achieving customer advocacy. This allows the revenue team to connect more with customers and potential clients. It comes down to how well you know your target audience and tailor content and their journey to meet their needs.
At Globant, our Create Studio combines digital sales and marketing to build transformative experiences that connect people and brands in meaningful ways. By combining the power of technology, data, and creative minds, we offer a full-funnel comprehensive approach that addresses every aspect of digital marketing.