Account-based marketing has been around for more than two decades. Over the past few years, technology developments have made ABM easier to scale, and the method has become the hot-ticket item on many marketers’ wish lists. With big players like Marketo touting the advantages of this targeted B2B approach, many companies are seriously considering an ABM implementation.
If your company is looking at an account-based marketing approach, though, there’s one thing you should clarify with stakeholders up front: Although ABM involves a need for content, it is not a content marketing strategy.
Fortunately, you can super-charge your marketing ROI by coordinating both programs. We’ve got a few tips for you—but first let’s clarify the similarities (and differences) between ABM and content marketing.
Alike but Different: ABM Is Not the New Content Marketing
As the foundation of your inbound marketing,
a content marketing plan establishes the types of information that your ideal customers want at each level of the buying journey. From that foundation, you can identify the necessary plan assets:
- Collateral (e.g., white papers, eBooks) that contain that information
- Microsites and landing pages that showcase collateral and encourage conversions
- Blog posts, videos, and podcasts that draw in prospects and tease gated content
- Email campaigns and adverts to grab the attention of your defined personas at each stage of their journey
Inbound content marketing works because it provides relevant information that is useful to a broad range
of potential visitors. It leverages personas that define the motivation, needs, and pains of your ideal customers—those you already have and those you don’t yet know.
A key part of ABM is content personalization for highly desirable, high-value accounts or individuals
that your sales team has already identified.
Content is created specifically to appeal to those accounts and is delivered to them through sales outreach and in an automated process when they visit your site.
The idea is neither to recreate the entire inbound content stream for each target account nor to change your standard collateral to meet only those accounts’ needs. However, the content that you create for these two programs will naturally overlap.
Now for those tips we promised you. Although high-end ABM-implementation software is quite expensive, the process of creating personalized content to support your ABM campaign needn’t be. Plus, these three tips might just give your annual content marketing program a boost, too.
Tip #1: Take Advantage of ABM to Strengthen Sales and Marketing Alignment
The more closely your marketing team can align with your sales team, the more effective your content will be—and the more support you’ll get from sales and
management. But since most companies are short on time and resources, finding the bandwidth to pin down sales can be tough.
Fortunately, in-depth insight from your sales team is an absolute must for ABM. Seize this opportunity. While you’re coordinating to address the needs of your target ABM accounts, get input on whether your non-ABM content and activities are producing the results that sales wants and expects. Can sales provide access to the metrics or rubrics they use to judge the performance of marketing efforts and qualify marketing leads? Can you establish a regular feedback loop to discuss not just ABM results, but alignment in general?
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Tip #2: Know Your Audience Better: Hone Buyer Personas
Hopefully, you already have a solid set of buyer personas
that define your company’s ideal audience along with its greatest pains and needs at each stage of the buying journey. At least a few of these details should apply to your ABM target accounts.
Marketing and sales can work together to develop targeted personas and map out the content they need. Follow the steps in our guide to Building Content for the Buyer’s Journey.
Use your persona-focused content as a starting point for personalized ABM content. Do any of your personas and content pieces already encapsulate all or part of the message that your sales team thinks will resonate with your ABM target accounts? If so, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel—just tweak it a bit to focus on and personalize the pain points or benefits that are most applicable.
What if you discover that all your highest value accounts seem to have a common thread? In that case, you can definitely evaluate whether your general personas are still hitting the mark or need a refresh.
Tip #3: Write for Purposeful Repurposing
Along those same lines, as you develop ABM-specific content, make “reuse” your mantra. Wherever your ABM and content marketing messages coincide, create content components that can be used across both.
Note that many ABM programs encourage sales to specify different target tiers, with some accounts taking priority over others. For example, your sales team might have a very short list of their highest-priority Dream Accounts—select organizations, teams, or individuals. Lower-tier accounts are still high-priority but might be in groups of several companies with similar needs or that share a market segment.
Content for upper-tier accounts will likely require a significant amount of customization. But for lower-tier accounts, you might be able to create templates, focused panels, banners, and other components that are personalized toward an industry or sales funnel stage—and that can be reused across accounts.
Combine and Conquer
By looking for opportunities to bridge ABM and inbound marketing content—while recognizing both efforts as separate strategies with different end goals—you can save time and resources and improve your overall marketing ROI.
Does ABM Content Require Bandwidth You Just Don’t Have?
Even when you’ve aligned, targeted, and re-used, your team may still need help expanding their capacity to provide targeted, high-quality, relevant information for your ABM clients. The content pros at Refactored are here to work with your team—or develop full content strategies and programs.