Building a technology stack to support your account-based marketing (ABM) strategy is no easy feat. It can often take weeks or even months to gain executive buy-in with a compelling business case. Once you have buy-in, you need to secure a budget and resources to start building the desired tech stack.
Whether you’re new to ABM or want to give your existing strategy an edge, evaluating the strength of your tech stack is essential. Here are the top functions your ABM tech stack should have:
- Audience building and selection
- Engagement and orchestration
- Automation and integration
1. Audience Building and Selection
There are a few common types of ABM strategies: one-to-many, one-to-few, and one-to-one. Regardless of your approach, it’s important to invest in ABM technology solutions that support these three areas:
- Account planning
- Company and contact data
- Intent and visitor intelligence
How many accounts are enough? When it comes to ABM strategies, that’s a common question.
To get the answer, start by developing a tiering system to understand the potential value of accounts and the effort required to work with them effectively. Then, look into account activity data to understand how many touchpoints are needed and how many contacts should be engaged at each targeted account. From there, you can work backward to determine the right number of accounts for your business based on the available budget and resources.
Doing this upfront work will save you from one of the biggest mistakes marketers make when it comes to ABM: targeting broad groups of people in a large company. Inaccurate or generalized targeting means wasted time and money.
Company and contact data
As you begin audience building, align with your sales team on which companies and contacts you want to target and make sure you have accurate company and contact data to rely on.
High-quality data minimizes the risk of targeting companies that aren’t a good fit for your business or contacting people who aren’t key decision-makers. Accurate data can also ensure that you see and understand the accounts that match your ideal customer profile (ICP).
“When it comes to target account selection, the best approach marketing should take isn’t to decide on behalf of sales, but rather to guide. Encourage sales leadership to come to the table with an idea of which accounts they want to target, and help refine that list,” says Mitchell Hanson, senior director of demand generation at ZoomInfo.
Intent and visitor intelligence
One way to prioritize accounts is to leverage intent data, which signals when key contacts at your target accounts are conducting coordinated research for a product or service that you provide. An increase in searches from multiple contacts at an account often indicates that they are open to buying.
Visitor intelligence can also signal when people at key accounts visit your website. An increase in site visits from the same company often indicates a high level of interest in your products or services, which makes it a good time to engage.
2. Engagement & Orchestration
When it comes to a successful ABM tech stack, engagement is key. Remember that the campaigns you run will vary depending on each account you target. Wherever possible, take advantage of technologies that can help automate your campaigns. Here are some common ABM tactics to automate:
- Content & Campaigns
Automating programmatic and paid social advertising campaigns will enable your teams to target high-value accounts at scale. Seek an ABM solution that allows specific targeting parameters, such as management level and department. If possible, test different graphics, text, and CTAs for each campaign to determine which ones resonate the most in each channel.
Content distribution and omnichannel campaigning
Every successful ABM strategy will include a combination of content offers and events, either live or online. To maximize their impact, look for solutions that can help personalize the combination of offerings for every customer at every stage of the buying journey. For example, you might decide to invest in a webinar automation platform that hosts live webinars, as well as an on-demand library for prospects to watch at any point in time. This also enables your teams to test different webinar formats and determine which ones are the most effective.
Workflows are a great way to orchestrate ABM activities based on certain triggers. For example, marketers can set up triggers to alert sales when a marketing-qualified lead (MQL) becomes a sales-qualified lead (SQL), and direct the lead to the best-qualified sales rep for follow-up.
In this example, the workflow might look like this: When intent signals are identified for [list of target accounts], select [buying committee], add to [campaign] and assign to [sales rep].
It’s important to gauge the effectiveness of your ABM strategy by tracking certain ABM metrics across channels. But if your sales and marketing teams are using separate platforms to manage data, and have different sources of truth for reporting, there will inevitably be a drop off when audiences move between platforms or teams.
Having a platform that both sales and marketing teams can access is a game-changer for better reporting on your ABM initiatives. To get there, look for a solution that can automate both the creation of insights and the orchestration of your team’s efforts. This will simplify the process of tracking individual campaign results.
“Bringing sales and marketing teams under one data and orchestration platform will improve efficiency, optimize targeting, and drive overall alignment,” says Calen Holbrooks, vice president of marketing at ZoomInfo.
To track the success of your ABM campaigns, look for a system that can show:
- Performance metrics (ads, email, and channels, e.g., webinar or direct mail)
- Demand funnel metrics
- ABM funnel metrics
Understanding how different ABM campaigns performed across channels is critical for success. Ideally, you want a solution that can aggregate performance metrics in a single view, or integrate multiple platforms to gain a full picture of performance.
You might decide to look at conversions, the ratio between opportunities and demos, content downloads, or a combination of metrics to determine the success of your efforts.
Demand funnel metrics
Demand funnel metrics give a clear picture of how your prospects and customers are moving along the buyer’s journey and engaging with your campaigns. For example, you may notice a spike in accounts visiting a certain webpage or signing up for a webinar. These are all important metrics to gauge overall engagement with target accounts.
ABM funnel metrics
The ABM funnel is the inverse of your demand funnel: it targets specific accounts and engages the buying committees within them through highly personalized activities. A solution that can highlight when accounts move up or down through the funnel can help automate a large portion of the manual tracking that teams often face as a part of their ABM strategy.
A key factor for a successful ABM tech stack is the ability to integrate systems, transforming a disjointed group of technologies into a connected, cohesive stack.
Make sure your ABM tech stack can integrate with your:
- Customer relationship management (CRM) platform
- Marketing automation platform (MAP)
- Campaign systems
Integrating with a CRM platform is essential for facilitating a smooth handoff with your sales teams. When creating an ABM tech stack, make sure your teams have the ability to view and import contact and company information.
Similarly, make sure your MAP technologies can integrate across your ABM tech stack, so lead information and account activities are easily accessible.
If your team uses an additional platform to launch campaigns, such as ads, webinars, or direct mail, then you will need to ensure that those systems can integrate with one another. Make sure your campaign systems can speak to one another and present a holistic view of performance across channels.
A successful ABM strategy needs reliable technology to automate, integrate, and orchestrate your activities across channels and teams.
As you evaluate ABM platform vendors, here are the main things to prioritize:
- Data Quality: Fuel your campaigns with data that’s accurate and actionable
- Flexibility: Choose solutions that integrate together
- Visibility: Enable your teams to track metrics and unlock reporting capabilities.
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