Data, Alignment, and Automation: How to Scale Your ABM Strategy

Businesses in virtually every industry are being pushed to modernize their go-to-market strategy, with a premium on the data-driven, automation-enabled convergence of sales, marketing, and operations. 

As part of this evolution, the most advanced marketing teams are taking a page from their sales counterparts and using scalable plays to take their account-based marketing (ABM) strategy to the next level.

Whether your team is just getting started with automation or looking to build on its hard-earned success, investing in quality data, cross-functional alignment, and automation will propel your ABM engine forward. 

Here are the key strategic goals to focus on at every step of the process.

The Crawl Phase: Prioritize Cross-Functional Alignment and Data

Cross-functional alignment with sales and marketing teams will set the foundation for your ABM strategy. Sales and marketing leadership need to align on:

  • The business outcomes that your ABM strategy will achieve.
  • The best metrics to track the progress and success of your ABM strategy.

Creating specific and measurable goals for both sales and marketing teams can greatly improve reporting and the overall efficiency of your strategy. If sales and marketing haven’t worked closely together in the past, then the crawl phase is a great opportunity to build more structural alignment.

You’ll also want to invest in a platform to centralize and cleanse all the contact and company data your teams will use to track progress. Accurate data is essential for B2B personalization since customers aren’t explicitly telling you about themselves or their key challenges ahead of time.

Data supports the initial list building for the accounts you want to include in your ABM campaigns. You can also receive real-time alerts to know which companies in your total addressable market are ready to buy and what messaging will be most relevant to them now. 

You might start creating ABM campaigns with simple personalization, such as using the contact’s first name across channels or sending new content that specifically speaks to a challenge they’re facing.   

Investing in a strong data foundation will set your team up for long-term success, and your team can be confident in targeting the right people. As company org charts change or you decide to test out new avenues of personalization, data will be relevant every step of the way.

The Walk Phase: Lean Into Automation

The walk phase of your ABM strategy is all about process and automation. Take this opportunity to test consistent messaging and branding across channels, such as email campaigns, sales talk tracks, search ads, and social media content.

Expand on the sales and marketing alignment that you created in phase one to create a coordinated outreach process. Decide which channels to prioritize and how you will track the effectiveness of those campaigns. 

A crucial step in any ABM strategy is establishing a clear feedback loop. Occasionally, the content that marketing creates may not connect with potential customers. Sales representatives need to provide this feedback to marketing so the content can be tweaked accordingly.

Automation will simplify your internal processes and equip your sales and marketing teams with the tools they need to get their jobs done more efficiently and effectively. As you begin outreach across channels, determine which components of your strategy can be automated.

Let’s say you’re targeting director-level and above marketers in the software industry. Since the average opportunity has multiple stakeholders, you’ll want to create a multi-threading campaign to target the key decision-makers at each top account. 

Rather than manually researching and adding every stakeholder to a campaign, you can use data to surface those additional contacts. If you have a workflows tool, then you can automatically enroll those contacts in upcoming campaigns.

Automation saves your team time and money. Plus, it ensures that every key decision-maker is included in your ABM campaigns. This widens the impact of your campaigns and increases the likelihood of a successful sale.

The Run Phase: Invest in Technology to Optimize Your Strategy

You’ve already determined which accounts to target for the year, which channels you will prioritize, and how you can start to automate certain elements of your strategy. Now, it’s time to invest in the proper technology to take your strategy into the run phase. This is where hyper-personalization across companies, people, and channels really comes into play.

ZoomInfo makes it easier for your business to launch ABM campaigns and automate key components of your strategy:

  • Buyer Intent: WebSights, Intent, and Scoops are all intent-based features in our platform. Each feature surfaces relevant information and signals from key accounts showing interest in your platform or service. This makes it easier to build a list of specific prospects and companies to target. 
  • Workflows: Workflows enable your team to capture and incorporate relevant buying behavior and insights across your go-to-market strategy. Sales and marketing teams can build specific workflows for different buyer personas in order to promote the right content at the right time.
  • GTM Plays: Sales and marketing teams can use GTM Plays to target specific audiences with customized, automated motions. Plays are a game-changer for ABM because they can automate common redundancies within targeted campaigns. 

As your ABM strategy advances, your team will gradually test out more sophisticated plays in order to drive more relevant experiences across channels. To help gauge the effectiveness of the plays you’re using, we’ve developed the Modern GTM Index

The Modern GTM index is a benchmarking tool that helps identify where companies are in their GTM efforts. It offers a scoring system to evaluate a company’s GTM strategy, making it easier to identify weaknesses and take informed steps to improve their processes with actionable plays.

“There’s nothing in the world stopping people from getting super granular with their targeting and personalization,” says Millie Beetham, director of ZI Labs and GTM innovation at ZoomInfo. “Investing in both data and technology over time gives you an ‘easy button’ to get to true relevancy at scale.”

An ABM strategy built on accurate data, real-time automation, and reliable technology is sure to win in the long run. By taking the crawl, walk, run approach, you will not only notice improvements to your ABM efforts but also your entire GTM approach.