B2B businesses worldwide are increasingly adopting Account Based Marketing (ABM) tactics. Studies from as early as 2015 from SiriusDecisions found that over 90% of B2B marketers worldwide found ABM ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ important.
A look at Google Trends for Account Based Marketing validates the spike in interest among searchers.
The problem – while many are aware of account-based marketing, the implementation tends to fall short of expectations.
Our new clients have shared several reasons and explanations for why their past ABM experiences failed to provide results, some include:
- Sales & marketing aren’t aligned
- Buyers didn’t engage; tactic failed execution
- Too much overhead to manage the strategy
- Unable to plan a cogent & scalable strategy
- Marketing isn’t supporting the ABM strategy (typically from the sales team)
- Sales aren’t effectively delivering the ABM strategy (typically from the marketing team)
- Meetings & ideas don’t get off the drawing board
Issues abound, but what we’ve seen is that there’s a lot of napkin ideation and guessing without a clear understanding of account-based marketing best practices.
To help you with your account based marketing plan, I’ve detailed a full list of over 50 B2B account-based marketing campaign tactics. Each tactic has a detailed description, success criteria, and some recommendations.
Before you start planning your next ABM campaign, I suggest pulling this list up on your screen and picking from the best account-based marketing tactics and strategies that fit your resources. Spend less time thinking of novel ideas, and more time discussing which tactics to implement and how.
If you already have an ABM campaign in place, review this list to see where you might have gaps.
How to Implement Account Based Marketing Tactics
Like with any specialized account based marketing tactic, if you lack the tools to do the job, it won’t be done right – and the issues will be noticeable. So, before I get into the complete list, let’s check off some foundational items.
As a prerequisite, ABM requires a strong base of content aligned with a fully mapped buyer persona across a specific target niche. Don’t go into ABM unless you have a strong base of content across all core buying audiences, and down all core areas of their buyer journey.
You’ll need a set of tools across the martech and sales stack. Specifically, this includes tools that enable behavior tracking & reporting, multi-channel communications, and process automation.
If I’ve Lost You, Consider Reading These Posts,
- How to build a buyer persona, with examples from several top agencies
- How to plan & create content around clusters of topics
If you’re reading past here, I’ll assume you’ve been creating content and buyer personas for some time, and with some degree of success. If so, then you’ve got enough experience and talent on hand to begin diving deep into ABM tactics.
Just to be sure, here’s a quick checklist of items to have before embarking on an ABM campaign,
- Marketing Automation Software
- Hubspot, Active Campaign, or others.
- Sales eMail Automation Software
- Hubspot Sales, PersistIQ, or others.
- Comprehensive buyer personas
- A plan with clearly outlined objectives
- (In a future blog, we’ll outline how to create an ABM strategy. Subscribe to our blog for an update on the as soon as it’s released).
- In-house experience (and success) creating engaging content on your website
- Tight (and I mean TIGHT) alignment across your sales and marketing team.
Here’s the Complete List of Account-Based Marketing Tactics
Blogs are a critical component of almost any ABM strategy. In a more traditional and sales-team heavy organization, the term blog might bear some preconceived notions. To be clear, a blog is simply written content on your website that adds value (answers questions, provides advice, etc.) to your target audience.
If a buyer isn’t quite ready to buy, share articles with them during your engagement. You’ll use your blog to make your website (and company) attractive, engage buyers, earn trust, and rapidly resolve questions from the target audience.
Let’s take a look at a few types of blogging tactics within ABM.
1) Problem/Solution-Oriented Blogging
- Create blogs that tightly resolve specific and identifiable problems, or provide solutions that add value to your target persona.
- These are high-level pain point discussions that may span across industries.
- These types of blogs can be shared with almost all audiences. They are easier to create but may appear vague or disconnected to specific issues.
2) Industry Specific Blogging
- Create blogs that speak directly to the challenges, solutions, and trends within a specific industry.
- Think of it as one level deeper from high-level problem/solution blogging.
- Your audience for these blogs will be smaller, but the content is much more appealing for the receiver. They’ll think “OK, this company understands me, and my problems & needs.”
3) Target Company-Size Specific Blogging
- Create blogs that highlight very specific challenges faced by a certain size or type of company. This may also be industry specific.
- This is somewhat similar to industry-specific blogging, with much the same benefits. You’re just cutting the market in a different slice, but this approach may make more sense depending on your target persona and resources.
4) Strategic Callouts & Mentions
- Mention your target accounts in a blog post. You can bring attention to the callout on social media.
- If you’re writing about the target persona in your blog, they are far more likely to engage the content.
- A great recommendation by Bizable also suggests that many businesses use alert tracking. If they’re mentioned on social media, they may get an alert – further enhancing your visibility. [bizable]
5) Hyper-Personalized Blogging
- With hyper-personalized blogging, you’re writing specifically for one account. These blogs may or may not be searchable/indexed on your site.
- You’re creating content that talks about the challenges faced by one account, and solutions that align specifically with that single account.
- This is a resource-intensive AMB tactic that is worth the investment for your largest Tier-1 prospects. You want their attention, and you’re willing to create content just for them. It will get their attention, but there’s a risk/reward tradeoff and opportunity/cost to consider.
6) Bespoke Personalized Reports
- Create personalized reports aimed at target accounts. It’s not quite blogging, although it could be published as a private blog.
- In this approach to content, you’re providing exact details about company challenges, strategic recommendations, and expected business outcomes or savings from engagement with your company.
- The key in this approach is to provide strategic insights, not just product information. (Strategy leveraged by O2 Business)
Planning engaging content isn’t easy, here’s an article to help guide your content strategy,
Conversion Offer Tactics
Content is great, but sales are your motive. Sales start with qualified leads and positive engagements. A conversion offer is just a way to invite further engagement with your brand. They typically come in the form of a phone call, request for information, filling out a form, booking a consult, etc.
You’ll use content as a hook, but your conversion offers are the bait.
Depending on the audience, your conversion offers can be leveraged on outbound emails, phone calls, in person, or across your website. Exactly ‘what’ to offer depends largely on the situation and audience.
Let’s take a look at a few.
7) Transitional Call to Action
- A transitional call to action (CTA) is a conversion point that does not necessarily provide a buying ready lead. They may or may not be in your target market, but they are somewhat interested in your solutions or offers.
- Targeted audiences who convert on a transitional CTA are considered early SQLs, or at the very least an MQL. The following is a list of SQL and MQL offers.
- SQL Offers (usually a more direct engagement)
- Free assessment or audit
- Quality score check
- Free sessions
- Free demo or trial
- Free samples
- MQL Offers (usually downloads behind a form)
- Report or study
- Case study
- Depending on your situation, some of the above lists may fit in either column (ergo, a case study download could be viewed as more SQL than MQL, and vise-versa for a Free Sample)
- If someone engages one of the above offers, you’ll need to approach the opportunity a little differently.
- For SQLs – you’re going to want to get a sales person or account manager to rapidly respond within 24 hours or less (ideally, much less). Start the conversation, rapidly qualify and determine the next steps for this lead. Plan for 5-7 personal engagements across 2 weeks.
- For MQLs – you’re likely going to funnel them into an automated nurturing program. Send them regular communications, use lead scoring to segment your audiences, and approach various leads with appropriate strategies.
8) Regular Call to Action
- A regular CTA is an action closely related to making a purchase. This can be a “buy now,” “request a consultation,” “request a quote,” or similar.
- Whatever the situation may be, a regular CTA is someone putting their hand up to start the buying process.
- For sales, this is likely a reply to an email, call, or visit. On your site, it can be a form, button, shopping cart, phone number, etc.
Already using great CTAs but nobody is converting? You’ll want to read the article below,
- How to design and layout your website to maximize conversions & usability
- The 5 most commonly overlooked elements of a high conversion landing page
Technology & Automation
There’s a lot of technology available for sales and marketing, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Your focus should be to leverage only those tools you need to maximize the results of your strategy. Here are a few technologies that should be on your radar.
9) Personalization and auto-fill
- Personalized & dynamic fields allow you to automatically populate your site with elements of personalized content.
- With this technology in place, a targeted user is greeted by their name or company information along with unique offers personalized to them. In many cases, forms can auto-fill to make it easy for the user to convert on your offers.
- You can do this by coding dynamic fields across your site to display personalized content based on cookie information from their history.
- This AMB tactic is effective in gaining attention and improving conversion. The downside – there’s a lot of admin and setup involved to make it seamless.
10) Visitor IP Address Tracking
- If you’re making content targeted to your audience, every visitor to your site could be a sale waiting to happen – you just need to engage them. If people don’t fill out a form, IP Address Tracking is a great way to catch those leads that slipped through the net.
- This technology identifies the company name for visitors to your website. If a company you’re targeting visits the site, you can see which one, and which pages they’ve viewed.
- Use this information to personalize future messages and inform future engagements with your target market. For example, if your target buyer read several blogs about hiring an all-star marketing team, you know they’re looking for solutions to improve hiring, and they’re looking to hire marketers. On your next engagement, use this as your lead in the discussion.
- This technology also adds a knock-on benefit of providing your sales team with new prospects. As your content engages new audiences, track the target companies, and add them to your outbound efforts.
These are just a few tools to consider. If you want to learn about a few others, check out our report on the top 7 marketing tools every B2B business should have in their dossier.
Social Media Tactics
I could write several blogs about social media strategies for account-based marketing, so I’ll keep it brief here. Below are a few noteworthy ABM tactics for social media that we’ve seen deliver remarkable results.
11) Twitter Engagement
- Follow your target prospects on Twitter (obviously)
- Targeted Callouts & Mentions
- If you have callouts & mentions on your blog, bring attention to it by using their @handle in a post to get their attention. Share articles that you’ve cited them within, and call out the mention on social media.
- Custom Lists of Company Leaders & Targets
- Build a custom list on twitter with your target prospects and other key people at the target company. When they post things, you’ll know.
- Check what they share, and engage them in content that’s relevant to you.
- They also get notified when you add them to your lists [shoutout to Lauren Frye from Bizible for this one]
12) Linkedin Engagement
- Networking & Introductions
- See if someone from your network knows your target persona, and can connect you to them. A friendly introduction is a great way to overcome ‘salesy’ perceptions, and start the relationship on a positive footing.
- Shore Up Your LinkedIn Profile
- Prospects are incredibly likely to check the profiles of anyone who reaches out to them. Take the opportunity to position the ABM team as subject matter experts in a given field before starting your outreach.
- For example, if you’re reaching out to help a company transform their server infrastructure, you should mold your profile to reflect expertise in data center hardware.
- Create & Nurture a Linkedin Group (this can apply to other social channels as well)
- Check and see if groups exist that relate to the needs of your target accounts. Emulate some best practices and start creating your own LinkedIn groups. Once the group grows to a certain size, begin inviting your target accounts to these groups.
- This is a long-term strategy that positions your organization as a thought leader. You can control who has access to your group and build a community free of your competition.
- The key is to constantly invest in the group, and keep providing value that brings people back. DON’T turn it into a news feed for your products & services.
Paid Channel Strategies
Digital advertising can quickly turn into a black hole where your money goes, never to return in any meaningful way. The trick with advertising for ABM is to leverage spending in a tactful way that augments your current efforts.
You can keep the costs to a drip, and enhance any of your current strategies. The data from your ad spend is also a treasure trove of opportunities to learn from.
13) Facebook Advertising
- Custom Audiences
- A custom audience is a Facebook ad group full of your typical target accounts. Facebook offers a variety of targeting parameters, and these are constantly updated. I’ve been surprised more than once when stumbling upon audiences seeking exactly the service I’m trying to sell.
- Almost every characteristic from your buyer persona can be found in Facebook targeting; this includes location, age, marital status, gender, and others.
- You can also define more personal information such as email addresses and phone numbers. If your target prospects are detailed, they can be built into an audience on Facebook.
14) Adwords Advertising
- Custom eMail List Targeting
- Often overlooked, you can easily take a list of 5 to 10 thousand emails, and upload them into Google Ads. The system will automatically associate most of the contacts with a Google Account, and enable you to serve up targeted ads.
- Load up an existing email list into google ads for hyper-focused advertising to a specific list.
15) Linkedin Advertising
- Company-Specific Targeting
- Collect your list of accounts and send targeted advertising offers (like banner ads) directly to your prospects and other influencers at the company or companies you’re targeting.
- This is a powerful way to get your conversion offers and content directly in front of your target audience.
16) Twitter Advertising
- Twitter Tailored Audiences
- Take your list of target twitter handles, and add them directly to an advertising list. This works great if you’re already finding them on twitter to engage with a social approach (as detailed above).
- Similar to Linkedin, this is a great way to get your offers and content in front of the right audiences.
17) Geofencing / Geo-Targeting
- In case you’re unfamiliar, geo-targeting is an approach to digital advertising that serves up specific ads within a tight geographic area. Here’s are a few ways we’ve seen strong ABM success with a Geo-Targeting tactic.
- Friendly Trade show targeting
- If you’re at a trade show, target digital ads to the geographic area of the trade show. Serve up ads to all attendees at the show with your offers or content across all of their devices. If you have a booth, you can promote the booth. If you have an offer unique to the show, promote that.
- Try to bring your target accounts to your offers or booth by serving up ads that are attractive to the targeted audience.
- This approach is more effective if the show is catering to a hyper-focused niche like the one you’re going after in your ABM campaign.
- Competitive Trade show targeting
- Similar to the above tactic, but this time targeting a show that you aren’t attending.
- This is a great way to capture attention and engagement from your target audience without ever stepping foot into the show itself.
- Business Park Targeting
- Like with trade show targeting, you can serve up targeted ads to a specific business park full of your target account types. Many businesses cluster together, and business parks are a great way to get your brand, offers, and content in front of your audience without making in-person visits.
18) Advanced Retargeting
- General Retargeting
- This applies to all the above-listed advertising channels. You should place code snippets on your site that allows you to build lists of site visitors with ads platforms.
- If people visit your site, you can follow them around the web with low-cost ads for your offers and content. It’s a great, low-cost way to keep people engaged after they leave your site.
- Behaviour Based Retargeting
- Similar to general retargeting, but with a twist. You can personalize your retargeting ads based on how people behaved on your site.
- Change advertising messaging and offers based on the behaviors that users do and do not take on your website. Map specific actions to funnel points, and align your offers and messaging.
19) Advanced Programmatic Digital Advertising
- Not every website is accessible through the Google Ads platform. If you’re serving a niche audience or want to target a broader set of sites, consider using Taboola, Outbrain, or others.
- These platforms tend to offer surgical precision on targeting on top of the added reach to niche sites.
Is your paid ad spend a black hole with no results, you’ll want to read the article below,
Account Based Marketing eMail Strategies
Targeted outbound channels like email have the potential to massively move the ABM needle, provided you apply the right tactics
20) eMail Cadences
- Pre-scripted emails are a critical component of an effective ABM tactic. Take time to craft several emails for each of your personas, and be ready to adjust your strategy as you see the results of your campaign over time. Create cadences of 5-7 emails which you’ll roll out over 2-3 weeks per person.
- Generally, you have two approaches to your email cadences.
- Informative/Content-Based eMails
- In a content-based email, you’re using the blogs and content on your site to engage the user. These are more effective if you’re not targeting the key decision maker, or aren’t sure that the decision maker is ready to buy.
- With each email, you’re positioning the salesperson as a solutions specialist and encouraging the user to visit the site.
- You will always ask for engagement, but you’re offering solutions to challenges, not necessarily selling a product/service. Across the cadence, you can offer some of your transitional calls to action, and each subsequent email follows up on previous content.
- Your goals are to qualify prospects, gather information, and put your brand top of mind for the audience.
- Hard Sales Push eMails
- In sales push emails, you’re focusing heavily on providing your solution to their challenges. These work better for decision makers, or if you know, the target is in a buying window.
- On a hard sales push, you can leverage some of your SQL focused transitional CTAs.
- Depending on your industry and solution, you won’t always make sales with a direct push. You’re likely to have success by qualifying, or gathering more information for those who aren’t in a buying window.
21) Video eMail Integration
- Videos are a great way to enhance email engagement. Tools like Vidyard can help your sales teams create short 1 minute videos within emails before sending. In this approach, you’re putting a face to the email and giving your audience a delightful experience in the process.
- Recipients are also more likely to reopen the email later on if they aren’t able to view the video at the moment.
22) eMail AB Testing
- Along with your cadences, AB testing is critical. You’re not likely to hit a home run with your first try at bat. You should create several variations of body and headline text during the campaign.
- As the sales team reaches out to several hundred contacts, use the data to tweak the cadences. Keep the best performing elements of your cadence, and enable your entire sales team with the most effective email copy.
23) eMail Personalization
- A little personalization goes a long way. How much personalization depends on the value of each target, and the type of ABM campaign you’re running.
- General Personalization
- If you write your emails to appeal to everyone, they will appeal to no one. You should create a cadence for each persona you’re going after.
- For example, if you have an IT Manager in your personas, any emails going to them should speak their language, and call out their pain points specifically – not just the industry or company challenges.
- Tailored Personalization
- Typically, we recommend a small element of tailored personalization to each persona that’s worth the effort. For example, take 5-10 minutes to research the target company. Add a line or two noting a recent accomplishment or challenge you’ve seen in the news or on their social media.
- This tactic supercharges your best cadences and improves the likelihood that your audience will read and engage the email.
Struggling with eMail? Here’s an article that will help you improve open rates & responses
Networking Strategies for Account Based Marketing
Depending on your circumstances and target audience, a little networking can go a long way. The challenge is using your time effectively while keeping the ABM campaign humming. You can easily over-invest in networking, and fail to hit the target volume needed to keep the campaign successful.
Here are a few tactics we’ve seen success with,
24) Marketing Roadshow
- If you have several accounts across neighboring cities, a roadshow tactic should be on your list.
- Host a small event and invite the local accounts to a small private affair. As always, it’s important to provide value to these guests. You can employ a local professional speaker or industry thought leader, and provide a small itinerary for educational information that you intend on sharing.
- It’s critical that you promote the tour and lock down a few attendees before setting out.
- Partner with Non-Competing Businesses
- Reach out to businesses in the area who share similar target audiences as your key accounts, but who do not compete with you. Encourage them to join the event and invite their local prospects. It’s a good idea to plan these partnerships well in advance and work together to augment the roadshow.
25) Cross-Company Engagement
- For your larger accounts, map out other contacts in the company that you can engage for a 3rd party introduction. A neutral or positive 3rd party introduction can significantly improve your engagement with the people you intend on selling to.
- This is where a powerful mix of sales and content-heavy cadences can come into play. Your objective is to build cheerleaders for your brand in the target company and engage these audiences later on for referrals or introductions.
Account Based Marketing with Direct Marketing Strategies
Sometimes, depending on your circumstances and the value of the target prospect, a direct marketing campaign is a worthwhile approach. In direct marketing, you’re sending gifts and resources directly addressed to your personas – and sometimes even the entire company or department. Let’s look at a few tactics,
26) Gifts & Packages
- The objective here is to get noticed. This is especially effective when competition is high, and you’re vying for attention in a space where most of your competitors are pulling all the stops to get at a targeted account.
- Targeted Gift
- Directly send gifts to high-value targets with a note and other valuable content that would be relevant to their role and needs. This isn’t just sending promo material and sales collateral. It is a genuine gift, with a personal note and valuable insights.
- This is an effective way to grab the attention of the person you’re trying to reach.
- Blanket Gift
- Get on the radar for everyone at a company by sending a gift or large package with goodies to the entire company.
- This tactic isn’t recommended for most circumstances, but when you need to get noticed or want to position your brand in a favorable light – a blanked gift is a powerful way to get everyone talking about you.
Account Based Marketing for Trade Shows and Industry Events
Trade shows are par for the course in most B2B markets, but few take advantage of ABM tactics to supercharge trade show outcomes. Earlier we discussed geo-targeting ads at trade shows, let’s take a closer look at unlocking engagement while at the show.
27) Event Engagement
- Pre-Research & Prepare
- Well before an event, identify and monitor key attendees of the event. Empower your team with insights about key attendees, including names, company details, and relevant offers for them. Set alerts and follow social channels related to the event.
- Set-up Meetings & Engagements
- Reach out to key people that you know will be at the event. Invite them to the booth, have an offer ready or some type of value that will entice them to visit the booth. Even a nice conversation can be enticing enough for many audiences.
- Private Post-Show Evening Dinner or Event
- Bring specific target prospects along with some existing customers if possible, and have a private dinner after the show. Let your current customers do some of the selling in general discussion if possible, or just keep the conversation between prospects and your team.
- Hosted Post-Show Evening Dinner or Event
- Sponsor a major event after the show to bring a large crowd of potential prospects to an event. Use the opportunity to engage your target accounts. You can use this opportunity to offer them VIP passes or other unique offers that others cannot have. Co-sponsor an event with another business to share the cost burden and increase the attendance list.
- Host Your Own Local Event
- Create an event for all prospects and accounts in a local area. Offer significant value such as a professional speaker and specific learning presentations on topics which your guests would enjoy. As with a professional event, you should include food and drink, as well as a premium venue.
- Give Topically Relevant Presentations
- Use the venue as an opportunity to present your expertise and teach your guests about things they would value. If your blogging strategy is mature enough, your content could borrow from popular blog content on the site.
- Allow Guest Invitations
- IF the opportunity feels appropriate, encourage your invited guests to invite other colleagues in their industry. This is a great way to engage new audiences of a similar market to your target prospects.
- Valuable Door Prize
- Entice more attendance by offering a desirable door prize for guests of the event. This approach can also be gamified to encourage more open socializing and engagement as a way to earn more chances to win the door prize.
- Networking Breaks
- Between presentations and the guest speaker, be sure to allow for open networking sessions. Have your entire sales team on hand to participate in every discussion, and drive stronger relationships with your key accounts. This is a fantastic opportunity to engage new prospects from the target account.
There you have it, 50+ account-based marketing tactics you can leverage in your ABM campaign. Each is designed to encourage stronger engagement and accelerated prospecting for your target accounts.
Which tactic to choose, and how to employ each tactic depends largely on your current resources, sales approach, and the market you’re selling in to.
If you’re struggling to implement cogent ABM tactics, reach out to us and let us know you read this blog. You’ll get a free 30-minute strategy session with one of our strategists, and we’ll help you review your campaign, and give you actionable feedback to implement tomorrow.
Have you seen any other noteworthy strategies? Leave a comment below and I’ll include it in the list.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]