By Ann Gynn published April 24, 2017

Account-Based Marketing: What Content Marketers Need to Know

account-based-marketing

To market its webinar, InsightSquared went the extra mile. It bought 248 copies of the presenter’s book. The author autographed the books with an invitation to attend the webinar. Each one included a bookmark with a URL to register.

Then, the company targeted everybody who visited its website with the same domain as an invitee.

Webinar day arrived. Six people attended.

A complete content marketing disaster.

But at the end of the quarter, the book-invitation webinar campaign was the most effective one to influence the deals that got done.

Huh?

How did a content marketing calamity turn into a big sales success?

Account-based marketing.

That’s how Joe Chernov, vice president of marketing at InsightSquared, explains it in his session Account-Based Marketing vs. Content Marketing: Friend or Foe? at Content Marketing World 2016.

“Content marketing leaves off at a certain point, but business goals go a little beyond that,” Joe says. Account-based marketing can fill in those gaps.

ABMFillsinGaps

InsightSquared combined content marketing and account-based marketing for its webinar-focused campaign. “We confused people. We gave the reps an excuse to call to un-confuse people,” Joe says, noting that a sales rep on the phone with a potential customer is a big win in the sales process.

Beware of false choice

Joe argues that the choice for marketers is not an either-or proposition. Brands should use content marketing AND account-based marketing (ABM). “Our job (as marketers) is to grow our business,” he says.

Brands should use #contentmarketing & account-based marketing, says @JChernov. Click To Tweet

By carving segments from your larger target audience and subdividing those into various cohorts (i.e., accounts with common attributes), you can create smaller highly targeted customized campaigns – flipping the sales funnel upside down.

“Yields will be at least or greater to the wide-mouth funnel approach that is content marketing,” Joe says.

Don’t have a low-bar strategy

“Show how I’m measured and I’ll show you how I’ll behave,” Joe says.

If marketing success is measured by the quantity of marketing-qualified leads produced, the bar to create such a lead will be set as low as possible. Marketers will do what they think will produce the biggest numbers, not necessarily the best leads.

MQLs transfer the problem to the sales team. “(You’re) giving them junk,” Joe says.

Content marketers publish a blog post, wait for the audience to find it, and expect some readers to dig deep enough to fill out a form with their valuable contact information. Plus, just because a person fills out a form to acquire valuable content does not mean she is interested in sales or even the brand. Yet, the person is an MQL and the burden is moved to sales.

Don’t transfer junk leads from your #contentmarketing to your sales team, says @JChernov. Click To Tweet

“It’s not efficient. Waiting isn’t the strategy and yet content marketing relies on some waiting,” Joe says. ABM is a proactive approach – reaching out to prospects and customers.

While content marketing follows a sequential or linear process (blog, offer, lead scoring on conversion, lead nurturing, hand-off to sales), ABM is lumpy. You target an account or a basket of accounts and pick and choose ways to engage them (a blog post, ungated content, personalized email, event, or dinner).

InboundvsABM

ABM complements content marketing and vice versa. As Joe says, marketers must find ways to stitch together the two methodologies because accomplishing your ultimate goals requires both. Fortunately, the values for content marketing and ABM are the same – to make your customer’s life better.

See the opportunities

Content marketers shouldn’t be threatened that ABM will take away the need for content in their companies. In fact, the opposite may be true. Demands for content – lots of little content, original, and customized – for each account or cohort will be needed.

Content marketers shouldn’t be threatened by ABM. Demand for #content may be greater. @JChernov Click To Tweet

ABM also presents a more effective primary content distribution channel – the sales team. “None of this works if the sales team isn’t using your content,” Joe says.

Finally, marketing still needs a way to engage people the first time. That usually occurs on a widely targeted basis and content is an effective way to attract those new people.

“You have the opportunity to take everything learned in content marketing and apply it to a new methodology,” Joe says.

Think content-marketing strategy applied to direct mail.

Joe shares a couple inspirational successes from InsightSquared. In the first example, InsightSquared’s sales reps each picked five accounts to receive a case of InsightSquared-branded energy drinks. It included the message, “Fuel your sales team for a monster Q4.” The results were great – recipients were 30 to 40% more likely to buy than those who did not get the drinks.

MonsterQ4

The second example incorporates individual account-based data. The InsightSquared marketing team uses that data to identify someone who is stuck in the sales process. When it sees a hesitant account, it confirms the status with the sales rep. Then, marketing mails a pair of socks and a postcard with the message, “Don’t get cold feet.” It explains why the company is sending it and invites the recipient back into the active sales process.

ColdFeet

Rethink definition of success

When Joe was at HubSpot, a company marketing its products to most B2B companies, he would say, “I don’t care if we’re selling to Mack the truck driver or to Mack Trucks.”

But, he says, many companies do have to distinguish whether they’re selling to Mack the truck driver or Mack Trucks. They know exactly who their customer is – and it isn’t the masses.

Combining content marketing and ABM requires marketing’s goals to align with the sales team. You must work toward what’s best for the business as a whole. No longer is success driven by how many companies you connect with, it’s about the number of highly responsive and interested companies you connect with.

Metrics focused on the size of the audience are backward in an ABM-focused environment. As Joe explains, if your blog audience numbers stay flat month over month but the composition of the audience includes more designated accounts, that’s a marketing success.

Your measurement framework must be sales-centric.

Your measurement framework must be sales-centric, says @JChernov. #contentmarketing Click To Tweet

Rejuvenate collaborative content

In an ABM-included world, the content team gets a new center of gravity. Instead of a blog with content for a broad audience, content creators can narrow the aperture of what they write to be for a very specific audience. The alignment also enables the content team to plan its editorial calendar in tandem with the sales team’s themes.

By working with sales, the content team can arm sales reps with content to have more meaningful, personalized conversations. “It’s the agent’s job to get the actor the audition, not the part,” Joe says. “Our job (as marketers) is to get sales the chance to get the right people on the phone.”

Our job as marketers is to get sales the chance to get the right people on the phone, says @JChernov. Click To Tweet

The key to combining content marketing and account-based marketing, though, rests in a collaborative effort with the sales team. And that can’t be the chief marketing officer and the head of the sales division talking once a month. It requires a marketing quarterback sitting with sales and really listening to sales when it comes to accounts. As Joe says, “That’s the only way this works.”

What insights and ideas will this year’s Content Marketing World presenters share? Make sure you’re there to hear them. Register today for the Sept. 5-8 event. Use the code BLOG100 to save even more on early-bird rates.

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute

Author: Ann Gynn

Ann Gynn edits the CMI blog. She also serves as the Tech Tools editor for Chief Content Officer magazine. Ann regularly combines words and strategy for B2B, B2C, and nonprofits, continuing to live up to her high school nickname, Editor Ann. Former college adjunct faculty, Ann also helps train professionals in content so they can do it themselves. Follow Ann on Twitter @anngynn or connect on LinkedIn.

Other posts by Ann Gynn

Join Over 200,000 of your Peers!

Get daily articles and news delivered to your email inbox and get CMI’s exclusive e-book Get Inspired: 75 (More) Content Marketing Examples FREE!

  • http://gearboxmagazine.com Brian Driggs

    This is spot-on, Ann. In fact, you inspired a comment that grew into its own blog post.

    At the end of the day, anyone concerned with CAC and LTV (ie: ROI) should be paying close attention to quality over quantity. I think content marketers, especially, should be digging into account-based methodologies, as everything we do revolves around forging stronger ties with individual audience members.

    If you’ve always dreamed of a world where all marketing’s science, technology, and psychology finally align behind truly making a difference in people’s lives, this is the trend you’ve been waiting for.

    Get after it. The best customers you haven’t closed yet are waiting for you to wow them with something hyper-valuable they’re not getting from generic blog posts.

    If I could share an example? Just wrapped three solid months collaboration between Sales, Management, and Creative–across TWO organizations–and we’re thinking we need to do something this big–for specific target accounts–as often as we possibly can. http://bit.ly/2oYssGi

    At the end of the day, we’re after results that, frankly, matter. 🙂

    • Ann Gynn

      I would love to live in that world. In the meantime, we’ll just keep trying to create it. I appreciate your insight!

      • http://gearboxmagazine.com Brian Driggs

        Me too. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve loved account-based from the beginning. B2B, B2C–it’s all people. Just like us. There’s no escaping the Golden Rule, ya know?

        When we shift our efforts from mass market appeal (most things to most people) to hyper-valuable for a limited number of target accounts (being indispensable to a few people), the vanity metrics quickly fall by the wayside.

        Business might exist to make a profit, but when business exists to make a difference, profit follows.

        • Ann Gynn

          Great quote — “Business might exist to make a profit, but when business exists to make a difference, profit follows.”

          • http://gearboxmagazine.com Brian Driggs

            Yeah, I’m a bit of a digital hippie. Some may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one…

          • http://secure93.com Oliver Dunn

            ן ɯaϖt t೦ sh൦ɯ y൦ʋ α fantastͺc way y௦ս ϲαn ցet ρaid a lot of eхτᴦa ᴄαsһ by fɩnɩƽһinƍ baƽiᴄ тasks ०nline fᴦom ყoᴜr couϲh f٥r seveгɑ| hrs a /a daу - Cliсᴋ on τhe link GET.LC/WMGIi

            rwer

  • http://secure93.com Edward Hart

    I got started freelancing over online world, by doing some fundamental assignments which definitely wanted your personal computer and usage of broadband together with I am joyful than ever before… 6 months have surpassed when i started out this and also i had cash gain total of 36 thousand dollars… Normally I make eighty dollars each and every hour and even work for three to 4 hours majority of the days.And big plus with this is that you could keep control of valuable time whenever you work and also for how long as you like but you still get a take-home pay each week. —->>>LEARN A lot more Regarding It here-> SHRTY.LINK/sWPGJq

    dfsdf

  • http://secure93.com Tyler Coleman

    I began freelancing over internet based, with the help of various jobs which entirely requisite a desktop together with usage of broadband and consequently Now I am satisfied than ever… six months get surpassed ever since i begun this and i received money total of 36 thousand dollars… Normally I generate eighty usd each hr and work for three to four hours majority of the days.And fantastic thing about this is exactly that one could organize precious time while you work and also for how long as you like but you still attain a take-home pay a week. —->>>LEARN Extra About This here-> RU.VU/qw9jK

    dfd

  • http://secure93.com Alex Morris

    I started out freelancing over web-based, with the help of some basic tasks which actually wanted a desktop as well as access to broadband and I am delightful than ever… few months have passed by since i begun this and i received cash gain total of 36,000 bucks… Basically I earn eighty bucks every single hour and work for 3 to four hrs most of the days.And awesome thing about this is that you could keep control of valuable time when you work and for how long as you like but you still earn a paycheck every week. —->>>LEARN Extra Regarding It here-> GOCHIURL.COM/15d8k

    dfdfdf