A blended ABM approach: Designing programs
Contributor Jessica Fewless reviews how a blended ABM approach using personalization, events and direct mail can benefit B2B marketers.
In Part 1 of this series, we discussed the three common approaches to account-based marketing (ABM) — one-to-one, one-to-few and one-to-many — and how they are used to engage and convert your most strategic accounts.
While each approach has its own set of strengths, the magic really happens when they are combined in a blended ABM approach. But what does that look like in action? And more importantly, how do you apply this approach to the programs you’re already running?
In this article, we’ll cover a few programs marketers run and share how you can transition them to fit a blended ABM strategy.
Like your mom’s old jeans style, traditional marketing tactics tend to come back into fashion every once in a while. What used to be a popular marketing channel a few decades ago has suddenly become one of the most effective ways to drive revenue today. But while an ABM strategy can provide some structure and a framework to your direct mail campaigns, a blended approach can take things to the next level.
Direct mail tends to be an expensive marketing channel, so it’s important that every piece you send out makes an impact. Whether it is opening doors at a new account, creating a personal connection with an account you’ve been talking to or showing appreciation to existing customers, if direct mail is used strategically, it can really have an impact on your ability to impact revenue.
Using the model above, you can break out your direct mail strategy into three components:
- One-to-one. Expensive, highly personalized packages.
- One-to-few. Mid-priced packages.
- One-to-many. Low-cost mailers, or a lower volume of higher-cost packages.
That last one might raise a few eyebrows, but it makes sense when you consider you will further segment your one-to-many tier. You may have a segment in this tier that previously represented closed-lost opportunities, so maybe it’s worth sending them something a little more valuable.
Or a subset of those accounts may already be in the pipeline, and you want to help ensure the deal closes, so a more valuable piece may be in order.
Business-to-business events can be a tough nut to crack. Sometimes you sponsor a really great B2B event and find nearly everyone on the showroom floor is a potential prospect. Other times, it’s just you and a few salespeople hanging around the booth, hoping someone relevant will walk by.
Account-based marketing takes this unpredictability out of the equation and makes event marketing more strategic and profitable. But introducing a blended approach into the mix is what can really take your event marketing to the next level. By segmenting event marketing efforts for each one of the tiers above, you can ensure accounts at every tier get the attention they need to move through the sales cycle.
For example, for your one-to-many accounts, your main vehicles can be national events, your booth and any general sessions you might host. But remember, you will still choose which events to attend or sponsor based first and foremost on the concentration of target accounts in attendance.
For one-to-few, you can create exclusive VIP events, where peers can network and your executives can work their magic.
And finally, for your top accounts, you’ll want to not only invite them to VIP events but also offer executive meetings and bespoke experiences for individual VIP accounts.
Most marketers these days are bought into the importance of website personalization. The great thing about personalization is that it doesn’t actually require a lot of work to get off the ground, nor does it require you to go all in at once. In fact, all the best practices recommend starting small, proving results and scaling your efforts up from there.
You can use the blended approach framework above as a roadmap for your website personalization efforts. Start with your broader audience (one-to-many) and make small changes on your website, including adding a few personalized elements, such as company names, industry callouts and content that’s relevant to your various segments. Once you start seeing results roll in, you can get a little more sophisticated with website personalization and serve up industry-specific pages and content directly addressed to your mid-level accounts (one-to-few).
If you’re targeting larger accounts in a 1:1 approach, you can even go so far as personalizing web pages and building experiences exclusively for each one of them. If the idea of this seems daunting, let technology help you out. Consider investing in an AI-based personalization tool, which can learn about your target accounts and deliver relevant content to them based on inputs and objectives you have for each account.
Wrapping it up
We’ve only scratched the surface of all the great opportunities a blended ABM approach can offer B2B marketers. While these are just three examples of how a blended approach makes ABM programs more effective and efficient, you can apply the same framework to your other programs, from field and content to customer and partner marketing.