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The 3 pillars of a successful ABM programme

Dun & Bradstreet explains how B2B marketers can execute successful ABM campaigns

Account-based marketing, or ABM, has become a mainstream buzzworthy term in recent years. In a recent Sales Acceleration survey, nearly 60% of B2B organisations say they are currently using ABM and another 27% intend to start using ABM strategies this year. And while most will not dispute its importance, many marketing and sales organisations are still struggling to execute successful programs, with many citing a lack of understanding of their target audience as a main challenge. 

How can B2B marketers execute successful ABM campaigns if they don’t have an accurate view of their target audiences? Sounds like a pretty basic question, but it’s what many businesses are trying to do today and why so many campaigns are failing. It’s impossible to execute a highly targeted, personalised and ultimately successful campaign without the proper data and customer intelligence.

When it comes to data, there are three things B2B organisations can do to increase their ABM success.

1. Build the right foundation

In order to build a robust ABM program, you have to start with a solid data foundation. This ‘master data’ foundation is built by leveraging third-party data to supplement your in-house data, structuring it in a consistent way that makes sense, and then connecting it across systems, creating more accurate customer and prospect information. 

It’s simple – if you aren’t feeding the right data into your campaigns, you aren’t going to maximise results. Structured, organised data that is shared across departmental silos can help drive sales and marketing alignment and allow better decision-making across the company. In addition, being able to tie together customer data across platforms with a single, unique business identifier allows for more targeted campaigns and better campaign tracking, which is especially important for ABM programs.

2. Target and segment intelligently

In the B2B context, targeting and segmentation have an added complexity in that you not only have to identify accounts to target but also have to understand all the decision-makers and influencers within that account. Because most B2B buying decisions are now made by groups of people and not individuals, B2B marketers require a deep understanding of company hierarchies and roles and responsibilities, in addition to account-level information. 

Intelligent targeting starts with understanding your ‘best’ customers. If you know the traits of the customers who are most important to your business, you can target similar prospects. By using proper data analysis and segmentation, you can even identify white space opportunities that you may not have known existed. For example, if you know your best customers are concentrated in large cities, have revenue of less than $100 million, and are in the technology sector, you can focus your marketing efforts on other companies with similar traits. Having a deep understanding of which characteristics are driving your business allows your marketing teams to focus resources and budget where it will have the most impact in a highly targeted and personalised way.

3. Surface insights to sales for better execution

One of the keys to ABM success is a tight alignment between the sales and marketing teams.  Many companies talk about the importance of alignment, but outside of sharing goals and account targets, there is little being done to actually drive that alignment around the customer. 

Having shared data and insights is imperative when working to move an account forward in the customer’s journey. Being able to surface those insights in a meaningful and timely way is what will push your ABM programs forward. Imagine a sales rep gets an alert indicating one of her key ABM accounts just got another round of funding. What better time to pick up the phone and reach out about that cross-sell opportunity that was discussed last month? Or imagine that a key individual within an account just attended a webinar that marketing ran. Pushing that data across to the sales teams in a timely fashion gives the most up-to-date information on their accounts so they can strike while the iron is hot.  

It’s clear that data is a missing ingredient in many ABM programs. Working with outdated or disorganised data could be causing your ABM programs to stall. Making sure that you have a solid data foundation, being able to target and segment in an intelligent way, and surfacing real-time insights to your sales teams can be the difference between winning or losing those important and lucrative accounts.