Account-Based Marketing (ABM) always seems like a great idea … until you get into the nitty-gritty. When confronted with the details – database management, customer account segmentation, and content creation – many companies balk and decide that perhaps ABM isn’t the right road after all.
Sound familiar? Well, it’s really not as hard as you think. In fact, with just a few simple steps, DIY customer segmentation for account-based marketing is a great way to get started. Ready?
1. Discover your best marketing account segments from within your current customer base.
Who are your best customers? What patterns can you draw among them? Most of the time, you don’t actually have to spend much time sorting out your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), because it already exists within your own customer data.
Generally, we recommend sorting your customers by ROI or strategic value, and then look for commonalities like:
- Firmographics (Company Size, Total Revenue, etc.)
- Technographics (Tech stack)
- Do they use technologies that complement your own products?
- Did they use competitor technologies that you were able to win them away from?
- How much funding have they raised?
- How much time has occurred between their previous round of funding and when you made contact? When your deal closed?
- Products & Services
- What products or services interested them at the beginning? How did you create the conversation?
A bit further on, as part of your ABM strategy, you’ll fully recreate the journey for these companies – and identify key points where the marketing and sales processes made progress.
2. Discover your best contact segments from within your current customer base.
Next, we’ll use our best individual contacts to build our key personas – just like we used our best accounts to help build our ICP.
Who are the real advocates for your product? Why do they love you so much? What was their experience like?
In general, you’ll want to look for patterns such as title, role, or area of responsibility. But you may need to look for other commonalities, beyond that: What were the responsibilities for that person? What problem did they specifically need to solve?
This brings us to personas. You can break out different personas in any combination you like; it’s helpful to start with a few personas such as the ones below and expand from there.
- Executive – the decision-maker whose primary interest is revenue and growth.
- Director – the upper-level manager whose primary interest is achieving goals set by the executive and proving the value of their department.
- Practitioner – the individual or group that is actually enacting day-to-day tasks (often, products will serve to make their daily life easier).
Once you know who your key personas are, it’s time to dig a little bit deeper. The best way to learn about their experience is by communicating directly with customers who represent each persona.
I recommend sending out a three-question survey:
- How did you find us?
- Where do you get your industry information?
- What problems were you looking to solve?
It’s also useful to look through and learn the first product or service that they purchased – their point of entry. Now, you have all the information you need to target your next wave of future advocates!
3. Discover your highest ROI products and services.
This one is pretty self-explanatory: Which product or service delivers the highest ROI for your business? (If you only market one product or service, you can ignore this one).
This is a great place to tailor your marketing materials and campaigns toward specific business goals.
Do you need fast growth? Focus your account-based marketing plan around the products with the fastest sales cycles! Do you need to close big sales? Emphasize the products that have the largest average deal size!
4. Discover your longest lasting relationships and happiest customers.
The key to any account-based approach is building a solid sales lead pipeline. Sometimes, the best thing for your marketing team (and for your business in general) isn’t just “get cash now.” It’s better to look for the best relationships you have and use them as a benchmark.
These relationships can yield network effects and upsell opportunities that lead to greater revenue down the road. When your ABM program gets into full swing, advocates become critical to close your biggest deals. So, start with today’s advocates and think about where tomorrow’s will come from.
Using Net Promoter Score (NPS) can be a great way to gauge customer happiness. You can either use a pre-existing NPS company (like asknice.ly) or develop your own system, but the concept is simple: Send out a regular email to your customers and ask how likely they’d be to recommend you to someone else.
If they’re 10/10 excited about your business, you can learn a lot from them to guide your ABM strategy – not only can they help you understand their perspective of your sales process, they can also provide you with actionable and repeatable insights for your current and future prospects. Plus, they’ll often give you an invaluable reference!
5. Create customer journeys for your best account segments and gather your data.
ABM is about finding a repeatable story. It’s about getting the right content, with the right message, to the person in the right role at the right account at the right time.
At this point, you should know what the right account looks like, the right people within that account, the problems they’re looking to solve, the places they get their information, and how they’re likely to find you.
Our advice? Map out that customer journey! Identify each milestone along the way from prospect to customer and build a playbook. You’re going to need it in the next step.
How do you build a playbook? Well, each account’s journey will go through some unique phases:
Each step along that path requires an individualized experience – you wouldn’t want to send case studies to someone who doesn’t even know you exist, just as you wouldn’t want to send an informational blog to someone deep in the buying process. Understanding your account’s position in the customer journey can help craft your strategy.
In addition to the customer journey, you’ll still need more information about these accounts, contacts, and personas. How big are these companies? Who works there, what do they do, and who do they report to? What specific problems do they have to solve?
6. Build content for your best account segments.
Now, let’s take that map you just built, and prepare some content for each turning point along the journey. You should have the key turning points and their associated personas from the previous section. This might look something like:
Acme Business Intelligence Corp. is an account in the Informational phase and their best contact is a VP of Sales who reports to a CRO. We know from experience that a lack of comprehensive reporting is often a pain point!
First, you’ll want to use attribution data from previous campaigns and pre-existing content to see which content areas led to ROI and which didn’t. Using a closed-loop data attribution tool, you can see what content led directly to engagement, and then track the value of that engagement through the funnel all the way to closed-won.
So, maybe you’ve seen some strong ROI data from prospects who engaged with content about Data Visualization and Reporting. Great – Hold on to that.
Once you have your attribution data guiding your content production process, it’s time to have your team construct the messaging you’ll need to create great new relationships. For example, if you meet most of your prospects at conferences, what do you talk about? Or if you host web events (like webinars), what subjects interested your best customers the most? Turn these subjects into content pieces at different phases of the customer journey.
Let’s go back to our Acme BI Corp example, and let’s imagine that your company provides a Data Visualization solution that would be really helpful for their VP of Sales. But, does she know that your solution specifically makes it easier for her to report to the CRO?
An informational blog (let’s call it, “Data Visualization for Better Reporting to Your CRO”) might be the missing piece of content you need. Relevant content, supported by targeted marketing (nurture emails, for example), and focused on specific messaging, can create a valuable, targeted introductory experience for the new relationship.
- We identified a great account (Acme), and we knew it’s customer journey phase (Informational)
- Then we identified a great contact (VP of Sales) and where to connect with her(web events and conferences)
- We built content (a blog) that corresponds with the customer journey phase (Informational) with relevant, persona-specific subject matter (“Data Visualization for Better Reporting to your CRO”)
- We delivered that content via targeted marketing (nurture emails, display ads, social media interactions – it can even be an in-person discussion starter!)
Between the map you’ve made above, and the ROI data from your attribution tool, your content can now be targeted, actionable, and ready for deployment.
Finally, after you have created your content, organize it in a repository of some kind – this lets your sales teams find content that speaks to the specific point in the sales cycle, the specific persona, and/or the main pain point. These content systems can make your sales reps’ lives much easier, helping them conjure up the perfect piece of content at the perfect moment. There are numerous sales enablement tools out there for organizing content, including Highspot and Docsend (we built a homemade one using a Google sheet).
Make sure that your salespeople and marketers alike can access all that valuable new content!
7. Personalize your website for your best segments.
There’s only one step left before pressing “Play” for your playbook and dispersing your content: Maximize impact. An interested prospect will quickly visit your website to learn more information. What kind of experience will they have?
No matter who they are, their experience will be defined by what happens in the first few seconds on your website. Getting past classic anti-bounce techniques (increasing page speed, providing clean design, etc.), a personalized experience can massively drive engagement. This means constructing landing pages that are designed just for your prospect’s experience, which can be a wide-ranging concept.
In a recent joint webinar, Optimizely discussed their efforts to close Salesforce as a new client by creating a landing page specifically for people with Salesforce.com email addresses. When the Optimizely sales team was in the key pitch meeting, they asked the Salesforce buying committee to go to Optimizely.com. The Salesforce team was greeted by this:
Let’s just say that it made a good impression.
The degree to which you implement website personalization can vary depending on how valuable an account is to you, from creating a full landing page exclusively for employees at one company to a generic “SaaS Companies in the San Francisco Bay Area” landing page template.
Whatever level of personalization you choose, even a semi-personalized website can ensure your ABM prospects have a special experience and hammer home the specific value of your product for their use case.
End-to-end ABM Content
When you deconstruct the data and use it to build a realistic customer journey – and from there, a functional playbook – it’s much easier to personalize your content and website experiences.
Account-based marketing doesn’t need to be such an intimidating monster, when broken down into pieces! It can be a valuable way to connect with the best possible customers in the most direct, personal, and compelling way.
For more ways to identify, target, and engage with your buyers, contact ZoomInfo today. We offer the leading B2B contact database to help you nurture each and every one of your leads from start to finish.