Ashley Zeckman

When ABM & Content Collide: How to Build an Account-Based Content Strategy #UFX2016

Ashley Zeckman on Aug 25th, 2016     B2B Marketing, Content Marketing


Over the past few years, B2B marketers have been abuzz with the concept of Account-Based Marketing (ABM). It’s like some sort of futuristic concept was finally here and would be the solution that we all needed.

But just like any other marketing tactic, it takes time to figure out how to approach it successfully. In order to win with ABM, marketers need to understand how to effectively incorporate content into the mix.

To help us understand how to do that, Everstring’s Dayna Rothman gave a great, info packed presentation at Uberflip Experience that covered the basics as well as more in-depth strategies for tackling an account-based content strategy effectively.

What is ABM & Why Should You Care?

ABM is the strategic approach marketers use to support a defined universe of strategic and named accounts. – SiriusDecisions

When executing on a demand gen strategy, the goal is to create a very wide top of funnel and drive in as many prospects as possible. With ABM, there is a very narrow focus that specifically targets identified prospects.

Why Do We Need ABM? And Does it Work?

Here are some more important statistics to consider when exploring the notion of ABM:

  • Generating high quality leads is the number one challenge for B2B marketers (IDG)
  • More than 90% of marketers think that ABM is either important or very important (SiriusDecisions)
  • More than 60% of marketers plan on implementing ABM this year (Terminus).

7 Steps for ABM Success

According to Rothman, in order for ABM to work, there needs to be a coordinated effort between sales and marketing. Because ABM is such a high-touch approach, this integration needs to be made a priority.

Additionally, there are seven key steps to follow when implementing ABM:

  1. Target account selection
  2. Goal setting
  3. Sales and marketing alignment
  4. Content creation
  5. Channel and tactic selection
  6. Coordinated play execution
  7. Measurement

How to Choose Target Accounts

There is no one-size-fits-all solution for embarking on an ABM approach. Brands can take a variety of different approaches depending on the teams and technology that are in place. Some options include:

  1. Manual selection between marketing, sales and executives
  2. Manual selection by marketing
  3. Manual selection by sales
  4. Rules-based segmentation in marketing automation
  5. Predictive marketing

Target Account Tiers

Based on Everstring’s process, Rothman recommended developing three different tiers for ABM.

Tier 1: Executive Selection (20 – 50 accounts)

These are your big fish accounts that represent the most ideal customers. Selecting this small number of accounts should represent the internal goals you have as a company.

Tier 2: Representative & Predictive Selection (100 – 200 accounts)

Often times the second tier will be based on a combination of specific accounts reps want to go after as well as predictive analytics.

Tier 3: Predictive Selection (500 – 1000 accounts)

These accounts do not receive the same level of personalization as the first two but they still have some elements, they just aren’t as targeted.

Tier 2 Account-Based Content Example

Below is a model that Rothman provided of how you might market to a tier two account:

  1. Send direct mail door opener .
  2. Once delivered, follow up with an intro email which includes custom content hub (early stage).
  3. Follow email with call from a sales rep offering an eBook.
  4. Add account into dedicated nurture stream segmented by industry.
  5. Target account with ads promoting eBook (mid stage).
  6. Plan field event in territory.
  7. Follow field event with thank you email.
  8. Follow email with call from sales rep offering case study (late stage).

4 Account-Based Content Hacks

It’s at this point that many marketers begin to feel overwhelmed just thinking about the amount of content that needs to be created to support this sort of initiative. To ease the pain, Rothman shared some helpful hacks to help increase your changes for success.

#1 – Do More with Less. Marketers don’t need to create thousands of new pieces of content to be successful. Instead, it’s important to review your current content inventory and find ways to make that content more personalized.

#2 – Personalize Content Based on Tier. One way that you might breakdown content personalization could be:

  • Tier 1: Custom content per account
  • Tier 2: Limited personalization per account
  • Tier 3: Industry/vertical personalization per account

#3 – Use Hubs for Sales & Marketing Outreach. Content hubs (like Uberflip) provide an opportunity to create a custom experience without evoking too much effort. Sales reps can even create custom hubs for their target accounts in a snap.

#4 – Use Partners to Co-Create Content. If you lack expertise or resources in-house then you can work with partners or other vendors to co-brand and co-create helpful content for your target accounts.

Have you begun to dip your toe in the Account-Based Marketing sand? If so, what was the most surprising thing that you learned once you started?

Disclosure: Everstring is a TopRank Marketing client.

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Ashley Zeckman About Ashley Zeckman

Ashley Zeckman is the Director of Agency Marketing for TopRank Marketing. In addition to finding innovative ways to showcase the exceptional work of her team, she is also responsible for creating digital marketing programs that drive customer acquisition and growth for the agency. Her background includes expertise in everything from content marketing strategy to branding, account management and social media.

Outside of her role at TopRank Online Marketing, Ashley prides herself on being a great home chef, painter, prankster and dog mom.