Although our friend big data is no longer the flavor of the month, data continues to play a huge role in account-based marketing (ABM). From identifying target accounts to activating ABM with contact and display data, it plays the penultimate role in successful ABM execution. Layer on campaign and engagement metrics, conversion rates, ROI and lifetime value, and we are sitting on top of a mountain of data.
I am going to focus on one aspect of it — account identification. Putting the “A” in ABM is the initial step in your journey, but is not always given the special attention it so rightly deserves. There are four solid tactics used to identify accounts: the hunch, the surge, the profile and the quant.
Organizations with established and effective sales arms can walk down the hall, speak to a sales leader and come up with an account list. Most salespeople have been acutely focused on target accounts for generations and have a pretty good idea of who they need to knock down to make their numbers. However, while the hunch method has its merits, it lacks supporting data with which to build an entire marketing plan. The hunch is vitally important to get sales and marketing teams on the same page and in agreement, but it should not be the only method of gathering target accounts.
Creating a firmographic profile of an account is another way folks are getting to the “A.” Providing a simple listing of your best customers and generating a profile of their most telling attributes can tell you a lot about potential prospects. Things like SIC code for industry, employee size ranges and sales volumes can provide information about sweet spots, and prospect lists can be generated by looking for like organizations. However, just because company A looks like company B, does not mean that company B is in the market for your goods.
The advent of intent data is enabling a powerful method of harnessing big data to identify prospect accounts by their online behavior. Companies like Bombora, a MeritDirect partner and The Big Willow create datasets based on the types of content being consumed by organizations. Activities like whitepaper downloads, webinar attendance and even search terms are gathered at scale, organized by topic and scored. This allows marketers to search for companies that are surging on content related to their own products or services. The basic premise here is to identify when organizations are beginning their buyer journey so that marketers can reach them in the discovery and education phase when a potential sale can still be influenced. This tactic has seen some great returns and is sure to show continuous improvement and refinement in 2018.
Using predictive analytics is the final way in which companies are finding their target accounts. There are many companies in this space and each has their own secret sauce, but in general, they are big data applications leveraging company profiles and surge/intent data to identify accounts that have a higher propensity to convert. This can be an extremely expensive undertaking and does not guarantee results — I have seen some very uneven results from my view. However, with continued development and layering of things like artificial intelligence and machine learning, this is likely another area of rapid growth and improved results.
Account-based marketing is a very intricate web of data, content, orchestration, execution and teamwork. With all of these moving parts, it is very easy to gloss over the “account” piece of the strategy. By engaging with sales teams and leveraging data applications and techniques, marketers can net down to a very powerful set of organizations that set the foundation for their ABM journey.
For more on Account Based Marketing and how to navigate the path using any one, or all of these elements, contact MeritDirect.
Senior Vice President
Data, Digital and OmniChannel Solutions