As B2B marketers enter planning season for 2021, they need to focus investment on programs that deliver the right results quickly.
That's not a new challenge: Marketers have always needed to deliver positive return on investment (ROI) and meet growth goals. What has changed are the best ways to achieve better ROI.
A recent benchmark from analyst firm TOPO showed that account-based programs consistently demonstrate higher conversion and close rates compared with traditional demand programs. It's therefore no surprise that companies want to focus more on winning and growing target accounts in the year ahead.
To make account-based programs even more successful, marketers should include the following three tools in their 2021 plans. But start testing them in the second half of 2020 to maximize ROI both this year and next.
Tool 1: Multichannel Media Programs for Full-Funnel Engagement
Changes in 2020 mean marketing teams must now support an almost entirely digital buyer's journey, and budgets for 2021 will shift away from the traditional foundation of major event investments that often resulted in funding tradeoffs for digital journeys.
Forrester Research Principal Analyst Mary Shea predicts that because of COVID-19 and social distancing, face-to-face interactions in a sales cycle will decrease to 5-15% of the total engagement a seller has. As a result, marketers can now focus on programs that deliver meaningful online engagement throughout the buying cycle in more measurable and cost-effective ways.
The best tool to anchor digital programs is a multichannel media strategy that includes content syndication, display, and LinkedIn advertising. That combination maximizes opportunities to engage and convert target accounts because it reaches buyers in all the places they normally visit during their buying journey.
Madison Logic 2020 marketing investment data shows an average uplift of more than 50% in target account reach for companies that integrate across multiple channels.
A multichannel strategy also allows marketers to track account engagement and reach across channels for a truly holistic view of what's working. Using measurement to tune digital engagement based on how customers respond to messages and offers at different stages and on different channels both helps buyers and optimizes marketing spend.
Tool 2: Intent Data for Account Prioritization and Insights
Sales is an even tougher job than usual these days. Teams face heightened pressure to meet targets even as accounts may be reducing spend. The key is knowing who is and isn't in market so reps can prioritize time and tune their messaging to reach the most likely buyers.
Intent data is essential to showing which companies and contacts are ready to buy and which aren't. It helps Sales and Marketing predict account behavior and anticipate needs based on actual online activity and volume.
Intent data has become so valuable, in fact, that a recent TOPO survey identified it as the fastest-growing category in B2B martech.
Deploy more than one type of intent data to maximizes your program impact. In addition to insights on account and contact search behavior, incorporate demographic, firmographic, and technographic insights to make account identification, prioritization, and engagement strategies even more accurate.
Tool 3: Personalization for Meaningful Connections
The use of insights to adapt outreach is what sets account-based strategies apart from traditional demand approaches. And account-based technologies make it easier than ever to scale personalized messaging and automate delivery timing.
Effective personalization at every stage of buying starts with using insights from the first two tools: multi-channel programs and intent data. Use all three to maximize digital engagement quality along the entire buyer's journey, not just at the top of the funnel:
- Combine measurement of what different buyers respond to with intent data create a successful content strategy.
- Align message and content delivery to buying stages by layering in additional information about specific accounts, contacts, and opportunities.
- Finally, maximize engagement with a multichannel digital ABM approach.
As buyers engage, again use intent signals to help reps prioritize and personalize their outreach to accounts. Doing so will improve conversion and win rates while helping salespeople make the best use of their time and avoid accounts not ready to buy.
Three Tools, Two Positive Outcomes
Account-based strategies have been part of the mix for some time, but the adoption of digital ABM programs has accelerated in recent months. The B2B community is letting go of dated practices and investments to embrace strategies better suited to meet today's growth goals.
Revenue teams that deploy these three tools will achieve two positive outcomes in the months ahead: better results from account-based investments and a better buying experience for customers.
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