ABM is the new buzzword in the marketing world. Everyone wants in on it. And with good reason, an account-based marketing approach lets you influence the entire decision-making unit of a target account. There are many tools to help you with ABM and a key one among those is LinkedIn. In this blog, we will explore with our colleague Vega Sims, how to use LinkedIn for account-based marketing and the main points you should focus on when choosing this strategy.
What is account-based marketing (ABM)?
As marketing icon David Ogilvy once put it: “Don’t count the people you reach; reach the people that count”. ABM is about a joint effort of Sales and Marketing to focus attention on a select group of accounts and a select group of decision-makers within those accounts. The goal is to achieve full visibility among these stakeholders, build relationships, and deepen engagement.
What is the first step to building business relationships? Gaining insight into the decision-making unit. What are their business drivers, current challenges and buying triggers? This allows the marketing and sales team to deliver personalised content to each specific account and stakeholder within that account.
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The power of knowing your audience and their journey
“Understanding the buyer journey is essential for a successful ABM campaign because you can’t personalise effectively if you don’t understand your audience.” – Vega Sims, lead consultant at SPOTONVISION.
You want to put the right content in front of the right people at the right time. To do that, you need to understand your buyer and their buying journey. You also need to know who within your target account is influencing and who is making decisions – the decision-making unit (DMU). You want to tailor content around the DMU’s needs, to build a relationship and gain trust.
What does the stakeholders in your DMU need that you can help with? Focus on the in-bound process, developing a connection with the buyer through the right use of content and personalisation before sales take the lead.
Of course, not all steps in the buying process are going to involve all the stakeholders, so you need to make sure you have content for all the parts of the buyer journey. Such as personalised sales enablement content or a co-branded deck for a sales presentation to a high valued account.
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Scaling or zooming in with your approach
Now that you know who your audience is and how they buy, you can apply your research to a larger group of prospects and scale your ABM activities. LinkedIn can be a great partner here, as it will let you target specific verticals, industries, and accounts. It also lets you prioritise audiences based on intent, which is key when you are scaling.
A MarTech stack that includes tools for elements such as website personalisation or AI recommended content are also a good call here. Tools like these are especially useful if you’re hoping to scale, as it will help you personalise your content in an easy, real-time manner.
Personalisation is essential in ABM, but it will vary depending on the level of relationship you have with each account.
“The stronger the relationship with an account, the more personalised you can be. You need to make sure the personalisation is relevant and that it adds value to the buyer’s journey. Otherwise, your ABM approach may backfire”, Sims specifies. In the beginning, she says, it is okay to personalise using fewer data points, and it is recommended since you do not have a relationship with the account or its DMU. You don’t want to come across as creepy by being over familiar!
The power of data
A good ABM campaign cannot function without good, correct, and trustworthy data. Nobody likes being called the wrong name or to be called at all if they are not in the market for buying.
You want data that is engaged. Be careful when buying cold lists as performance could be sub-par. You want to pull people in with your personalised content, start to warm them, so they will willingly share their details with you. That way, you can make sure you are talking to the right people, and not just banging on doors with no one inside, or no one willing to open them in any case.
Keep in mind that the better your data is, the better your personalisation and your ABM approach will be.
LinkedIn and ABM, the perfect match
LinkedIn is a tool that should be part of every B2B marketer’s toolbox and one that works very well for account-based marketing. But don’t forget LinkedIn should be just one part of the channel mix you will be using.
With LinkedIn, you can promote your brand and content. You can go very specific into only one account or expand your reach within your target account list. Knowing the best way to spend your budget is key. This depends on the company and how well known the brand is. Vega explains:
“If you are a household consumer brand that have wider awareness activity running – you can effectively leverage this and put emphasis on lead generation to achieve good results. However, if your brand is not known or you are entering a new market, it is wise to allocate spend to brand awareness and not just lead gen.”
Less well-known B2B brands often focus the majority or even their entire budget on lead generation. As tempting as this may be, it could affect overall performance of your activity. Especially if you consider that most prospects won’t be ready to buy at this very moment.
Adding a brand layer will help you build rapport, explain what you do, create a connection and ensure that you’re one of the first companies a buyer thinks of when they are evaluating suppliers. It’s therefore important to think long term. Your content could very well be compelling, but that doesn’t automatically mean there is buyer intent.
For ABM, you want to focus on your key accounts and nurture your DMU. You can do that in two ways:
1. Use LinkedIn as a branding tool
You can use LinkedIn for your top-funnel content and brand activity. This way you create trust and you establish a relationship with your prospects, but it should form part of a wider channel mix. LinkedIn has ABM capability and will help you identify the accounts that are engaging with your content. With this data you can create a priority audience. ABM specific platforms can be very useful in this regard. Now, you can move this audience to the next parts of your funnel and target them with mid-funnel content.
In this case, you will first target your total addressable market (TAM) and then funnel them into an audience based on engagement and even intent. In essence nurturing contacts outside of just email.
2. Focus on your target account lists
If you already have a specific list of accounts you want to target, you can upload that to LinkedIn. LinkedIn will help you gauge the engagement of each account, so you can help them through the funnel and enable them to buy.
LinkedIn will also help you expand your target account list and reach your DMU by targeting specific member skills, or job roles and seniority. Plus, based on your criteria for the list, you will be able to judge the lead quality of each person you reach.
Measuring your results
Of course, not everything that matters is measurable. But there are some key metrics you should keep your eye on when using LinkedIn for ABM.
With account-based marketing, Sales and Marketing are always aligned. You should therefore not stop measuring Marketing Pipe generated and influenced, but you should go further than these indicators. Continue to work with Sales and their touchpoints so you can understand exactly how many leads have turned into meetings and from meetings to new logos. Also don’t forget to benchmark your results, so that you can continuously optimise.
- Overall account engagement (how many people from one account are engaging with your content?)
- Number of form fills
- Number of impressions
- Number of clicks (and how many clicks are turning into actual form fills?)
- Conversion rate (how are your ads performing?)
- Cost per lead
- Cost per acquisition (so you can measure return on ad spend)
Final remarks on ABM and LinkedIn
- Understand your audience and DMU so that you can create content and messaging that resonates with them. Know their needs and challenges. Remember, marketing and sales are about building trust and creating meaningful experiences.
- If you are using personalisation, make sure that every touchpoint is personalised in a meaningful way, delighting the prospect every step of the way.
- LinkedIn is a great tool for ABM, but it should not be your only channel. Take advantage of all the tools LinkedIn offers and promote content that resonates with your audience.
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