Account-based Marketing part 3 – The strategic equipment

| March 17, 2020 | Sales & Marketing Strategy | Reading time: 7 Minutes

The strategic equipment

The fictitious company Mooser is in the midst of planning their first ABM campaign. The team already defined, which metrics they want to accomplish and which accounts will be targeted. Now it is time for the detailed concept: How do the metrics affect the time schedule? And which are the most important guidelines?

It’s the second day of the workshop at engineering business Mooser: The executives at the company invited their marketing agency to Salzburg to talk about strategic decisions for the upcoming campaign. On day one, the agency discussed with the board of managers as well as the internal marketing and sales departments who and what will be targeted:

  • Nine existing customers are defined as top accounts.
  • Four more companies are being targeted as ideal accounts.
  • Within these accounts, ten relevant leads or areas are targeted.
  • Three new contracts of purchase should be signed as a result of the campaign.
  • An average of 50 days should lie between the initial contact and the contract signing.

...and all of this by the end of the next quarter. 
Mooser's ABM campaign was created to promote the new product range of machinery and engineering equipment. This expansion in the sales sector drove the decision to implement an Account-based Marketing strategy in combination with Inbound Marketing. In the first part of the series, Mooser already found out what ABM is all about and what it takes to realise a campaign. 

Digital marketing often feels like archery – while strong wind is blowing and with a pin instead of an arrow. ABM provides the archer with the right equipment: Marketing measures follow a precise plan to reach the relevant contacts and leads. 

Today's detailed concept is all about equipping oneself with bow and arrow and estimating the trajectory: How can we make use of the existing marketing strategy? What does the ideal campaign process look like? And: Which technical specifications must be adhered to?

The basic equipment: data, data, data

But what bow and arrow are for archers, data are for Account-based Marketing. This personal data is the foundation for every strategic consideration: They provide insight into the behavior of key contacts, reveal whether the campaign is working, when accounts reach the status “Sales Qualified” and more. Data is collected for various purposes:

  • Opening rate, click rate and heat map for newsletters: Which contacts demonstrate interest in the newsletter? Are the further links clicked? Which links are clicked particularly often?
  • Website visits: Which pages and contents are frequently requested? How much time do readers spend on individual content pieces on the blog? Which leads download which content offers? How successful is the content that deals with the new product range? And: Do visitors reach the blog via social media, the newsletter or by organic search?
  • Interactions: How many contact points does a key contact have with the Mooser product range on all channels? Can a lead be reached better via social media or email? What content is a contact interested in?
  • Conversions: Finally, the all-decisive interaction, which enables the contact to be qualified and subsequently the "lead" to be handed over to the sales staff.

However, data collection alone is not the end of the story. In the data evaluation, which, like the survey, takes place continuously during the campaign, Mooser finds out whether the KPIs are met. The continuous creation of reports is important in order to track where accounts are in the customer decision journey. If the data is not promising, it indicates that content needs to be updated and the strategy rethought.

One cannot talk about data without also talking about personal data protection. GDPR, Telecommunications Act and ePrivacy regulation protect all of us as individuals, but they are often hard to comprehend. The regulations often seem ambiguous or too complicated. 

Since Mooser's ABM strategy is based on points of contact and personal data on individuals is collected, Mooser's current position on data protection has to be renewed. The interactions of individual key contacts with the company take place at newsletter or webinar registrations, user profiles, on social media and even when leads visit the company website. At every contact point the persons have to explicitly agree to receive promotional materials as well as the tracking with cookies. The most important facts:

  • Newsletter: An opt-in is mandatory, better yet is a double opt-in to confirm the identity of the recipient.
  • Cookies: Cookie banners or pop-ups are mandatory. Users need to be able to disable cookies based on the categories of data collection. 
  • Social Media: Companies may not contact private individuals without their consent. One workaround would be that employees connect with key contacts from their personal profiles on professional platforms, such as LinkedIn.

Regulations on data protection are constantly being updated. Keep your eyes open for new regulations, for example with the help of the official GDPR compliance checklist. However, the data that Mooser receives in accordance with the regulations is worth the effort.

Outlook on the schedule

The timing lays the foundation on which the following content strategy for the campaign and last but not least the content calendar will be based on. The campaign is planned with respect to one of the pre-sale metrics: The deal velocity is to be reduced from 63 days to 50 days.
The duration of the campaign will be set at ten weeks in total. The extent to which the deal velocity improves, will become apparent towards the end of the ten weeks (see The Account-Based Marketing Cheat Sheet).

The definite start date for the campaign is also set: The first April of the current year. This date does not only describe the start of the next quarter for Mooser, but also the beginning of a season in which a lot of expertise is exchanged. 
The start date of a campaign should be chosen carefully depending on the industry and events. The long summer holidays, as well as winter time, could mean that key contacts are less easily accessible for Mooser. On the other hand, being present with a stand at one or more of the European trade fairs in spring creates valuable interaction possibilities with target accounts for Mooser. This is another opportunity to draw attention to Mooser's new product range and score points with the know-how of their employees in a personal setting. 

There are still two months until the first of April, enough time to make all the preparations for a very specific content strategy.

Content before platform in content selection

Within the customer decision journey not all of Moosers' accounts start from the same stage. Nevertheless, this campaign intends to target returning customers as well as companies who may never have heard of Mooser. At different points in the customer decision journey, accounts have different information needs and the key contacts prefer different approaches. A one-size-fits-all solution is not the right way.

How can different target accounts be reached? The answer is relevant and customized content. Social media posts, newsletters, texts and content offers should reach key contacts at just the right moment with the relevant keywords. The decisive factor is the right mix of media that nevertheless fits the platform, medium and customer decision journey.

Do not forget: Content comes before platform and format. First, relevant content is conceived and then it is a matter of adapting it to the format and the channel through which the desired accounts or relevant people can be reached best.

For example, if a target customer of Mooser needs a system that has to endure tough environmental conditions, a case study of Mooser's new product range is a suitable content piece. How is it best presented? Why not capture on video what an installed system at a production site looks like and record the expertise behind Mooser's system technology through employee interviews? The video format is in turn rewarded by social media algorithms with better reach. In this case, the decision would be in favor of a case study as  a video clip on LinkedIn.

The ideal campaign process

Mooser's marketing agency advises the following approach: 
The content is designed and produced for each phase of the purchase decision even before the campaign starts. The ideal account and the key contacts are kept in mind, because they should be addressed on those channels that are relevant for them. Be it email or social media – the channel determines how the content should look like. The trick: The designed content is adapted for each account with a targeted approach that guarantees increased interaction rates.

The team at the conference table is brainstorming. The internal marketing and sales department, as well as the board of managers discuss the marketing agency's suggestions: What is the ideal campaign course?

Week 1: First touchpoints of the key contact with Mooser – On LinkedIn, an employee of the target account Thermo Fisher stumbles upon a sponsored post by Mooser. She is employed in the research department and is constantly working on new technical solutions for machines and plants. Interested, she uses the call-to-action button to access an article on the website. She looks through the blog of the website and in the end, signs up for Mooser's newsletter.

Weeks 2 – 3: The Thermo Fisher employee continues to receive sponsored posts on LinkedIn and decides to add the company website. She now receives a weekly email from Mooser and sometimes reads through articles at work. She researches more about the company. “That would be a good partner for us,” she thinks to herself. In a meeting she mentions Mooser and learns from two colleagues that they too are already in contact with the mechanical engineering company.

Weeks 4 – 6: Mooser is now being discussed in the company as a potential supplier. Thermo Fisher has even arranged a personal meeting with Mooser. On LinkedIn the employees now receive less paid posts from Mooser. Instead, they are connected via private profiles with the members of Mooser sales team and receive case studies and content offers.

Weeks 7 – 8: At Thermo Fisher headquarters, the employees are convinced: Mooser meets the requirements for the equipment Thermo Fisher needs. Mooser now has a consolidated contact to the decision makers in the company and insight into their specific needs. The contract is concluded.

The ideal process is based on the fact that some content resources are already available. Mooser's marketing agency asks the internal marketing department to take stock.

Target key contacts with revised content 

The old familiar sales representative model with sales talks in offices and at conferences is increasingly shifting to the virtual world: 

Since cold calls are very expensive and the chances of success are also rather moderate, LinkedIn is used as a gateway for establishing contact. And those leads demand regular and interesting content.

Fortunately, Mooser does not have to start from scratch. Mooser's corporate website already has a blog with a content strategy. Every month, two articles are posted here and a newsletter with news from the industry and the company is sent to customers. Hidden in the blog's archive are a few articles that would be just right for the ABM campaign and just need some fine-tuning. 

In the case of Thermo Fisher, for example, the business areas of the business can be addressed and keywords included in the titles of the content pieces. The employee in the example prefers to click on an article when it is clear that Mooser is particularly interested in clients from bioproduction or biopharmaceutical production.

How can Mooser use this existing capital of information in order to turn it into a targeted and individual approach for the accounts? The information needs of existing clients, as well as the companies that Mooser would like to have as clients, are very different. How can Mooser adapt to the Customer Journey of their accounts and positively influence the decisions? Which are the priorities?

Mooser's marketing agency still has a few tricks up its sleeve and sees enough possibilities to integrate relevant content into the ABM campaign. For now, the workshop in Salzburg is done. After two full workshop days, the employees of Mooser will return to their usual work. The marketing agency, on the other hand, prepares for the ABM project: They already get the first ideas for the content implementation of the campaign on the return trip. Equipped with a bow and arrow, they now have to pull the bowstring and make the final preparations.