How To Use Marketo To Boost Your ABM Strategy

TAP CXM
4 Oct 2022

How Marketing Technology Can Supercharge Your Account-Based Marketing Strategy 

A step-by-step guide to ABM in the martech age

Marketing is under increased pressure to prove ROI. Sales needs more qualified leads. CFOs are asking for accurate revenue forecasts, and customers are demanding personal attention from global brands.

The state of marketing today is enough to make your head spin.

There’s an endless stream of tips, tools and techniques promising to make marketers more effective. But most only alleviate the symptom. They don’t address the source of ineffective marketing or align sales and marketing behind a customer-focused revenue generation strategy.

However, a considered account-based marketing program – powered by the right martech – can do just that. 

A growing cohort of marketers and salespeople are realising that account-based marketing (ABM) is the most effective way to reorganise, realign and realise significant ROI. And Marketo Engage is the tool that turns a customer-focused strategy into a supercharged ABM program.

What is account-based marketing, really?

Account-based marketing is a B2B strategy whereby marketing and sales teams focus on nurturing key accounts to deepen engagement with an ideal customer profile (ICP).

ABM treats a defined set of accounts as ‘markets of one’. Rather than organising around an industry, product, service or channel, ABM focuses on delivering value to targeted accounts. 

The channels, content, solutions and services evolve from that central value proposition. Focusing on specific accounts builds better relationships, improves efficiency and can boost ROI by up to 97%.

Why effective teams are (re)turning to ABM

ABM isn’t new. Its legacy stretches to the early 1990s when personalised marketing emerged.

To put it bluntly, ABM got a bad rap. You might be one of the many professionals who tried to roll out an account-based strategy and found it too expensive, time-consuming or ineffective.

But several intersecting factors contributed to a recent resurgence in ABM’s popularity:

  • More powerful B2B marketing software
  • Better data tracking and analysis
  • Focus on data-driven business decisions
  • Customers’ demands for personalisation (yes, even in B2B)
  • Heightened competition across the board

Times have changed. Customers are more receptive to ABM and C-Suites are placing more importance on data. And powerful technology solutions like Marketo Engage come with target account management (TAM) tools that save time while delivering more effective engagement.

Is ABM worth it?

Account-based marketing isn’t easy to get right. For most organisations, it requires a fundamental shift in the way marketing and sales align internally and communicate externally. 

But the benefits are well worth the effort:

  • ICPs receive tailored communication
  • Limited resources are used to land high-value accounts
  • Content is more relevant and valuable
  • Prospects are more likely to engage
  • CRM data becomes richer
  • Sales and marketing align to deliver value

A recent study of 420 B2B marketers by the ABM Leadership Alliance revealed that account-based marketing delivers exceptional returns across the board.

71% improvement in relationships.

55% improvement in revenue.

34% improvement in reputation.

statistics on account based marketing

Source: ABMLA

Three-quarters (76%) of marketers reported that ABM delivers “Somewhat” or “Significantly” higher ROI than traditional marketing efforts. 

Yet despite these significant upsides, only 13% of companies have an embedded ABM program. HubSpot puts the figure closer to 25%, with nearly a quarter of companies running their ABM program for 24+ months.

Source: HubSpot

The bottom line is it’s not too late to start your account-based marketing overhaul. By following these six steps, you can reorganise around your ICP and focus on delivering value in every interaction.

How to plan an effective ABM program

It always starts with strategy

Casting a wide net is no longer effective in a world of non-linear customer journeys, personalisation at scale, and increasing competition. Account-based marketing makes better use of resources by targeting high-value prospects, developing tailored content, and nurturing strategic accounts.

Before launching into an ABM program, invest in getting internal teams aligned and establishing workflows using intelligent marketing technology. Depending on your company’s appetite to change, this process might be easy or intense. Either way, buy-in from the broader organisation is just as essential to success as the right martech stack. 

  1. Identify high-value accounts

Analyse data from a range of sources to identify the accounts that fit your criteria. 

Revenue, industry, and company size are a good start. Complementary firmographic and demographic data can enrich standard CRM data, creating a fuller customer profile:

  • Likelihood to purchase (or purchase again)
  • Potential profit margin
  • Market influence
  • Operating territory
  • Cost to provide core services

There’s no overstating the importance of good quality data. Size doesn’t always equal value. Dig through your data to find the accounts with the highest ROI potential; test your ABM program with this group to iron out the kinks. 

Marketo Engage users have a head-start thanks to target account management features that find accounts faster. Based on the ICP profile you define, Marketo uses AI to predict which accounts could be quick wins, upsells, cross-sells or high-effort.

This added dimension means sales and marketing teams spend less time chasing unproductive accounts. 

  1. Align sales and marketing behind value-adding interactions

Account-based marketing relies on tailored content and timely communication. Sales and marketing alignment, therefore, becomes both an enabler and outcome of an effective ABM program. 

In practice, this looks like:

  • Agreeing on definitions and lead criteria
  • Aligning marketing and sales strategies
  • Defining shared goals
  • Identifying key players and their roles
  • Mapping lead hand-off and handling processes
  • Automating lead tracking and scoring with Marketo
  • Integrating Marketo Sales Insight into your CRM to furnish Sales with valuable information 
  • Developing SLAs to encourage accountability
  • Alerting salespeople to high-value prospects

Marketing and sales must work together to identify, entice, nurture, convert and support key accounts. Misalignment creates internal friction. More importantly, it results in an underwhelming customer experience.

Strategy is the first step; marketing automation makes it happen. Marketo Engage automates lead scoring and sales readiness workflows using AI, freeing up time on both sides of the Marketing and Sales equation. As well as streamlining lead handling processes, Marketo’s Sales Insight tool bolts directly onto existing CRMs to unearth value-adding intelligence. 

With alignment and AI, your organisation can access better insights, focus on high-value leads, convert more efficiently, and deliver better customer experiences.

 

  1. Develop tailored content

Crucial to any effective ABM strategy is the content your target accounts receive. There will likely be distinct personas within the high-level ICP, such as the decision maker, procurement manager, influencer, user and naysayer.

Similarly, within your target market, there are likely to be segments with different needs or challenges. For example, a car manufacturer will want to create different content for fleet lessees, individual customers, and caryards. 

According to McKinsey, 71% of consumers expect brands to personalise interactions, and 76% become frustrated when they don’t deliver.

Marketo makes it easier to tailor content to specific audience segments. Using a Smart List rule, you can define parameters to automatically segment your database. From there, dynamic content blocks display different content to each segment without you needing to create an entirely new template for each instance.

In other words, Market automates the personalisation process. It’s a responsive, intelligent, and time-saving solution to deliver tailored content in emails and on landing pages. . 

 

  1. Find the most effective communication channel/s

Organising around the customer means maturing from a wide-and-shallow approach to targeted marketing. 

Build operational lead scoring models that are specific to your ABM strategy. For example, the business might decide that webinar attendance is a stronger indication of ‘fit’ than LinkedIn engagement.

Targeting communication through high-value channels will reduce wasted effort, deliver more valuable experiences, and potentially generate higher ROI.

  1. Execute targeted campaigns

Here’s where technology and data play a starring role. In the past, producing tailored content for one-to-one engagement took up an enormous amount of time. But Marketo has built-in intelligence and automation features that make authentic conversations much easier.

  • Automated, granular lead scoring
  • Aggregates individual engagement data at the account level
  • Persona filters within Account Lists to provide tailored content
  • Automated nurture programs
  • AI-powered key account identification
  • Predictive audience building and segmentation
  • Agile multi-touch attribution modelling
  • Real-time customer engagement tracking

On average, Marketo users report seeing 20% more engagement, a 21% increase in deal size, and three times as many deals closed.

Technology is arguably the most significant leap forward in account-based marketing over the last decade. Although there are thousands of martech solutions available, Marketo is the overall leader for ABM, TAM, and sales and marketing alignment.

  1. Measure, evaluate and optimise

Agility is important – within the framework of a clear strategy. Monitor engagement closely to determine which accounts are responding well and which might need extra attention. Once again, Marketo Engage provides a value-adding shortcut, monitor behaviour that indicates interest and providing Sales with actionable insights they can use to close more deals.

Collaboration between marketing and sales teams is mission-critical here. Tactics like A/B testing content, aggregating account data, and accessing predictive insights can all help to reach the shared goals established in step 2. Use the data and insights surfaced by your ABM software to determine which activities are valuable before testing new approaches.

Remember: it all comes back to delivering customer value. 

With a solid strategy, internal alignment, a focus on customer value, and the right software, you can deliver an effective ABM program that grows revenue and builds the business.

TAP CXM provides practical database marketing expertise, training, and customer experience consulting for growing companies in the UK and USA. Wherever you are in the maturity process, we can help you create value-adding ABM initiatives that grow your business in the right direction. 

We’re also Marketo Engage experts. If you’re considering bringing Marketo into your martech stack, get in touch for advice on getting the most from your investment.


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