Three Reasons Why Data Is The Foundation Of A Successful ABM Strategy

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Account-based marketing (ABM) continues to gain popularity among business-to-business (B2B) organisations looking to deepen engagement with specific accounts; In this opinion piece, Bill Binch, Marketo Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand discusses building a successful ABM strategy with data as the foundation.

Sandrine Atallah
Posted by Sandrine Atallah

In its 2016 State of ABM study, SiriusDecisions found that 92 per cent of companies recognise ABM as a valuable solution to B2B marketing challenges.

However, for some of these organisations, their efforts are falling short. It’s no coincidence many of these same organisations struggle to get a grasp on their data. In fact, SiriusDecisions found 60 per cent of marketers consider the overall health of their data unreliable. What does data have to do with ABM success? In one word: everything.

B2B organisations have access to massive amounts of data from their internal marketing and sales activities, prospect and customer behaviours, and customer service information. Many also purchase data from external sources to augment existing data sets. But not all data is equal, and more often than not, a company’s data is polluted and incomplete.

In Avention’s recent survey of B2B sales and marketing practitioners, just 31 per cent of respondents felt that their organisations have the right data for sales and just 24 per cent felt that they have the right data for marketing.

Data is the basis of successful account-based marketing, so before you implement your ABM strategy, take a good look at your data.

1. Data + Content = Personalisation

At its core, ABM is about engaging key stakeholders from target accounts with strategic, personalised marketing and sales messages. This content may come in a number of different formats–ebooks, whitepapers, reports, to name a few–but it all must feel personalised to the individual target and account, and that requires sound data. Without this intelligence, your marketing and sales teams can’t understand each target prospect’s needs and challenges, and identify timely opportunities to respond with relevant content. They are essentially operating in the dark. Data-driven marketing provides the insights that enable your teams to deliver the right messages to the right targets at the right times to get from first click to final signature.

2. Sales and Marketing Need to Operate in Lockstep

Sales and marketing alignment has long been a challenge for B2B organisations, but with customer experience initiatives gaining ground, it’s now a priority. SiriusDecisions’ survey data shows all organisations engaging in an ABM strategy are at least somewhat aligned with sales, with 34% citing tight alignment.

ABM requires marketers to operate with the mindset of sales—identifying accounts and how to target them, bringing them to the table, and generating revenue from them. Marketers and sales need to be aligned to identify the right accounts and how to pursue them, but this is impossible without accurate data on your prospects and customers. You need to use data to score and segment accounts that have a high propensity to buy or fit the right parameters for your target market.

3. Segment to Find the Best Targets

Segmentation is mission-critical for successful ABM. You need to segment your target accounts based on data such as industry type, company size, revenue, number of employees and annual spend to identify the best targets. Paired with predictive analytics or sales intelligence, you can then look for specific behaviours that signal a prospect’s readiness to buy or your team can seek out prospects’ characteristics exhibited by your best customers. This data enables your teams to do a deep dive into each account and create targeted campaigns that engage your target accounts.

When it comes to successful account-based marketing, the importance of clean, accurate data cannot be overstated. Such data provides the foundation on which your sales and marketing teams can align their goals, inform effective segmentation strategy, and support the creation of personalised content and campaigns that influence decision-makers. In short, data is the bedrock of successful account-based marketing, and it must be among an organisation’s top priorities when considering an ABM program.