How to Build a Customer-Centric ABM Experience
Account based marketing (ABM) has been a popular technology for years, but it’s always fallen short of expectations. While companies learned to efficiently handle the data and implement systems, the concept has consistently slipped farther down into the Digital Marketing Trough of Disillusionment.
Companies are not seeing the success they anticipated because they’ve failed to recognize that ABM should be about building a customer-centric experience that reaches the right buyer, at the right time, with the right information.
ABM strategies shouldn’t be about trying to target “an account”. They should instead focus on informing the customer journey and connecting with prospects while simultaneously learning more about an organization’s readiness-to-buy.
It’s time for companies to learn how to build a customer-centric ABM experience instead of using ABM tools to just run more interruptive campaigns.
How ABM Can Improve Customer Experience
Eighty-five percent (85%) of B2B buyers expect sales reps to demonstrate a firm understanding of their needs. Nearly the same percentage say the experience a company provides is just as important as the products or services it provides. Unfortunately, 57% of those same buyers say vendors have failed to meet their expectations.
So how can we improve the customer experience in ABM?
- Implements best-in-class, targeted, and focused marketing
- Takes the best of ABM (personalized attention) and the best of Demand Marketing (ability to scale) and marries the two together
- Brings a strategic lens to both customer engagement and demand
As a general rule, a positive customer experience in Account Based Marketing will:
- Deliver the right information at the right time. Leverage progressive profiling responses and engagement behavior to determine each buyer’s stage of the buying process. Then, deliver content that helps them solve their unique problems.
- Help buyers along a self-education journey. Learn from previous content interactions and drive a two-way dialogue with the buyer. Provide content that’s relevant to continue the conversation.
- Be relationship-oriented. ABM shouldn’t be about achieving your sales outcome, it should be about helping your accounts reach theirs.
To make sure you’re meeting each, follow the five steps we’ve outlined below.
Five steps to building a better experience via ABM
1. Operationalize your go-to-market strategy around the customer journey
It’s no longer enough to build customer personas, map out ideal journeys, and build end-to-end content. To drive results, you have to be sure that the right customers find the right content at the right time for them. A positive customer experience begins with the customer’s needs met as intuitively as possible.
In this step, your goal is to orchestrate engagement via segmentation and behavior-tracking to ensure the customer is able to discover the content they need exactly at the moment they need it. The results for the customer are clear – their needs are met seamlessly and they feel fully engaged with your business.
Remember that the goal of our technology systems and data architecture (including ABM tools) must always be to support the customer’s end-to-end process. In addition to content delivery, ensure your team understands who is responsible for which customers during each phase of their respective journeys. Over time, the collected insights will build a stronger view of your customers without compromising the need to nurture and develop your individual relationships.
2. Implement a Conversation Track Architecture
Once your customer’s journey is properly tended to, the next step is to set up a Conversation Track Architecture. This is done by taking all of your aggregate personas and buying segments, then grouping them together based on behavioral signals and needs like pain points or motivations.
Once the groups are formed into Conversation Tracks, you’ll be able to ensure that you have orchestrated motions to drive those segments through their journeys based on their maturing needs throughout the funnel.
Not all of those segments will play the same role at different phases. It’s possible that one group’s journey may converge with another later in the buying process when earlier they’re more differentiated. This step should inform all design, content, and technology required to support your demand process.
3. Orchestrate engagement. Stop campaigning.
With ABM, it’s all about the one-to-one experience. You still need to focus on growth and efficiency, of course, but the better you can encourage engagement from your customer the more successful you’ll be. This step of the process is all about orchestrating the content touchpoints and the customer’s journey across all channels.
The goal is to get to a point where you no longer think of your efforts as a “campaign”, but rather as simply engaging with and understanding the customer.
Consider it this way: if it were someone you cared about, would you send them random drip campaigns and try to disrupt their day with impersonal ads and email blasts? Or would you listen to what they’ve told you, and respond as helpful as you could for as long as they needed help?
To achieve a great customer experience, the customer’s touchpoints with your business can’t be separate interrupted experiences one after another. Your efforts need to flow, they need to work together and create a cohesive, enjoyable process.
Read more: Are You Committing Random Acts of Marketing?
4. Rationalize your org model to support the customer journey
A great customer experience happens when your customers know where to go when they need help. It’s about knowing who to contact, where to get a question answered, and how to feel confident engaging across channels.
To ensure your customers always feel this way, take your functional organizational chart and give ownership to people’s roles in handling the different aspects of the customer journey. This will ensure that when the customer has moved to a different stage in the process, whoever is responsible for that aspect knows to reach out and introduce themselves. Not only that, but that same person becomes responsible for creating content, processes, and systems that assist customers in the specific part of the funnel that they have responsibility over.
So often we define our team in terms of who is responsible for what within a company. It’s imperative to also ask “who is responsible for the customer at the different stages of their journey?”
There must be end-to-end stewardship of the customer throughout their journey. Spend time reviewing your team’s responsibilities to ensure they’re never unable to find what they need.
5. Add strategic KPIs
You can’t measure what you don’t track. When it comes to account-based metrics, there’s no shortage of KPIs. When it comes to ABM, however, the most important two are rarely recorded: are we actually reaching our target persona, and are they being given a good experience in the way that we need them to?
With those KPIs recorded, you’ll then be able to improve your systems. You’ll confidently be able to identify and adjust the channels that are working and those that are not. This will allow you to constantly improve your systems and the amount of predictable, ongoing leads through your pipeline.
Build a win-win scenario for your prospects
To build a best-in-class ABM experience, you must always put the customer front and center. Not only when creating content, but when navigating through their entire buyer’s journey. You’ll find the most success when combining the best of ABM (relevant, personalized conversations) with the best of Demand Marketing (measurable, scalable, and metrics-driven initiatives).
It’s a win-win scenario. Your customers will have a best-in-class experience, and your marketing will be more effective.