Can Inbound Marketing Support an Account-Based Marketing Strategy?

Can Inbound Marketing Support an Account-Based Marketing Strategy?

This is Part 2 of our series on account-based marketing. Read part 1 here

What is Account-Based Marketing?

Marketo defines account-based marketing as “an alternative B2B strategy that concentrates sales and marketing resources on a clearly defined set of target accounts within a market and employs personalized campaigns designed to resonate with each account.” In plain English, with an ABM strategy, you make a list of a bunch of accounts that are a good match for your company (on paper) and go stalk them.

Sounds simple, right? Nope! There’s a catch.

ABM can only happen when sales and marketing unite. Marketers have to start thinking in terms of accounts, and salespeople need to start thinking about how to send the right message to target accounts. And yes, this mental shift can definitely take awhile. But once aligned, they’ll be a force to be reckoned with! Salespeople and marketers create a killer list of target accounts, and move forward with smothering individuals on those target accounts with personalized attention until they cave and convert.

How Inbound Marketing Can Support ABM

So how does inbound marketing fit into ABM efforts? At first glance, ABM and inbound marketing seem like polar opposites. ABM is high-touch and consistent, placing a huge amount of energy into bottom-of-the-funnel targeting. Inbound marketing, on the other hand, is more passive, capturing as many leads as possible, whether they’re qualified or not. However, a strong inbound marketing strategy will help set the foundation for a successful account-based marketing campaign.

Brand Credibility

ABM is predicated on a moment when your team finally grabs the attention of your target account. You have sent them all this stuff and thoroughly stalked their movements online. The next step is most likely going to be them checking you out online. Your website (you know the one you use to catch inbound leads?) needs to show your target account that you are a legit business and your service can help them solve a real problem.

Clear Messaging

Does your homepage clearly and concisely explain what your company does? Even if you do find that perfect target and send them highly personalized content, there’s a good chance they’re going to look deeper and go back to your homepage. Combining inbound efforts with your ABM strategy will ensure they have a clear message about who you are to take to other decision-makers.

Search Engine Rankings

Going in line with whether you’re a legit business, search engine rankings can actually do a great deal to show a company that you have authority in your space. Especially if you have a long decision-making process, it’s logical to think they’ll look at competitors and do some additional organic research. If you have a strong organic presence, you give them more reason to think you’re legit.

Do You Pass the BS Test?

Think of the list of things you do in your head when you are explaining to your aunt why the email she got from the IRS requesting her bank logins isn’t real. Online users today are skeptical, especially about a business that is reaching out to them first. Your online presence has to get them past that initial skepticism. Assuming you have a great website and your email addresses utilize your corporate domain, some other things to pay attention to include:

  • NAP Consistency – When someone Googles your business name, is your name, address and phone number consistent in the directories they might find?
  • Google My Business Listing – Do you have some photos of an actual location and people who work with you?
  • Reviews – Are they decent and are you responding to negative ones?
  • Social Following – Do you have more than a handful of followers?

Trust

Great inbound marketing teams are usually dialed into conversion rate optimization and building enough trust in your digital presence to inspire someone to complete a lead form. Building trust is a complex topic, but we can break it down into a few major areas:

  • Usability – A great, fast design with transparent messaging goes a long way to build trust. This is a great article by SiteTuners that breaks down how usability can enhance or destroy trust.
  • Trust Symbols – Do you have a BBB A+ rating? Did your PR team win you some cool award last year? Do you work with some badass clients? You don’t need pages and pages of this stuff, but a few well-placed logos and accolades can go a really long way to helping a prospect understand that you know what you are doing.

Your Genesis Story

Who are you, why do you matter, whose kid am I sending to college if I work with you? Most savvy buyers want to understand the faces and the story behind your organization. The old adage is that people buy from who they know, like, and trust. The story of your company is a quick way to help prospects get to know and like you.

Measuring The Success of Your ABM Campaign

Dialing in measurement is a critical component of both inbound and ABM. Is your target audience visiting the site? Do they like what they see and are they engaged? What content are they consuming? What content is turning them off? You can use a ton of inbound marketing tools to figure out if your strategy is working across both ABM and Inbound.

Obligatory GDPR Disclaimer

Naturally, in a world where you are identifying specific individuals and marketing to them directly, there are going to be ramifications that result from the collection and storage of this data. Read more about the impacts of GDPR for companies in the U.S. This is a discussion every brand should have internally (likely with your legal team) to decide your comfort level based on who you are marketing to, and how you plan to store data long-term.

Additional Third-Party Tracking

Inbound marketers rely on tools like Google Analytics as a measurement tool for trends. However, the drawback with this type of measurement is that you can’t easily get personally identifiable information on the users that visit the website. However, there are third-party tools that you can incorporate into your reporting that do just that

Tips:

  • Find a third party tracking tool to measure who from your audience is visiting the site.
  • Use key findings from this tool to make adjustments to content & users experience. For example, if you are targeting Coca-Cola, and someone from that company visited your site, checked out your homepage and services page, then left without going further, you can go back and review that services page to ensure that a company like Coca-Cola would find the information they would need on that page.
  • Share data with both ABM & inbound team members about whether your key accounts have been visiting the site.

Custom Dimensions for LinkedIn

I’m going to wager a guess that a lot of your reach-outs and communication with key prospects is happening on LinkedIn. Even if it’s not, you can re-tailor this strategy for whatever platform you are relying on. In Google Analytics, it’s pretty easy to laser in on your LinkedIn traffic to the website and ascertain if visitors are consuming specific pages of content and what their engagement levels look like.

Tips:

  • Setup a custom dimension in GA to include only traffic coming from LinkedIn.com.
  • Start with the Behavior Flow & Content Drilldown reports to better understand what content they are consuming on the site. We really like adding in Page Path Level 2 to the content drill down report, in order to see where they tend to go first when they enter the website.

UTM Codes

This is probably the simplest ways to connect the dots on how your ABM prospects are consuming your website. Anytime you share a URL with a company, you can simply tag it to ensure that you capture what they are doing.

Please note: You can’t put personally identifiable information in Google Analytics, so you can’t set up separate UTMS that identify a company as Coca-Cola, or a specific person who works there.

Here’s a great intro into how to setup UTM tracking.

Tips:

  • Create UTM tracking for your sales team for when they are sending out digital communication.
  • Run reports on how many people are clicking through to your content from those reach outs, and analyze what those users are doing on the website once they visit.

Gated Content and List Segmentation

Most B2B inbound programs incorporate at least one piece of gated content. In inbound, we know that prospects have to touch the brand multiple times before they are willing to reach out. Giving someone a soft conversion of downloading a great piece of content in exchange for their email is a basic tactic to help them along their journey.

Of course, in inbound, we’re generally doing that to create segmented email lists or paid retargeting. However, if you have an ABM-focused strategy, you can create list segments or build client records in your CRM based on your ICP, including things like:

  • Company Name
  • Title
  • Company Size
  • Biggest Pain Points

ABM is The New Cool Kid In Class

While account-based marketing is certainly growing in popularity, particularly for B2B businesses, inbound marketing still serves an important complementary role. You can’t be popular without friends, and inbound marketing is your BFF.

As a tool in the arsenal, it’s important to always remember that great marketing is all about team alignment. While account-based marketing can give you tremendous insights into very specific members of your target audience, this data can and should play a pivotal role in brand messaging and inbound strategies.

By joining forces, you can maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of all your marketing efforts and even get your sales team some face time.

Want to talk more about how account-based marketing can help your business? Reach out to the team at Volume Nine today – we’re here to help!