Content is king. That maxim rings truer today than ever before. Content marketing is a powerful tool that, when done right, has a tremendous ROI. It might be tempting to think of all content marketing as the same. This isn’t the case, however. There are certain nuances that you need to consider. The biggest is how your content program works with your overall strategy.
Account-based marketing (ABM) has become an increasingly popular strategy for B2B companies. But what exactly is ABM, and how should you create content to support ABM?
What is Account-Based Marketing?
ABM differs from standard lead-gen tactics in that it is focused on a few intentionally selected target companies based on an ideal customer profile (ICP). While lead gen focuses on generating the highest quantity of leads, ABM aims to generate the highest quality. This is a significant structural change from traditional marketing approaches.
An ABM program requires marketing and sales to align to show a unified message to specific pre-qualified accounts. This is made possible by programmatic display platforms like Rollworks but can also be coordinated within social platforms like LinkedIn with targeted account ads. These platforms allow users to target individual accounts with custom-tailored ads.
A typical ABM playbook has three stages.
- Activate – Create awareness with net new logos utilizing top-of-funnel demand generation
- Accelerate – Accelerate pipeline movement by supporting the sales process
- Expansion – Identifying retention and expansion opportunities within current customers
These playbooks follow our best-fit accounts throughout the buyer’s journey, creating a friendly environment that produces better sales outcomes. This creates a strategy that engages buyers based on known data points and can produce measurable, replicable results.
ABM is efficient and effective both in terms of cost and leads generated. By targeting select accounts identified ahead of time as likely potential customers, ad dollars and marketing efforts aren’t wasted on generating poor-quality leads.
But you still need something for your marketing targets to interact with. Even better, you need a range of things designed to resonate with your targets, depending on where they’re at in the marketing funnel. Even better than that, you need things that will move them through your funnel and one step closer to closing. What you need is content marketing.
How Does Content Fit into an ABM Strategy?
As with any B2B marketing effort (or B2C, for that matter), content is at the center of a winning strategy. But how does content marketing fit into an ABM strategy? There are a couple of key things your ABM content needs to be doing for you. But first, we need to understand the goal of the content.
ABM Content Marketing Has a Different Goal
Traditionally, a content marketing program focuses on generating as much traffic and awareness as possible. Volume is the key to success. The hope is that a qualified lead is hiding somewhere in all the impressions and engagements. This approach doesn’t fit well with a hyper-targeted strategy like ABM.
It’s the difference between fishing with a net and fishing with a hook. If you don’t care what kind of leads you get as long as you get leads, your content needs to act like a net. If, however, you care very much about the lead you get, your content needs to act like a hook. In account-based marketing, we need a hook.
Types of Content in an ABM Strategy
The types of content used for ABM strategies are similar to content you would use for any other B2B strategy. Long-form, short-form, emails, social posts, and ads are all examples of content you would deploy for an ABM strategy. This big difference is in the messaging.
Typical B2B funnels take eight or more touch points to generate a sales-qualified lead. These touch points include phone calls, emails, or a downloaded whitepaper. The biggest thing they must have is consistency. What you say in an email must have the same tone and voice as your blog posts. What you pitch on a phone call must align with your display ads’ selling points. In short, all your content needs to be synchronized.
Your content also has to be customized. It stands to reason that as your targets become more specific, your content gets more specific. An extreme example of this would be creating a single piece of content for one specific account (which has been successful). Extremes aside, the targeted nature of ABM means you need to be smart when picking your target accounts so you can develop content that resonates with them all.
How Content is Used in ABM Strategies
Content can be used to accomplish many things in an account-based strategy. It can be used to build brand awareness among your target accounts. Content can also help establish your company as a thought leader in your particular industry or capture individual leads. ABM content can also help your SEO strategy. SEO-specific content like blog articles can play an essential role as a touch point in multi-touch journeys. Although, you do need to carefully consider your target keywords and make sure they relate to your target accounts.
The best use of content in an ABM strategy, however, is as a strong intent signal. In account-based marketing, we look at different intent signals. And interacting with content is a strong signal. Tracking content consumption and combining it with other intent signals like website visits informs sales reps if a target account will be receptive to outreach.
Gated vs. Ungated Content – Which is Better for ABM?
It can be a tricky call, but gating your content has some clear advantages and disadvantages.
Pros to Gated Content:
- Very strong intent signal
- Content can be perceived as higher-quality
- Generate easily-trackable lead
- Provides SEO value for website
Cons to Gated Content:
- Younger buyers are reluctant to give away contact information
- Can lead to poor brand image
- Reduces overall content consumption
- Has no SEO value
The decision to gate your content ultimately depends on your objective. If you’re in the activate playbook, you want to develop brand awareness and top-of-funnel demand. Gating content at this point probably doesn’t make much sense. You want as many target accounts to interact with your content as much as possible, and gating it puts a barrier between your content and your potential customer. If you’re looking to move accounts from mid to low funnel, then gating your content probably makes sense.
Ignite your ABM Strategy
Merging your content strategy and your ABM strategy requires careful planning and research. The best place to start is to identify key target accounts that match your ideal customer profile and segment them based on things like industry, size, and buyer personas.
From there, you’ll want to develop personalized messaging for each account and then develop content that speaks to their specific needs and interests. This messaging should be consistent across all channels, including email, social media, and website content. From there, it’s all about paying attention to intent signals.
Do you have the skills to drive effective growth through an ABM program? Need help on where to get started?
RenderTribe’s team of ABM experts will help you evaluate your teams’ alignment and discuss how a change management framework can be customized to develop a successful go-to-market strategy. Get started on a successful ABM program today.