3 Steps to Starting Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

3 Steps to Starting Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

ABM is exactly what it sounds like: an approach to B2B marketing which targets a smaller segment of your audience with personalized messaging. It can be a great complement to broader marketing tactics and an effective way to give your sales team additional support when tackling key prospects. Here are three key steps to getting started with ABM tactics:

1) Identify Key Prospects

Depending on how large a set of prospects you’re trying to identify, you may be able to do this with all your own information. Your sales team likely has a set of prospective accounts in mind already that they would like to land. Remember, though: it’s not just the size of the opportunity that should be considered, but also how likely they are to convert. Compare them with your current customers as well as companies who have passed on your services in the past and evaluate accordingly.

If you’re looking at a larger group of prospects or are having trouble identifying or connecting with the right person in the organization, third party data can help. Depending on your industry, there may be a trade organization who can help you or there are data companies you can try as well.

Once you’ve identified the companies, make sure you know the right people to reach—including influencers as well as decision makers—to help smooth the sales process even further.

2) Personalize Your Marketing

Based on your time, resources, budget and sales cycle, you can establish a set of reasonable goals. Then you’ll proceed like any other marketing plan—just with a narrower, more focused audience that allows you to get more personalized with your content and messaging.

For example, your content marketing can be adapted not just to the stages of the buyer’s journey and your broader buyer personas, but to the specific organization or even person you’re reaching out to.

Before you get too personalized and spend too much time customizing, make sure the lifetime value of the customer will justify the resources you’re investing.

3) Choose Your Tactics

ABM focuses heavily in the digital space with tactics like email marketing, social media and programmatic campaigns leading the pack. Tangible marketing tactics like direct mail or even out-of-home could have their place as well and should be considered in the light of how big an opportunity you’re going after. Digital tactics will often provide the most cost-effective approach.

Email marketing is typically the core of an ABM campaign as it is the most controllable, customize-able tactic. Setting prospects up in a sequence of targeted emails can help guide them through the buyer’s journey until they’re ready to meet or receive another personal contact.

Social media and programmatic ads are typically more effective on a larger scale, such as if you’re targeting a niche industry rather than a set of companies or individuals. There are opportunities in both, however, to get a little more granular.

With social media, you can target specific companies if they’re large enough. There will be some wasted impressions and the CPM will likely be much higher, but again this should be evaluated based on the potential value of the customer. Use retargeting efforts to serve up new ads to anyone who has visited your landing pages with tailored content can also provide an opportunity to get granular in programmatic campaigns.

ABM is overall just a more focused approach to marketing that can help prime your key prospects for sales to reach out. Alignment on goals and tactics between the sales and marketing teams will be key to ensuring success. Make sure to take the time to get buy in before you begin.

How to Build a B2B Public Relations Strategy

How to Build a B2B Public Relations Strategy

Traditional public relations (PR) tactics are often created with an eye towards a consumer audience, but a B2B PR plan can be equally effective when assessing your business strategies and goals. Check out 5 key elements to building a sound B2B PR strategy:

Step One: Establish Your Goal(s)

Do you want to…

  • share news or an announcement with your industry?
  • raise awareness and drive trial of your brand or product?
  • position yourself as an industry leader, innovator or educator?

Step Two: Develop Your Target Audience

B2B PR is more focused on reaching specific influencers in your industry than delivering a broad message to the masses. Once you establish your goals, you will have a better idea of who your target audience is and which industry decision-makers, influencers and thought-leaders you will want to connect with in order to reach them.

Step Three: Do Your Research

Where are decisionmakers getting their news, and where are industry opinion leaders sharing their thoughts? Some common places might include:

In addition to researching the best outlets for consideration, it’s important to know who at the outlet or publication might be the best fit for sharing your message. Consider the person’s position, beat or whether they have covered your company/topic before when deciding who to contact. It can be more effective than sending a pitch to a general news contact or the entire staff.

Step Four: Craft Your Message

Once you know who your audience is and how to reach them, it’s time to create a message that will resonate. Ensure that your core message is credible, easy to remember, relevant and clear without being too salesy. Bonus points if it offers a solution to problems their customers or the industry are already facing.

Step Five: Assess Coverage Quality

You should have metrics or KPIs (key performance indicators) in place for measuring your campaign’s success. For B2B PR efforts, some suitable metrics to track are:


  • number of hits (how many different outlets did it appear in?)
  • location of coverage (this includes which publication the coverage appears in as well as what format e.g. online, in print, social media, etc.)
  • depth of coverage (did you get a quick mention or reference or a full interview?)
  • conversations or actions this coverage is generating (i.e. event attendance, website visits through a trackable link or social media engagement)
Crafting a B2B Social Media Strategy

Crafting a B2B Social Media Strategy

Over the past decade, social media has evolved from a little-understood novelty into a global phenomenon. It might seem, however, to be a space only for consumer-facing brands with flashy products or messages. But with the right strategy, any B2B brand can embrace and excel on social media. It just requires a few basic guiding principles to make sure you get it right.

1. Outline Your Strategy & Goals

What are you trying to accomplish with social media? Set achievable goals with an eye towards using your social media platforms for more specific, more conversion-driven actions down the line. A good place to start is by outlining some KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) such as:

  • Awareness: Impressions, Reach, Engagement (Likes, Shares, Comments)
  • Consideration: Clicks to your website, mailing list sign-ups, content requests (eBooks, white papers, webinars, etc.)
  • Decision: Sales and other conversions

2. Pick the Right Platform(s)

There are a lot of social media channels to choose from. Pick one platform to start and do a great job with it. You can always add more as you expand capabitlies or want to reach new audiences, but you likely can’t manage multiple platforms effectively at the beginning of your social media journey. Here’s a quick overview of three main platforms to consider:

  • LinkedIn:
    • A natural fit for B2B brands with a robust ad platform
    • Users want to learn about their industry and connect
    • Downside: Smaller user base means more expensive ads
  • Facebook:
    • Traditionally more consumer-facing
    • Laser-like ad platform to target your audience with
    • The world’s biggest platform means low CPMs and CPCs
  • Twitter:
    • Find ongoing industry conversations
    • Connect on trending topics or conferences
    • Invest in a management platform to monitor conversations/hashtags

Share the Right Kind of Content

The third crucial piece in your B2B puzzle is content. Figure out what you can add to the conversation following the 80/20 rule: 80% of your content should be educational and 20% sales-driven.

Educational content can be things like:

  • Blog posts: Short, informative articles that work to address a problem or industry-relevant topic.
  • White papers: Lengthier, more in-depth dives into a topic—from 1,000 words to up to several pages.
  • Webinars: Live webcasts that put you in front of your audience in a personalized, digital medium.
  • Behind-the-scenes: Showcasing everyday looks at the people behind your brand is a great way to convey the human element of your brand.

By creating an intentional strategy with a thoughtful investment of time, budget and creativity, social media can move the needle for B2B brands just as powerfully as it does for consumer-based marketing.

Stay tuned for a deeper dive on building a B2B social media strategy — coming soon!

4 Social Media Trends to Watch Out for in 2020

4 Social Media Trends to Watch Out for in 2020

The new year is upon us, bringing the start of not just the calendar year but a whole new decade. It’s undeniable that the last 10 years brought about changes in the marketing world that we’ll be adapting to for years to come.

It would’ve been hard to imagine back in the year 2010 just how dominant social media would become. Then, most marketers thought it would be a mere flash in the pan—a shiny object to distract from tried-and-true methods.

10 years later, you’d be hard pressed to find someone—marketer or not—who doesn’t have their own opinions about social media. So what lays ahead in 2020 for the world of social media marketing? We’re keeping our eye on 4 trends and predictions, but one thing is for sure: social media ain’t going anywhere.

#1: Say Goodbye to “Vanity” Metrics

There’s no shame in admitting that we’ve chased our fair share of so-called “vanity” metrics over the last 10 years. Checking in to see how many new Facebook Likes a page has or how many people shared a post is a natural way to gauge whether a strategy is working or not. But now as some of the biggest social media platforms are talking about doing away with “Likes” and “Favorites” altogether, it’s high time marketers shifted their focus to more substantial measurements.

While the removal of the Like button is purported to help sever the ties people have built between social media metrics and their own mental health, it also means a great deal for marketers and brands. If your social media strategy isn’t helping to build towards a larger, less engagement-focused tactic (e.g. sales or leads), 2020 might be time to start using social media more as a funnel towards other stages of the Buyer’s Journey.

#2: Take a Less Filtered, More Approachable Tack

Instagram changed the way we present ourselves online—both as people and brands. The 2010’s saw the rise of the “influencer” and a hyper-curated peek into worlds we rarely had access to. But the days of the perfectly cropped coffee cup-and-planner combo or brightly colored “Instagram wall” are numbered, especially as Generation Z embraces less stylized and filtered platforms like TikTok to talk to the world.

While we certainly wouldn’t advocate for an unprofessional, haphazard approach to presenting your brand image on social media, gone are the days where people expect perfection at every turn. It’s critical for brands to appear human and relatable—not impeccably tailored. Talk to your customers and your audience the way you want to be talked to. Being casual and conversational is not the opposite of being professional, and the best brands are striking the right balance of both.

#3: Private is the New Public

If you’ve managed to avoid the whole “social media is now the center of disinformation and privacy invasion” debate over the last few years, we are jealous. To those of us who live in these spaces every day, it’s been a hard conversation to ignore. From political turmoil to data harvesting and beyond, the general public is understandably more wary of social media than they were 10 years ago. So it’s no surprise that many users are flocking to “private” (in quotes because, you know, they’re still owned by very large corporate interests) channels such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

So is the time of “oversharing” coming to an end? Probably not, but there is immense value in being able to speak to your audience one-on-one in private channels. Many brands are even reinvesting in a decidedly “old school” Facebook tactic of using Groups as a way to create private, personal communities on the platform without the burden of worrying about paid and organic reach. Though maintaining a responsive, personal connection through these channels is time consuming, it’s becoming the way people prefer to connect with brands.

#4: It’s Never Too Late for B2B

Though social media platforms have transformed consumer-facing marketing in a very public way, it’s had a marked effect on B2B brands, too. Though a lot of that activity has gone on in more professionally-oriented spaces like LinkedIn, it’s nevertheless been a game changer for B2B marketers. And while many brands not yet participating in this space might think their time has come and gone, we couldn’t disagree more. It’s easy to think of social media broadly as a time-suck or a space for consumer-friendly brands only, but that is simply no longer the case.

Try this on for size: 80% of B2B leads originate on LinkedIn, and 94% of B2B marketers use LinkedIn to distribute content. That means if you’re not taking advantage of the platform, your competitors might be. Creating a B2B social media strategy will take time and investment, but with numbers like that, it’s no wonder why so many players have flocked to this space over the last decade.

While it’s impossible to predict what lies ahead for such a broad category as social media, we’ll be keeping an eye on these trendlines. If the previous decade taught us anything, it’s that anything and everything we know about social media will change. But don’t worry—we’ll stay on top of it so you don’t have to.

Infographic: Build Your B2B Advertising Strategy

Infographic: Build Your B2B Advertising Strategy

We wish we could share our Media Department’s planning spreadsheets—they really are a thing of beauty. By meticulously laying out every piece of a campaign’s puzzle, our team is able to visualize both the granular and top-level details. They put this level of detail in every campaign beacuse they know how important it is to leave no stone unturned, all while keeping the campaign’s goals, message, budget and audience front-and-center.

We walked through this process in a recent blog post, but we felt it would also make sense to illustrate these ideas visually. You can check out these main ideas below and use the button at the bottom of the post to download a hi-res PDF. 

Trade Publisher Platforms: The Foundations of a B2B Advertising Campaign

Trade Publisher Platforms: The Foundations of a B2B Advertising Campaign

As discussed in a previous post, trade publishers have the access to subscriber data and industry research to help build the fundamentals of a B2B advertising strategy. Typically, these publishers and their platforms — which include their printed publications and website, eNewsletters and conferences — are a top source for both the awareness and consideration phase of the buyer’s journey.

Analyze Data

Trade publication information should always be viewed in the context of the source you’re getting it from. A best practice is to request the same information from all trade sources and use that as a gauge to determine the better approach in reaching your specific target.

As with any ad campaign, a multiple touchpoint approach is most effective. Depending upon the number of publishers within your trade, it’s best to select two to three (budget allowing) as your starting point. Most budgets will not allow an advertiser to be everywhere. You can evaluate and select partners based on a few key data points:

  • How well they reach your target: Reader profiles will help in making this selection
  • Relevancy and quality of editorial: Read through a few sample issues and check the content-to-ad ratio
  • Digital savviness: Association pubs are often less likely to have a lot of digital opportunities

Evaluate Opportunities

Depending on your goals and your audience’s media consumption preferences (print, digital, face-to-face), evaluate the opportunities available from the publishers you selected and begin to allocate budget.

If utilizing a print publication, know that full-page ads are usually placed first and are located in the front of the book; smaller space ads tends to be placed in the back third of the book. Placement can be requested but most publishers will add a premium to the cost of the ad to guarantee the placement. A good rule-of-thumb is to request front third, right-hand side adjacent to relevant editorial, knowing the you may not get everything that you ask for.

As for publishers’ digital platforms, eNewsletter banner ads are generally better than website banner ads if your budget doesn’t allow for the campaign to have both. Website banner ads can be good for general awareness goals and are generally available at a lower price point. However, eNewsletters are requested by recipients so they are something they want to receive and are likely to engage with at least some of the time.

For eNewsletters, request the number of subscribers, opens and open rate and stats for ad positions or native content if available. eNewsletters are utilized to drive site traffic and can account for 30% or more of visits. If eNewsletter ads don’t fit into your budget, banner ads on “article” pages can be a good placement and typically offer a lower CPM.

Conference and meeting sponsorships can also have value if face-to-face contact is a priority for your sales cycle. To maximize sponsorship budgets, have a plan to engage attendees prior to, during and after the event in order to capture cool and hot leads.

And remember: successful sponsorship of events is more than having your logo on materials — having access to the attendees is the true value so you have an opportunity to develop leads and cultivate relationships.

Trade publishers work to keep your industry engaged and provide value to you as an advertiser and your customers as readers. Some industries will have more opportunities than others, but more than likely you will find multiple publishers with already-engaged audiences for you to leverage.

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