Account-based marketing (ABM) – everyone is doing it, so make the best use of your data

 

There is one aspect on which most B2B marketers agree: the success of any ABM campaign depends on the quality of your data and targeting capabilities.

For this reason, we have divided ABM data into 3 key areas – unlocking + managing data, getting intent data and using intent data – to help senior marketers make the most of this most precious asset.

The concept of account-based marketing (ABM) has its roots in the 1990s as both B2C and B2B companies realised the importance of a more personalised marketing model.

As the term took off in popularity in the 2000s, it was last decade when the strategy hit the stratosphere, with the phrase ‘account-based marketing’ making it into Google Trends in 2013.

In 2015, SiriusDecisions unveiled the results of its 2015 State of Account-Based Marketing Study where it proudly announced that: “More than 90 percent of marketers believe that account-based marketing is a B2B must-have.”

And in 2020, most businesses practice as other’s once preached with their own ABM system in place; indeed, some industry leaders have found themselves casting doubt on this strategic approach’s ubiquity, especially since COVID-19.

UNLOCKING + MANAGING DATA

Data is everything when it comes to marketing. Indeed, it is this access to customers’ data itself that made ABM such an appetising prospect in the first place.

Following on, the richer the datasets a business can monitor and follow, the more personalisation of conversation and content can take place, which is the cornerstone of ABM.

Let’s take marketing content as an example. Tracking IP addresses allows businesses to discover the number of visitors coming onto their domain, and how they navigate around it.

But with IP Enrichment, you can determine the domain name associated with each IP address, spitting out public-facing, yet vital data about which company or business was visiting your website.

This means you are only talking to people who have shown an interest in you in the first place.

So we are dealing with quality over quantity; many businesses believe their account list in its thousands is up-to-date and relevant. It probably isn’t.

ABM practitioners need to be plugged into the constant changes and developments in data across both account and individual levels – what if a company changes priorities? Or an individual leaves or is promoted?

After all, there is rarely just one decision-maker in a B2B sale, so managing your datasets is vital.

GETTING INTENT DATA

Once your dataset is well managed, then the next step is clear – predictive insights, otherwise known as intent data.

By monitoring a business user’s web content consumption – both on your platforms and across other B2B sites – you can provide insights into their interests and where they sit on the buying cycle – namely when they are most likely to take action.

Essentially, each anonymous website visitor is actually a user persona that can be tracked and targeted. And those marketers offering the richest data, give you the best targeting capabilities and visibility.

Not only can a campaign be structured towards a specific company, but it can also be ranked against other companies within their industry.

And during 2020 and the pandemic, Buyer’s Insights & Intelligence Series hosted by Demand Gen Report demonstrated that “75% of buyers are spending more of their time researching their purchasing decisions than in previous years, which provides marketers with more data and insights than ever before.”

At this point, it should be remembered that intent data in B2B marketing is very different to the general wariness the online community has about oversharing data, particularly to big business.

While everyone should be protective about the personal data they share – and how it is used – in B2B terms, we are talking about people where this trading of information is welcome.

After all, it is mutually beneficial for companies to deal with each other, and, if they can be reached with the best deal possible, at the right time and personalised, then everyone wins – apart from those who missed out, of course…

However, it is not enough to have access to all this intent data if you are relying on marketing teams to track every single interaction in real-time, and fully understand the needs and actions of customers, unless technology is underpinning it all.

USING INTENT DATA

To optimize your ABM campaign, intent insights must be predictive and offer critical information in real-time. The aim is, after all, to stay ahead of the potential buyer so you know when they are most likely to act.

And in reality, it is only smart technology that can turn this deluge of data into meaningful actions.

Propensity modelling has always been the perfect fit for marketers; it’s very reason for being is to mathematically predict someone’s most likely actions.

Or in our case, the chances that visitors, leads and customers will sign-up, buy or accept an offer.

But it is only with the explosion of machine learning (computer-based algorithms that improve automatically through experience) that propensity modelling has become a game changer.

You can essentially target your audience at the very moment they are likely to take positive action.

This all falls under the technological umbrella of artificial intelligence (AI); research from New Statesman Media Group shows that if 7 people download a White Paper, AI will identify 23 users who have performed similar actions, with similar data available, and promote the same White Paper to them.

More and more marketers are open to this use of smart tech to maxmise their intent data, and it is clear that AI (alongside the advent of 5G) is set to revolutionise data use.

According to market intelligence organisation IDC, worldwide data will grow 61% to 175 zettabytes between 2018 and 2025, while spending on AI systems will reach $97.9 billion in 2023. And last year, Gatner revealed that 37% percent of global organizations have implemented AI in some form.

Clearly, those who use AI to optimise the growing data pool best, will make the most of B2B ABM moving forward.