One of the first questions executives have about personalized selling is: How will I grow my company when I am only focused on a few companies? Account Based Marketing methods allow companies to scale by tiering their lists of accounts based on the number of resources they want to dedicate and using technology to help personalized marketing efforts. There are four types of account tiers you can implement. The first is the One-to-One approach where sales and marketing identify accounts where they will create personalized marketing campaigns for each account. The second tier is a One-to-Few approach where instead of focusing on a specific account, campaigns will be created for a segment of customers. The third approach is a One-to-Many strategy where marketing will purchase ads targeting accounts and segments with a personalized message. The final approach is a One-to-Market strategy where marketing will create content hubs for segments and personas using customer data to drive organic and paid traffic to capture additional users that are not being captured in the other strategies. By segmenting accounts into four different tiers marketing and sales will still be able to focus and reach a wider audience and achieve broader marketing penetration with a personalized sales approach.
Strategic One-to-One Personalization
The first tier and most strategic prospect tier being targeted with ABM we call Strategic One-to-One Personalization. One-to-One focuses on a small tier of top individuals or accounts that you will dedicate significant resources to create customized experiences for the buying committee. Your strategic prospects should be a great fit for your business and should be high-value accounts that will deliver a significant ROI. Your goal will be to build great relationships with these accounts, become a partner to them, and continuously expand into other parts of the customer. Usually, companies have five to ten strategic accounts they are targeting. Your close rates with strategic One-to-One accounts should be significantly high.
Companies that focus on One-to-One usually have to spend a lot of time researching each account and demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the account. One example of a successfully executed One-to-One strategic sale was an approached GumGum, an applied computer vision company, executed to close a deal with T-Mobile. After thorough research, GumGum discovered that the CEO of T-Mobile was a comic book lover. GumGum worked with a custom illustrator to create a comic book called T-Man and Gums, the Girl Wonder. They mailed the comic directly to the CEO and published it online. Within hours the CEO saw the comic and praised it on Twitter. He then went on to set up a meeting with GumGum, which led to T-Mobile becoming a client.
GumGum focused on one of the buying committee members and created a personalized buying experience for the CEO. Their efforts paid off and they were able to sell to an account that is significantly hard to get. Their personalized message stood out among the thousands of messages inundating the CEO each day. Account Based Marketing requires a big upfront investment, but when you have a big fish on the line, going above and beyond will greatly determine your success.
Segmented One-to-Few Personalization
The second tier of target accounts can be segmented into smaller value accounts that share clear commonalities. These accounts could be part of a vertical whose companies share traits that allow marketers to create personas to represent specific individuals in each account that would get the same messaging and creative. The number of companies being targeted in the One-to-Few tier is in the tens or hundreds.
Companies targeting this tier may create custom content and landing pages for each segment with information or offers that are personalized to target personas. A good example of a company targeting a segment with ABM is Influitive, a customer engagement, and advocacy platform that helps customers build relationships with advocates and get more reviews. Influitive gathered positive reviews from G2 Crowd for each prospect and sent the prospect a personalized message from the sales rep. To make sure they would capture the attention of the prospects they sent a cute burro backpack to each client. The success of the pinata~grams was hard to ignore and Influitive generated an impressive 36% response rate and a 3.4% sales qualified opportunity rate from the campaign.
Creating personalized messaging based on a segment need did not take Influitive a lot of time and when using G2 Crowd to gather data, they could easily create custom campaigns for each prospect. The personalized reviews made the campaign highly personalized but allowed for scalability across many prospects. Less investment is required with a segmented approach and you can scale to more prospects, but you will need to be focused on who you target and ensure your content will help you stand out.
Programmatic One-to-Many Personalization
The third tier requires a significant dependency on technology (Martech, intent data, and adtech) to help you personalize messaging to a wide pool of target accounts and prospects. Programmatic takes best practices from the strategic and segmented tiers and enhances the reach. In a programmatic approach, you create targeted ads for a specific person account or segment and create clusters of content that will also interest other buying committee members.
A One-to-Many approach can help you greatly scale your reach to many prospects with a personalized message. WP Engine, a WordPress hosting platform, divided their account lists into two groups. For one group they created personalized ads and the other used generic creatives. Both groups were followed up with emails, social outreaches, and phone calls. The results from personalized ads was significant. WP Engine saw an increase in email open rates by 59%, reply rates by 29%, and opportunities by 28%. They achieved really significant numbers by planting the seed and letting sales and marketing work really closely together on building custom messages.
Another more detailed example of this programmatic is using LinkedIn Account Targeting to proactively choose who can see your display ads. First, you upload a list of target companies to LinkedIn. LinkedIn then matches your list against 13+ million company pages on LinkedIn. You can then run Sponsored Content campaigns targeted at key stakeholders across your accounts and tailor content to roles and buying cycle. Account based advertising is especially valuable for engaging the decision-makers who arent actively conducting purchase research like the CFO or Procurement Officer. Ads are a relatively inexpensive way to expand your reach to targeted accounts.
Programmatic personalization supports Strategic and Segmented personalization and can give accounts a significant reach in their marketing and sales efforts. For the best results, we have seen sales and marketing adopt a hybrid approach using multiple tiers.
Inbound One-to-Market Personalization
The final tier is the market thought leadership strategy where you use the account, segment, and persona data you acquired from the other account tier strategies and determine a market you want to dominate. To start you will need to search engine optimize your existing content and create additional content that will fill in gaps in your market's interest. The goal in this strategy is to drive inbound leads from prospects you may not be individually targeting, but that could become high valued customers. To expand your reach you can use advertising to boost traffic and optimize advertising based on segments of prospects who sign-up.
Inbound personalization will be less personalized than the other three approaches but will help you capture potential prospects who are very interested in your offering, but who you are not targeting. Extending your One-to-One, One-to-Few, and One-to-Many approach to include the One-to-Market approach will not be difficult since you already have an idea of your target audience and you can easily repurpose your content.
An example of a company that has successfully executed a One-to-Market approach is a survey company called Qualtrics. Qualtrics was a latecomer to the survey market and was playing catch-up in many ways. Early on they made a bet that they could create a content hub for their market that would attract a lot of organic leads and become the dominant resource center for the industry. Such a bet is a big bet for marketing and takes a lot of time, so Qualtrics had to focus on more direct ABM strategies to get immediate wins. Over time Qualtrics content rose in ranking and Qualtrics saw their organic traffic channel become the dominant driver of leads. More than 85% of their new leads came from their content hub (17). Targeted accounts doing research and new prospects would see Qualtrics content first in their search results.
ABM provides a very collaborative and targeted way to grow your sales, but it is not limiting. With the use of technology, you can extend your personalization focus to dominate markets.
Choosing A Hybrid Approach
Most companies do not focus on one single ABM approach. They diversify their approach based on the investment required and the ROI they expect per account. Selecting to focus on different types of account segmentation can also help reduce executive apprehension towards any single approach. A hybrid team of marketers and accounts focused on a One-to-One strategy and another team focused on a One-to-few, One-to-many, and One-to-market approach may make the most sense. Demand Base, an ABM solutions provider surveyed ABM practitioners asking what account tier of ABM they implement and the results were very even across all tiers.
One of the great benefits of choosing a hybrid approach is that you will benefit from all the knowledge and insights gained from focusing on a few accounts to optimize your messaging and then you can repurpose that optimized message to a broader set of similar accounts and markets to get broader coverage.