We’re finally reaching an era when Account Based Marketing has found its footing, and Sales and Marketing teams are more open to making the transition from traditional marketing methods to ABM.
While there’s plenty of room for ABM to mature, we’ve seen an incredibly diverse range of game-changing ABM marketing tactics and trends crop up over the last few years that stand out from the crowd and get us excited.
So, whether you’re just getting started with Account Based Marketing or you’re gaining some momentum and want to skyrocket your growth, study these ABM marketing tactics to take 2019 by storm.
Social Selling Hits its Peak
Social selling is considered a long-game component of a successful ABM strategy, as it focuses on building and nurturing strong, meaningful relationships with the people who would benefit most from your solution and wisdom.
With many of today’s most lucrative industries, including computer software, healthcare technology, marketing and advertising, generating more than half of their revenue through social selling, it’s clear this is the new tool of choice for B2B marketers. But why?
It’s simple, really. People don’t buy into products anymore, they buy into the people backing them. For this reason, social media platforms have become the new frontier for B2B marketers – they’re the best place to build and strengthen relationships with key accounts before they even enter the sales funnel.
Social selling is so effective that 90% of top-performing salespeople are implementing social media into their sales strategy.
Social selling is particularly exciting because B2B marketers can break through some barriers that typically define traditional selling efforts. For example, it can save you significant time compared to cold calling – in which you can expect to make 18 phone calls before connecting with a lead. Yuck.
With that said, we should reiterate that social selling is a long-game strategy. In fact, you can expect to spend months or even years building relationships with leads. The difference? They trust you and value your opinion before you pitch a damn thing.
Before you hit the gas on a shiny new social selling strategy, make sure you implement the four pillars of social selling to ensure success:
- Establish a rock-solid professional brand: Social selling without a stellar professional brand is like fishing for a unique species of fish with generic, bargain bait. As you well know, B2B marketers are extremely picky when sifting through cold emails – often ignoring them altogether – so take some time to thoroughly assess your online presence to give yourself an edge. Beef up your bio, accomplishments and skills to demonstrate your active involvement in the industry and your expertise.
- Stay focused on the right prospects: Social media makes account mapping much easier. Dive as deep as your resources will allow to identify exactly who you should connect with in each company and which social selling tactics will be most effective. Front-loading this work will keep you from chasing dead-end leads down the line.
- Contribute to the conversation: The best way to get noticed by prospects is to pull up a chair and contribute to their circle. In other words, join social media groups and posts within your industry and engage by commenting and publishing your own content within them. As with anything, you get what you put in – consistent, quality engagement will go much further than half-baked responses. With commitment to genuine engagement, you’ll gain followers who ‘like’ your insights and want to connect further with you.
- Build strong, lasting relationships: Strong relationships are not built overnight. They take consistent, conscious engagement over long stretches of time. People will grow to trust you and may even take the next step to connect with you. Watch for prospects viewing your LinkedIn page or commenting on your insights. These engagements mark an opportunity to send a warm call to pitch your solution or company.
If you’re serious about social selling, you’re going to need the appropriate tools in your back pocket. Social selling tools can greatly improve the effectiveness of your strategies, but there are quite a few tools out there. Before you subscribe to every social selling tool on the market, consider your goals and identify what stage of your social selling process needs the most help.
- LinkedIn Sales Navigator allows you to connect to potential leads using an algorithm that makes recommendations based on your profile.
- Influitive (formerly TriggerFox) sifts through social media platforms to identify the conversations you should be joining. This helps you stay focused on threads where you can offer the most authentic value.
- Awario is a social media and web-monitoring tool that keeps you in the know whenever a conversation online mentions you or discusses a topic you’re interested in. Awario also has a tool called Awario Leads, a real-time social media feed that helps you discover leads and connect with them.
- Nimble is a social selling CRM tool that allows you to track conversations your leads are having online. Nimble has a cool feature that lets you pull up information about new leads as you discover them.
- rFactr is another CRM tool with a primary focus on helping you generate more leads and monetize your content. Its platform also includes prospect tracking and social media scheduling.
Again, there are loads of social selling tools out there. When selecting your first handful, make sure your arsenal includes a listening tool, a filtering or participation tool and a CRM tool.
If you’re just getting started with social selling, know that it’s as effective as it is broad in terms of where to start. We just threw a lot of information at you, so if you’re new at this, you may be wondering where to start. Our advice: see how the pros handle it.
David Gerhardt – The VP of Marketing at Drift is insanely good at social selling because he understands the power of authenticity. David is big on authentic branding as the primary method for building trust and setting yourself apart from the competition. Check out this interview, where he breaks down his first steps into “conversational marketing,” ditching traditional sales methods and generating leads through real relationships.
Gaetano DiNardi – As Director of Demand Generation at Nextiva, he’s not afraid to get real with you about your tired sales and marketing strategies. He’s a great example of how to produce excellent content anchored in a professional brand with a genuine, relatable tone. Check out his hilarious video documenting his attempt to use cold DM approaches at a local mall.
Max Altschuler – The VP of Marketing at Outreach and founder of Sales Hacker knows his way around a cold email. Check out his four critical tips on messaging psychology to level up your messaging and engagement in social media groups.
Brian G. Burns – The CEO at b2bRevenue.com has an important message: work smarter, not harder. This is the attitude he applies to all his sales and marketing content, and it’s a message we can easily apply to our social selling strategies. Check out his article on “giving” instead of “asking” as a method for building trust with prospects.
Personalized Video is Here to Stay
A whopping 70% of B2B marketers crown video as the number-one method for generating conversions. That’s amazing, but not surprising – customized video allows you to connect with people on an emotional level while delivering content in a visually engaging way.
So what are the best ways to incorporate video into your ABM strategy? Cold email is an excellent place to start. Using personalized video in place of tired email copy will set your message apart from your competitor’s because prospects can see the person behind the product.
Personalized videos also do wonders for programmatic ABM, as you can create the right customized video content tailored to your various market segments at the right time. Personalized video is also effective for nurturing new leads or even older prospects that may have gone cold.
Video is taking over, which means there’s an opportunity to use it everywhere you look. Consider areas where you usually rely on copy and experiment with personalized video there:
- Send a welcome greeting and introduce your team
- Check in with prospects
- Say thank you for an event invite or fulfilling meeting
- Invite prospects to schedule a demo or meeting
Personalized videos don’t have to be complicated, either. In fact, the simpler, the better. The point of video in B2B marketing is to build real connections with potential customers, and that doesn’t take a big budget and fancy video hardware or software.
Custom email signature marketing
How many emails do you send per day? Per week? Per year?
The average office employee sends roughly 121 emails per day, which makes them part of an untapped marketing segment if you’re not using email signature marketing.
Email signature marketing leverages your designed email signature (located at the bottom of your email, after the closing statement) to generate warm leads that are already aware of your company.
Branding your emails by including relevant content or an advertisement in your signature can make a tremendous impact, whether you’re using programmatic ABM or a one-to-one strategy.
For Programmatic ABM – With programmatic ABM, for example, you can easily set certain signatures for different stages of campaigns. This helps guide market segments toward the right content at the right time.
For ABM Lite – Email signature marketing is incredibly helpful for B2B marketers using an ABM Lite strategy as well. You can send customized email signatures with relevant content for a specific market segment based on your various goals with each segment.
For Strategic One-to-One – With a strategic, one-to-one ABM strategy, personalization goes even further, and things can get messy quickly. We recommend using an email signature marketing platform like Sigstr to keep track of all the moving parts and analyze the performance of your efforts more accurately.
Here are just a few of the approaches you can take to drive conversions with email signature marketing:
- Promote your upcoming event by providing a registration CTA in the email signature.
- Showcase thought leadership and your commitment to your prospect’s satisfaction by providing a link to a new ebook, case study, or other helpful content that will resonate with the customer.
- Promote registration for a new webinar by providing a CTA in the email signature.
- Create personalized CTAs for qualified leads to sign up for informational opportunities, such as demos.
- Transform your email signature block into a promotional channel for your content, and gain basic analytics from your list by adding smart links through bitly or another provider.
Direct Mail Doesn’t Have to Suck
Direct mail isn’t dead…but the old way of doing it is. Sure, we can happily leave traditional flyers behind, but the companies who are executing awesome ABM direct mail are SERIOUSLY nailing it.
Modern direct-mail marketing is a scalable tactic that works best when you send custom, strategic mail directly to contacts in your account. With proper creative strategy and targeting, your direct-mail marketing can rake in highly valuable prospects and keep them intrigued long enough to see what else you have up your sleeve.
A great example of direct-mail marketing is the Digital Dave campaign from O2, a mobile network provider in the UK. After a lot of failure with cold calls, O2 homed in on their top 50 prospects (decision-makers in key accounts) and came up with a plan to illustrate their brand in a unique way. O2 translated their unique selling proposition – providing clients with their own Digital Advisor to improve customer service – into 50 personalized Digital Advisor holograms.
Each Digital Advisor hologram spoke according to a personalized script communicating how O2 could help the account’s business. Of course, each one was also tracked so O2 could follow up with a sales call. In the first week alone, 20% of leads responded with a positive call.
Now, that’s a successful ABM tactic if I’ve ever seen one.
In-person Events are Going Outside the Box
ABM and in-person events go together better than surfers and waves. In-person events help ABM marketers focus on long-game relationship efforts with key accounts. While phone and video certainly have their place in relationship building, nearly 100% of people say face-to-face meetings are essential for long-term business relationships (yep, you read that right).
With that kind of confidence behind your in-person meetings, how can you create opportunities to meet face-to-face more often?
- Schedule one-to-one meetings between key decision-makers
- Host or attend roadshows to attract key accounts
- Attend big-box events and trade shows (CES, SaaStr, Cannes Lions)
- Attend big platform events (Dreamforce, SiriusDecisions Summit, Outreach’s Unleash)
Here are a few great examples of in-person events:
User Conferences – Conferences are an excellent place to demonstrate your active participation in your account’s interests while connecting with thought leaders and industry influencers. For example, last year, Oracle hosted Oracle Code One, an environmentally conscious conference created to get programmers from across the globe into one room. The conference hit the “green” details out of the park with carbon footprint reduction lessons and a plant-conscious menu.
Networking Event – Networking events are perfect opportunities to schedule one-on-one meetings with decision-makers and generate new leads. Lean Startup’s networking event, for example, was laser focused on encouraging higher quality guest interactions. From their “evening at the Mob museum” event to their consistently updated public guest list, they made it easy to connect with like-minded professionals.
Roundtables – Industry roundtable events are perfect for getting a select few industry leaders together to discuss a hot topic. The intimacy and exclusivity of a roundtable event is ideal for nurturing a relationship with a decision-maker on a key account. For example, ISFA’s Austin Industry Roundtable invited professionals to participate in educational and networking opportunities.
Relationship Marketing Matters More Than Ever
I was talking to a friend the other day and he said, “You know, I’ve never actually purchased software from someone I didn’t know and like.”
While relationship marketing isn’t the most progressive-sounding term, the concept has, in some form or another, made a name for itself throughout the last few years of marketing trends.
Technology companies are picking up on this, with “relationship marketer” popping up as a job description for companies like Sigstr, eBay Marketplaces, Hearst Magazine, and many other big-name enterprises. But why?
The reality is that the technology industry is reshaping relationship management faster than traditional marketers can keep up. But for those able to match the pace of change, there are amazing opportunities available.
Relationship marketing is, in essence, CRM with an even stronger emphasis on the relationship part. The CRMs we’ve grown to rely on try to be all things for all circumstances, and as our relationship to technology matures, so do our methods for leveraging technology to manage relationships. Having a relationship marketer on your team can take these efforts to the next level.
The Sky’s the Limit for Account Based Marketing Tactics
The ABM universe continues to expand and find itself, and the exciting changes we’re seeing start with sales and marketing teams that are willing to take big, creative risks.
This is the year to apply all the latest B2B marketing methods, including these top ABM tactics. So whether you’re just getting started in ABM or are ready to take it to the next level, look to these top tactics and players in the game to level up your revenue opportunities.