How to Marry ABM and Inbound Marketing

One of the biggest struggles B2B brands face is landing big, game-changing deals. These are the kinds of contracts that accelerate growth, but they are notoriously hard to land.

In the past couple of years, a new marketing tactic has emerged as a solution to this major problem – Account-Based Marketing (ABM). This is essentially where marketers create super-focused campaigns to target individual clients based on their very unique and very individual needs and pain points.

But how does this tie in with inbound marketing – aren’t they completely different beasts? While ABM is usually one-to-one or one-to-few, inbound marketing is more of a one-to-many strategy, so how can we possibly marry them together?

inbound versus ABM

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In fact, applying popular inbound strategies to ABM is fairly simple. It involves taking stock of and using your resources appropriately for different accounts. A generic inbound campaign can easily run alongside a more focused ABM campaign without too much deviation in the content being delivered.

The key to getting it right lies in bringing together sales and marketing early in the process and make sure that the content aligns with the needs of both departments.

What does that look like in practice?

1 – Work Closely With Your Sales Team to Uncover Major Pain Points

It’s vital to combine the knowledge and skills of both your sales and marketing teams to get this right.

For ABM to work effectively, you have to create new relationships and deepen existing ones. This means leveraging your marketing team to identify the right potential prospects and turning to your sales team to uncover pain points that need to be addressed.

Once you have a better understanding of the major issues your target clients face, you can use this to create content that tackles it.

A big part of this is giving your sales team access to all available content. This might mean creating a process or a place where all relevant content is stored so that sales teams can quickly access it when they need to.

It’s worth storing it in ways that makes it easy for sales to find it and serve it to the right people. You can do this by tagging it with certain information, like:

  • Who it specifically targets (not just potential brands but the employees and decision-makers in those brands, too)
  • Which issues it addresses
  • How it can be used most effectively

When sharing content with your sales team, think about the information that they’ll need to know. Usually this includes:

  • What kind of content the piece falls under (is it an ebook, a blog post, a white paper, or something else)
  • Where they can access the piece
  • A brief summary of what the piece is about
  • The key pain points the piece of content touches on and who it’s specifically targeted towards

Share this information in ways that are most comfortable for your sales team. For example, if you regularly interact with them and share updates via Slack, then create a content channel for this specific purpose. The last thing you want to do is introduce new tools and platforms for them to use just to share content. Here’s how Brandon Redlinger, director of growth, does it at Engagio.

keep sales updated with content via slack

You can also use a link management platform like Rebrandly to house the links to all of your content pieces in one place. These tools enable you to catalog, tag and organize your links however you like, so you can create custom folders containing links to the resources your sales team needs, and ensure they’re always easy to access.

2 – Personalize Content for Specific Brands or Sectors

While inbound marketing content tends to target key personas and audience segments, this often isn’t focused enough for ABM.

But turning more generic content into resources for specific brands isn’t as hard as it sounds. For most pieces, it’s simply a case of mixing up the introduction, swapping in relevant imagery, and choosing highly-relevant case studies to include.

A lot of potential clients will have similar needs and pain points, and you’ll already have content related to that topic. It’s then a case of personalizing that generic piece of content to make it more relevant to each individual client.

This is really useful moving forward too.

You can combine sales and marketing knowledge to create content with specific personas or industries in mind, and can then hone it down further to gear it towards individual clients. Once you have those resources, it’s far easier to personalize them than start from scratch every time.

Top Tips for Creating Content for Different Account Personas:

  • Think about who you want to target with your content – are they people in a certain industry? A specific job role?
  • Create customer personas for these people and survey them or dig into your data to discover their key pain points, buying objectives, and biggest challenges
  • Create pieces of content to tackle each of these issues. You’ll end up with a library of different content that’s targeted towards a range of different customer types that you can pick and choose from depending on who you’re talking to
  • For example, if you’re targeting both tech specialists in large corporate companies and CEOs of smaller tech businesses, you’ll find they have very different content needs. By segmenting them into different personas, you can create content for each of them that feels personalized to their own unique needs

3 – Use Account Pain Points to Spark Ideas and Create Stronger Connections

The more you get to know individual accounts, the deeper into their pain points you’re going to get and the more relevant content you’ll be able to create. Throughout this process, it’s highly likely you’ll come across a number of pain points that have simple solutions, and it’s just a case of creating content to tackle them.

While the content you’ve generated for inbound marketing can help make ABM strategies more manageable, the information you generate from ABM can help to spark content ideas – this is how the two techniques work in harmony.

When your sales or marketing team is speaking to a specific client, they can note down ideas for content that will most likely resonate with more than one potential client.

Put together a document template that your sales and marketing teams can use when speaking to a client.

Within this document, they can note down key findings, any questions that crop up, or interesting bits of information about pain points and challenges. These documents can then be circulated throughout the different teams so everyone is on the same page.

You can also use these documents to spark content ideas.

Once the content has been made, it can be shared with individual accounts to build stronger connections with those customers and, ultimately, help you land those big, game-changing deals.

Leveraging Both ABM and Inbound Marketing

As you can see from these examples, ABM and inbound marketing are a match made in heaven if you know how to make them work in tandem. The deep level of information you get from ABM can fuel future content ideas which will help you reach a higher caliber of leads and create stronger relationships with customers.

The key is to have your sales and marketing teams working closely together so you can tap into the biggest pain points your potential clients face, create content that tackles them, and personalize them in a way that resonates with the unique wants and needs of each account.

Ryan Gould
Ryan Gould
From legacy Fortune 100 institutions to inventive start-ups, Ryan brings extensive experience with a wide range of B2B clients. He skillfully architects and manages the delivery of integrated marketing programs, and believes strongly in strategy, not just tactics, that effectively aligns sales and marketing teams within organizations. Connect with him on LinkedIn

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