The Technology You Need for Successful ABM: 6 Recommendations

June 28, 2018 Jonathan Cayton

In this final installment of our four-part series on account-based marketing, we detail six technology fields essential to supporting an end-to-end ABM process. We also suggest tools for consideration for both entry-level and advanced strategies.

If you haven't read the earlier posts in the series, you can start here.

It doesn’t matter if you spent a month developing your marketing engagement strategy or years—without the right technologies to tighten it up, it isn’t going to support your growth goals.

This is especially the case of account-based marketing (ABM), a strategy that leverages data insights to tailor select offerings for targeted business accounts, rather than general demographics or industries. Using deep analytics, an effective ABM model can detect issues and patterns unique to an account and apply these findings to form and deploy relevant communications.

In the previous installments of this four-part series, we’ve measured the ingredients necessary to build a successful ABM strategy, how to develop account personas, and we explored the Four Ps essential for rolling out the process. This next phase involves the application of marketing technologies that ensure your ABM strategy is so tight, bottom to top, you can bounce a quarter off of it.

Whether you are in the early stages of testing and learning ABM or employing it as a primary marketing strategy, these six fields of technology include tools and practices that can help you advance your progress.

6 Elements of ­ABM MarTech

Generally, technology is simply the method for scaling up and optimizing your ABM strategy. In each of following six areas, we identify entry-level resources and then evolve to more sophisticated tools that can be applied once the model is proven.

Note, these are not steps or stages—they’re all equally important and each can stand on its own, as well as work in connection with the others.

1. Planning and play management

By “play,” we mean putting the ABM plan into motion, which requires campaign management tools, account planning and accounting methods. These technology tools can be simple, yet few exist that are specifically designed to suit ABM, presenting a considerable marketing opportunity.

Entry tools: Lots of these can be established in-house. Excel sheets, workbooks that describe the plan for engaging the account clients, and “playbooks” or guides that detail the start-to-end engagement process are all reliable planning resources.

Advanced tools: There are various marketing campaign software platforms, including Wrike and monday.com. I’d also suggest certain Salesforce.com plugins, including Prospector, for example, which enables you to gather verified data from the get-go.

2. CRM and mapping

This may be the most important technology field for assuring successful ABM deployment. Most organizations have Salesforce.com and/or Microsoft Office, which are go-to tools in our book. But not all companies have the platform in place, configured to support ABM, to confidently understand what is going on within the client account to the point of grasping context and predicting change.

Entry tools: You’ll need CRM and marketing databases, a central source for data storage and a platform that integrates the data with other marketing technologies. As mentioned, Saleforce.com and Microsoft are the go-to tools.  

Advanced tools: Salesforce Lightning can develop applications fast, with options that better personalize services easily—its Einstein feature, for example, can spot trends in analytics for more accurate predictions.

3. Data and analytics

The surest way to capture your client account’s daily necessities and predict upcoming needs is through data insights and analysis. For this, you’ll want tools that identify and manage incoming data, predictive analytics systems, and data expansion resources for when it’s time to grow.

Entry tools: LinkedIn is an affordable, accessible method for client information, especially when paired with Salesforce.com for data management. A third-party agency can supply predictive analytics and data expansion tools.

Advanced tools: We’re lucky a range of data management and analytics resources are configured expressly to support ABM. Among them: Engagio, Demandbase, Lattice Engines, EverString, 6Sense, Mintigo and Leadspace. For a more holistic approach, Harte Hanks’ Global DataViewTM compiles aggregated data into complete views of account clients across devices and can suggest how to parlay the insights into contextual experiences.

4. Engagement

The opportunities for client engagement are vast, so I’m breaking the possibilities into eight channels: 1. events and webinars; 2. direct mail; 3. CRM and sales; 4. social media intelligence; 5. digital ads and targeting; 6. content; 7. web and web personalization; and 8. marketing automation. Of course, as in all fields, methods of engagement should be configured to support ABM.

Entry tools: If you do not have an in-house team to support these needs, a third-party marketing agency should be able to take on events and webinars, direct mail, digital advertising, content and web and web personalization. When it comes to more measured activities, such as CRM and sales and marketing automation, I’d once more tap into Salesforce.com (specifically Salesforce Marketing Cloud or ExactTarget on-demand email marketing software). Social media platforms, particularly LinkedIn for its business base, are a solid starting point for social media intelligence.

Advanced tools: For events and webinars, consider ON24 webinar software and Cisco’s IT and networking tools. An agency can assist with direct mail, while once more Salesforce.com is the go-to for CRM and sales. LinkedIn will continue to serve more advanced needs in social intelligence, but you may also want to consider more advanced social listening platforms, including Sprout Social, Hootsuite, Crimson Hexagon or Radian6.

Several platforms are designed to service digital ads and targeting expressly for ABM. I suggest: Demandbase for identifying, targeting and delivering; Vendemore for targeted online ads; and Terminus software, to run ABM marketing to scale. Kapost is a reliable platform for managing marketing content, while TrapIt is a solid content curation tool. Evergage customer data and personalization platform is highly reliable for web and web personalization. Finally, HubSpot and Movable Ink are sound considerations for intelligent email content.

5. Advocacy

Technology has escalated the power of word-of-mouth into a literal science, aided by a crop of resources that help organizations make advocates of their best customers. 

Entry tools: Social platforms are a common starting point, as long as they engage the customers in ways that seek genuine feedback to improve the brand (read: are not overtly promotional). 

Advanced tools: Here I’d consider Influitive, a business-to-business customer engagement platform that helps users build relationships with advocates through its AdvocateHub marketing software.

6. Measurement

At all stages of ABM activity, you should be measuring and reporting, to identify weak areas that need tweaking as well as those high-performing areas from which to learn.

Entry tools: Excel spreadsheets, which can be created and managed in-house, and (one more time) Salesforce.com, will do the trick.

Advanced tools: If I would consider a couple, they would be Tableau, an interactive data visualization platform, and Puppet, which offers the data-visualization-as-a-service platform Reflect.

Considerations for More Mature ABM Execution

Regardless of how good these tools are, their ability to propel your ABM strategy is a matter of accurately configuring them and lining up the support to monitor progress.

For example, you can choose to deploy ABM speciality teams as part of the technology strategy, or piece together your existing tools and take more of a custom approach. What is best depends on the tools you have in play, how well they support your ABM approach, and (importantly) the prominence of ABM’s role in your overall marketing game plan.

If ABM is your primary method into market, specific ABM technologies should be applied. If ABM is one of many ways your organization goes to market, then you should customize your resources to suit your budget and efforts.

That’s the simple, quick win: Sizing up the tools you have and maximizing them for ABM execution. And then—always, always, tightening them up. Because a productive ABM strategy requires steady review and adjusting.

Need help tightening up your ABM strategy or execution? Put us on your team.

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