A lot has been said about account-based marketing (ABM) and the value it can drive for B2B companies. There is a tremendous amount of content on ABM out there – implementation guides, blogs, articles, podcasts and even ebooks on developing an ABM strategy.
At xGrowth, we have published multiple articles addressing commonly debated questions such as the role of automation in account-based marketing campaigns, things to keep in mind from an ABM attribution perspective and the difference between account-based marketing and inbound marketing strategies.
Speak to an expert about rolling out or scaling account-based marketing in your business.
All of the above resources can help B2B marketers amplify their ABM efforts and accelerate sales opportunities, but this article will go a step further and provide some actual tactics and campaign ideas. As a B2B marketer, you can leverage them to accelerate your account-based marketing journey.
So without further ado, here are 4 ABM tactics and corresponding marketing case studies that you can take inspiration from!
1) Winning over target account stakeholders with direct mail campaigns
Why are direct mail campaigns relevant for ABM?
Believe it or not, direct mail is the most potent weapon in a B2B marketers arsenal.
This tactic may seem counterintuitive in a world where marketing efforts revolve around social media and online content experiences, but direct mail can surprise you! The ROI on such campaigns can be huge, with returns up to 20 times in some cases.
Yes, digital channels are essential. An SEO optimised website, a campaign-specific landing page, personalised emails, ads and blog posts make up the bulk of every marketing approach. However, with direct mail, you can differentiate your campaigns effectively.
If done right, a direct mail campaign can charm prospects into at least giving you a meeting and provide that “additional push” to the sales process. If you feel that I am making a subjective statement, here is a collection of some data points:
A Royal Mail report shows that campaigns with a direct mail component are 27% more likely to deliver top-ranking sales performance.
As mentioned above, direct mail has never been more powerful! Now, let's jump to how and when it should be leveraged.
How and when to use direct mail in ABM campaigns
The three tiers of account-based marketing can be used as filtering criteria for deploying or not deploying direct mail. From a purely logical standpoint, the tactic makes sense for 1:1 and 1:few ABM strategies.
Here are some scenarios where you can use direct mail campaigns:
- Your sales team is trying to expand into an existing account but hasn't been able to get the buying committees' attention (1:1)
- The sales team wants to create some initial awareness about the company's product and services before reaching out to the prospects (1:few)
- You are targeting the top 5 or 10 companies in a particular industry, and you have a list of decision-makers whose attention you want (1:few)
- You have an ongoing ABM campaign that started to reap results, and now you want to take it to the next level by creating more buyer engagement.
The above list of use cases is not comprehensive, but they should serve as a reference to gauge the need for direct mail campaigns.
Irrespective of how you manage your ABM activities, be it in-house or outsourced to an agency, there are dedicated vendors who can execute and take this journey with you. If you have researched the prospects and their companies, their likes and dislikes, have nailed down the messaging, then execution should be straightforward.
Direct mail + account-based marketing case studies
Case Study 1: GumGum’s hyper-personalised comic book for T-Mobile executives to create brand awareness.
This is most definitely the gold standard for any marketing campaign, but in reality, it was so much more than ABM and direct mail.
In this case, GumGum created and mailed close to 100 copies of a comic book named T-Man and Gums to prospective T-Mobile buyers and executives. The content and design of the comic book were hyper-personalised to account for T-Mobile's branding and their CEO's likes and dislikes.
The team at GumGum also created an online landing page for downloading the comic book and pushed it out to several other stakeholders as well. The overall campaign caught the attention of T-Mobile's CEO - John Legere, which subsequently led to a meeting!
Case Study 2: xGrowth’s direct mail campaign to generate meetings for an Australian technology company specialising in Citrix.
The second case study is something we ran for one of our clients here at xGrowth!
The organisation we were working with wanted to get the attention of CIOs and CISOs of their target accounts. Being in the cyber security space, the campaign messaging was twofold, the first aspect was about starting a conversation around securing hybrid and remote workspaces in the post-pandemic world. The second angle was to point out the silos between IT and the security teams.
After talking to the sales reps at the organisation and doing our research, we published a guide for enterprise security, copies of which were mailed to prospective buyers from multiple target accounts.
The packages delivered to CIOs were in the form of a safe, the code to which was mailed to the security managers of the same organisation. The catch was that the CIOs had to contact their IT security managers to access the piece of personalised content that we had created for them.
This campaign got instant attention from the desired stakeholders, and the client was able to secure some meetings as well! The direct mail allowed us to personalise the messaging and branding of our overall campaign experience. It served as that initial foot-in-the-door that our client was hoping to get.
2) Creating engagement with personalised events
What do we even mean by personalised events?
This is another tactic that can be very effective for a company following a 1:1 account-based marketing strategy trying to seek the attention of the buying committee to upsell and cross-sell.
In the pre-COVID world, it would involve inviting decision-makers from existing and target accounts for in-person events such as a day's visit to the technology delivery centre or an offshore contact centre that your company might be running for the client organisation.
The account stakeholders are sent out personalised branded invitations, and the offices are branded to reflect an alignment between the client organisation and the vendor company's visions. The marketing team, along with the account manager, drive the itinerary of the visiting individuals.
The agenda can include the client's introductions with the implementation team, customised in-person pitches on the service organisation's capabilities, lunch and learns and networking dinners.
Through this kind of event, the marketing team can introduce the account stakeholders to the organisation's culture and use that time to pitch other services that the sales teams have targets for.
Onsite visits are one of those marketing tactics that can be used by IT services companies having large 50+ people projects running for the client's organisation in an offshore delivery centre. This B2B marketing strategy can also be used by SaaS organisations that are heavy on implementation and technology infrastructure providers.
I feel that in-person events and site visits will eventually make a comeback, and marketers would do well by keeping them in mind. But up until then, client-specific online events that mimic in-person site visits can fill in this gap created by the pandemic.
Events + account-based marketing case study
Case Study: Thomson Reuters’ event-based marketing strategy to build brand trust.
Thomson Reuters is a globally known media company providing content and software services to business owners and legal professionals.
In order to drive up brand awareness and build trust, Thomson Reuters organised close to 700 offline and online events throughout North America.
Account stakeholders and buyers were invited to participate in these events to get familiarised with the company's offerings, network with other like-minded professionals and get industry-specific insights. This tactic worked well for target accounts with long sales cycles and existing accounts with low sales engagement.
For accounts that were churning or were about to churn, the team at Thomson Reuters took a more aggressive approach. They hosted exclusive events, invited key executives on the client's side to be on discussion panels and gave several opportunities to decision-makers to be mentioned in blogs and other forms of social media content.
After executing the above two-pronged events-based ABM tactic, Thomson Reuters achieved a tremendous ROI in the form of a 95% win rate!
3) Wowing the customer with the power of next-gen technologies such as AR/VR
This is the decade of the metaverse, and yes, I am being a little ambitious by introducing this tactic in an account-based marketing blog, but AR/VR and mixed reality technologies are evolving faster than ever.
B2C marketers worldwide have already created some highly innovative and engaging campaigns using it. At xGrowth, we feel that the B2B industry can also reap the benefit of this next-gen technology!
If we go back to the definition of account-based marketing, it is all about creating highly personalised experiences for a set of very specific individuals at key target accounts.
So far, B2B marketers have been creating these experiences by using tactics such as offline events, online events, direct marketing, online ads and email campaigns, so why not use AR/VR to do the same.
AR/VR technologies could become the next best thing after in-person events. Imagine an exclusive gathering held in the metaverse, open to prospects from accounts at the bottom of your marketing funnel.
AR/VR can also become the next level for engaging with account stakeholders who are close to buying into your product from an account-based marketing perspective. Think of hologram based personalised messages for target account stakeholders from the CEO of your company.
There is also a use case here to kindle curiosity about your brand with a metaverse presence since not many B2B organisations are thinking about it yet.
The possibilities are endless, but we should also be mindful of the hype and look at the use cases pragmatically.
While AR/VR and metaverse based campaigns seem exciting, it would be hard to comment on the potential ROI from them because we are still in the early stages of the B2B use of such technologies.
Having said that, I do believe that mixed reality and the metaverse will change the overall marketing landscape in the long run.
AR/VR technologies + metaverse + account-based marketing example and case study
Case Study: GumGum’s AR-based campaign to increase participation in Clorox’s annual marketing event.
Agreed, Clorox is not a technology firm and is more of a consumer-facing brand, but the campaign in this case study does have the B2B and ABM flavour.
Every year Clorox invites marketers from several organisations around the world to network and discuss key trends in the marketing domain.
In 2017, the company partnered with GumGum to create three-dimensional tattoo kits about certain Clorox products that the participating marketers can test on their hands and also share with others. The intent was to drive awareness about computer vision/AR/VR technology (B2B) and create awareness about Clorox products (B2B, B2C).
The results from this innovative campaign were very impressive and generated one of the biggest guest lists of 400 participants for Clorox and their annual marketing event!
4) Making your account-based marketing campaigns more efficient with specialised ABM platforms
All right, so far in this article, I have talked about under-rated as well as ambitious tactics for executing account-based marketing campaigns, and I hope you will be able to derive inspiration from them.
Before concluding this piece, I would call out that though these tactics might help you with 5X-10X returns on your marketing investment, they could go the other way as well. That's why as marketers, you must never underestimate the power of optimisation and the power of introducing operational efficiencies in your account-based marketing campaigns.
One way to achieve efficiency is using specialised ABM platforms such as Terminus, Salesforce, 6Sense, and Demandbase. Each of these vendors has several success stories on their website that you can take inspiration from.
The one that I like is Terminus' case study with VersionOne and how, by automating their content delivery, VersionOne was able to double the number of their sales opportunities.
Having said all of the above, you don't necessarily need an ABM platform to bring in efficiencies; All you need is to keep the first principles of account-based marketing in mind, i.e. a very clear and detailed ICP, research on the messaging you want to go-to-market with, alignment with your sales teams and most importantly, relevant, personalised content for the stakeholders you are targeting.
That's all I have in this article, and I hope this provides some value to you. If this overwhelms you, or if you want some help with your ABM campaigns, feel free to contact us!