Rule 2: Give Your Marketing Team Final Say Over Their Tools
Welcome back to MarTech2020: 5 Rules for Managing Your Technology and Strategy series! So far, we’ve taken a look at today’s marketing technology stack and the average MarTech used by companies annually. In this blog we’ll be taking a look at “Rule 2: Give the Marketing Team Final Say Over Their Tools”.
Think of the MarTech stack as an extension of the marketing team. The team can only operate efficiently if its stack is built to be efficient in the first place. We asked how many MarTech tools our respondents used each month, and the answers closely mirror the number of tools in their technology stacks (Figure 5). This shows disciplined investment in only the tools the marketing team really needs.
Efficient marketers are not wasting time and money to chase the latest technology; they’re building tech stacks to do exactly what they need to do in the way they need to do it. They recognize that there’s just not room for technologies they aren’t regularly using.
You can’t build that kind of marketing machine if another department is selecting the parts. When asked which departments are responsible for procurement and oversight of marketing technology, the most common responses were the marketing department and marketing operations teams (Figure 6).
The IT department (which sometimes controls a company’s entire technology investment) comes in as only the third most influential party and has a say in only 35% of the MarTech decisions. Keep in mind that this chart asked respondents to select all the departments that play a role, so IT only has a say in 35% of cases, which doesn’t mean its say outweighs the marketing department in any of those.
While it’s important to exercise discipline in building your tech stack, it’s equally important to know how to manage the tools you put into it. Marketers are not only building their own tech stacks but managing them as well. Taking on this responsibility is essential to your success as a marketing leader in 2020, providing yet another reason to keep your tech stack at a manageable size.
Rule 1: Keep Your Tech Stack Clean
Welcome back to MarTech 2020: 5 Rules for Managing Your Technology and Strategy. In part one of our series, we saw that the average marketing technology stack may actually be smaller than we might think. In fact, 90% of the marketers we surveyed use fewer than 10 MarTech tools, while most use fewer than five (Figure 1), and two-thirds of our respondents spend less than $100,000 a year on marketing tech (Figure 2).
Comparing annual spending on MarTech with annual marketing budgets (Figure 3), we see that on average, companies spend more on the marketing than the technologies supporting it.
Marketing is still a mostly strategic department. In-house marketing staffs run small, with 80% of companies reporting their in-house marketing departments are no more than 10 people. For two-thirds of respondents, the marketing department is fewer than six people (Figure 4).
Marketing staffs run lean because, for many companies, partners handle a lot of the work. The inhouse team sets strategy and may handle email, social media and a few other channels that closely align with its core mission. But in many cases, a large portion of outbound communication — both digital and print — is handled by specialized agencies, printers or omnichannel marketing companies.
This means that marketers can streamline their MarTech stacks to a few important strategic hubs like marketing clouds and marketing automation systems, freeing up time for the in-house team to focus on how you’re going to reach your brand goals.
Every tool in your tech stack costs money, but it also costs time to install, customize, adjust and learn. The time investment is often a bigger cost factor than the dollar investment. Acquire the tools you need for the channels you use while focusing on building a tech stack that is both efficient and effective.
Check back next week for Rule 2, “Give the Marketing Team Final Say Over their Tools” or click here to read the full report now. And, if you’re ready to see how we can help you strategize your MarTech stack, contact us today.
A Brief Introduction
Marketing technology has done nothing but expand for the past decade. Now in 2020, Chief MarTech’s annual Marketing Technology Landscape Supergraphic lists more than 7,000 tools across 24 different categories. That is a staggering number of options that has as much potential to overwhelm the people using it as empower them.
When is enough, enough? Where is the line between building a tech stack that enables your team to do great marketing and throwing a bunch of shiny things on top of each other until they just get in the way of clear strategy and effective multichannel marketing?
How do you integrate offline and online marketing to engage customers in the real world when much of the tech stack is focused only on digital marketing?
Those are the questions we wanted to answer in our MarTech 2020 survey (click here to see the full results). In the responses, we found a real marketing landscape that makes a lot more sense than the out-of-control MarTech super graphics we’ve all seen.
It turns out that most marketers value focus and efficiency in their technology stacks. Rather than building leaning towers of digital interdependency, the marketers who responded to this survey are opting for efficient, focused marketing tech stacks that enable them to market better not just online, but offline as well.
Today’s Marketing Tech Stack
Despite an explosion of new technologies, we found that marketing tech stacks remain small and focused. Marketers are avoiding too many technical investments and are more likely to use stacks that are lean:
1. Most marketers use fewer than five pieces of technology in their tech stacks, and 90% keep it under 10 total tools.
2. Marketers use tools that support multiple channels more than tools that are used for a single channel.
3. The marketing team controls these tools, not the IT department, with 68% of marketing departments responsible for MarTech procurement and oversight.
4. Marketers use the tools in their tech stacks monthly, and very few tools go unused.
5. Most companies use MarTech to support both digital and offline marketing.
The key to an effective marketing technology strategy is keeping your tech stack small, but robust enough to engage customers and prospects both online and offline. Efficient, nimble tech stacks allow marketers to focus on their customers and seamlessly engage them wherever they may be.
Based on this data, we’ve identified five rules that we’ll highlight over the next 6 weeks that marketers can follow to build technology systems that empower marketing departments to operate at peak efficiency, leaving more time for creativity.
Executing Your ABM Strategy
Welcome to the exciting conclusion of our six-part Account-Based Marketing (ABM) series!
In part six, it’s finally time to put it all together and execute your strategy. Here’s how to do it in four easy to follow steps.
Let’s get started.
1. Identify Online Habits for Ideal Engagement
The first step is to identify where your stakeholders spend the bulk of their time online and the ways they like to view content. To illustrate this, we’ll base our example around an ABM approach to social media.
Once you have their habits and preferences identified — for instance, a preference for Facebook vs. Instagram — it’s time to carefully coordinate your messaging across key touchpoints. This means a multi-faceted approach.
For example, you might get the ball rolling by demonstrating value through social media engagement. In this scenario, you’d find groups and conversations decision makers from your target accounts are participating in. You’d then join the conversation, ideally with some relevant content your team has created.
Hopefully this would lead to a more direct dialogue — after you’ve established yourself, you can further the conversation via direct messages on social media. This is a great strategy, particularly when supplemented by more traditional means of approach, like personalized email outreach.
2. Build Out Customized Channels for Engagement
Having an attractive and convenient means for deeper engagement is crucial to building your relationship with those in control of target accounts.
This “means for deeper engagement” most effectively takes the form of a multi-channel approach to promotion such as:
- Building custom landing pages tailored to the needs, questions, and concerns of accounts
- Offering gifts for engagement and interaction (e.g. prizes, swag, and discount codes) while utilizing dimensional mail and PURLs
- Distribute content such as blog articles across channels that are relevant to each account (e.g. website, social media, and emails)
- Creating ad campaigns and social ads to target different factors such as location, skill, and job title
- Inviting contacts to (physical or digital) events and asking attendees to invite their colleagues
3. Forge Strong Relationships with Buying Committees
Here’s an obvious statement: swaying the buyer is the most important part of making the sale.
So how do we do that? Buyers rarely fall for glitz and superficial offerings, which means you need to take the right approach.
The right approach is basically comprised of the following:
- A focus on educational, value-add pieces
- Hyper-personalized content
- One-to-one (not one-to-many) communications
- Hosting events and webinars that speak to your target buyers
4. Measure Success and Plan for Your Next ABM Campaign
Once you’ve launched, the execution isn’t complete. You’ll need to look back on your efforts and evaluate their success. Remember, ABM is a long-term strategy, not a quick one-off.
You’ll want to turn to easily interpreted metrics for our evaluation separated into three categories: awareness, engagement and relationships.
The best ways to measure awareness is by evaluating things like website visits, social media mentions, and social shares.
To measure engagement, you’ll assess website behaviors like page visits, number of return visits, time spent on site, content downloads, product demos, and email sign-ups/response rate.
Finally, you’ll want to look at your relationships. To put numbers on what appears to be an intangible, take a look at things like the number of decision-makers reached, meetings set, proposals submitted, trial sign-ups, etc.
A Final Note On ABM
Over the course of our six-part series, we hope one thing has stood out above all others: the importance of relationships.
That’s really what ABM is all about — relationships founded on providing opportunity. Above all, ABM is about meaningful connection to create mutual success.
We hope you’re enjoyed this series. For more information on Strata and launching your own ABM strategy, contact us to see what we can do for you.
Killer Content in 4 Easy Steps
Welcome to part 5 of our Account Based Marketing (ABM) series. In our previous blogs, we’ve touched on the basics of ABM, such as aligning your sales and marketing teams, identifying target accounts and doing thorough research.
This week, we’ll be moving towards the creative side of your ABM strategy — creating well-written and useful content. We’re going to take you through a 4-step process that’ll help you develop the kind of content that’ll drive your ABM strategy and connect you with your audience.
It’s hard to stress this point enough: it’s both difficult and crucial to actively engage your potential buyers, but like most of us, your buyer is constantly inundated with ads, emails, and not to mention, social notifications. As a marketer, it’s your job to cut through that noise and offer value, particularly when it comes to an ABM strategy.
Here’s how to create killer (and scalable) content to support your ABM strategy.
Step 1: Do Your Research
If you’ve been keeping up with our ABM series, you should’ve noticed a pattern by now — an ABM strategy relies heavily on research. That’s because the best ABM strategy is focused on personalization.
In the same way, the best ABM content is also personalized. This means that the more personal and relevant your content is, the more likely your target buyer will engage with you.
So, how do you create content that engages them? Ask yourself a few key questions:
- Who are your key personas?
- What do they care about?
- Where do they consume information?
- When do different types of content work best?
Step 2: Draw from Past Content
We never have as much time or resources as we’d like to. That’s why it’s so important to make the most of your hard work in the past to maximize your output in the future.
Here’s what we mean by that in the context of your ABM strategy: recycle your content. There is absolutely nothing wrong with picking and choosing pieces of relevant content to dust off and repurpose as part of your ABM strategy.
The key is not to waste time reinventing the wheel. Evaluate your existing content and figure out where it falls in your strategy. Go through it, find a couple core pieces of reworkable content and identify where you need to fill in the gaps with more research or fresh content.
It’s about working smarter, not harder- let’s stick to this cliché.
Step 3: Personalize, Personalize, Personalize
Before your content goes out the door, make sure that it’s as relevant to your audience as possible. For example, it’s important to include things like industry relevant examples and terminology.
Another important facet of personalization is the tone you use and making sure to change it with context. For instance, your tone may change from casual when addressing a perceived peer to more professional when addressing a member of your target account’s executive team.
The most important thing is that you decide what speaks most to the person with whom you’re trying to connect to.
Step 4: Create Your Game Plan
Once you have your content created, determine who gets what by identifying which content speaks directly to your target account’s needs.
Referencing back to step 1 — the research you did to develop engaging content— determine the best way to get that content to your audience and act.
Creating great content can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be a monumental struggle. By researching your audience, mining existing content, personalizing your materials and delivering your offering in an effective way, you can make valuable content that resonates with your target accounts.
Check back next Thursday for the conclusion to our ABM series – How to Execute Your ABM Strategy. And of course, if you’re ready to start your ABM program and would like to see how we can help, contact us to learn more.
A Deep Dive into Data Discovery
Welcome to part 4 of our Account Based Marketing (ABM) series.
So far, we’ve taken a look at the basics of ABM, how to align your sales and marketing teams ahead of your ABM campaign, and how to choose your target accounts.
In this installment, we’ll be taking a deep dive into data discovery — the importance of data to your ABM strategy, how to collect it, and why data hygiene is so crucial.
Let’s get started.
Why Good Data Is So Important
Good data is arguably the most important part of developing your ABM strategy, specifically when choosing your target accounts — it’s a B2B marketer’s best tool to identify the decision-makers ready to buy now.
In the next few paragraphs, we’re going to be discussing how to collect and utilize data from outside sources, but it’s important to note that plenty of data can be gathered internally from team members and existing data in your CRM.
3 Steps to Using Data For Choosing Targets
Step 1: Use Internet Data
One of the best ways to identify a target account is by gathering internet data. By using IP addresses and third-party cookies, we can look into online behaviors, such as search engine queries, repeat website visits and content downloads.
Step 2: Identify Net-New Prospects Through Audience Mirroring
As you begin to research and discover potential target accounts, you’ll begin to notice similarities in the types of businesses that come onto your radar. This can be a valuable research tool in helping you identify trends and patterns to build criteria for likely target accounts, ultimately speeding up your identification process and boosting your results.
Some places you’ll likely notice similarities include:
- Employee Responsibilities
- Employee Roles
Step 3: Researching the Individual
By now, you’ve narrowed down a pool of prospects into a group of true target accounts. Now let’s not blow all your hard work with a sloppy ending — it’s time to bring it home with by researching your point of contact.
Figure out who you need to reach out to. Once you have it ball parked (department, level of seniority, etc.) start looking at who the ideal point of contact might be. Some of the specific details you’re after are:
- Job title
- Decision-making hierarchy
- Account affiliation
- Activity/engagement history
- Skills and proficiencies
- Experience with your category
- Personal information (hobbies, family, likes dislikes)
Identifying Weaknesses and Maintaining Data Hygiene
It’s important to recognize areas where you may have insufficient data. This is a good opportunity to partner with other companies who have access to quality data and work together.
It’s also crucially important not to be cavalier in your choices when it comes to third-party data acquisition — choose your third-party vendors wisely to ensure that data is well-informed and accurate
Moving onto hygiene: once you have data, you need to maintain it. While we all know that good data is important, accudata.com offers these statistics to put the true cost of bad data into perspective:
- Corrupted and inaccurate data costs US businesses approximately 3.1 trillion dollars each year.
- Nearly 40% of all sales/donor leads include some form of corrupted data, making them either difficult to use or simply useless.
- There is a 25% rate of consumer data decay annually, requiring consistent vetting.
The bottom line here: make sure you acquire good data and maintain its integrity through best practices.
ABM is all about specificity, whether that’s in delegating roles, establishing goals, or doing research. An ABM strategy can be intimidating, but the rewards are worth it. Make it easy on yourself by starting with great data.
Looking to broaden your knowledge on Account Based Marketing? Check back next Thursday for our final ABM blog focusing on how to execute your campaign.
Think you’re ready to start your ABM program now? Contact us to see what Strata can do for you.
Finding the Needle in the Haystack
Welcome to part 3 of our Account Based Marketing (ABM) series.
In this blog, we’ll go over arguably the most important step in an ABM campaign — identifying target accounts. Let’s do it.
What Are Target Accounts?
To put it simply, target accounts are the companies you want to turn into customers.
We’re sure you could’ve guessed that.
Why Target Accounts Are So Important
Selecting your target accounts isn’t as simple as “I’d really like our business to handle the collateral needs for Coca Cola.” It’s about identifying exactly which accounts fit best in your business model, help build your brand, and effectively grow your company. Basically, if you’re spending the bulk of your energy and resources identifying these accounts, then you’re doing it right.
The right target accounts are critical to the success of your ABM campaign. If you choose wisely, you’ll see better account engagement, quicker deal velocity, and larger deals. The wrong choice, however, often leads to difficulty defining clear goals, aligning your sales and marketing teams, and ultimately a poor ROI.
How to Identify Target Accounts
The first step to identifying a target account is to look at the goals your team has established for your campaign and create essential criteria.
Then, step two uses that criteria to establish a persona, creating an ideal customer profile for your target account. The process is a lot like creating personas for B2C business, except you’re creating a persona for an entire company. Things like annual revenue, reputation, philanthropic efforts, etc., all go into this profile.
Next, step three will put this persona to use. Start scouting prospects that fulfill your criteria and resemble the persona you’ve created.
Finally, step four is all about getting the data. Once you have a pool of potential target accounts, utilize any metrics you can get your hands on to delve into them and find which ones are truly the best fit for you. This is a good time to consider not only the potential financial payoff, but how doing business with this account will build your brand and provide value in the future.
Know Your Point of Contact
By now, you’ve narrowed down a pool of prospects into a group of true target accounts. Let’s not blow all your hard work with a sloppy ending — it’s time to bring it home with a little more research.
Figure out who you need to reach out to. Once you have it ball parked (department, level of seniority, etc.) start looking at who the ideal point of contact might be. The specific details you’re after are:
- Job title
- Decision-making hierarchy
- Account affiliation
- Activity/engagement history
- Skills and proficiencies
- Experience with your category
Once you have this information, use it to identify your ideal point of contact.
Double check everything, always…. that’s all.
Allocate Your Efforts
While all target accounts are important — that’s what makes them target accounts — they’re not all equally important. We can visualize this as a tier-based system:
Tier 1 accounts are perfect fits, similar to your highest value customers.
Tier 2 accounts are strong fits but have a lower lifetime value.
Tier 3 accounts fit most, but not all criteria. They’re worth pursuing but typically not worth investing significant resources to win their business.
The point of breaking up target accounts into these groups is energy allocation. You should allocate more resources to accounts that have the potential to drive the most revenue and/or strategic value for your business.
Worth the Work
It’s a pretty hefty work load up front, but ultimately, that research pays dividends — if you choose your targets wisely, your business could very well see growth like it’s never seen before.
That promise of success, however, does come with an important word of caution — if you rush the process and make the wrong move, you’re likely setting your ABM strategy up for failure.
The point is this: if you take your time, do your research and make smart moves, an ABM strategy can truly open new doors for you and your business.
Looking to broaden your knowledge on Account Based Marketing? Check back every Thursday for more ABM topics including tips for how to map individuals to accounts and collect data, best practices for defining and creating targeted campaigns, how to execute your campaign, and more.
Or, if you’re ready to start your ABM program and would like to see how we can help, Contact us today.
Smarketing – How to Align Sales and Marketing
In our last article, we discussed the rise of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) as perhaps the premiere strategy for modern business. With its unique ability to increase efficiency and bolster ROI, more and more businesses have begun to gravitate to ABM as their preferred outbound marketing strategy.
In this article, we’ll take a look at the ways in which sales and marketing teams must interface in order for an ABM strategy to be a success. We’ll also touch on how to align those teams for maximum impact.
Locking In On a Target
Traditional Strategy: In the past, sales teams targeted specific accounts and marketing focused on leads. That meant two fairly autonomous entities working on the same general goal, rather than focused collaborative efforts on a specific, defined target.
ABM Strategy: With an ABM strategy, sales and marketing teams work together from the jump. They do this by identifying a list of target accounts and centering their efforts around those targets.
Standards of Success
Traditional Strategy: We’ve been defining our success in the wrong ways. Marketing teams have traditionally relied on vanity metrics to prove their worth while sales teams have pointed mostly to closed revenue. While sales numbers and engagements are certainly indicative of activity, they can often fail to reflect big pictures realities.
ABM Strategy: ABM identifies this problem — vanity metrics and sales as the “end all, be all” barometer of success — and allows your team to address it. Rather than judging a campaign by these traditional benchmarks, an ABM approach encourages your team to come together and define their own goals. While sales numbers and engagements may be included in these goals, an ABM campaign tends to have a broader vision of success, for instance securing a set of small accounts that may provide crucial references to secure a big account in the future.
Traditional Strategy: The traditional approach to campaigns has always been pretty simple — marketing conceptualizes and launches a campaign, sales gets a list of contacts to follow up with, and the beat goes on — two separate entities independently chipping away at the same general goal, interacting only in the handoff of leads.
ABM Strategy: In the same way an ABM strategy sees sales and marketing working together to identify goals and target accounts, ABM also sees a collaborative approach to campaign development to create multi-touch, hyper-targeted campaigns.
How To Align Your Team
If we haven’t already made it obvious, the success of an ABM marketing strategy is rooted firmly in the alignment and collaboration of sales and marketing teams. With such intense focus on a relatively small pool of prospects, any slip in messaging/communication/strategy could result in the loss of a large percentage of projected sales.
The first step to aligning your team is the initial set of discussions. Start by clearly defining the responsibilities of each team and team member. By identifying these roles for the get-go, it’s easier to ensure accountability, as well as identify priorities and assign tasks.
The next step is to spark a collaborative environment. It’s important to ensure that everyone understands their role as a part of one unit working in harmony, rather than as independent entities doing their job and handing it off to the next person. Think of it as an engine, rather than an assembly line. Have open conversations, encourage constant communication and foster that culture of collaboration.
The final step is to share the results of ABM campaigns openly — including failures — and encouraging constructive dialogue around them. Find out what worked and what didn’t. Examine both successes and shortcomings against the metrics your team has come up with. You may find that the problem is not with your strategy, but rather your goals. This is the type of information that will grow campaigns in the future.
At the end of the day, this is the golden rule: Collaborate, collaborate, collaborate. Align, align, align.
If nothing else, we hope you leave this article with those two words as the primary focus of your ABM strategy.
Remember: getting the ball rolling is only half the battle. Once you’ve developed a collaborative environment and aligned your teams, you must sustain it. Encourage constant conversation, communication and dialogue between your sales and marketing teams. Once this level of cooperation becomes a habit, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes the foundation your teams rely on to get results.
Looking to become an ABM master? Check back every week for more ABM topics, including how to identify high-value accounts, tips for how to map individuals to accounts, info on collecting better data, best practices for defining targets, creating targeted campaigns, executing those campaigns, and much more.
Ready to start your ABM program? Contact us to see what we can do for you.
The ABCs of ABM
One of the best things about our modern MarTech is its ability to fine-tune our marketing strategies to achieve our goals in business.
But where does all this fine-tuning lead to? We’d say the development of Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategies.
Let’s talk about our ability to target new accounts through ABM and why it’s the way of the future.
What is ABM?
In short, ABM is essentially a 1-1 marketing/sales strategy for B2B businesses — where traditional marketing is more generalized with who it targets, ABM targets specific businesses via team members.
For instance, where more traditional B2B marketing might target MarTech companies doing $20,000,000+ in sales annually, ABM would find a specific business that met that criteria and market to them, targeting key team members/decision makers.
To put it as simply as possible, ABM is about focusing your marketing and sales teams on specific accounts you wish to do business with, not general demographics.
Remember: As a multichannel approach to marketing, employing ABM as a successful strategy requires a continual, focused effort from all members of your team. This is not a “set it and forget it” methodology. Rather, this is a concerted effort to increase ROI and make the most of your marketing budget.
Why Use ABM
ABM is a more efficient use of your marketing budget. Despite the additional effort required to custom tailor marketing strategies to unique targets, a recent TOPO study suggests that an ABM strategy improves customer lifetime value by 80% and increases win rates by 86% over a more traditional approach.
Additionally, with a better understanding of target accounts, the customer experience is generally better, translating to higher retention rates.
There’s also the added benefit of shorter sales cycles — since this approach to marketing starts you further down the sales cycle, you spend less time testing the waters and waiting for responses.
How to Use ABM
ABM can be broken down into five essential steps: identification, profiling, creation, execution and reflection.
The most crucial point behind an ABM strategy is identifying specific accounts instead of casting a wide net at a generalized demographic. Target account selection is critical, so set your sights on high-value targets who may have a genuine need for your product.
Pull information from wherever you can get it, whether it’s LinkedIn, a company’s blog or even their Twitter feed. Create a profile of who you believe the company to be on a brand level.
This is also the time to find out who the decision makers are. These are the people your team will be reaching out to.
Now that your team has identified and profiled your target accounts, create content that speaks to those target accounts as unique businesses while aligning your marketing materials with what you believe to be their core brand. Be sure to emphasize solutions to what you see as potential pinch points in their business.
This is why it’s so important to have your marketing and sales team on the same page. When you launch your campaign, it’s crucially important that your multichannel approach includes appropriate outreach by the right parties at the right times. Your marketing and sales teams need to be on the same page. Develop agreed upon timelines coinciding with your content and goals.
Once your campaign is over and the dust settles, look back at your goals and see where you landed. What can you learn from the successes and shortcomings when employing an ABM strategy to your campaign? Use these insights to inform your campaign in the future.
How We’ve Used It
At Strata, ABM has been crucial to our marketing approach. We’ve successfully employed this strategy for the last several years, but have had notable recent success using ABM and other adaptive marketing approaches to contact decision makers for large accounts at home during COVID-19.
You can read more about our recent efforts here.
Looking to the Future
ABM is the way of the future, and why wouldn’t it be? As an exceedingly efficient strategy with higher ROI and a shorter sales cycles that leads to more valuable long-term relationships with clients, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes the industry standard.
Want to see how we can help you transition to an ABM strategy? Contact us to find out what tools we have available for you to get the ball rolling.