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How to Leverage Account Based Marketing in a Crisis

Account Based Marketing Was Always a Good Idea

We are living through unprecedented times, forcing companies to get creative in how they can reach current and potential customers to keep the momentum going. People are rightfully worried. The COVID-19 pandemic is new and no one really knows where it’s headed. With so much uncertainty swirling around every aspect of our lives, marketers must tread carefully. They need to continue to drive corporate sales and growth yet be cognizant that they can appear self-serving and exploitative. Personalizing messaging based on the account is the ideal method to build relationships, trust, and confidence.

Account based marketing (ABM) isn’t a new marketing strategy. A 2010 survey by Alterra Group found 97% of respondents said they experienced higher ROI using ABM and 84% said it helps them expand client relationships. But ABM principles are proving to be particularly beneficial right now in helping companies hone in on the accounts that matter most. Using data to personalize messaging to target accounts gives marketers the ability to tread the line thoughtfully, engaging key customers in a compassionate way that shows they care. 

Related: The Future of Marketing Is Here: Automating Data-Driven Campaigns

With marketing dollars stretched thin, marketing leaders have to think about where they can best channel their budgets for the greatest impact. Instead of casting a wide net to pick up new customers, many are preferring to concentrate on retaining existing customers and the highest potential customers instead. SBI says times of crisis are the best times to “double down on account based marketing to retain customers and grow.”

There’s a huge caveat here. Not all messaging, personalized or not, is welcomed. Keep in mind that most of us are being inundated with emails and social media posts. The Wall Street Journal warns that people are getting tired of all of the pandemic emails and many are unsubscribing from corporate emails. Instead of sending customers emails about your safety protocols that most people already assume you’re doing, provide valued messaging and content that is targeted to what your data tells you matters to your customers.

Retaining Customers with ABM

Never before has a personal touch mattered more. With the vast majority of people under strict stay-at-home policies, highly personalized messaging is more well-received than mass marketing techniques that aren’t typically highly relevant to each customer. Your current customers want to hear from you – personally.

This is the time to reach out to key customers. Depending on the account, the established relationship, and the number of contacts involved, this may be personal calls, emails, SMS texts, or social media updates. The coordinated effort between sales and marketing can turn a simple check-in into a relationship-building endeavor that eventually leads to increased sales opportunities that truly serves your customers’ best interests. 

We’re Still Working Hard

In times of crisis, your customers want to know what’s going on with the businesses they depend on but they are more interested in how their account/service might be affected. Now is the time to reassure them that all hands are on deck working for them. Update your top customers on what your company is doing to put them first to keep their businesses operating as normally as possible. Be specific, provide personal contact information, and follow up with updates as they occur.

We’re Here to Help

ABM is all about personalization, but it doesn’t have to stay relegated to business. Let your customers know your company is made up of people – people who care about their well-being and are committed to helping them through the crisis. Marketers can work together to come up with ways to show customers they have their wellbeing at heart. Come up with innovative ways to show you support them. This may translate into having lunch delivered to their home office, sending them gift cards to local restaurants, sending them a care package of some sort, or even sending a highly-personalized SMS text of encouragement every Monday morning. It doesn’t have to be much, but customizing outreach on a personal level goes a long way in making customers feel like they aren’t just any other customer.  

We’re in This Together

Your wider customer base needs some love too, and you may not have the resources to reach each one of them personally. In this situation, a targeted social media campaign, virtual events, and webinars can keep you relevant, connected, and a value-add. It can also serve to bring people together. By personalizing and targeting your messaging specific to your customers’ interests and needs, you can better distinguish your company from the rest of the pack.

Finding The Best Opportunities

ABM isn’t all about retaining customers. It is an effective strategy for finding the highest potential customers as well. By leveraging your data, you can identify the lowest hanging fruit and go after them with personalized messaging that resonates. In order to do so effectively, you need to know your prospects’ pain points, their drivers, and what matters most to them, particularly during this crisis. That data is likely somewhere in your organization and you need access to it. Every sales and marketing pro knows you have to sell the value versus the product or service features. Align your offerings to their needs and solve their problems. That’s how you win accounts.

Segment Your Outreach

Use your data to determine the segments you have the best opportunity to influence. Reach out to key contacts who make the buying decisions and personalize your messaging. Many companies find success with developing personas they can use to target potential customers with specific direct messaging. Social targeting and direct mail campaigns can lead to personal video meetings that give salespeople a leg up on the competition that’s still sending mass emails. These virtual meetings are ideal to not only sell your value but to also glean valuable customer data to add to your database for future campaigns.

Related: 9 Big Benefits You Should Be Reaping from Your Marketing Segments

Provide Value

While ABM promotes close contact for sales opportunities, it also favors building long-term relationships. For those high potential customers you haven’t yet reached, building a digital brand awareness program is a great way to distinguish your company. You can keep it personal by building a digital campaign that is relevant to the buying teams you are targeting. Virtual events and social targeting are effective strategies when they hit the pain points and interests of your target group. Use digital platforms to build awareness of your brand, the problems you solve, and the value you will specifically bring them. Personalize emails and mail to direct people to the content your data shows they care most about. And keep the flow of personalized, valuable messaging and content coming. Consistency is key in getting and sustaining attention.

Leveraging Technology to Enable ABM for Less

Typically, ABM is considered a more expensive option to other marketing strategies. If ever there was a time to invest, it’s now. It’s less about how much you’re investing, but investing in the right strategy at the right time that matters. Technology is helping marketing leaders fully leverage their martech stack in order to optimize their ABM strategy.

For ABM to work, you have to have data. Marketers are surrounded by data from across the company, but it isn’t always easy to find and it often requires too many manual steps to be efficient. For companies who are able to tap into all of their data, connect the data, and automate processes, scaling personalized campaigns is easier and less expensive. They are able to connect their content, data attributes, and channels to deliver personalization at scale to attract and retain high-value customers.

When it comes to segmenting your data, technology is again your best friend. Use an integrated software solution that automatically identifies critical and untapped segments you may be missing. With ABM, you don’t want to waste time and dollars targeting the wrong segments. Technology will help you not only see potential segments but to measure the quality of those segments. It can also enable personalized automated content to increase engagement and efficiency.

These are just a few capabilities of an integrated solution. Trying to deliver a more personal customer experience doesn’t have to be so labor-intensive, expensive, and uncertain. When you connect your technology and data so they work together to automatically provide insights, the sky’s the limit and it requires less effort than you might think. 

People need to hear from you, especially now. Don’t be silent during this crisis. Use your data to develop personalized, targeted campaigns to show your customers you care about more than sales. Now is the time to build relationships based on trust, compassion, and service. When the COVID pandemic dust settles, they’ll remember who stood by them and was there when it mattered most.