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Injecting Empathy into ABM

josh turbill

Josh Turbill

UK Chief Digital Officer | ABM | Alliances & Channel | Demand Gen

In a previous blog, a colleague outlined the 10 must-have skills for an ABMer, one of which – and a vital soft skill for all marketers – was emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence, or EQ, is the ability to perceive, understand and manage emotions, both our own and those of others. This empathy for others is one of the most important aspects of marketing in general, but specifically ABM, and especially in the B2B space. Working in B2B, we can often forget the human being reading the white paper, receiving the email, or clicking on the ad. And if we fail to listen to and speak to this specific person’s emotions, the campaign will always fall flat. So how can we instil this empathy into the entire ABM journey?

The first step is paramount: do your research. In B2B marketing, it’s critical to have a deep understanding of the audience’s wants, needs and expectations. The better you know them, the better you know what they want. We know that ABM programmes always start with account-level insights rather than broad industry or generic customer pain points, but ensure you dig deep and truly listen to what people in your target accounts are sharing and saying. By employing social listening techniques, creating experience maps and conducting interviews, surveys and analytics, you can create a more holistic picture of what your customers want, meaning your target accounts will feel better understood.

Invest significant time into identifying which personas will be most effective and who will have the most influence on the buying decision. With this information at your disposal, ensure you’re tailoring the message to each individual, down to the tone and time that you reach out to them. In our eBook “What ABM Success Looks Like”, Josephine Lanzarone, VP of APAC Marketing at Pluralsight says:

“To get the best out of digital channels you need to reach a level of personalisation. Customers respect you for that and it means you can engage in deeper relationships.”

Check your target accounts’ values and experiences against your own brand and use the areas where you overlap as a springboard when communicating with prospects. And most importantly, communicate with them in the tone they’re most familiar with: their own.

Using intent data can also help you design a content plan that will generate meaningful and emotive connections with your audience. One of the newer tools in today’s ABM toolbox, intent data is drawn from ‘intent signals’ that point to what products or services a company is researching online. This can be used to identify what a prospect wants, when they started searching for it, if they’re still searching for it, and what their objections might be. This data allows you to more effectively tailor content to a prospect’s desires and challenges, sparking that emotional connection.

An essential in building empathy and relatability is making as much face-to-face contact with your prospects as possible. This might mean interviewing customers about their buying journey, attending events that people in your target accounts attend, or just going out of your way to hold meetings in-person rather than virtually. Although ABM is digitally led, it’s important to bring the human dimension into play whenever possible to establish deeper relationships.

Finally, try to take off your marketer hat whenever necessary. Truly listening to your target accounts and avoiding hearing everything through the filter of selling sends a strong message that you care more about their needs than yours, which builds a greater sense of trust. When you communicate, leave your knowledge of the inner workings of the campaign at the door and see everything through your prospect’s eyes.

For more inspiration and in-depth insights on ABM, download our eBook “What ABM Success Looks Like.”