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Technology: the key to ABM success

Matt Oakley

Matt Oakley

Head of Data & Insights

If I was forced to choose one factor above all others to account for Account-Based Marketing’s extraordinary acceleration and success over the last half-decade, I wouldn’t hesitate: technology.

Consider the words of John Miller, previously CMO of Marketing Automation pioneers Marketo, and founder of popular ABM platform Engagio:

“ABM was held back because the time it took to research and to personalize wasn’t ultimately scalable. In [recent] years, new technologies have come out that enable you to be account-based at a new order of magnitude. And I think that has unlocked ABM for a lot more companies … Today there are more scalable ways to do target accounts marketing than there existed before.”

Scalability and automation are two of the things that ABM-related technologies give us today but you’d have struggled to access – or afford – ten years ago.  Today, automating such things as collection of insight through social listening technologies, or the delivery of targeted advertising through reverse-IP recognition means “ABM at scale” has become a reality.

The 360-degree advantage

Success in ABM lies in de-risking campaigns through being able to blend your approach: delivering breadth by providing ‘air cover’ for your campaign, while still enabling the ‘surgical strike’.  The clever mix of technologies enable just such a ‘programmatic’ approach to ABM.

Technology truly does cover the ABM landscape end-to-end. Here’s just a taste of what that can look like.

  • Social listening and media listening gives you a good picture of what people are particularly interested in right now, and where that intersects with mention of your brand.
  • Behavioural insight data identifies accounts with the highest probability of engaging with your offerings: a deep dive into audience personas to understand what types of content personas want to consumer and what outlets they use, as well as what their business challenges and priorities are.
  • Intent data enables you to track exactly what people are looking at, when.
  • ABM hub platforms – on which to build the campaign and serve up personalized landing pages; interactive, dynamic platforms are proven to increase dwell time.
  • Advertising platform integration in order to run the display advertising.
  • Hyper-personalisation enables you to serve up exactly what your targets need, right on time.
  • CRM systems (such as Salesforce) is where the email nurture tracks are built and through which the main campaign automation happens.
  • LinkedIn is still the most respected platform is the social/business space and provides useful, widely-used tools to help sales team, like Sales Navigator.
  • Reporting dashboards (often powered by the likes of Google) give you real-time, accurate visibility into your campaigns.
  • Natural Language Processing helps squeeze understanding and value from huge amounts of unstructured (often but not necessarily Social) data.
  • AI and Machine Learning mean your solutions can actively learn and get better at identifying patterns.

To those in the industry, the names of some of the ‘full-stack’ ABM solutions (for example Marketo, Demandbase, Engagio, Triblio, Bombora) have become very familiar and trusted for reliability, data security, and innovation in functionality. There’s a genuine excitement that comes with working with these, a feeling of being at the vanguard.

ABM technologies don’t just deliver process and rigour, they should also, if used smartly, give you agility and responsiveness – providing more tools in your marketing arsenal to serve up timely and relevant ideas.  But cost-effectiveness is, inevitably, always under scrutiny.  ABM is fundamentally driven by its ability to solve strategic revenue objectives; inherent in all this ABM-related technology is the idea of full visibility when it comes to costs and to ROI.  This good news is, we’re seeing much more recognition from businesses of the long-term value of investing in custom programs to drive exceptional returns.

Right tech, right time

Marketing technology right now feels like it’s driving towards an account-based everything world.  But before we get too carried away – or, for that matter, start worrying that our own jobs will be automated – it’s worth reminding ourselves that all the marketing tech in the world won’t help you if a)the product or solution you’re selling isn’t up to scratch and b)you don’t have cut-through messaging and creative to really land your campaign. If you think ABM looks set to give us more in every direction – volume, velocity and variety – over the next couple of years, you’d be right.  ABM technology has now well and truly come of age.  But everyone has access to it, and it’s easy for the advantage to disappear.  The way to differentiate today is in knowing how to use it.  Which is where you need a partner – one already armed with the full technology stack, and with proven experience of success…