In today's dynamic B2B marketing landscape, there's a growing need for a refined approach that seamlessly integrates the precision of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) with the expansive reach of demand generation. This evolution is essential to effectively navigate the shifts in buyer behaviour and harness the power of insights from intent and ABM platforms. Enter account-based content syndication (CS) – the linchpin that unlocks this potential.
We all know account-based marketing works (ABM), and it is easy to understand why: it’s targeted, personal and seamless - giving potential customers what they need, before they want it, wherever they are, in a nurture that’s both supportive and transportive. And with buying groups doing their own thing, on platforms you don’t control, without this approach they may well forget your product before you even try and make them aware of it.
ABM – it works.
It’s often the number one marketing priority, and this year, 71% of companies bumped up their ABM budgets.
But, and there’s a big but, companies are demanding more from their spend, and asking an obvious question: Can’t we do ABM at the scale of demand? Widen the net, without losing that personal touch that we all know works, because, surely, it doesn’t have to be one or the other?
The awareness is there… but companies haven’t really moved to the consideration stage: 82% of revenue marketing leaders surveyed by Forrester stated they desired a future-state where ABM and demand are aligned - and many believe there’s significant synergies to be realised in converging the two.
But, despite that awareness and belief in the benefits, less than a quarter of marketing organisations have fully aligned teams. Companies are either slow to act, or, maybe, ABM and demand just don’t work well together for them. And that’s also, easy to understand - because they shouldn’t: Personalisation, precision, targeting and nurturing are all processes that, one would assume, lose potency the more liberally they’re applied. And, that’s not great at a time when buyers expect even more: 73% of B2B buyers want a personalised B2C-like experience (Accenture).
Let’s dig a little deeper into the issues, so when we talk about the solution it makes perfect sense.
99 marketing problems – and scaling ABM is one
ABM teams need a way to extend the reach of their customised content, but the four key approaches used with this tactic don’t quite cut it.
- Precision ABM – targeting with a target account list (TAL).
- Vertical marketing ABM – targeting a cohort of accounts in a particular industry or vertical with specific content and messaging.
- Named account ABM – targeting a cohort of accounts with a set of shared attributes.
- Large account ABM – targeting an enterprise account and its subsidiaries in alignment with an account penetration plan.
Teams are also flooded with intent and data signals (solutions like 6Sense, Bombora, and other intent platforms provide unparalleled insight about in-market accounts and b2b buyer behaviour on 3rd party websites) – but lack the options to activate them at scale.
Display ads, email, and website personalisation are all channels that work for utilising insights, but marketing teams find it challenging to turn these into predictable pipeline. 36% of marketers report personalising and tailoring marketing to key contacts at each account as their toughest challenge (ITSMA)
Demand solves the scale problem, but with volume comes a lack of precision. “Waterfall benchmarks from Forrester show that the typical conversion rate from inquiry to close won of a lead-centric process (leveraging MQLS) is less than 1%. That’s less than one successful won deal for every 100 people who express interest - so process that converts early interest from prospects to revenue fails more than 99% of the time (Forrester)
It’s clear B2B marketers need a better way to combine the precision of ABM with the scale of demand generation in an evolved way that combats changing buyer behaviour and enables them to do more with insight data provided by intent and ABM platforms. Account-based content syndication (CS) is the key
Content Syndication is the bridge between ABM and Demand
To get the most out of CS, marketers must first change their mindset, and stop using it as a one-off demand tactic. It must be incorporated into ABM programs.
Some marketers will be wary of doing this, arguing, fairly, that the leads it generates aren’t “fully qualified.” After all, browsing a single piece of content does not make a buyer a qualified lead - but neither does a buyer engaging with any other tactic. Omitting CS from the marketing mix, is ignoring early buying signals, and now, as always, we don’t want to leave any ROI on the table.
We all know buying behaviour has changed, and that’s why the approach to CS must change with it. The tactic isn’t out-of-date, it just needs to be re-aligned to the current marketing landscape and be incorporated into ABM programs.
B2B marketing functions spend between 5-11% of their demand program budget on content syndication (Forrester Tracking the True Costs of Marketing in 2020) – so it is worth getting your money’s worth from it.
- Extend the reach of ABM content.
- Respond to purchase intent signals.
- Leverage database growth.
- Identify active buying groups within accounts.
Extend reach, extend ROI:
For ABM content to work, it has to be customised for specific clusters of target accounts. This personalisation – to specific personas, topics, messaging, value propositions, terminology, and localisation - isn’t cheap, and is resource-intensive. So, it should be used in every possible channel where it might work.
Using CS as part of the ABM program improves both content reach and ROI.
How to do this: Ensure target account segmentation is done in a manner that supports effective messaging; develop content for each audience segmentation; find the right media partners to support your ABM syndication, then syndicate content to your target account buyers.
Using CS like this is a low-cost way to test your account segmentation strategy, and messaging, and also to determine what content works, what topics resonate, and to surface early buying signals at an account level.
Read the signals then respond the right way:
Once buyers within target accounts are displaying intent signals they should be met with specific ABM content syndication.
How to do this: Firstly, as a matter of best practice, target account segmentation must support effective messaging and content development. Next, we plug the gaps by comparing ABM content with intent data and sharing content that supports the research buying groups are doing. Then we syndicate relevant content to target account buyers displaying purchase intent.
By quickly activating – often costly – intent data, marketers can accelerate opportunities by giving buyers the experience they expect, and the information they need to make a decision. And here’s why this is a game changer: When a buyer perceives content to be tailored to their specific needs their willingness to purchase increases by 40% (Harvard Business Review)
The more you know about a buying group, the more likely they are to buy: fill the knowledge gaps - reap the ROI
Buying is now a team activity, with an average of 12-18 buyers involved in a decision, so it's essential that marketing teams and sales identify, not only, these teams at target accounts - but as much information on these individuals as possible. As we mentioned above: Buyers expect personalisation. And personalisation makes them want to buy.
CS can help build out the buying group picture and stop sales having the uphill battle of trying to convert a group through dealings with a single contact. 94% of purchasing decisions are made by buying groups (Forrester)
How to do this: Partner with marketing operations to identify database buying group gaps in target accounts and then compare this information with marketing contact/lead data. Give them the right content, based on your segmentation strategy, then syndicate and use the data you collect to paint a fuller picture.
This extra intel could make all the difference and may uncover a champion for your product. It also gives sales more entry points to build deeper relationships and with a broader picture of the buying group, the door opens to cross-sell/upsell opportunities. It also allows for better tracking of marketing influence at the account level.
Tell sales the score on buying groups to improve the odds
Marketers need to stop handing off individual leads – especially unqualified ones – to sales. They need to provide buying group opportunities and they should be going a step further and scoring these within target accounts. Leveraging CS provides these insights. It allows marketers to identify early buying signals and conversation starting topics within accounts.
How to do this: Build an account scoring model in your CRM, or marketing automation platform, to identify accounts with the most engaged buying group members, then implement a field to show what syndicated content they like best. Sales can make the best approach to the most engaged teams. Better qualified leads are not only better opportunities; they make for a better buying experience, increase conversion, and eliminate wasted effort.
In short, content syndication, used correctly, fills all the gaps that are missed, allowing teams full buying group visibility and the chance to tighten tactics to ensure they aren’t lost before they’re properly pursued. In turn, that gives sales the best possible arsenal of info to convert.
CS can create predictable pipeline, filling the top of the funnel with 100% ideal customer profile (ICP leads) from target accounts if used correctly – fixing the demand conversion issue – and it can solve ABM scaling, as it can help feed it.
Pamela Guyton-Micheles Senior Manager of Demand Generation Marketing, Avalara:
“It’s important to ensure your content syndication channels are fully integrated with your ABM program. Content syndication feeds ABM. If you have contacts that have a high-heat index and are repeatedly downloading your content from numerous sources, it really signifies intent, and gives you the ability to add another group to your ABM program.”
For more information and top tips download Integrate's ebook – Four Ways To Align Content Syndication And ABM.