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How to design an effective ecommerce ABM campaign

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What the key components of an effective ABM campaign are

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What data companies should collect to craft the right messaging for their ABM campaigns

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    Transcript

    Anna Shutko:

    Hello, Simeon and welcome to the show.

    Simeon Atkins:

    Thanks Anna. Hi, everyone so my name’s Simeon, I’m a senior industry manager here at Similarweb. Just to give you a brief idea of what we do, Similarweb is essentially the official measure of the digital world. So, if you want to find out what’s going on online, Similarweb is the place to go. So, we’ll give you a complete picture of the digital landscape, everything from which markets and websites are growing, right through to filling your sales pipelines with the most relevant leads. Great to be here today.

    Anna Shutko:

    Yes, I’m super happy to have you. And like always, today is another interesting topic. So, we’re going to be talking about ABM as an approach, and why ABM specifically is very effectiveness when it comes to doing marketing in the e-commerce space? So, my first question to you, Simeon, would be to all the listeners who not maybe know much about this approach, what is ABM? Can you please describe it and maybe compare it to some other approaches to help people understand what the differences are?

    Simeon Atkins:

    Yeah, absolutely, Anna. So, account-based marketing or ABM is essentially a type of B2B marketing in which marketing and sales coordinate their efforts to target, engage, nurture, and then convert specific high value accounts. So, unlike more traditional inbound marketing which generally focuses on firstly creating ads and content, and then aiming it at a relevant audience. ABM is kind of the reverse of that, so you start with identifying prospects with the biggest revenue potential and then you’ll launch marketing campaigns that are tailored specifically to them.

    Simeon Atkins:

    So there’s, I suppose, three key components to ABM to be aware of, or sort of mention them at a high level now and then we’ll cover them in a lot more detail as we go on through the podcast. So, the first element as we were kind of alluding to there is targeting strategic accounts. So, the primary trait of ABM and the best way to recognize it is that it’s extremely targeted, i.e you pursue accounts that you’ve determined will generate a high ROI or lend specific strategic value to your book of business.

    Simeon Atkins:

    Then the next is executing campaign across channels, so the whole notion of omnichannel is nothing new, but it’s particularly important for ABM, I find. So, the goal here is to run coordinated, highly tailored campaigns across all channels that will really maximize user engagement and again, we’ll go into those specific channels as we go through the podcast.

    Simeon Atkins:

    And, then the last component is ongoing performance monitoring optimization, so like with anything else in marketing, monitoring KPIs is integral to ABM. So, keeping tabs on metrics like spend, campaign run time and conversion rates will really give you an important insight on how to optimize campaign performance and ultimately improve outcomes even more moving forward.

    Anna Shutko:

    Fantastic. I think there’s a lot to unpack in this answer, which is perfect by the way. I really love your definition, but now let’s talk about the e-commerce space a little bit. So why is the ABM approach effective in the e-commerce space specifically?

    Simeon Atkins:

    Well, I think in general, firstly with ABM, you get a much better utilization of staff resources and budget when you’re doing ABM. So again, with more traditional lead generation techniques, they require a lot of resources, very high budgets because the very nature of them involve casting a wider net. You’re inevitably going to be spending money on leads that don’t end up being particularly relevant. That’s just the nature of it.

    Simeon Atkins:

    With ABM, with the kind of targeted approach there, you can really eliminate a lot of this waste by only looking at specific high value accounts as we were saying before. And then as a result, marketers and sales people on ABM teams can really focus their time and their budgets more effectively while producing a higher ROI to show for it.

    Simeon Atkins:

    And then you’ve got increased engagement among your audiences. So again, because ABM campaigns are super personalized to your target accounts, it’s much easier to get them to engage. And again, whether this is e-commerce or whatever you are focusing on, this is generally the case. So, adds content and events that feel super relevant to their unique needs and challenges are going to be far more likely to capture the attention of the people you’re speaking to and influence them to actually take action.

    Simeon Atkins:

    As a result of this kind of more focused approach, you’re then likely to see probably shorter sales cycle. So, one of the reasons more traditional inbound marketing campaigns will tend to have longer sales cycles is because they’ll generally tend to attract leads who a lower level of the organization. So, they won’t themselves have the decision making authority and therefore they’ll need to involve multiple stakeholders to actually make the decision. Because with ABM, you are directly targeting the decision makers or the biggest influencers within the company. It tends to speed up the process and shorten sales cycles generally.

    Simeon Atkins:

    And, then another byproduct of the kind of highly targeted approach is there’s going to be less need for cold calling. So, although there’s still a hugely important place for cold calling in sales, it’s safe to say it’s not always the most time effective part of the sales process. When you start to narrow down your focus on a select list of high value accounts, there’s far less need than to prioritize call old calling because obviously you’ve kind of narrowed that search and you’re speaking to more engaged targeted audiences as kind of a byproduct of the approach.

    Simeon Atkins:

    And, then all this really resulted enhanced alignment between marketing and sales, which I think is becoming more and more important for businesses. So, ultimately to run an important ABM operation, marketing and sales really need to work closely together. They really need to align on key components, whether that’s choosing which accounts to target the key messaging for those accounts. And, then when should sales begin that kind of outreach to those prospects as well.

    Simeon Atkins:

    So, with greater alignment between the departments, that’s then going to have a knock on effect and all of the campaigns that you kind of moving forward. If you’ve got a greater alignment between marketing and sales, that’s only going to be beneficial to you moving forward.

    Anna Shutko:

    Right, I really, really like how you mentioned the alignment between marketing and sales there. I also think it’s extremely crucial, especially in today’s B2B environment. And you’ve also briefly started touching on the components of crafting an effective ABM campaign. And, previously you’ve mentioned that you would have to calculate the ROI much better, you have to start executing campaigns across all the different channels.

    Anna Shutko:

    So, if we start summarizing this little bit, what are the key components of crafting and effective ABM campaign? So, what should marketers start with when they start the whole marketing sales alignment when they start crafting messaging, when they start thinking about these ABM campaigns?

    Simeon Atkins:

    Sure, so I mean, at Similarweb we found that when you’re building an ABM strategy there’s generally six key steps that you need to take in order to create an effective ABM strategy. So, step one would involve what we’d say is assembling your ABM dream team. So, there’ll be companies that obviously have the headcounts to establish teams that work exclusively on ABM campaigns. Other companies will need to employ more of a blended approach. You’ll have certain sales reps and certain marketers that will split their time between ABM campaigns and their kind of regular marketing and sales efforts.

    Simeon Atkins:

    But I think regardless of that approach, it’s essential to have, as we were saying before, both sales reps and marketers involved and working very closely together. One thing that I would advise here is making sure that you’ve got reps that are, firstly, kind of experienced and well verse on your prospects needs and business objectives, as well as your own products and services. But I think the other thing to kind of mention here as well, that because ABM in its nature is very highly strategic in its approach. I think it’s always a good idea to involve individuals who are kind of strategic thinkers, creative and more performance driven.

    Simeon Atkins:

    From the marketing side, I think the other important thing to mention here as well is that you obviously need individuals that are working on each of the channels, whether that’s email, social media, content webinars, as well as just generally the marketing operations side of things as well. You just need to have people that are well versed in each one fields.

    Simeon Atkins:

    Step two would then require you to determine who you’re targeting, so if you haven’t already done this before, you need to define what your ideal customer persona is, what does that look like. And then once you determine the traits of your ideal prospects, the next step is then to identify the highest value accounts. So, some of the things that you can consider here would be what’s the kind of product fit? What’s the strength in terms of the product fit? What’s the sales funnel length like, what’s the strategic value to my book of business? What kind of competitors are they working with and what kind of territories are they operating in?

    Simeon Atkins:

    And, this is where really the right sales intelligence tools can really help you pinpoint your ideal prospects with a great deal of precision. So with Similarweb, with our sales intelligence tool, for example, we have what’s called our lead generator tool and that’s where you can start to build out high value accounts to have a clear need for your products and services. So you can start to filter by key demographic data like HQ location, employee headcounts, and things like that, as well as contact data and other metrics like where they’re receiving their customers from as well.

    Simeon Atkins:

    And, then we also have on the other side of it as well, what we call our insights generator which is where you can start to tailor your outreach to these specific prospects and include key data points as well to really enhance your email each and really kind of elevate you above the competition and really help kind of capture their attention in that respect.

    Simeon Atkins:

    Step three, involves identifying key decision makers and influencers within those companies that you’re targeting. So the beauty, as we were saying before, of ABM is that you are specifically targeting decision makers within your target accounts or the top influencers. So, people that really kind of help push these decisions through. The problem here, I suppose, is that reaching these individuals isn’t always easy. And, one thing you definitely need is obviously the right contact information. And again, sales tools like Similarweb can really help with this. We have over 400 million contacts which include things like business emails, phone numbers, social profiles which would all be kind of data protection compliant as well.

    Simeon Atkins:

    The next step there would be require sort of looking at the kind of content and establishing the content relative to the people that you’re sending it to. So, after you’ve understood exactly who you’re targeting, what their goals are, their pain points and challenges, then and only then will you be really in a strong position to actually start to put together your content, have an idea of what it should be focusing on.

    Simeon Atkins:

    Again, like we were saying at the top of the piece, more traditional marketing campaigns will kind of start with the content and then send it out. Whereas, we want to sort of reverse engineer that start by really understanding our key customers, what their pains and challenges are and then tailoring the content around that. So, we’ve already mentioned that it’s very important to have a kind of cross channel approach for the ABM.

    Simeon Atkins:

    But, one thing to sit here is at different decision makers and different positions will tend to favor certain channels over others. So for example, if you are looking at high level executives, they might be more inclined to engage with something like an email newsletter, which comes straight to their inbox. Someone like a mid-level manager for example, might have more time for attending webinars and reading blogs. So it’s important to bear that in mind as well, but really whatever channel you’re working on the key is ensuring your content focuses on topics that are most relevant to your prospects, their needs, and their challenges.

    Simeon Atkins:

    Once you’ve done that, step five is then launching your campaign. So, this is the point to really make sure that marketing and sales stakeholders are totally aligned on the key elements. So things like the messaging, which channel are being utilized, and then at what point will sales people then start to reach out to the prospects and engage in a dialogue that way.

    Simeon Atkins:

    And, then the final step involves monitoring performance and optimizing campaigns. As we were saying before, throughout the duration of the ABM campaign, it’s really important to be monitoring key metrics to assess progress and performance which will then be kind of inform both marketing and sales and how to optimize their efforts. So, some of the KPIs here would be campaign duration, what kind of budget you’re spending on it, what the engagement rate has been across the different channels, the number of outreach temps that have been made by sales to start getting a response, what the kind of length of the sales funnel is, what the conversion rate deal sizes are.

    Simeon Atkins:

    All of these are going to be super important in terms of monitoring the effectiveness of the campaign. And, then based on the outcomes as well as prospect feedback that you’re getting, particularly the sales reps getting that feedback from prospects, you can then start to edit your campaigns to improve their relevance impact moving forward.

    Anna Shutko:

    All right, fantastic. I really love these six-step program. And now let’s talk more about the mistakes part, because I think that all these steps that are very relevant. There is a great sequence of them, but when it comes to mistakes, what are the typical mistakes marketers make when they are crafting the ABM campaigns? And you’ve talked about the dream team, so I guess it’s not just the working team, there are multiple people involved. So, what can go wrong? So, what should the dream team be on the lookout for when they are planning the campaign and while they are executing it?

    Simeon Atkins:

    Yeah, it’s really kind of going back on a lot of the points that I said, and then doing the opposite of them, I suppose. So with ABM, as we keep saying, it’s very important to be super focused and super tailored to specific strategic high value accounts. So, I think what I’ve seen in the past is maybe having too much of a broad approach with ABM, almost kind of going back to more traditional methods and then you’re kind of missing the point in terms of what ABM should be.

    Simeon Atkins:

    So, you might be targeting too broad of an account base. I think that it’s more in important to have a small number of very targeted accounts versus a bigger number of less targeted accounts, if that makes sense. So, if you’ve got a list and you don’t feel it’s big enough, that might actually be a good thing because it’s going to allow you to be super targeted, and you know that these are your kind of top, top priority in terms of the accounts to be reaching out to.

    Simeon Atkins:

    I think definitely when sales and marketing aren’t aligned, that’s where campaigns can start to fall apart as well. So as we were saying before, marketing and sales really need to be working hand in glove. And I think if that’s not the case, I think the key components of the campaign can start to fall apart. Whether it’s the messaging, whether it’s when sales are reaching out are they’re reaching out the right time? All these kind of things can start to fall apart as well.

    Simeon Atkins:

    So, I think it’s really a case of, like I said, the kind of six-stage strategy that I mentioned before. It’s just making sure that you’re keeping to that, and with ABM, like I was saying before, the key to it really is being very targeted, very strategic in your approach. Try not to be to broad brush about it, and make sure that you have a good alignment between sales and marketing when you are kind of moving forward with it.

    Anna Shutko:

    All right, Excellent points. And another question I was really, really curious to hear your answer for would be, so as you’ve mentioned, of course, the marketing department doesn’t just do ABM. We also have a lot of other campaigns things going on. So, my question to you here would be when it comes to convincing a marketing leader, a CMO, whether ABM is one approach the company could try, what kind of arguments should marketers bring to the table?

    Anna Shutko:

    So you’ve mentioned focus on key strategic accounts, being able to identify the accounts with high ROI or potential ROI. But, are there some other points they can mention when it comes to convincing someone that ABM should be the approach we could try? Because, it does sound like ABM is quite labor intensive, so to say.

    Simeon Atkins:

    Yeah, I mean, an argument that you can always lead with is the fact that you’re going to be a lot more focused and strategic with regards to marketing spend. So, with more kind of traditional approaches, it can be a kind of you are spreading a wider net and therefore you’re going to be a acting leads that aren’t going to be as relevant. With ABM, every dollar you are spending should be on accounts that have a high value to your business and will be more likely to convert. So by kind of definition of that, you should be kind of convincing the powers that obviously your marketing spend is going to be better positioned with something like ABM, because there’s more thought and strategy going forward with that.

    Simeon Atkins:

    And as you said, correctly there as well in terms of like an ROI or from an ROI perspective as well, because you’re being more strategic, you’re likely to then generate a higher ROI. It is true, it can be more labor intensive because obviously there’s a lot more kind of work and strategy that goes into it. But my kind of counter, that would be the fact that you’ve got two teams working on it, sales and marketing. So, you’ve kind of got more of a workforce kind of helping with that.

    Simeon Atkins:

    And, ultimately if the results end up being more effective and you end up kind of making more money and getting a better ROI, then that should kind of justify, obviously, the work that you’re putting in versus a campaign that’s might be a little bit more straightforward to put together in a bit more quicker to execute, but it’s not going to generate the dollars at the end of it. So, that would certainly be my approach to it.

    Anna Shutko:

    Right, fantastic. These are really, really good points and now let’s talk about data in a bit of a more detail. So, what kind of data should companies be collecting to craft the right messaging for their ABM campaigns?

    Simeon Atkins:

    Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah so one thing to bear in mind before we go into the specific data points here is that sales and marketing teams will generally require different sets of data when working on ABM campaigns. There’ll be some similarities, but there’ll be definitely some differences as well. So on the marketing side, you’ll need certain metrics to help build campaigns based on what matters to your prospects. So, that will include things like where they’re receiving their traffic from.

    Simeon Atkins:

    So if you think about a website, is that traffic coming organically? Is it coming directly? Is it coming through paid search, et cetera? What’s the engagement metrics or the engagement rates are like on the website? So when people are going onto their website, how they’re performing on the website? Are they staying and making a purchase or are they maybe bouncing after doing just one page? What kind of softwares are being used on that website as well? Write down things like referral traffic keywords and the kind of demographics of people visiting that website as well.

    Simeon Atkins:

    And then on the sales side, you’ll need to focus on certain metrics that will give you a complete picture of your target account. So, that could include things like what shipping provider they have, how much traffic they’re getting to their website, what payment options they’re offering on their website and write down things like obviously the decision maker, contact information, which we mentioned previously as well.

    Anna Shutko:

    All right, Simeon. Fantastic, thank you so much for coming on the show. I learned a lot about ABM, and now I have a much better structure of how to do it in my head. So, now if the audience would love to learn more about you, where can they find you? Where should they go to?

    Simeon Atkins:

    Yeah, absolutely. So, obviously you can visit Similarweb.com to find out more information about ourselves. I’m also going to be providing a link to yourself at the end of this to a page specifically talking about ABM, and how Similarweb can help you with your ABM efforts, and how we can kind of help you get more tailored and more effective campaigns going out there. And, also feel free obviously to read out to me directly on LinkedIn as well, be more than happy to talk through this in a bit more detail.

    Anna Shutko:

    Awesome, Simeon. Thank you so much for coming on the show today.

    Simeon Atkins:

    Thank you, Anna.

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