Account-based marketing is gaining popularity with business-to-business companies seeking to streamline their customer-acquisition processes by assertively and surgically pursuing high-value accounts.
Rather than the usual practice of “casting a wide net” to gain a small percentage of attracted leads, ABM flips the funnel, calling for laser focus on landing specific accounts that you identify as being most desirable to your company.
ABM requires unprecedented sales-marketing alignment, hyper-effective audience targeting and shrewd use of automated workflows. And in the age of the multichannel, nonlinear, increasingly anonymous customer journey, involving social media in your ABM nurture processes is becoming all the more important.
Fortunately, new technologies are making these aspects of ABM easier and more efficient all the time.
The following expert-level workflows will help you gain higher-quality accounts and secure a competitive edge.
Use advanced intelligence tools to create hyper-targeted social ads
When people visit your web pages, they’re leaving clues about their intent. Here’s how to “listen” to these signals and target them accordingly.
Determine which of your web pages (and combinations of web pages) are frequently visited by people who eventually do business with you. These can be discovered using the Reverse Goal Path report in your Google Analytics account. This is where you’ll see the last three web pages your visitors checked out before landing on your selected goal-conversion URL. You can consider visits to these pages to represent “high-intent” leads.
Next, use a content analytics intelligence tool to generate a feed of the companies that people who view your high-intent pages work for. Using your list of high-intent companies, you’re now armed with a great starting point for your ABM qualification and nurture pipeline across channels.
To take this information to the next level, you can export it as a CSV file of your visitors’ domains into a tool like Voila Norbert. This tool will run a domain search and import every available email address on record that’s associated with the domain names in question.
Finally, upload your list of email addresses into the social platforms you’re going to create ads in. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn are all capable of serving up promoted social posts specifically to the email lists you upload, although it’s important to make sure that your data complies with their targeting privacy standards.
Use delayed zaps to automate one-to-one social engagement
ABM is all about long-term communication, engaging only with the specific prospects that are likely to be most valuable to your business. But manually communicating to only those prospects with “X” business model and “Y” number of employees in the “Z” metro area is inefficient.
To be better and faster at ABM than your competitors, use Zapier with your customer-relationship-management system to automate the process of finding and messaging your prospects.
Zapier will automatically add the accounts you want into your CRM. You can feed this beast with data from any number of sources, including your latest address-book contacts, new form submissions, purchase information, emails received and social mentions received. Also, it can automatically dispatch follow-up social media messaging that’s triggered by tags you apply in your CRM. And by taking advantage of lead-enrichment data, you can even automate your CRM tagging. This automatic tagging can help you target the ideal accounts for your messaging.
Once Zapier “knows” which of your audience members meet your criteria for ABM, it can trigger different messages on your behalf when ABM-relevant companies engage with you. Did a high-value company just retweet you? With an optimized setup, for example, Zapier can thank them one hour later with a reply on Twitter and direct-message them an ebook recommendation the next week—and this activity can all be logged in your CRM, for the sales closing team to eventually retrieve.
Run targeted social media drip campaigns
While email drip campaigns are common, social media drips are underused. In both cases, the idea is to set up boilerplate content as sequences of personalized messages to be dispatched on personalized schedules, using individual audience members’ content engagement activity as triggers.
You’ve got an audience that’s likely to be interested in your offerings, and you have platforms like Facebook and Twitter that will target your audience through email lists. This situation is perfect for ABM. Employ social drips in your ABM efforts, and you’ll increase your chances of building buzz and brand equity in the minds of your ideal customers.
First, create your content: Facebook posts, tweets and hashtags, pictures, videos, etc. Break your content down into all the separate “drips” you’ll deploy, and create a content calendar of when you’ll launch the drips. You’ll also need a “platform plan” of the social platforms you’ll be using for your drip campaigns.
Next, begin the process of scheduling your drips. (Hopefully you’ve done enough homework to know your audience’s peak online usage times.)
Use LinkedIn to reach everyone at your targets
LinkedIn Account Targeting allows you to target multiple decision makers at your target companies. This is a new feature that can boost your ABM success like never before.
Especially at larger organizations, there are often several stakeholders on the buyer’s side who all need to sign off on any purchase orders. Having the ability to target them all with ad impressions can make a big difference when it comes to shortening sales cycles.
Remember the list of high-intent companies that you generated back in workflow No. 1 above? Simply review the data manually, export it a CSV file of company names and upload it directly to the LinkedIn Account Targeting platform. This module allows you to upload up to 300,000 company names. Within 48 hours, LinkedIn will cross-reference your list against every company page and all of the individuals associated with those pages.
You’ll now be all set to target everyone who works at those companies with your LinkedIn ads. This isn’t the most surgical ad targeting method possible, but it’s hardly casting an extremely wide net, either.
To make sure your media spend serves you as effectively as possible, you can build new retargeting audiences consisting only of people who click on your LinkedIn ABM ads, nurturing the decision makers from there.
Bait engagement with social attention hacking tools
As you know, notifications are sent to every person you view on LinkedIn, which increases the chances that they’ll view your profile, as well. And when they do, if your profile is optimized for social selling purposes, they’ll be able to see who you are, why they ought to pay attention to you and what kinds of solutions you offer.
So, in this sense, more eyes on your LinkedIn profile means more leads for your business. At the very least, doing this will increase the chances that people will pay attention when you reach out to them or target them with ads, thanks to familiarity bias.
Dux-Soup is a freemium Chrome extension that automatically directs your LinkedIn profile to “view” hundreds of people you want to target. These profile visits happen behind the scenes, with no action needed on your part. The platform also tracks and logs every interaction between you and others on LinkedIn, and you can download these logs for further targeting based on engagement types.
While LinkedIn’s “Who your viewers are” functionality makes for many attention hacking opportunities, the open nature of Twitter’s culture makes for others.
Narrow allows you to use custom keywords and hashtags to help you automatically engage with Twitter users who talk about subjects that are relevant to your target audience, or whose profile bios include these terms. This tool directs your Twitter account to automatically follow these users and favorite their tweets—which are two actions that promote meaningful engagement and valuable online conversations. You’ll also see engagement rates per search term, which provides valuable insights into what is working most effectively for you.
For extra-aggressive nurturing with your new Twitter followers, you can set up one-off auto-responder DMs welcoming people to your community, offering your advice or a free resource download. With so much automation taking over Twitter nowadays, this tactic is unlikely to be as effective as it once was, but if you set it all up as a series of delayed zaps, as described in workflow No. 2 above, you’re likely to maximize conversion impact.
Use a checklist of manual interaction reminders
Sometimes you’ll want to cherry-pick an ABM target for white-glove relationship building.
To make real connections with real people, of course, it’s crucial to balance social media automation with manual, human engagement. When it comes to conversation, bots aren’t yet capable of performing every task that people can do, and sometimes they miss the mark with the tasks that they are capable of. The disadvantage of manual activity, on the other hand, is that people make mistakes—especially when dealing with a high volume of tasks.
That’s why it’s important to build out and consistently update checklists of your manual engagement tasks. Whether it’s monitoring open social channels for conversations worth jumping in on or proactively reaching out to high-value targets, you’ll need those reminders.
With a useful, living document in place, you may even be able to delegate some of the tasks to someone else on your team or a virtual assistant.
Include items such as retweeting, sharing relevant posts, answering questions you see on social channels, etc. Anything that sets your business apart as caring industry experts should be included on the checklist.
Also, don’t forget customer-service needs that require immediate attention. These include things like product questions you may receive on Twitter or complaints posted to Facebook. Ignore interactions like these at your own risk.
You can use a simple Google doc to maintain your checklists, or you can get fancy and use a dedicated workflow management platform like Process Street.
Simplify your ABM processes
Unfamiliar marketing strategies like ABM, and the tactics that support them, are always cause for hesitation. But with the help of a few tools, you can master social media-driven account-based marketing.
So, roll up your sleeves and get to know the resources available, and start experimenting and optimizing as you go.
Also, remember to be patient. ABM is a long-term process—one that will only pay off over time.
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