Accounts-based marketing (or ABM as the marketing gurus call it), is a way of hyper-targeting a specific list of hand-picked accounts in an effort to engage them in an outreach program. Usually, these accounts are of high strategic importance because they either have the potential to turn into a big sales deal, or hold some kind of prestige should you get a foothold in them. While most marketing is focused on industry sectors, products/solutions or channel, account-based marketing brings all of these together in an effort to inspire customers with compelling content. ABM is thought of as an “alternative” B2B strategy because it concentrates sales and marketing efforts on a clearly defined set of target accounts within a market, and employs personalized campaigns designed to resonate with each account.
In the software business, this is especially relevant since sales cycles can be rather lengthy. ABM is most frequently used to target large enterprise accounts; by engaging multiple decision-makers across the organization, it’s possible to “attack” it from multiple angles at the same time. This is exactly why social selling lends itself so well to an ABM outreach initiative.
Social selling is an organic, one-on-one outreach designed to engage individual prospects on social media platforms with the purpose of building relationships with those buyer personas and convert them into sales over time. Using social selling strategies as part of an ABM program can help you get the most bang for your buck. Here’s how:
The contacts of your contacts will help build your network
The more contacts you have on social media platforms, the more you are likely to add. This is partially due to the algorithms behind such platforms (that suggest you as a contact to more people), but it is also because of human behavior — if I see that we share 6 contacts in common, I am much more willing to add you as a contact even if I don’t know who you are (or what you want out of the connection). By reaching out to prospects that work for the companies on your ABM list, and then adding the relevant contacts of your contacts, you should gain insight into the decision-making cycle within that account. It will enable you to add a lot of highly relevant contacts for each account — many more than you would be able to engage if you only used telemarketing as your outreach method of choice.
Exposing your audience to relevant content
On some social media platforms, you can create small groups of your contacts, exposing only those people to certain posts. Creating highly customized pieces of content per account (by job title, or by industry), will enable you to expose your audience to the most relevant content for them — which will, in turn, increase their level of engagement. Using content to move prospects through the sales funnel by educating and nurturing them over time will help you establish trust and generate highly qualified leads. You want to position yourself and your company as a thought leader, and only content can help you do that. Use social listening to determine what content resonates best with each audience and be prepared to report on post reactivity (likes and shares).
You can also tap into groups for additional exposure. Every social media platform has groups that members can contribute to. By conducting an audit of the relevant groups and hashtags for your target audience you can also create posts on those channels in addition to your own profile thread.
Obtain GDPR-ready data
Because the users of social media platforms have all agreed to the terms and conditions of such applications, the simple act of adding a connection gives you the consent you need to contact that person. Once a relationship has been established, you can easily use the legitimate interest clause of GDPR in order to reach out to such prospects on other channels including phone and email. Of course, you always need to respect the decision of a prospect to opt out, especially when including the prospect as part of an email marketing campaign. Just because you are connected on social media, doesn’t mean you should start spamming your prospects with pushy sales messages!
Build campaigns to maximize exposure
Using sponsored content, webinars-on-demand, or physical events can all help increase your prospects exposure to your brand. Again, social selling is a way of establishing legitimacy and trust for your brand so that when a prospect is ready to go to the next level, they know who to contact. By having a holistic approach to marketing and using a variety of outreach tactics across channels, you will be present where your buyer personas are at all times.
ABM and social selling can go hand-in-hand since the two strategies work so well together. Searching for contacts within your list of accounts on platforms like LinkedIn is easy, and gives you access to hundreds of prospects at the tips of your fingers. Of course, social selling is more than connecting on LinkedIn a couple of times a week and sending out the random InMail message on occasion — it is important to prepare one’s roadmap before getting started so that your outreach is organized and well executed.