Account-Based Experiences: Your Top Questions, Answered

October 17, 2023, Sonya Hand, Anto Inigo, Danielle Block, Rusty Walters


Account-Based Experiences: Your Top Questions, Answered

October 17, 2023, Sonya Hand, Anto Inigo, Danielle Block, Rusty Walters

The Ins and Outs of

Account-Based Experiences: Your Top Questions, Answered

October 17, 2023, Sonya Hand, Anto Inigo, Danielle Block, Rusty Walters

The Ins and Outs of

Account-Based Experiences: Your Top Questions, Answered

October 17, 2023, Sonya Hand, Anto Inigo, Danielle Block, Rusty Walters

The Ins and Outs of

Account-Based Experiences: Your Top Questions, Answered

October 17, 2023, Sonya Hand, Anto Inigo, Danielle Block, Rusty Walters

AS | MERKLE | B2B Audience-Blog-Imagery

The Ins and Outs of

Account-Based Experiences: Your Top Questions, Answered

October 17, 2023, Sonya Hand, Anto Inigo, Danielle Block, Rusty Walters

AS | MERKLE | B2B Audience-Blog-Imagery

Quiz time: what does the number “15” have to do with B2B? 

It’s the average number of people on a buying committee for large tech purchases. That’s 15 individuals, all with unique needs, concerns, and emotions tied to their purchasing decision – and that’s just for one account. 

To deliver each of those people a great experience with the right content requires a personalized approach. That’s where account-based experiences (ABX) come in. ABX marketing is a highly personalized go-to-market strategy that uses data, insights, and technology. Marketing, sales, and customer experience (CX) align to orchestrate a rich and relevant end-to-end buyer journey.

Many brands are still in the planning stages of an ABX strategy, and for good reason: there’s a lot to consider and get right for ABX to be effective. That’s why we’ve compiled some of the top questions we hear from the world’s biggest B2B brands to get you the answers you need to feel confident in your approach. Read on to hear some of our top tips to help you advance on the path toward ABX success.

 

ABX Planning: Starting Off on the Right Foot

Q: Does ABX replace other demand generation activities, or do they work together?

A: While ABX is key to higher ROIs, improved lead quality, and increased lifetime value, it can’t be the entire marketing program. To remain competitive, B2B companies need a steady inflow of net-new leads – meaning smart approaches that can deliver scale. 

Data-driven inbound marketing is critical to acquire leads and lead-related intel for ABX. Information like engagement, source, preferences, and behaviors – all of which can be gained through smart demand generation activities – enable marketers to understand what content will resonate for that specific account and its stakeholders. 

The key to effective marketing that includes ABX and demand generation is orchestrating a strategy where both play a pivotal role in top-of-funnel activities. Demand generation attracts the quantity necessary, while targeted account activities drive quality leads. Even at the top of the funnel, these two activities should work together with brand to demand to bolster key targets’ perceptions of the brand and its products. 

As opportunities from both activities progress down the funnel they turn into qualified leads. At this point, the valuable insights gleaned through demand generation activities may be passed along to the sales team as they nurture the qualified leads to conversion. 

For a visual on how ABX works with other marketing strategies, check out our infographic.

Q: What stakeholders should get involved for ABX to be successful?

A: The primary players in an effective ABX approach are marketing, sales, and service teams. They must align on the engagement plan and business goals so that everyone’s working toward the same outcomes. After launching, the teams should regularly share insights, data, and feedback to ensure that the right leads are coming through the door, the right data is collected to fuel personalization, and the right content is delivered to meet their needs at any given stage in the journey. 

For more information on the importance of collaboration across the B2B purchase journey, read our blog post.

There are several secondary stakeholder groups whose support is also important for ABX success:

  • Upper-level executives must buy in for the marketing and sales teams to get the budget and resources they need.

  • IT is an important partner for purchasing and implementing new tech that supports marketing automation, customer intelligence, and more.

  • Analytics stakeholders can assist with creating reports and dashboards to measure the appropriate KPIs.

  • Content and creative teams can help you tailor assets and messaging to meet the needs of your ABX audiences.

Q: What tech do I need to do ABX well?

A: The tech requirements for ABX will vary from business to business, but there are a few tech stack layers that will likely be part of the picture for most companies:

  • Demand generation, which includes display, social, email, messaging, website/app, and sales CRM

  • Orchestration, encompassing real-time customer profiles, decision and offer management, account and audience management, lead management, and journey orchestration

  • Analytics, covering data visualization, customer journey analytics, predictive modeling and AI/machine learning, and measurement

  • Data, inclusive of account intelligence and data enrichment

The best way to figure out which technology makes the most sense for your business is to start with your customer. Use a detailed journey map to understand what your buyers need at each stage in their purchase decision, then map that back to the technology you need to deliver that engagement or content.

One tech stack layer of particular note is identity resolution. It takes the powers of a CDP a step further by creating robust, first-party customer profiles for both known and unknown users. That translates to real-time personalization across a broader audience and in more contexts, scaled addressable media targeting, closed loop reporting at the person level, and more.

To learn more about finding the right CDP for your needs, read our ebook.

 

ABX Enablement: Engaging Prospects and Customers

Q: What do I need to know about my audience to get started?

A: Rich, data-driven insights into specific buyer committee roles will inform personalized messaging, creative, and channel mix for sales and media strategies. It can be tempting to collect as much data as possible about your customers, but that can quickly become overwhelming and distract from the attributes that matter most. Focus on the most predictive attributes for success (if you’re not sure what those are, an agency can help run those advanced analytics for you).

A combination of first-party and third-party data will get you the most robust, yet relevant, profile possible. This includes:

  • Business objectives – what pain point are they looking to solve with this purchase?

  • Purchase decision drivers – what do they value most? Remember, this could be just as much about your organization and its intangibles as the actual product or service they’re buying.

  • Messaging preferences – what type of creative and delivery has resonated with them in the past?

  • Influential research channels – what content do they engage with most frequently?

  • Media consumption – where do they spend most of their time and on which devices?

It’s important to remember that your customers are not just employees, they’re regular people, too. Their behaviors and preferences outside of the professional context can create valuable insights to engage with them effectively.  
 
Merkle’s B2B Connect can bridge the gap between personal and professional profiles. Reach out if you’d like to learn more.

Q: How do I identify the right accounts for ABX?

A: Not all accounts will be a good fit for the ABX treatment. An account scoring model is critical for focusing ABX efforts on prospects where the potential impact is highest and alignment with your business is strong.

Your scoring model should incorporate several scoring elements, and may include:

  • Industry fit – how closely does the account’s industry align with your target industries?

  • Company size – how large is the company, either from a revenue or headcount perspective?

  • Tech stack – does the account use specific technologies that indicate alignment with your offerings?

  • Engagement – what’s the account’s average engagement score over the last 24 months?

The top-tier accounts based on your model are where you can focus your ABX efforts.

Note that criteria, weighting, and scoring thresholds should vary based on your specific goals. For example, the length of your business’s sales cycle will affect your time span for considering engagement scores. Shorter sales cycles of 2-3 months require shorter aggregated engagement timelines than long sales cycles of 2-3 years. As you collect real-world performance data for your ABX strategies, be sure to iterate on your model to improve its accuracy in identifying high-value accounts. 

Q: How much personalization do I need to be effective?

A: Once you have robust profiles for your buyers, personalize as much of their experience as you can! That includes:

  • The content – not just the asset types, but the information within those assets where applicable

  • The delivery method – email, direct mail, media, phone call, etc.

  • The journey order – based on how the customer’s engaged with your other outreach thus far

  • The timing – finding the right frequency for communication to be helpful, not annoying

If you can’t deliver this level of personalization out of the gate, that’s OK – start with what you can do. The main thing to keep in mind is the account and buyer’s specific pain points and goals, and how each of the components above can be adapted to make the content more helpful in addressing them. If you use those customer needs as your north star, and use data-driven insights to optimize along the way, then you should see some benefit, even if your personalization efforts aren’t fully mature.

 

ABX Optimization: Using Data and Analytics to Drive Success

ABX measurement comes up so frequently that we wrote an entirely separate blog post for it. Check it out to answer questions like “What metrics should we track for ABX effectiveness?” and “How do I balance short-term and long-term goals?

B2B buyers will continue to expect more and more personalized experiences, and ABX is a critical strategy for delivering on those expectations. 

Have a question that we didn’t cover here? Please reach out – we’d be happy to chat!

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