February 12, 2021

Aligning Your ABM Strategy and Your Content Strategy

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Account-based marketing (ABM) is helping B2B organizations align their sales and marketing strategies by coordinating their efforts to focus on a list of target accounts. But sales and marketing aren’t the only areas that need to align for ABM to be successful. Your content strategy is also central to your ABM success.

To understand how your content strategy can evolve to work hand-in-hand with ABM, let’s take a step back.

In the Dark Ages of B2B marketing, content strategy focused mainly on the sales funnel. Content pieces were created to appeal to prospects as they moved from the top of the funnel (TOFU) to the bottom of the funnel (BOFU). This type of content strategy used a broad approach to messaging prospects because the marketing strategy itself was broad by today’s standards. It relied largely on personas and high-level segmentation.

The infusion of data into B2B marketing led to a renaissance. Using data, marketers could better identify the people they wanted to reach. Data opened the door for segmentation to become more granular.

To get the most out of your ABM efforts, you need to align the fine targeting of ABM with a more targeted content strategy. Using the same TOFU/BOFU content strategy from the Dark Ages simply doesn’t make sense in the Age of Enlightenment. It even hampers the performance of your ABM campaigns.

Your ABM strategy opens the door to content personalization

Thanks to the list of target accounts in your ABM campaign, your content isn’t talking to strangers anymore. It’s talking to prospects at specific companies, and those companies often have something in common (their size, their industry, etc.) with one another.

Many B2B marketers struggle with personalization, and those that do have valid concerns.

  • They say it’s harder to personalize for B2B audiences than B2C
  • They say it’s difficult to scale personalization
  • They say they lack the data to inform personalized content.

When you align your ABM strategy and content strategies, however, it’s easier to create more targeted, personalized content.

Thanks to the list of target accounts in your ABM campaign, your content isn’t talking to strangers anymore.

Opportunities to align your content strategy and ABM strategy

Here are three examples of how ABM helps you create personalized content:

  • Industry-specific content. If you can identify the industries where most of the companies on your ABM list operate, then you can research their industry-specific challenges and address them in your content.
  • Company-specific content. If there are large organizations on your ABM list, there’s almost certainly multiple people representing each account on the list. Research into company initiatives and performance can create content tailored to these prospects.
  • Geography-specific content. If your ABM list includes companies and prospects in different regions, create content that addresses challenges specific to the region or country. A good example here is the difference in the regulatory environment between the EU and the US, especially when it comes to data privacy issues.

These opportunities are scalable because you don’t need to create content for every industry, every company, or every region. And you don’t need to create each piece from scratch. You can create a framework for the content and insert relevant information where it’s needed to power the personalization.

An example of ABM-powered personalization

Let’s dive into an industry-specific example. Cloud computing vendors put a great deal of effort into marketing their platforms and demonstrating their differentiation. While most businesses understand the benefits of the cloud, concerns about making the move to cloud remain. This is especially true when it comes to migrating legacy applications that pre-date the cloud, cloud security, and the migration and storage of sensitive data.

Heavily regulated industries like healthcare and financial services are especially sensitive to compliance issues that govern their data. In response, cloud vendors are building cloud platforms and features focused on meeting the regulatory needs of these industries.

Creating a piece of content that addresses cloud migration and security concerns is a good idea. And if your target account list contains contacts at healthcare and financial services, you can go a step further.

Content targeting your accounts in financial services should discuss the regulatory requirements that matter most to this sector, including The Sarbanes-Oxley Act (SOX), The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA), and the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

For your healthcare accounts, the content should address their regulatory environment by discussing The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Affordable Care Act (ACA), and various regulations put forth by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

In this example, the target accounts in each industry receive content personalized for their situation, and they don’t need to skim past information about regulations that don’t impact their business. A similar strategy can be used to target specific companies on your list or for accounts located in specific nations or regions.

Getting started with ABM and content alignment

As your sales and marketing teams collaborate to create target account lists, get your content team involved early. They are well positioned to identify areas where the list and content can work together. If you involve them after the list is complete, you might leave opportunities on the table. Your content team will also be able to identify where existing content can be used or repurposed, which can speed up the launch of your ABM campaign.

Be thoughtful about how you use personalization. Research by Corporate Visions found personalization that was specific to the person and their company works best. Avoid personalization gimmicks, like content that claims to be personalized, but has only surface-level personalization (like the prospect’s name). This can backfire.

If you need help with ABM, content creation, or getting the two strategies aligned, you can always reach out to TechnologyAdvice, which has expertise in both fields, for assistance.