This article was originally published on Reputation.com
Account-based marketing is captivating modern B2B marketing teams in every sector. It’s not a new tactic, but it’s recently come back to life, and marketers are actively implementing ABM initiatives to drive growth in target accounts.
Marketing technology has helped us move past spray-and-pray marketing — casting a wide net and hoping to reel in a few leads. Now we can identify accounts that are likely to be interested in certain products and services, and market with precision. ABM is the next logical step.
Now, take it a step further.
Imagine if you knew ahead of time what target accounts already thought of your brand. Would that change your approach?
What if online reputation management (ORM) strategies could be used to understand the sentiment about your brand among your target audience and help you tailor messages toward advocates and detractors?
Good news, folks. They can.
Are Your Target Buyers Advocates or Detractors?
Building relationships within target accounts means identifying and getting to know all members of the buying committees, then reaching out to them through various channels and delivering relevant content.
We’re getting pretty good at doing this, and marketing tools such as Marketo, Eloqua and Engagio help us curate the information we need and send highly targeted messages.
But if the people you’re reaching out to within those accounts don’t trust your brand, you’d bound to fail. Without trust, they have no motivation to accept your advances.
Let’s say you’re attempting to pilot an ABM program with 100 key accounts. You send out a very targeted email to a decision maker in one of those accounts, directing her to a great piece of content tailored to her industry. She appreciates the outreach but already has a negative opinion of your brand based on what she’s read online. Trust is lacking and that will most certainly determine her next action.
If you knew her opinion ahead of time, you could tailor your message to either reinforce it (if it’s positive) or change it (if it’s negative). In this case, the article you sent wasn’t enough to change her opinion. Enhancing your email with data points or testimonials from satisfied customers may have been more persuasive.
Using ORM to Optimize ABM
To do ABM right, you really have to get into the minds of the individuals that make up the buying committee in your target account. Having an idea about how they perceive your brand can help you decide what information to put in your message and content.
Say your organization is a car rental company, and one of your target accounts is a large enterprise. An analysis of ORM data from online reviews, social media and surveys can reveal if corporate employees who rent cars from you are critical or complimentary about their experience.
If you find the general sentiment among this buying audience is negative, your marketing outreach may focus on changing their perception. Detractors need more convincing, such as competitive data or discounts. But if you find general sentiment is positive, you can reinforce it by showing your high average ratings and listing the benefits.
ORM can enable marketing teams to identify segments of advocates and detractors, and target them with extremely specific messages. ORM data can help you determine what assets to offer, what promotions to use and the tone or format of your outreach — as well as how much convincing you’ll have to do to move your target accounts to the next buying stage.
Pre-emptive Reputation Management is Your Best Bet
ABM initiatives — which depend on the relationships you build with accounts — can only be successful if trust exists first. To skew the odds in your favor, ensure your online reputation is rock-solid before you launch your ABM programs.
Here are a few ways to instill trust in would-be target accounts before you set out to build relationships with them:
- Engage with your audience. Nothing beats human interaction. Building a strong online presence and improving brand perception has a human element, and it’s essential to leverage online channels to make your commitment to the customer experience evident.
- Craft content that resonates with your target accounts. Then socialize it. Leverage user-generated content such as online reviews and testimonials when possible, to add credibility and context to your marketing messages.
- Use data to understand who your buyers are. Marketing technology continues to expand and deliver the ability to know our customers on an increasingly granular level, which helps us meet their needs more precisely. The more we know, the better we can connect with customers and convince them of our value.
For more than 20 years, David Lewis has been a pioneering innovator in digital marketing and has overseen marketing for some of Silicon Valley’s leading technology firms. He founded DemandGen in 2007 to build the worlds’ first marketing technology agency.
For the past decade, David and his team at DemandGen have been at the forefront of the transformation taking place in marketing by helping hundreds of the top sales and marketing teams around the world incorporate sales and marketing technology to drive growth. David is an accomplished industry speaker, thought leader, author, and host the of DemandGen Radio, a bi-weekly podcast devoted to educating marketing professionals on the best technologies and methods for driving growth. His ground-breaking work on the transformation of marketing and sales is at the heart of his #1 book on Lead Management, Manufacturing Demand: The Principles of Successful Lead Management.