Traditional nurturing is all about the lead: focusing all your marketing energy on getting an individual interested in your product or service, then driving that person through the funnel to buy. Account-Based Marketing is a hot topic right now, however, as companies increasingly realize that individuals aren’t always the ones who buy! A whole committee of people is involved in a business buying decision: financial and user influencers, project champions, purchasing agents, and others.
Account-based nurturing is a strategic approach to nurturing that embraces groups of people who have impact on the purchase of a product. It is targeted at the most important accounts likely to generate the most revenue. Account-based nurturing is all about highly focused, personalized messages that are delivered in the most effective ways.
At DemandGen we’ve developed a four-step recipe for success with account-based nurturing.
- Identify target contacts.
Your Sales team knows what the top target accounts are. Once you get that list, you need to get information on all the relevant people in each of those accounts: the goal is to build out an account hierarchy with detailed data about the targets for your marketing efforts. Your data strategy is a subset of this step (and is too large a topic for this post), but essentially you are going to build target contact lists of these accounts, focusing on 5-7 individuals. A tool like Leadspace is invaluable for this purpose: it finds lead data across social media, contact databases and CRM systems by comparing people’s online presence to your buyer profile. (Learn more about Leadspace in this recorded DemandGen webinar.)
- Align content to the buyer journey.
How do people buy your product or service? Map out your ideal buyer’s journey, from awareness of need through education, vendor and solution explorations, committing to a solution, justification, and ultimately the purchase decision. When you understand the thought processes involved in your prospects’ purchase decisions, you can align your content to those process steps–so that you can send the right piece of content at the right time to the right individual. Then your nurture can be built and implemented.
- Engage everywhere.
You don’t need to look further than your own in-box to see that people get tons of email every day! It’s very hard to break through that noise to get your message heard. Technologies like Marketo and others allow you to get beyond email–and because account-based nurtures focus on such small groups of people, you can do things you wouldn’t normally do in nurtures going out to hundreds or thousands of leads.
For example, you can send people specialized direct mail pieces (that ability is integrated in Marketo via Printing For Less), or schedule Sales to make an individual phone call directly from the nurture. Online advertising allows you to target based on IP, so by targeting corporate IPs you can serve up ads to employees of target companies based on the same messaging as the nurture emails. Marketo’s Ad Bridge is one tool that integrates behavioral data with Facebook, Google, LinkedIn and advertising platforms like RocketFuel and others. The objective is to create integrated touches across all your marketing channels—phone, direct mail, social media, online advertising—so your prospect receives unified, personalized messaging that is aligned to that person’s stage in the buying journey.
- Pour gas on the fire.
When you’re dealing with thousands of leads, typical nurtures that send an email once a week or whatever like clockwork usually work well. But account-based nurturing is designed to be personal, and therefore it needs to be dynamic: you need to be highly responsive to any action by the prospect. In many cases, you’ll want to increase the frequency/quantity or speed up the cadence of messaging as prospects become engaged. It makes sense that, once someone is interested in your product, it’s most helpful to give them as much relevant information as you can while they’re in active research mode. On the other hand, in some sales cycles, people take longer in the buying mode, so sometimes a slow drip is best to keep your messages in front of them. The important thing is to respond appropriately to your prospect’s activity and level of engagement.
Prove you are a revenue rockstar.
A great side benefit of account-based nurturing is that it provides an excellent framework for metrics. When you need to demonstrate performance, run a short test by creating a control group within your nurture. For example, segregate 10% of the total leads that are randomly selected and statistically equivalent to the nurture group, and place this control group into a dedicated stream that does not receive the nurture emails. Any other activities still occur to the individuals in the control group, so over a period of time, you’ll be able to see the difference that the nurture is making. Obviously, you’re taking 10% of prospects out, so you wouldn’t want to do this all the time, but it’s a great way to evaluate nurture benefits occasionally.
Recently we performed a control group test for an enterprise client on a recycle nurture. Talk about real revenue results! We learned that this one nurture was responsible for a:
- 16.96% increase in MQLs
- 28.84% increase in Won Opportunities
- 23.83% increase in Average Won Amount
If you’d like to know more about setting up account-based nurturing, let us know; we’d be glad to help.
Thomas Terry is a Solutions Architect at DemandGen. He is responsible for enabling and supporting our client’s marketing and sales teams to adopt marketing automation and CRM systems and ultimately drive revenue. Thomas is a Marketo Certified Expert.