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Drive growth with account-based marketing



Drive growth with account-based marketing

E-commerce has been on the rise for years but has had explosive growth during the pandemic. Traditional B2B demand gen models are becoming outdated as privacy regulations are more stringent and fewer people are willing to give up their personal information.

Because of this it’s essential to have an Account-based marketing (ABM) strategy. This focuses on targeting top potential customers and uses both marketing and sales initiatives to capture the prospect’s interest and nurture them through the buying journey. Here’s a guide on how to do that.

As many e-commerce businesses experienced firsthand, COVID-19 caused a boom in online shopping. What was already a high-growth industry has catapulted into hyper-speed as the world adapted to changing regulations, societal norms and customer needs. While the rapid growth across global e-commerce markets and categories is projected to even out to pre-pandemic numbers, that time is still far off. We will continue to see large upticks in e-commerce growth worldwide in two to three years.

Most of the B2B buying journey is conducted anonymously until the buyer gets closer to the point of purchase, which is why a tech-driven “zero-touch” demand gen strategy is critical for growth. And with ABM tech platforms becoming mainstream, it is much easier to implement (think of platforms such as Marketo, Pardot, and HubSpot).

Pro tip: Before I go deeper, instead of looking at an ABM program as a lead scoring initiative, it’s best to shift to a mindset where you look at ABM as a sales intelligence initiative. It’s about uncovering prospect behavior and weighting sales intent/intel and brand engagement rather than “funnel lead scoring” (engagement is a better metric to forecast revenue).

The shift and the case for ABM: Anonymous buyer’s journey

In our always-on, buy anything anywhere world, customers want their buying experiences to be personalized, dynamic and convenient, and B2B buyers are no different. As a result, many businesses are trying to reinvent themselves, adapt to new business models and technologies, adhere to new consumer expectations, and keep pace with their competitors.

It’s a great time (and opportunity) for a B2B company to support those shifts — but it’s tough to get mindshare (let alone wallet-share). More and more, the buyer journey is conducted digitally:

  • Two-thirds of B2B buyers say they are now “self-serving” more information before contacting vendors.
  • 63% of purchases have more than four people involved in the buying group (up from 47% in 2017).
  • The number of buying interactions during the pandemic jumped from 17 to 27 (the number of buying interactions reflects one individual’s buying journey to obtain information about competing offerings or providers).
  • 74% of B2B marketers say they are seeing customers taking more control over the buying process.
  • 62% say they can now develop selection criteria or finalize a vendor list — based solely on digital content.
  • 70% of the buyer’s journey is complete before a buyer even reaches out to sales.

When you consider the above, you start to understand why a “zero-touch” approach is so important; it allows the prospect to buy the way they want to buy and not necessarily the way you want to sell. And that’s where ABM comes in. A zero-touch approach that still delivers the highly personalized and curated experiences B2B buyers want.

What to aim to achieve with ABM

Aim to identify a composite pattern of digital cross-channel account behavior that suggests interest and enables a very focused sales engagement into those targeted segments/accounts. Specifically:

  • Translate ABM brand awareness from target accounts into website traffic.
    • Continue to hyper-segment accounts that demonstrate interest with a secondary tactic and messaging (e.g., a case study, additional zero-touch tactics/assets, etc.)
    • Implement funnel-based personalization through funnel/DRIP system.
    • Optimize ad spend and activity towards accounts showing website and ad engagement.
  • Evaluate the impact on traffic to points of conversation (such as the “Contact Us” button or a “zero-touch” contact form) and re-target accounts that don’t convert.
  • Meet pipeline objectives and key results (OKRs) for ABM campaigns.

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ABM program governance: Ground rules

It’s time to make friends! ABM requires rules of engagement between everyone involved (particularly marketing, sales and IT) to work as painlessly as possible and drive alignment throughout the organization. Misalignment is a problem because it affects every phase of ABM — planning, execution, and measurement. This can be solved by aligning on goals and incentives. Determine the ABM Team, and sit down to figure it out:

  • Cadence of team touchpoints: Weekly updates, monthly check-ins, quarterly reviews.
  • Updates: Audience and account data updated bi-weekly
  • Audience naming conventions: Vocabulary can vary from department to department; ensure consistency to keep the data clean.
  • Account grouping: Agree on classifying e-commerce companies (SMBs/SMEs, Enterprise, etc.) beforehand.
  • Hierarchical taxonomy: Ensure the prioritization of the audiences is clear and documented.
  • Opportunity weighting: Sales and Marketing need to align on sales intelligence weighting at the account level (company) and the contact level (individual).
  • Progression: Agree on how e-commerce audiences are operationally and philosophically tagged and moved through the buyer journey.

Ideal e-tailer profile

Defining your ideal customer profile (ICP) beforehand is critical. Meaning, what types of e-tailer buyers are present in the ecosystem, and which ones should you be focused on? How are you tiering targets? Some factors to consider:

Segmentation tips:

  • Hyper-personalize where possible (where people know you).
  • Segment where possible (where companies might not know you but have common attributes so that you can craft language around their e-commerce sector).
  • Create more mainstream messaging if you don’t know the sector and therefore need something a little more general.

Marketing and sales need to work together to identify, select, and prioritize target accounts. The buying group will also have to be identified; as an example, in a buying group of four, who is:

  • The user: Usually, the actual user of the product (focused on workflow).
  • The influencer: Researches the different options available through the buying process (focused on best practices and vendor comparisons).
  • The decision-maker: Usually the manager of the influencer (focused on ROI).
  • The IT subject matter expert: The person who must determine any impact on tech infrastructure (focused on seamless operations/integration).


Buyer personas are a semi-fictional representation of your ICP, based on market research and existing customer data. Why use them?

  • The information that goes into creating a buyer persona helps to personalize your target customer, building a clear picture of the real people who buy products or services
  • A company’s expertise touches a range of audiences with various needs. Audiences may not see the immediate value if content speaks to what the company does vs. what it does for its specific audiences

Targeting WITHOUT personas puts more onus on the prospect to decipher your offering and complicates the customer experience, eroding confidence and trust. Targeting WITH them improves the customer experience, shortens the decision cycle, and maximizes the impact with more targeted content.

There are many persona templates available online; here is an example of one HubSpot offers:

Content strategy

Inbound is guided by the philosophy that every customer is on a quest to accomplish something, and as marketers, our job is to act as trusted advisors to help them get where they need to go. The goal of inbound, then, is to create one-to-one relationships with customers (new and existing) that have a lasting impact on them and your brand. ​

​Inbound marketing is about building value and trust, NOT about selling.​

​Content delivers the message of your inbound marketing strategy; in other words, content acts as the voice of your brand while helping customers on their quest to solve a problem. The content strategy should empower your e-commerce customers to entertain and educate them, as it contributes to creating the long-lasting relationships that inbound marketing is focused on.​

Inbound marketing seeks to produce content that follows a three-step methodology: attract, engage and delight. When layered onto the steps in a typical buyer’s journey, the result shows the pathway for converting strangers to your brand into promoters of your brand. Consider deploying this framework:

But how to do that as effortlessly as possible? Automation.

Programmatic and tech

The power of ABM is due to the advantages of digital marketing; automating data collection and connection enables the customization of interactions with those customers. It also allows B2B marketers to reach large volumes of customers with greater precision and personalization.

Tech now makes it easier to identify the e-commerce customers most likely to spend and have a high spend. It isn’t about developing an extraordinary number of leads. It’s about sales intelligence that allows you to develop the leads that really matter.

Crawl before you walk before you run. If you have a smaller contact list (e.g.,

  • CRM structure
  • Email system
  • Deal flow/lead platforms
  • Data modeling
  • Ad performance dashboard

However, once your target lists grow (100–1,000s contacts), you’ll want to look at platforms that can do programmatic ABM:

  • Marketing automation (e.g., HubSpot, Marketo, Pardot)
  • Predictive analytics (e.g., Bombora, 6Sense)
  • ABM ad-targeting platform (e.g., Terminus, Demandbase)

You’re not alone in figuring it out!

Roles and responsibilities: Friends, not foes

Marketing and Sales need to work differently if ABM is going to work and drive alignment (i.e., more collaboration and fewer silos). Marketing needs to develop personas for both a) individuals and b) buying groups and use those personas to engage with prospects deliberately and proactively. Sales should shift from a fragmented, manual process and lean into the automation made possible through tech. As stated earlier, the shift from being lead-centric to account-centric is key, and using combined sales and marketing data will yield better intel.


Data is used to make decisions and help companies reach their goals — but data collection in 2022 has become drastically different with customers now aware of how much data they’re giving up and with the dramatic changes to data privacy initiated by the likes of Apple and Facebook. 

The rising importance of zero- and first-party data has changed how e-commerce businesses collect information from consumers. However, e-commerce companies must prioritize collecting this data to sustain the marketing efforts required to succeed.

It will also require marketers to shift and look at metrics differently. It is time to move away from tracking traditional (and at times, vanity) metrics like impressions, CPMs, click-through rates, web traffic, etc. and move towards tracking that speaks to revenue:

  • Program performance (target account activity, opportunities, pipeline)
  • Program strategy (revenue, win/loss rates, funnel velocity, cross-sell and up-sell, and retention)

In summary

E-commerce businesses face many trends and challenges when striving to succeed in this rapidly evolving marketplace.

Now you know how to use tech to identify cross-channel account behavior, translate Account-Based-Marketing brand awareness into website traffic and evaluate its impact on points of conversation that will drive growth. ABM is key to competing in today’s B2B world, and it works — because a more targeted, personalized, and exceptional customer experience always does.

Developing an ABM strategy that focuses on targeting top potential customers and uses both marketing and sales initiatives to capture the prospect’s interest and nurture them through the buying journey is now a foundational part of any go-to-market plan.

Account-based marketing: A snapshot

What it is. Account-based marketing, or ABM, is a B2B marketing strategy that aligns sales and marketing efforts to focus on high-value accounts. 

This customer acquisition strategy focuses on delivering promotions — advertising, direct mail, content syndication, etc. — to targeted accounts. Individuals who may be involved in the purchase decision are targeted in a variety of ways, in order to soften the earth for the sales organization. 

Why it’s hot. Account-based marketing addresses changes in B2B buyer behavior. Buyers now do extensive online research before contacting sales, a trend that has accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of marketing’s tasks in an ABM strategy is to make certain its company’s message is reaching potential customers while they are doing their research. 

Why we care. Account engagement, win rate, average deal size, and ROI increase after implementing account-based marketing, according to a recent Forrester/SiriusDecisions survey. While B2B marketers benefit from that win rate, ABM vendors are also reaping the benefits as B2B marketers invest in these technologies and apply them to their channels.

Read next: What is ABM and why are B2B marketers so bullish on it?

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Theresa is the President of McMillan, an independent creative agency headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, with offices in NYC that specializes in the brand experience for a global clientele. She’s responsible for plotting the pragmatic course of action through business development, strategic services offerings and industry partnerships that define the agency’s growth and corporate strategies. Theresa’s been a B2C and B2B marketing professional for more than 25 years, honing her craft in the consumer-packaged goods, software and advocacy sectors and is a strategist-by-trade, which has amplified her life-long passion for pulling things apart to see how they work. She brought that insatiable curiosity to McMillan in 2007, building the agency’s strategic services practice from a one-woman operation into the guiding force behind successful projects for Intuit, LexisNexis and Trend Micro, and becoming President in 2018.

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5 Strategies for Growing Your Business Through Digital Marketing



5 Strategies for Growing Your Business Through Digital Marketing

Digital marketing is a powerful way to connect with more people who are interested in what you have to offer. Growing your business through digital marketing can help you reach your ultimate goal: more revenue.

In fact, a study by StrategyR revealed that the compound annual growth rate of digital marketing from 2020-2026 is projected at 13.9%. This means more businesses will be embracing digital marketing and reaping its benefits.

Do you really want to be left behind?

A digital marketing strategy directs your focus to certain targets, priorities, resources, and actions, usually over the long haul. These strategies enable you to achieve your primary objectives and aim for next-level growth.

Read on and learn the five strategies that will help you in growing your business through digital marketing.

5 Strategies for Growing Your Business Through Digital Marketing

Here are the top five digital marketing strategies you can use to build your business.

1. Maintain an Active Social Presence

If you want to grow your business using digital marketing, it’s important to establish a solid online presence on social media and search engines. And an active one at that.

According to recent estimates by Statista, more than 4.26 billion people used social media in 2021, which is expected to rise to nearly six billion by 2027.

When you maintain an active online presence on social media, you’ll be able to attract attention to your company without making a huge financial investment.

Sharing valuable engaging content on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn is a great way to gain more online exposure.

Here are a few other ways to maintain an active online presence:

  • Keep up with the latest trends on social media
  • Regularly update your website’s blog and share it on social media
  • Create and share product demo videos

You can also put up captivating infographics that exhibit distinctive ways of establishing the relevance of your business and brand.

However, it’s important not to spread yourself too thin by joining every social media platform out there.

Stick to the channels where your target customers are most likely to be active. In doing so, you’ll be able to maximize the impact of your digital marketing efforts.

2. Recognize and Respond to all Consumer Feedback and Reviews

According to BrightLocal, more consumers are reading online reviews than ever before. In 2021, 77% of them always or regularly read them when browsing for local businesses (up from 60% in 2020).

Customer feedback and reviews are great as they can help with customer experience management. You can easily figure out what they need from their reviews and make the required improvements.

Additionally, responding to positive and negative reviews can also help you manage the perception of your business.

And that’s why you should prioritize learning how to respond to both good and negative customer feedback.

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When responding to feedback, you should:

  • Respond quickly
  • Thank the customer for their feedback
  • Acknowledge the problem that the customer experienced
  • Explain how you plan to solve the problem
  • Take the discussion away from social media
  • Follow up with the customer after you’ve implemented the solution

A great way of collecting customer feedback before they write reviews is by using AI-powered chatbots. They can reach out to your audience and ask them for their feedback so that you can improve your chances of retaining customers and attracting new ones.
Here’s an example of a good customer review and a reply from the owner.

Reviews are also important because they give prospects the social proof they require to make a purchase.
But it can take a lot of time and tedious manual effort to solicit, compile and track all of this feedback. That is where review tools such as piHappiness, SurveySparrow, Typeform, AskNicely and SurveyMonkey come in.
You can use these tools to collect consumer feedback and reviews through online surveys.

3. Leverage Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is another effective way of growing your business through digital marketing.
Partnering with influencers can help drive your brand awareness, lead generation, and even sales. You can leverage this strategy by partnering with social media personalities who are right for your brand (have similar ideals, similar audience, etc.).

For example, FabFitFun partnered with Ayesha Curry, a well-known chef, as part of their influencer marketing strategy on Facebook.

To further drive the growth of your sales using influencer marketing, you can combine it with affiliate marketing where you can give a commission to your influencers for every sale they drive. This makes it a win-win situation for both parties as their revenues increase.

4. Organize Online Marketing Events/Virtual Events

Organizing online marketing events is a great way to gain exposure for your business and create interest in your products or services.

An online event is one in which people interact with others in an online setting on the web rather than meeting in person.

But there’s a catch here.

You need to identify your target audience for the events.

By targeting the right audience and at the right time, you can communicate with your prospects at every stage of the buyer’s journey.

Webinars are good examples of virtual events that are becoming increasingly popular since they make learning about a product or service easier.

A study by ON24 shows that the average webinar attendee conversion rate is 61%.

Image via ON24

What’s more, since online events are digital, they offer a unique opportunity to collect first-party data through registrations and attendee engagement in-event and via social media. This helps you tailor your marketing messaging for them too.

Some platforms provide granular analytics into attendee engagement and experience, allowing organizers to tweak and improve experiences.

You can easily see metrics such as views, likes, clicks, impressions, and comments on the dashboard of the tools in use.

If you’re a business owner, this is yet another effective way of growing your business through digital marketing.

5. Find Out How Your Competitors are Positioning Themselves in the Market

Understanding how your competitors are positioned in the market allows you to fine-tune your business plan to counter competitive challenges and strengthen your position.

Conduct research to find out what your competitors are doing online. You can use tools such as Ahrefs, Semrush, SpyFu, BuzzSumo, or Searchmetrics to track your competitor’s digital marketing campaigns.

For instance, see how this Semrush review shows how the tool gives you a glance into your competitors’ strategy or conduct competitor research.

Image via Semrush

You can also look at their website design, social media presence, and blog to understand their strategies better.

By understanding your competition and catering to your customers’ needs, you can position yourself as a leader in your industry.


To recap, we’ve looked at five proven strategies for growing your business through digital marketing.

From maintaining an active social media presence to seeing and responding to reviews, there’s a lot that you need to do to give your brand the much-needed boost. Partnering with influencers and organizing online events are great tactics too.

By implementing these strategies, you’ll soon see a boost in your sales and customer interaction with you and your brand.

Have any questions about these strategies? Ask them in the comments and I’ll answer them.

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