A decade ago with the increasing availability of the Internet we saw a change in the way companies bought from other companies. Increasingly companies used the Internet to research a solution/problem before contacting companies instead of contacting companies first.
In the past few years, with increasing adoption of content marketing and marketing automation and decreasing quality of marketing execution, prospects have started to ignore the generic and often biased content being produced. As a result increasing personalisation and understanding of a prospect (or account) is required. Traditionally this has been delivered through account based marketing approaches but on its own this is expensive and so a new type of ABM was created to scale the techniques beyond your top 5 accounts.
The other change happening inside companies is the increasing number of people in the sales process. Now on average 6.8 people – that is the average not the maximum. This also means that an ABM style approach which targets messaging based on the individual in the process is important to increase sales conversion.
Alongside this approach, influencers are back to being an important part of the process as the trust levels in the content produced by companies is decreasing.
One thing that hasn’t changed. Email. Still by far the biggest channel preferred for business communication.
This means that email remains the leading way to nurture.
Stop right there though. That doesn’t mean it is business as usual when it comes to b2b email marketing. Taking into account the changes in how receptive the audience is to your emails means things do need to change.
This image illustrates two points. 1. The person you are emailing is increasingly tough to engage with. Increasing behaviour based emails (often based on lead scoring) means that as he/she exhibits the same behaviour across multiple vendors is resulting in the same generic emails hitting the inbox. 2. On the other hand, if you can show you actually understand the prospect and can truly add value, you can cut through and be the sole voice of reason ;)
Of course automation has grown significantly in recent years but using AI to predict automatically what industry a person is from – ie gaining knowledge about a company or individual without having to request more information. The ability to optimise content both on the website and in email in real time means that the recipient does not need to translate your content written for multiple industries or even companies into what their company needs.
Of course, it is important not to run before you can walk. Getting the structure of your sales and marketing teams aligned, understanding the data you have available and what needs to be put in place before you go full steam ahead into a complete ABM programme. Of course through all this, an existing B2B email programme needs to be running as well.
One of the first data points to look at is firmographic data.
I don’t like personas because they can take you down a dangerous path away from keeping the customer front and centre. But they can be useful as long as you keep the customer in mind.
Then comes time to focus on behaviour and to also introduce your first stab at lead scoring. This allows you to take a significant step up in delivering personalised content.
Content marketing still rules in B2B and will continue to do so. But it is more about customised truly personal content marketing now rather than generic content.
The big shift here is the rise of third party/analyst reports as well as case studies continuing to be important. The use of these within your email marketing can increase trust levels amongst recipients.
Tech remains important and understanding how to tie together the various parts and when is important. There is no silver bullet that delivers all ABM approaches in one platform but a mix of existing and new platforms.
Timing remains important to B2B marketing – getting a request for further content or information to a user quickly is critical even if the sales cycle takes months due to the person being in front of the device at that particular moment. Obviously then tailoring the programme after these bursts is critical to maintain engagement over the sales cycle.
Insights about an account help sales to close their deals. The ability to automate this is one of the reasons why ABM can now be scaled but the largest accounts should still involve face to face. At a telecoms firm – the ability for marketing to step in and provide insights on an account helped him outperform other regions
The Changing Landscape of B2B email marketing
Changing Landscape of B2B Email Marketing
The B2B Buying Process is changing