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With the ability to align internal teams, connect with ideal audiences at a personal level to generate more qualified leads and conversions and improve ROI, ABM proved its success, especially during the pandemic.

Demand Gen Report recently aired a women-led panel titled, “Achieving Personalized ABM at Scale – YES, It’s Doable!” that discussed how several industry experts are providing their teams with the materials needed to personalize ABM at scale. Moderator Stephanie Totty, Lumenad’s Director of Content Marketing, was joined by several leading ABM practitioners to discuss how they provide their teams with the materials needed to run and scale ABM plays. The panelists included:

  • Maria Toft, Director of Demand Generation for Cockroach Labs;
  • Sonya Hansen, Sr. Director of Demand Generation for Matillion; and
  • Amber Bogie, ABM Manager and Strategy Owner of Degreed.

With 36% of companies citing that a lack of internal resources hindered their ABM strategies and 35% still struggle to personalize ABM at scale, it’s clear that there’s a disconnect in the implementation process. To help identify that divide, the experts believe organizations should take a step back in the planning process and work on building programs from the ground up.

“When we take on a new ABM campaign, we spend a little more time in the planning process than we normally do for more generic demand generation campaigns,” said Toft.  While “it’s important to have a data-driven predictive model as your foundation,” she continued, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) are only two pieces of a much bigger puzzle.

To dive deeper into the best practices to scale personalized ABM, the experts discussed:

  • How creating a manual system will help marketing teams better understand the technology and methods they’re implementing;
  • The best ways of tailoring direct mail and virtual correspondences to bring a human element to ABM campaigns;
  • The importance of curating a reference library with visual and audio materials; and
  • How to identify (and take pride in!) even the smallest results. 

Laying The Groundwork To Scale Personalization

While scaling personalization was never exactly a walk in the park, research from Uberflip shows that a majority of marketers had their budgets cut by 20% or more throughout the pandemic. In light of these financial restrictions, organizations should take a backwards look to previous successes for guidance when creating a new account-based campaign.

“We listen to our sales teams’ recordings with similar customers, introduce them from the experience they have in that vertical and build the campaign around that,” said Toft. “We try to mix one-to-many and one-to-one. We also look at the full funnel and get back to basics: Do we have the content that covers brand awareness and generates new leads?”

Toft continued that for one-to-many campaigns, Cockroach Labs provides blog posts, dedicated new landing pages, paid ads, social media outreach and direct mailers. For 1:1 settings, the company takes a more focused approach through “something exclusive, such as a whiskey tasting or happy hour,” she explained.

Of course, losing the ability to connect face-to-face complicated those more intimate gatherings for key accounts as it took away a major element of personalization. While organizations have adapted to the digital medium with accuracy and speed, it’s not enough to fill the hole left by lack of human connections.

“Digital is on the rise, but it’s going to be hard to replace that human touchpoint,” said Toft. “You need to think of ways you can stand out and be more human, whether it’s using video in email outreach, handwriting letters or sending tailored direct mail to customers, such as swag from a college alma mater or sports team.”

Getting Sales On Marketing’s Page

While there’s always been a prominent disconnect between sales and marketing teams, the past couple years have seen an active effort to bridge the gap and improve internal communications. However, as “personalization starts when the sales team is already engaging with prospects,” according to Hansen, it’s important that sales teams are just as prepared as marketing teams.

“You want to create a self-service sales team,” added Bogie. “This requires education and giving reps the power to step into marketers’ shoes when they’re strapped during a certain campaign. This includes spending time going over their struggles and identifying what information they may be missing. Education should be action- and task-oriented, because sales reps can recognize intent but aren’t sure what to do with it.”

Remember that introspective look into scaling campaigns to determine what worked? Well, the information gleaned from re-examination can also be repurposed into templated thought leadership content.

“We built ‘campaign libraries’ to provide templates and resources for the sales team,” said Toft. “For example, when our reps are targeting a customer that’s moving to the cloud, we have a sales play for that. There’s a library of content available, which includes key messages and typical personas and their decision-making.”

To help promote internal communication and cohesion, sales and marketing should frequently check in with each other to celebrate mutual accomplishments and ensure everyone’s on the same page.

“It’s often more impactful to have sales teams share goals and wins, so marketers need to remind sales that they’re partners and are willing to support them,” said Bogie. “ABM works when the process is humanized and there’s a strong collaboration and partnership between sales and marketing. ABM does not work if internal teams are unaligned and unsupportive.”

Analyzing & Conveying Results

With the process of scaling personalized ABM now in action, the next step is to evaluate a program’s success — a task that varies in difficulty depending on campaign size. In fact, less is often more, as the experts recommended “a small pilot program” to get campaigns moving.

“You don’t want to architect this huge campaign with 47 touches, five events and everything upfront,” advised Hansen. “Instead, do two or three things that will prove your theory, get a target account list of five to 10 companies and monitor those companies’ engagement.”

When keeping track of success metrics, it’s important to have a clear direction of where the campaign should go, and teams should be transparent about the goals they’re seeking to accomplish. Additionally, any win is a good win, and should be shared throughout the campaign’s duration.

“The first thing is you should look at are little wins along the way, such as a salesperson coming back and saying, ‘This intent information secured me a meeting with a C-level executive at this company,’” said Bogie. “It takes times before you see pipeline, and then closed-won. If you report on pipeline as you’re building out your program, you’ll eventually see it go way up. When you don’t necessarily have a bunch of pipeline, look at engagement for your ABM accounts vs. your non-ABM accounts. If you look back today vs. one year ago, you see significant engagement increase.”

All the research and hard work that goes into scaling will be realized once results (no matter how small) begin rolling in, as, according to Hansen, “once the sales leadership and marketing leadership sees that you can garner engagement with a minimal budget and smart targeting, you get more buy in to scale these campaigns and receive a budget for tools and technologies to make the process easier for marketers.”

To dive deeper into the world of personalizing ABM, be sure to check out the webinar on-demand now.

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