A primary goal for ABM campaigns is to create customized content and interactions that feel tailored specifically to key stakeholders in target accounts. In fact, Demand Gen Report’s 2018 ABM Benchmark Survey revealed that 64% of practitioners are focused on delivering targeted content tailored to specific industries, while 45% are leveraging personalized content for each account.
As an early adopter of ABM, Danny Nail, Senior Director, Head of Global Account-Based Marketing at SAP, was tasked with developing an ABM program from scratch in November 2015.
The program today focuses on about five to six industries, ranging from automotive, oil and gas to professional services. Within each industry, SAP targets between five and seven accounts. Through very close collaboration with sales and MomentumABM, an account-based marketing consultancy, the company created a unique content strategy — with interactive content taking center stage — that revolves around heavy industry research and audience pain points.
“What we end up doing is looking at the synergies across the accounts in the program to determine what we’re going to focus on for our [content] program,” said Nail. “What I’m trying to do is cover a topic, or solution to a pain point, that will allow all of the accounts in my [ABM] program to utilize the content that we built for them.”
According to Nail, SAP’s content has been shared with hundreds of C-level executives at some of SAP’s largest accounts, while “deals closed have ranged from the tens of thousands of dollars to the tens of millions.”
Before creating content for its target accounts, Nail sits down with the sales team and MomentumABM to get a better understanding of each account.
“I focus on between 30 and 40 accounts,” said Nail. “Those 30 or 40 accounts usually represent more than $500 million in four-quarter pipeline that we can influence. Once we have the accounts in the program, the agency that I work with starts doing a lot of research on the industry. I start working internally with either the managing partner or the global account director to understand what’s happening with their accounts and their account plan. So, what are they going to focus on selling to this account over the next 12 to 18 months? Why are they focused on that? And how does that mash up with the industry research that we’re doing?”
Furthermore, SAP does research around what’s currently happening within each specific industry, including trends and challenges.
Nail emphasized that SAP’s entire content strategy revolves around the target audience. The company creates a “hero” asset for each industry, which Nail said is always interactive, in an effort to change old perceptions of SAP.
“When it comes down to it, we’re not talking about SAP solutions at all,” said Nail. “We’re talking about the customer’s pain points that then could guide sellers to the solution they want to sell. Nearly all of our content — or at least the main asset in each industry every year — is what we call the hero asset … and it’s always going to be interactive.
Nail highlighted one specific asset that the team uses for the automotive industry, called a “drive through.” The piece is an animated, interactive experience, where the user controls the movement of a car through a linear village with their arrow keys.
“If it’s made for one automaker, it’s going to have that automaker’s vehicle. If it’s made for a different vehicle, it’s going to have that automaker’s vehicle,” said Nail. “You drive this vehicle through this ‘village’ and as you drive by, the automobile dealership is going to be branded for that customer. If it’s automaker ‘A’, it’s going to have their logo all over the automobile dealership. When you drive by the automotive manufacturing plant, it’s branded for that customer. But as you drive by each one of these things, there are different areas of the scene and these bubbles pop up that lead you to other content that also talks about that topic.
“It’s a way to get a lot of content in front of a customer in an interactive way, without them feeling like we’re just jamming white papers down their throat,” Nail added.
The interactive content also allows SAP to tweak and tailor messaging for different audiences in a scalable way. The company leverages a self-service global ABM Asset Delivery Platform, a repository of all assets developed for the global ABM program. According to Nail, “the platform makes the ABM assets available in a generic format and enables the user (any SAP employee) to request the asset to be versioned for a specific customer in four different levels of granularity. It allows us to repurpose the assets and extend them to other customers for an additional $45M+ in target revenue and increased account reach by over 100%.”
For example, a sales rep from North America took the automotive asset and had it changed to cater to the oil and gas industry. So, instead of the environment in the asset being a village, it was an oil field. This asset was taken one step further and loaded onto a tablet as a direct mail component.
“They loaded that out on Amazon Fire [tablets] and sent it into five net-new accounts that we haven’t been able to get into,” said Nail. “They got an appointment with one of the first two buyers they sent it to. So, if nothing else, they had at least a 20% response rate.
SAP’s content strategy also involves leveraging video as a way to keep the company top-of-mind after executive meetings. The company creates videos made specifically for 25 to 50 executives within their target accounts prior to the meetings. “They start the meeting with the video that’s made for that account,” said Nail.
After the meeting, SAP gives the executives physical copies of the video within a hardback book. “We hand out the videos to the attendees at that executive, high-level meeting,” said Nail. “So, they walk away with a video that was made for their specific account. It makes it feel very personal to them.”
According to Nail, one executive meeting took place in July/August, and “by the end of December, the team closed the second-largest deal in SAP history.”
What’s unique about SAP’s content strategy is the close collaboration between marketing and sales. It’s also a key component of measuring the content’s success, as they use seller feedback to determine how the content was used within the account.
“The way we’ve operated it so far is mainly with the sellers,” said Nail. “It could be that an asset that we produce goes to the seller, who may take it and show it to someone or email it to another person. It may only get opened by one person at that account, but that is the person that needs to get that message. So, we try not to get too deterred if there’s only been one open, as long as there was an open by that customer.”
SAP is also just starting to leverage Google Analytics to get a better grasp of how people are using the content, what their location is, etc. This data can then help the team pinpoint the best content, which can later fuel the development of additional content.
“Because these assets are built the way they’re built, and because they are taking into consideration the needs of five to seven accounts, the thinking is, if they’ll work for five to seven of our largest accounts, they’ll probably work for a lot of our other accounts in the same industry,” said Nail. “We can scale out to other accounts, but we also get some economies of scale. Because now that the asset is developed, we can just modify it and change the logo and color palette, as well as portions of the content.”