Account based marketing is everyone’s favorite buzzword, but let’s be honest – do you really know any companies doing it well? Experience-backed account based marketing tactics are hard to come by, as everyone seems to be happy to tout results, but not dive any deeper into the real mechanics of how their strategy works.

And that’s what made Charm Bianchini’s talk at Viewtopia® so impactful. Rather than just tout the amazing blessings of account based marketing — and believe me, there are many — she dove deep into how Marketo uses ABM to drive prospects through every stage of the pipeline, why personalization is the real key to success, and more importantly, how you can apply this strategy to your own ABM efforts. And as Marketo’s Senior Director of Marketing, she knows these tactics better than anyone.

So let’s take a look at how Bianchini makes account based marketing work her team:

Start With the Destination

Bianchini has been instrumental in bringing together Marketo’s sales and marketing teams around a common goal, but according to her, there’s one unifying success factor of any campaign. “Start with a goal. Any time we have an idea, if we don’t have goals assigned to it, our teams won’t make it happen. Attach a goal to it, and they will. Whether it’s registrations, attendees, or whatever.”

Goals are important, as they help influence the strategy that you and your team choose to execute on. And Bianchini was quick to point out that account-based marketing isn’t for everyone:

But switching to an account based model for marketing and lead generation doesn’t just require a change in how your team executes on marketing campaigns. It requires you to flip your entire strategy on its head. Literally. “Sangram Vajre and his team at Terminus have a big movement called #FlipMyFunnel, and a completely different funnel for account-based marketing and it is the funnel we use today. So now at the top of the funnel, you aren’t bringing in tons of leads but they’re going to be much higher quality. It’s more quality less quantity.”

The AMB Funnel

The AMB Funnel

“But those quality leads are going to go through that model and become customers, hopefully become advocates, and buy more. It’s an entire customer lifecycle model that we are using in our efforts.”

Flipping their funnel wasn’t easy, but once Bianchini and her team had decided on account based marketing for targeting their key accounts, it was time to build out a plan to turn ideas into reality. And she does it in five easy steps.

Step 1: Choose Your Accounts

In keeping with the theme of point one, Bianchini and her team started with a goal in mind. “First off, identify accounts. If you don’t have the right accounts from the beginning, it’s not going to be successful. We spent a lot of time figuring out which accounts are appropriate for this program.” She partnered closely with her sales team and developed three distinct tiers of accounts to target: the Top 20, Tier 1 and Tier 2. Each account would receive a different level of personalization, and thus a different amount of effort, applied to their web experience. Tier 1 consisted of 10 accounts chosen by each of their 40 reps. Tier 2 was 30 accounts chosen by the same reps. In total, they had 1620 accounts.

“For Top 20 accounts, they’re going to see customized with our personalization technology. And we’re going to create 20 distinct journeys for those accounts. That’s a lot of time and effort to understand how those journeys progress, and to do the actual personalization, so we don’t do that for the other 1600. But we can look at the Tier 1 and 2 accounts, and see what shared attributes they have, like industry, CRM or competitive technology, and create journeys based on those.”

Step 2: Gather Your Data

How many times have you received a ‘personalized’ email that had your name spelled incorrectly? Or had your company name listed in ALL CAPS? Personalization is one of the cornerstones of account based marketing, but without the right (or clean) data, you run the risk of alienating prospects rather than turning them into advocates.

Bianchini was quick to point out that first name, last name, and title are only skimming the surface of personalization. “Once you have selected your accounts, you can’t just start marketing if you don’t understand them. For example, if I picked GE, they have 80 different divisions. Some of them may be customers already, some of them may not. So you really need to understand how that company is structured, what the financial health of the company is, the business initiatives, and whether they are looking to implement new programs. Whatever you can get your hands on.”

Bianchini and her team use multiple tools to gather the right data for their targeting. InsideView and CRUSH Reports allow them to see deep insights on the accounts they are targeting. RainKing gives her team reports that are not only powerful marketing data sources, but useful sales tools, covering products used, organizational structure, and a host of other details. These insights allow Bianchini and her team to build the personalization outlined in Step 1.

Step 3 is all about giving that personalization a place to live.

Step 3: Create Your Content

You can have all the data in the world on a prospect, but if you aren’t putting together compelling content, they still don’t have to care. Bianchini looks to her segmentation team to build buyer personas, and then lets her content team start figuring out what content will be the best fit for what audience.

“We create content for every stage. For example, one of the verticals in enterprise we go after when we have target accounts is higher education. So at the awareness stage, we created a Frost & Sullivan high-level thought leadership paper. When those people consume that information, we send them an eBook which is all about marketing automation and higher education. Once they’re into the evaluation stage we serve up case studies – PDFs and videos. And then once they’re into the commitment stage we talk to them about the Marketo Marketing Nation event, advocacy programs, and other opportunities to engage.”

Step 4: Work Your Channels

Most marketers are creatures of habit. I’m guilty of this — I like social media, so I run with it. I enjoy writing blog posts, so… you get the idea. But Bianchini believes that, much like fishers must fish where the fish are, marketers also have to market where their market is.

“It’s important to use as many channels as possible. But don’t use them all at once. We’ll take three channels at a time and use them for a month. And the next month we will pick three new ones. And the next one three new ones again.” The strategy pays off in multiple ways. First, if your customers only play in one or two channels, you’re guaranteed to hit them over the course of the year. Second, people don’t tend to only consume one type of media, so playing multiple channels means you may hit a person with your messaging two, three, or even four times over the span of six months. And that kind of repeat exposure is the key to building engagement.”

But, Bianchini cautions against just trying the same tactics everywhere. “Switch it up! Try new things like videos, try infographics, try white papers, see what works for you. But personalize anywhere that you can.”

Which is an excellent segue to the last step.

Step 5: Personalize, Personalize, Personalize

As Bianchini pointed out during her talk, “The buying journey has changed. There are so many messages every day that are delivered, and most of the time, 90% of buyers have decided what they’re going with before they get to your website. 89% of marketers found improved business from personalization.” But Bianchini goes beyond just personalizing Marketo’s website, and looks at holistic personalization by funnel stage and content type.

For top of funnel leads, Bianchini works with her sales team to heavily personalize outgoing messages. Any data they can provide gives sales a better edge in engaging with prospects early on.

Middle of funnel leads see personalized retargeting ads and the results are spectacular. “We are very personalized in our digital advertising and ABM programs on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Our online team tells us that these campaigns have a 3x higher CTR and the enterprise account based marketing LinkedIn campaign we are running is the highest converting campaign we run on this platform.”

Finally, for bottom of funnel leads, her team uses narrowly-focused webinars to bring on key stakeholders and treats any attendee as gold. “Each one of these webinars was very targeted and customized, and had an average registration rate of 30 attendees. But more importantly, being more targeted and giving more personalized content, resulted in over $1 million in enterprise pipeline.”

One of the biggest assets Bianchini uses across every funnel stage is video, and they don’t produce any content that is one-size-fits-all. To understand how she uses personalization in her video content, let’s watch another clip of her talk:

The events team at Marketo also uses personalized video for recruiting attendees and their results were spot on. “We used personalized video for Marketo Summit, and wanted to push prospects to attend. Our typical prospect emails for Summit range from an 11% to 15% open rate depending on topic. This campaign resulted in a more than 30% open rate, got 700 views on the video, and about 75 people joined and paid full conference passes to join us.”

Big results from a small video!

Is ABM Right for You?

Bianchini opened her talk by telling her audience that ABM isn’t necessarily right for everyone, but if you follow these 5 steps, you’ll have a pretty good platform to start building success on. And after doing this style of marketing for over a year, Marketo has seen some extraordinary results.

“We use Salesforce and have a dashboard that shows target accounts, and ARR. We see a 35% increase in ASP for our target accounts. We also look at target accounts and what percentage of target accounts we’re getting to from our large database. Right now it’s 4%, and that 4% is making up 30% of our pipeline.”

Want to see Bianchini’s full talk? Or discover more great insights on account based marketing from Marketo’s award-winning team? Check out the Viewtopia® hub!


Jon Spenceley