ABM Content Delivery: 3 Changes You Need to Make

Over the last year, marketers have been talking about ABM like it’s a mythical thing – but at its core, ABM is just a more targeted form of marketing. Rather than casting a wide net, ABM efforts zero in on very targeted segments that align to the account focus of the sales team.

But in all of this talk about accounts and demand units, it’s important to remember that while the focus of ABM is driving engagement at accounts, we’re still marketing to people. We need to get their attention, engage them, educate them, and qualify them. We need to get those people to the point where they’re sales ready, and we do this by winning hearts and minds, and educating buyers through the consumption of content.

If we’re really doing our jobs as marketers, we’re moving people (in ABM, several people within an account) from early-stage awareness to qualified opportunity, and eventually to happy, loyal customer. And it takes a lot of content to move them through that process and help them feel educated enough to buy. An average of 10.4 pieces of content per person, in fact. In an ABM setting, multiply that by the average number of people involved in a purchasing decision and you’re talking about delivering a lot of content to a lot of people to arrive at your destination: a qualified account.

So if delivering content and getting buyers to engage with it is the ultimate goal of marketing, why do we make it so difficult for our prospects to find and consume the content they need? And why do we rely on metrics that fall so pitifully short in telling us if they are truly qualified?

So here, in no particular order, are three ways to combat these issues by delivering content more effectively in your ABM programs:

1. Don’t just personalize the door, personalize the entire journey

Many marketers start their ABM strategy by personalizing doors: serving up a targeted ad, email or website message customized to an individual account or group of accounts. But once someone passes through that door, their experience ceases to be tailored for them. They’re just getting the same one-and-done content as everybody else. The goal is getting them to click… not really on educating them.

This begs the questions: if you’ve done the hard work of serving this hyper-targeted ad to a segment of the market because you know it’s going to resonate with them, why wouldn’t you tailor the content experience on the other side of the door as well? And why wouldn’t you try to deliver as much relevant content to that buyer as possible while you have their attention? It doesn’t make any sense to send that buyer to a dead-end landing page where they can look at that one piece of content and nothing else – where they’re going to have to go to your website and find the next best piece of content on their own.

Why wouldn’t you create a content experience that’s tailored to their needs, delivering all of the relevant assets you’d want them to consume after Asset #1? Many of us are guilty of letting our buyers go far too easily, and making it too easy to disengage from our marketing just when we’ve got their attention. That attention is a precious commodity, one that we should hang on to and cultivate into even greater interest and education.

2. Nurture known contacts as well as anonymous users

As marketers, we’ve gotten pretty good at getting in front of and nurturing our known database. If someone is in your database then 1) you can send them an email every Thursday (or whenever) and 2) you can know it was them who opened or clicked the email.

What we’re not so good at is nurturing anonymous users. When someone clicks on your display ad or comes to your website and you don’t know who they are, why can’t you serve up nurturing experiences for those buyers as well? If you’re going to do the work of getting them to your website, it only makes sense to deliver relevant content recommendations – to always serve the next best content asset to your buyer, no matter who they are or where they came from.

Getting people to click on things is really hard. Very few people actually click. When they do it, why do we let them slip away so quickly? If you get someone to click, you should drive them to a content experience that serves up a dynamic set of content recommendations tailored to them based on Content Science™. Take that person from early-stage awareness off that initial click all the way through to potentially becoming a qualified opportunity – without having to earn their attention 12 million times (only a slight exaggeration). In the same way that Netflix serves up relevant content, marketers today can provide a similar type of content experience for buyers that encourages them to binge on content at their own pace.

3. Transform the way you define “sales readiness”

It’s time for marketers to rethink what it means to be a qualified lead or opportunity – what it means to be truly sales ready. The problem we have today is that we treat clicks like they actually mean something. We assume that the behavior on the other side of the click or form fill is that they took time to read or consume the information. That’s an awful lot of hope to have in your marketing process. The fact is that consumption of content (not just clicking on it) is the number one indicator of sales readiness…and yet, we still place equal value on all the clicks and wonder why we can only convert a pathetic 2-6% of our MQLs.

If you’ve done everything else right – you’ve developed hyper targeted account lists, you’ve created targeted content, served targeted ads, personalized your website – don’t you want to know if any of it worked? Sadly, anyone can click but only a truly engaged, sales-ready buyer (or group of buyers within an account) will actually read.

When you’re in the throes of researching a big-ticket item in your personal life…do you just click on stuff or do you pour over the information, spending significant time conducting your research? B2B buyers are no different and yet the consumption of content isn’t a core KPI for marketers today.

In your marketing automation platform, everyone who clicks looks the same. What you don’t know is whether or not they actually did anything with what they clicked on. People who actually spend time consuming the content – not just clicking on it – convert at a far faster, higher rate through the funnel.

The way we’ve been thinking about buyer intent is fundamentally flawed. If you don’t know if they’ve actually done the research, you don’t know if they’re educated enough to buy. Can you really call them qualified? It’s time for qualification to actually mean something in B2B marketing. It’s time to look beyond clicks and form fills, and start measuring content consumption as key marketing metric.

Better Content Experiences, Better Outcomes

The good news is that marketers now have options when it comes to content delivery. The old playbook for how we educate and qualify buyers can be replaced with new, intelligent content experiences, and this approach delivers buyers that inherently more educated, qualified and who move faster through the funnel.