First, what is account-based marketing?
Traditional marketing targets a wide audience. That audience may be very specific; it may be very defined; but your strategy will be inclusive of everyone that falls under the umbrella of “marketing agencies” or “mid-sized ecommerce companies,” or whatever your typical customer happens to be.
Account-based marketing shifts your focus from a wide pool of people to specific “accounts” – i.e. people or organizations – that are a precise fit for your product. Instead of implementing tactics designed to get in front of as many potential prospects as possible, you’re trying to get the attention of a handful of people or companies.
So where does content come in?
Content marketing (when it’s not account-based) tends to offer an indirect, roundabout benefit to the businesses it’s promoting. Most content marketing is used to drive top-of-the-funnel traffic, gain links, collect emails, or create general brand awareness.
So what about account-based content marketing?
Account-based content marketing leverages content to target a specific customer, or with some extra effort, a very small group of customers. While content created for other marketing campaigns can be used as part of an account-based content strategy (and vice versa), content leveraged for account-based marketing is not used to increase general visibility and awareness of a brand.
Instead, it’s tailored to the unique pain points of highly-targeted potential customers and their present situation and needs.
Getting started with applying account-based marketing to your content strategy
Thinking about mixing up your content marketing with an account-based strategy? Here’s what you need to do to get started.
Research your target market
Researching your target market is an essential part of any marketing strategy, but it’s even more important when it comes to account-based marketing. You’re wasting your time targeting specific accounts if the product/account isn’t a perfect fit.
This means that gaining an in-depth understanding of your target market is the first task you ought to be undertaking before embarking on an account-based marketing strategy.
You should be asking things like:
- Who buys from you and why?
- What are you customers’ most common pain points?
- What does your buying cycle look like? I.e., how many touch points typically take place between first point of contact and making a sale? And what questions do those that convert tend to ask along the way?
Once you know this, you can use your newfound knowledge to create detailed customer personas that can help you decide who’s worth targeting with an account-based content strategy, and who isn’t.
Of course, there’s more to figuring out who to target than how closely an account matches a customer persona.
Cold contacts are rarely suitable candidates for any sort of account-based marketing strategy. Regardless of how certain you are that they will benefit from your product, if they haven’t expressed an explicit interest in it, you probably shouldn’t be targeting them using an account-based marketing or content strategy.
Save account-based marketing for highly-qualified leads only.
Match content to your customer personas
In addition to helping you pinpoint leads that are worth investing in with an account-based marketing strategy, customer personas can act as a starting point for your account-based content strategy.
First of all, the content you create should help in resolving pain points that are specific to those customer personas.
It should also, wherever possible, be presented in a format that’s suited to those personas.
Is your target customer someone who likes to research their options in-depth and responds well to long-form content? Or are they always on the go, listening to podcasts while traveling, or reading short-form blog posts when they have a few minutes to spare?
Delivering the right type of content is essential to executing an effective account-based marketing strategy.
But that’s not all.
As mentioned earlier, account-based marketing strategies target those who are already somewhere along the sales funnel. They’re a qualified lead. You’re not trying to show them that there’s a product which solves x, y or z problem. You’re also not trying to make them aware that your product is amongst them.
They should already know your product is a thing, and that it’s a valid option for them.
Instead, your job is to match content to each account’s position in the buying cycle, show them why your product is a better fit for them than a competitor’s offering, and to get them moving down the funnel and converting ASAP.
Leverage paid ads
Like most forms of marketing, paid ads are generally used to target a large pool of potential customers at once, but they don’t have to be – especially when using content as part of an account-based marketing strategy.
Get your content in front of the right people via online advertising platforms that offer hyper-specific targeting. Don’t just target according to interests or industry. Target specific people via their email address, or the company they work at. Social advertising is ideal for this.
Remarketing can work well here too.
Get relevant content in front of bounced visitors based on the page (or pages) of your site they’ve visited. However, you don’t necessarily have to target everyone who’s been on your site. Leverage demographic targeting to show your ads only to visitors that match one or more of your customer personas.
Get super-specific with email segmentation
Email segmentation is woefully underused. Even in an ordinary marketing strategy, it’s invaluable. It helps you send emails that are personalized to specific groups of customers, segmented by industry, pain points, etc.
When it comes to account-based marketing strategies, email segmentation is even more valuable – especially if you’re trying to implement account-based marketing at scale.
For example, you can segment according to the persona (or personas) an account fits into, or where an individual account is in the buying cycle.
You can then distribute content at scale, in line with the unique qualities of each segmented list.
Personalize general content to each audience
So we already know you should be creating content that attempts to resolve the pain points of the accounts you’re targeting, that is presented to them in a format that’s easily digestible, and that’s delivered via multiple mediums including digital advertising and email.
Account-based content marketing can be made even more effective if that content is personalized to each account you’re trying to target.
This might mean:
- Changing the title of the content
- Editing the introduction or conclusion (or both) to highlight, and address, an account’s unique predicament
- Including case studies that are specific to the person or organization you hope will consume this content
You don’t have to personalize content to each individual account, however. If you want to scale this strategy, it’s possible to create personalized content for different personas, or other segmented groups of target customers.
- Only use account-based content marketing for companies and people that are aware of your product or service. Otherwise, it’s a waste of your effort.
- Create content specifically for them. It’s different than the rest of your content strategy.
- Once you start doing it at scale, you can start creating content for specific groups or industry segments.
- When you do that, personalize content by customizing the title, intro, or case studies.
- Leverage paid ads and remarketing.
- Get super-specific with email segmentation.
PS. This is a good but time-consuming strategy to get your dream clients. Why wait for them to come to you if you can help make it happen sooner?