You’ve finally honed your content strategy for inbound marketing. But now a new strategy is on your doorstep — account-based marketing — and you have to create content to fulfill the vision.
Before panicking about how you’re going to do this, let’s consider why it’s a worthwhile venture.
Content marketing works best when you get the right content to the right people at the right accounts at the right time and in the right format. So when you pair account-based marketing, which is all about micro-segmenting your market for relevant messaging, with content marketing, you have a winning duo.
The Forces Behind the Rise of Account-Based Marketing
Since the dawn of the new millennium, companies have been creating content to feed their inbound marketing strategies. But marketers now realize they may have tipped the scales too far in one direction.
While inbound marketing can attract a wide variety of leads, on its own it can’t do all the heavy lifting. To capture the accounts that can change the course of business, marketers now realize they need to complement inbound marketing with a proactive strategy to reach out to the companies they want most.
As a result, account-based marketing has entered the scene. With account-based marketing, you identify organizations you want to sell to, tailor your marketing message and medium to them, and reach out to them directly. (Yes, outbound is in again.) In its purest form, you communicate with each would-be account as an individual market.
Thanks in part to technology that makes account-based marketing more powerful than ever, this strategy is gaining strength. While 23 percent of marketers have had an account-based marketing strategy in place for “some time,” more than 50 percent have either just launched a program or plan to do so in the next 18 months.
Say goodbye to mass marketing. Say hello to the micro-segmentation.
The Key to Content that Stands Out
It’s likely that you used to reap higher dividends from each piece of content you produced than you do today. That’s because as companies have flocked to content marketing, they have inundated your target market with all kinds of juicy information. There is a limit to how much people can consume. As a result, the returns on content have diminished.
Also, our crystal ball shows that creating blog posts, e-books, webinars and more that attract attention is only going to become more challenging as the content deluge continues. According to a 2016 study by Accenture, Content: The H20 of Marketing, 83 percent of marketers expect to increase the amount of content they produce over the next two years.
Today, you have to find ways to differentiate your content from your competitors’, and account-based marketing offers the solution.
Here’s why it helps. Research from the Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) reveals that three in four executives will read unsolicited marketing materials if they are relevant to their business.
So now your goal is to turn one-size-fits-all content into information that speaks directly to an industry, organization, or a role. When you increase its relevance, people will become more engaged. And increased engagement equals more sales opportunities.
To fuel an account-based marketing program with customized content, however, may seem like a mammoth task. But remember, nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy.
You don’t have to cook up the whole content smorgasbord at once. Prepare it one dish at a time using this recipe.
Get to Know Your Target Markets and Accounts
First, do some research. Select the firmographics that represent your target accounts and find out who are the decision makers and influencers. Make sure you understand their business goals and pain points. Learn about the markets in which they operate, for example, the trends, and what’s driving or inhibiting growth.
Create Account Tiers
Separate the accounts into three tiers — good, better and best.
- The good accounts are those that are an ideal fit, and you believe you’d have no trouble landing them. For them, you need the lowest level of customization.
- The better ones are those that will require more effort to acquire. Thus, they need content that’s more tailored.
- The best are those that could change the course of your business. They’re known entities, such as Apple, General Electric, Costco and PepsiCo. Each one is a market in itself. You should create content that speaks directly to those companies.
Climb the Content Ladder
When creating your content, gradually climb the account-based marketing content ladder.
Rung 1: Good Accounts
Start on the “good” accounts rung. Take your one-size-fits-all content and increase its relevance to these organizations by molding it to firmographics, such as industries, geographies, company size and personas.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Audit your existing content and repurpose it as necessary to meet your audience’s needs.
For instance, instead of a white paper about “How to Create Content for Account-Based Marketing,” you might write one about “How Technology Companies Can Create Content for Account-Based Marketing.” The customization may be a simple matter of changing the introduction, summary, some of the terminology, graphics and case studies you use.
Rung 2: Better Accounts
Now you move up another rung on the ladder to the “better” accounts.
This is where a helping hand from predictive analytics is in order. Based on the online behavior of company associates, analytics platforms can tell you when a corporation is pursuing a new initiative or trying to solve a problem. It provides a window into what’s top of mind so that you can tailor content more narrowly to that issue.
Perhaps an IT department at a “better” account is pursuing a cloud migration strategy. This information might prompt an IT consultant’s marketers to reach out to the company with a series of emails, webinars and e-books about how to approach cloud migration.
Rung 3: Best Accounts
Lastly, you have the “best” accounts — those that you land and then expand within them.
It’s time for extreme personalization, which calls for some deep digging to learn about the company’s strategies, buying process, needs and more. You might end up taking your white paper “How to Create Content for Account-Based Marketing” and turning it into “The Easy Way for General Electric to Create Content for Account-Based Marketing.” Follow that up with a webinar that’s only open to General Electric associates, and you’ve put your company in a different league.
The purpose of content you produce for account-based marketing is to show an understanding of the target’s specific business issues and industry. It’s relevant. It’s helpful. It gets attention. And it can open some hefty doors.
 ABM Benchmark Survey Report 2016, Demand Gen Report, http://www.demandgenreport.com/resources/reports/the-2016-abm-benchmark-survey-report.