I recently sat down with David McGuire, Creative Director at specialist B2B technology copywriting agency Radix Communications, to get his take on the content challenges of ABM and what it takes to be successful.
Many companies have great success with ABM. However, some have struggled to get it right. So, what is it that sets apart the ABM winners? How can marketers replicate that success at scale?
As a veteran B2B copywriter, David is no stranger to the challenges of creating engaging, personalized content.
“The clearer your view of the audience and what they care about, the better your content will be,” he told me. While that is true for any kind of content, with ABM the stakes are considerably higher. “If you send someone something and say, ‘I wrote this just for you,’ then it has to be super-relevant to them at that point in time. If they open it up and it’s generic, or it’s just broadly tailored to their industry, you’ve broken your promise.”
When ABM works, it’s because what we send people is special. It breaks the pattern of the vanilla content they see day in, day out. It is relevant to a specific challenge that they need to overcome. If it follows the same pattern and isn’t relevant to the individual who receives it, then it’s just, what David would call, “laser-targeted spam”.
“A lot of marketers build out these ABM nurture flows and then go hunting around for a case study that might work,” David said. “But for ABM to generate results, you need to send people stuff that they actually care about.”
That leads us to another challenging aspect of ABM: how do you know if people care about what you’re sending them?
Not every piece of ABM content (no matter how brilliantly it’s written) will cause every target to instantly pick up the phone and book a meeting.
However, if you can understand why the content didn’t get the right results, or what parts of it piqued people’s interest that you can follow up on, you can refine your approach. As a result, you can get granular about the topics and messages you send to each person.
Unfortunately, it’s not often that content creators get those kinds of customer insights.
“The reality for a copywriter is we very rarely get any data on what worked and what didn’t,” David said. “We hear anecdotes from clients about how much pipeline a certain piece generated, but we don’t often get to see any real data.”
“It’s easier to do more of something than to do it better.” – David McGuire.
It always amazes me that so many companies see ABM as some kind of magic trick. When it works, it gets great results, but nobody can really say why it worked.
The marketers and sales teams we work with that measure engagement down to the level of specific pages and individual readers have a crystal-clear understanding of exactly what worked. This means they can fine-tune their approach to increase engagement (and the pipeline that follows).
What often happens is that companies see some initial results from ABM and want to repeat their approach for one account at every other account. As David said, it is a lot easier to do more of something than to do it better.
But without understanding what elements of the content people cared about, we’re back to the laser-targeted spam problem.
When companies see early ABM successes, the pressure to deliver more meetings intensifies. The easiest approach is to do the same thing, but on a much larger scale. Unfortunately, that approach is incredibly labor-intensive. So, unless you’re going to hire an army to get everything done, you end up sending out content where the personalization is superficial at best.
“When we’re working on ABM content for clients, the best examples are based on a conversation with the sales team,” David said. “However, the targeting gets fuzzier the further you get from your key accounts, where the salespeople have detailed knowledge of the specific challenges and personalities.”
“For me, the challenge of scaling ABM is about connecting the silos and creating a virtuous circle.” – Nick Mason, CEO, Founder & Chief Storytelling Officer at Turtl
This means the insights within your CRM feed directly into content creation. Insights on engagement feed back into the CRM. Doing this ‘content automation’ removes the need to hire an army of people to scale up ABM. It helps ensure every piece is as relevant as possible.
Learn more about our approach to ABM here at Turtl. See how our customers use content automation to deliver high-impact personalization at enterprise scale, by checking out our latest guide to advanced ABM.
A round up of insights, trends, and tips on the world of content marketing