B2B Marketing Blog

How Content Impacts the Buying Journey: ABM vs. Demand Gen

By Alexis Getscher
Nov 1, 2016
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As more marketers transition from demand generation to account-based marketing, the question comes up of what to do with content. At its core, content is a demand generation tactic used to fill the top of the funnel with leads. In contrast, account-based marketing is all about an outbound strategy of going after specific accounts you want to close.

So, does the value of content diminish as teams move to an account-based marketing strategy? Not so fast.

Now that teams are focused on engaging specific accounts, content must also evolve to become more personalized. Because of this, content becomes just as, if not more, valuable within an ABM strategy.

Transitioning from Demand Generation to ABM: Content Strategy

With an inbound demand gen strategy, the majority of content is educational and broad so it can apply to a wider audience. The goal is to drive as many leads as possible to your website. To achieve this, content can’t be too deep in the weeds or it will never reach the amount of people needed to fill the pipeline and provide enough leads to the sales team.

As organizations transition to ABM, they begin to target specific personas, industries and job titles. To stay valuable, content needs to do the same.

ABM Content DashboardDefine the personas involved in the buying process and create specific content directed at them. For example, if marketing ops is one of the key personas, create content with “marketing operations” in the headline and url. This bodes well for SEO and those clicking through your site searching for relevant content.

To take it one step further, each persona typically corresponds with a funnel stage. Maybe the paid search manager is the researcher at the top of the funnel, the marketing ops manager is the potential user in the middle of the funnel, and the CMO is the persona with the power to sign checks at the bottom of the funnel. If this were the case, you’d create educational, TOFU content directed at paid search; MOFU, benefits and use-case scenario content directed at marketing ops; and BOFU, in-depth content directed at CMOs.

Additionally, as an outbound strategy, content can be used as a way to keep the door open and continue the conversation. Maybe the contact isn’t ready to schedule a demo with you right now. At that point you can send them content relevant to their persona and needs, and follow up in a couple weeks.

As teams make the transition from demand generation to account-based marketing, content remains valuable by continuing to be an educational tool for your target audience.

ABM Content + LinkedIn: The Winning Combination

Now that you’ve defined your key personas and created content specifically for them, how do you make sure it reaches them?

Organic posts only go so far and sometimes a prospect doesn’t know what they’re missing (or what to search for) until it’s right in front of them. That’s where LinkedIn paid media comes in.

LinkedIn is the ideal platform for B2B account-based marketing because its users publicly post their location, company, skills and job title-- all valuable identifiers for targeted content.

Using segmented target account lists allows you to deliver valuable content to the right prospects. That marketing ops content I talked about earlier can be displayed to LinkedIn users at X size company, who have marketing operations in their job title and/or skills. Now, instead of paying for clicks from unqualified prospects, every click will be of value.

An ABM on LinkedIn strategy also works well for future content, like webinars and speaking events. Say you’re hosting a webinar on how attribution improves paid media marketing. Use LinkedIn to display the details and registration link to users with “paid media” in their job title or skills, and who work at companies within industries of your target customer base. Now, when you report that you drove 100 registrations, Sales can be confident they will be following up with high-grade leads who are likely to convert.

Defining key personas and then using LinkedIn targeting capabilities to reach those personas with engaging, personalized content is a winning combination that capitalizes on the full power of your content.

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The Right Measure of Success

In a strategy centered around demand generation, the primary measure of success tends to be leads and opportunities. However, in an account-based marketing world, since you’re not aiming to drive a bunch of new leads, how do you measure success?

The goal of ABM is to engage with contacts at target accounts, so to measure success, you’d report on touchpoint engagement.

Implementing an attribution solution with ABM capabilities, like lead to account mapping and account engagement scores, will help marketers accurately report on engagement.

When new contacts visit your website, they should be mapped to the company (account) to which they belong. This is the foundation of account-based measurement and reporting.

ABM requires both depth and breadth to be successful and lead to account mapping makes it possible to track both. Key questions to ask are, how many contacts are engaged from a single company and how deep in the funnel are those contacts?

When a piece of content is published, its success can be measure by how many touchpoints it receives from contacts within key accounts, and if those touchpoints are moving the account deeper into the funnel.

For example, two ebooks, both with 1,000 pageviews, are not necessarily of equal success. If one had touchpoints from only 500 key accounts and the other had 900 touchpoints from key accounts, the latter would be deemed more of a success because it reached more of the people you wanted.

Conclusion

Although content is traditionally a demand generation channel, it does not lose its value within an account-based marketing strategy. As the marketing team transitions from inbound to outbound, content adapts to become more personalized and catered to specific personas.

Transitioning to ABM means transitioning to more focused content that creates valuable interactions throughout the entire funnel. Marketers move from pursuing pageviews to pursuing pipeline.

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