Content and ABM: Key Learnings from the 2017 SiriusDecisions Summit

5 minute read

Upland Admin

Have you heard of ABM? Sorry, dumb question. Better question: why is ABM so hot right now?

This year’s biggest marketing buzzword got a lot of attention at this year’s SiriusDecisions Summit. From packed analyst sessions to ROI Award winners like DXC Technology, the topic addressed significant attendee interest. This really isn’t surprising; in an age when people are constantly bombarded with emails, cold calls, paid ads, and more, ABM seems to be a sure-fire way to cut through the noise.

More importantly, when marketing does get leads in the funnel, despite the noise, the leads are often bad. One Forrester report revealed that only 0.75% of leads generated become closed revenue. And we wonder why sales and marketing don’t get along.

The reason for ABM is clear: modern marketing requires highly-targeted tactics that drive the right customers down the funnel. Taking this as truth, here are a few takeaways on the importance of ABM—and how it fits in your content strategy—I learned at this year’s Summit.

1. The Best ABM Strategies Drive ROI

To say I was impressed by the success of DXC Technology’s ABM strategy is an understatement. The presentation was given by their VP of Brand, Demand, and Digital Marketing, Nick Panayi, along with the ABM & Pursuit Marketing CoE Lead, Dorothea Gosling. The presentation was full of great insights on the tactical execution of an ABM strategy. I loved hearing about how they built a billboard near a conference attended by individuals from target accounts to increase brand awareness. I appreciated the mention of their ultimate ABM tech stack even more (hint: it included Kapost). 

The most valuable thing I learned from DXC was the importance of having strong marketing professionals to create cross-functional collaboration; Panayi referred to them as “mini CMOs,” which leads to my biggest takeaway…

Biggest Takeaway: For your ABM strategy to thrive, you need smart, experienced, tenacious marketers that will deliver on promises and earn the respect of sales.

If you need help figuring out how to build the team, we recommend checking out this hiring guide.

2. Learn to Leverage the Right Data

In a session on data and ABM, attendees were polled on how they find data to inform their strategy, a whopping 62% said silos of disconnected systems were their primary source of ABM insights. With the sheer volume of data coming in on a daily basis, we all need to find better ways to aggregate and leverage our data into meaningful insights. That means taking information gathered, be it profile information or social listening, and making it digestible so both sales and marketing can take action.

Biggest Takeaway: We have to train sales on how to leverage the right information. The best marketers learn to pull together profile, activity, and derived data into powerful insights, which are shared in an intelligent way with sales.

3. ABM and Content Go Together Like…

PB&J. Bees and honey. Millenials and SnapChat.

Very, very few markets exist where the target of buyers or accounts are so small and niche that a pure ABM strategy works—and even then you still need content to fuel your outreach. The majority of marketing teams should create a hybrid of marketing strategies that link both organic, inbound content to lead generation as well as strategic, outbound content to fill the funnel with quality leads.

An ABM strategy relies on content (as does almost every function in a modern B2B organization, but that’s another post). Accordingly, content marketing teams shouldn’t fear the rise of ABM.

Biggest Takeaway: The popularity of ABM relies on high-quality, customer-centric content—a skill content marketers have been honing for years. This presents a massive opportunity for content to sync with sales, product, and leadership to create a revenue-driven model for distribution that brings down the cost per lead and maximizes the impact of high-value content. #winning

4. Let’s Not All Go Direct Mail Crazy

Okay, I might be alone on this train, but I personally am not itching for more needless stuff in my life. I know there are people out there who will tell me about brand awareness and the (terrible) sales adage that “any interaction is a good interaction,” (If you think that, read this quick article on what successful interaction looks like). However, I generally do not like direct mail. More often than not, I find it kinda annoying and a waste of resources. I don’t want your cookies or branded avocados or “personalized” whatever.

If you send me a thoughtful interaction that speaks directly to an issue I need to be resolved, I really, really will respond to you. And if you can’t get me to open your email and want to send me something in the mail, fine, but it better be backed up by value-add. Unless you’re sending me a better way to manage freelance invoices or a $20 bill, it’s the thought, not the swag, that counts.

(end soapbox)

Biggest Takeaway: In a world of noise, gimmicks are always the answer. Focus on delivering something, be it content or cookies, that adds value to your prospect, and speaks directly to their pain points.
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