It’s 2020 and times have changed, but you might not know that by looking at still-current and commonplace B2B Marketing methods. And yet, in a world of exciting customer experiences with B2C brands, buyers’ expectations across the board are higher than ever – and that means all buyers. B2C consumers experience highly personalized buying journeys that are both efficient and easy – ultimately elevating the expectations for a B2B buying journey, too.
To combat the demand gen flywheel that Legacy Marketing has long upheld, marketers need to focus on value over volume. That means targeting the right and best customers, measuring and learning from the right KPIs, and elevating customer experience through the refinement process-driven by results.
Said another way, companies need to embrace Account-Based Marketing (ABM) – and, more holistically, Account-Based Transformation. ABM isn’t just a technology solution; it’s a holistic shift aimed at transforming how B2B brands go to market, pushing customer-facing teams to target and engage the best, right customers, and then measure the long-term value of those engagements.
When Your Target Audience is “Everyone,” Your Target Audience Is Actually “No One”
I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: if your target audience isn’t laser-focused, you’re not really doing ABM — and the results of your efforts will reflect that. That’s why it’s so important to know your best-fit customers.
To do this, it’s crucial to define the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) before launching an ABM program. The ICP is what successful brands and marketers use to differentiate their Marketing, going beyond simple lead gen to hone in on the best and most valuable opportunities for real customers. Really, it’s the driving force behind the personalized experiences and conversations that set account-based strategies apart. This plays out in two phases:
- Define the initial ICP characteristics including things like company size, company infrastructure or even recruitment and training activities.
- Refine and improve the ICP based on data being fed back into the organization through active customers. Data like demographics, buyer location, and buyer behavior – including browser histories, visitor frequencies, and past purchases — are essential in this process.
With a well-defined ICP, organizations and GTM teams can personalize their interactions and better serve the customer, guiding them to solutions that can resolve challenges and move the business forward.
Pretty Numbers Are Killing Your Growth Opportunities
Once target accounts are clearly defined and engagement is on point, it’s time to measure results – and, no pressure, but this is the most important part.
If a company measures the wrong things, targeting the right people loses its edge. And yet, it’s so common! Marketers have a bad habit of measuring the wrong things simply for the sake of delivering some pretty numbers (vanity metrics) and it’s killing their Marketing game. Leads and website clicks look good on paper, but they don’t lead to actual business outcomes.
The fact is, B2B has a much lower volume of actual buyers. While B2C brands enjoy immediate ‘impulse-buyers,’ that’s rarely how B2B deals get closed – which means that things like leads or clicks only look good when measuring the inbound game. None of these metrics actually track customer behaviors to help marketers target more effectively to their top accounts.
Businesses need to expand how they measure, going further up the funnel to better understand conversion – and not just from the perspective of what ad clicks or email opens led to it. In my experience, these are the top metrics that truly matter:
- Lead-to-Customer Ratio
- Pipeline Velocity
- Customer Engagement
To achieve real business outcomes, stop using surface numbers as validation for success and start asking the right questions. How many leads did the Sales team actually close? How quickly and efficiently were these deals closed? Was the experience valuable to the customer and will they come back again because of it? Lots of brands aren’t asking themselves these questions and staying caught up in the numbers game clouds any chance for business growth.
Of course, baked into this concept is the idea of company buy-in. Without the participation and trust of the Sales and Customer Success teams, these new metrics won’t really matter anyway. We’ve shifted this conversation to be one of “Account-Based Transformation” because it’s what is truly required of a B2B company to execute and succeed with this strategy. “ABM” is a little misleading; this is about so much more than Marketing.
Join the ABM Revolution or Get Left Behind
Account-based transformation is taking B2B marketing to new heights — and leaving those who don’t adapt in the dust. Case and point: according to FlipMyFunnel’s 2019 State of ABM Report, which Terminus sponsored, 82% of “advanced” ABM practitioners agree that pipeline generation was a goal successfully achieved by their ABM program. In contrast, only 39% of respondents with “early-stage” programs listed pipeline generation as a goal successfully achieved. And the channel between “sophisticated” and “early-stage” is only going to widen.
Personalization in B2C has set new standards for how businesses buy, and customer data proves it – future customers are more engaged when a company aligns to their goals. Digital channels have opened up a new avenue for B2B buyers, giving them one-click options and seamless paths to purchase. Companies are being pushed outside the box with how they present themselves to – and connect with – the customers they want most, and how they market and sell to them.
The recipe for yielding long-lasting business outcomes starts with a unified Transformation strategy, bringing Sales and Marketing, strategy and tactics, and measurement and goals together to target the right customers, create unique experiences and build on those interactions to keep customers coming back.