Just like in the Games of Thrones series, for many years the marketing landscape had its own giant wall dividing two populations: the B2B and the B2C (Brand) marketers. That wall separated ideas, methodologies and tools. Even the languages used on both sides were different. However, in contrast to the man-made ice wall, the marketing wall was not erected by people but by the available technology and capabilities. In the past couple of years, Account-Based Marketing (ABM) has taken the B2B marketing world by storm. This post explores some key aspects of this methodology and how it may also apply to brand marketers.
In recent years, cracks started to appear in the wall. Ideas seemed to be flowing from side to side. Nowadays, we see major gaps in that wall; people, tools and ideas are flowing more freely from one side to another, sharing their ideas and approaches. As we work with both types of marketing teams, we experience this process first hand. One aspect that B2C companies are adopting from the B2B realm is the change in approach from funnels to journey, looking to understand and capture the entire lifetime value of the customer, not just individual conversion points. This explains the rise of CDP (customer data platform) that we see in brand marketers. On the other side, we see B2B marketers starting to pay more attention to engagement metrics and how well they are able to capture attention and share of voice, much like their B2C counterparts have done for years.
One of the last fortifications in the B2B/B2C Marketing wall is Account-Based Marketing (ABM). On the surface, it would appear that this stronghold of pure B2B marketing approach has no relevance for the B2C marketer. True to our mischievous demon-approach, let’s try breaking this conception too.
Review of ABM principles
Before we remove another brick from the wall, let’s take a simplified view of some core principles of ABM (for a more detailed look at ABM, check out this post about Account Based Marketing in B2B):
1 ) Define your main target list of companies (accounts) and/or verticals
As marketers look to better align marketing efforts with sales objectives, they target their efforts on key accounts. This means that instead of trying to attract general populations to the site, marketers operate with a set list of people in given accounts which they work to engage and nurture.
2) Know who is coming to your site (are they inside that target list)
A big part of the ABM solution Suite is the ability to identify from which company a website visitor is coming from. This is done even without the visitor signing up or leaving any detailed information, but by simply looking at public information like IP addresses associated with certain companies.
3) Personalize that experience accordingly
As a visitor from a target account or industry is visiting the site, the marketer can customize the experience to better serve them, showing more relevant content from their particular space. This ability supports a key pillar in marketing – relevance and context.
4) Measure the impact of marketing on the account
Another aspect of account based marketing is aligning marketing with revenue. This is accomplished by looking at all the people from a given account (known and anonymous) and their interaction levels with the company’s marketing efforts and assets. Instead of looking at every individual person’s journey towards a business goal, we look at the journey of the entire group associated with the account.
5) Nurture the relationship with the account through content
As a group of people from a target account engages with the company’s assets, they can now focus their efforts and budget on maintaining a dialogue with them (through remarketing, email campaigns, etc.). This doesn’t stop once an account has been won but continues since a key metric in B2B (especially in SaaS) is the lifetime value of the account, which frequently relies on expansion post the initial acquisition.
How to apply ABM principles in a B2C marketing environment
When we break down the above methods to their core ideas, we see a pattern that B2C marketers not only may, but should adopt. Essentially, ABM is about identifying and engaging a group of people along their journey. If we replace the word “account” with the “audience”, we can see how this naturally can apply to the brand marketers:
1) Define target audiences/segments
This part is actually a common practice and approach in the brand marketers, looking to engage specific target populations. Perhaps it’s actually an idea that flowed from the b2c side of the wall to the b2b some time ago, helping shape the ABM approach. Social media marketing and advertising, with their ability to target based on demographic and psychographic attributes, have been around for over a decade.
2) Know your visitors
This part of the puzzle has been quite difficult for brands. You can’t reverse engineer an IP address to know about the demographic or psychographic attributes of a visitor like you would know their company in a B2B scenario. Furthermore, with the rise of GDPR, this has been even more challenging. However, when consent is given by the users, brands today, with the aid of CDPs, can segment their audiences and know more about their preferences and attributes. Another way to get to know your visitors is simply by asking them. The company Segmenta is helping brands achieve precisely that through questionnaires.
3) Personalize the content experience
With more information gathered on specific audiences visiting the site, B2C can personalize those experiences, much like their B2B counterparts. Show people the information based on their audience affiliation. This creates a better, more relevant experience for people in the target audience, like showing them specific articles or videos.
4) Measure the impact on the audience
Another aspect is the ability to look at the behaviour patterns of the audience members. Instead of looking at the aggregate picture of all the visitors, measuring the marketing impact on specific audiences can provide better insight regarding the ROI. Even without the connection to revenue data (like in the B2B realm), B2C marketers can better assess their success in capturing the attention of specific audience groups. We have been piloting such reports with several automotive brands, looking to gauge the impact of their digital marketing on specific segments across the entire journey. For example, which content items and topics that the brand is producing do 30 year-olds engage with as opposed to the general population?
5) Nurture the relationship with the audience through content
The B2B sales process, due to its long cycles and multiple personas within each account, makes heavy use of account nurturing with content. The challenge with consumer marketing is understanding which content resonates best with which audiences on their way to the purchase event. This requires mapping the buyer journey across many touchpoints, domains, online and offline. Recent developments and the emergence of CDP allow correlating users, devices and attributes, open new opportunities in understanding the behaviours and psychographic dimensions of different segments and populations. Some B2C marketers can now see and understand the buyer journeys of demographic segments, and analyze their content consumption behaviour. For example, a company could discover which topics and items are most read/viewed by 30-40-year-olds that purchased a car in the past 4 months. This would enable them to suggest more relevant content to these demographics as they visit their site or via direct communication (email/messaging), effectively nurturing this group toward conversion.
The Watchers on the Wall
At TrenDemon, a company which has visibility of both sides of the wall, we welcome these opening gaps. The content-based, personalized, contextual and sophisticated approach to the communication between people and brands is a welcomed trend. Essentially, as the channels and the objectives of influence become similar, so do the methodologies employed.
Isn’t it time you looked at the whole picture? If you want to know more, set up a demo and see if TrenDemon is right for you.