Historically, content marketers have had one clear goal in mind: develop content that will convert visitors to leads that fuel their businesses. There are, of course, other benefits to content that marketers always have in mind, such as building brand awareness, establishing expertise, enabling sales, etc. But demand generation is still, most often, the primary driver of content marketing, as it is the most concrete and measurable outcome.
However, this content goal only makes sense in the realm of inbound marketing. With ABM, the focus is on a defined group of accounts or companies. The content marketer’s goal in this case is to create content that captures the attention of specific accounts or accounts in specific industries to help initiate and accelerate the sales cycle.
So rather than focusing on content that will have mass appeal, you need to narrow your focus. How do you combine your content marketing and ABM initiatives? Start with these four steps.
Step 1: Agree on ideal customer profiles and an account list
If marketing, sales, and your company leadership are all aligned under an ABM strategy (or some combination of an inbound and account-based strategy), your first step is to agree on your ideal customer profiles (ICPs), working closely with your sales team. Think about who your most successful customers are now. Think about who your most profitable customers are now. What industry, company size, location, or other variables do these customers have in common?
Use these profiles to compile your list of target accounts (in conjunction with sales, of course). The accounts, industries, and personas you pinpoint will be used heavily when developing your content going forward.
Step 2: Conduct a content audit
The next step is to audit your existing content. It can be as casual or as formal as you make it. No matter how you go about it, ask yourself, “Do I have content for each account, industry, or persona we outlined?” Then go deeper and ask yourself, “Do I have content for them for each stage of the buyer’s journey?” Even in an ABM strategy, content is a critical component of your prospects’ research, consideration, and evaluation stages. Different mixes of content (videos, blog posts, eBooks, case studies, etc.) with different levels of depth will be needed at each stage.
As you complete this audit, you’ll see some gaps in content for different audiences and different stages. You may even come across some stale, outdated, or ineffective content. These are the places you’ll want to address first.
Step 3: Create content to fill gaps
Now you can begin creating content to fill these gaps. Make sure that you are leveraging your sales team as a resource for learning more about the accounts, industries, and personas you are targeting. The sales team is on the front line in these target markets, and they can share the challenges their prospects face, and the goals that they have. They can share customer anecdotes, success stories and cautionary tales that will help you create relevant, compelling content.
An additional benefit of involving the sales team is that they will already be on board with the content you are producing, and will be looking forward to sharing content that they already know will resonate with the prospects they speak to.
Step 4: Distribute to relevant accounts or personas
The last step, and probably one of the most challenging steps, is to distribute your content. This challenge exists for all content marketers, but it’s particularly difficult for ABM strategies because this content is applicable to a much narrower group of people. You only want to reach certain accounts, industries, or personas. Here again is where your sales team (that is already bought into your content) will be valuable. You will rely on them to distribute it to the right people at the right moments in their conversations.
Additionally, advances in technology have allowed for better targeting across the web. This applies to the most obvious tactic, advertising, but it can also apply to your website as well. With website personalization, a person on your site does not need to dig for an eBook or blog post that will be relevant to him, the site can deliver it to him immediately. Personalization allows you to give him only content that would be relevant to his industry, to his stage in the buyer’s journey, and to his function.
For example, if a visitor from the healthcare industry lands on your site and, assuming healthcare is one of the industries in your ICPs, you can deliver an experience specific to healthcare and recommend a relevant eBook or other asset.
Many content marketers are most familiar with an inbound strategy. But account-based marketing strategies can leverage content too. If your business is getting started with ABM, or transitioning to a hybrid ABM/inbound strategy, you can follow these steps to ensure that your content marketing is on the right track.
And don’t forget that getting the most relevant content you have already created in front of your target accounts, industries, and personas is easily achieved with personalization. To learn more, request a demo today. And for more on content marketing and ABM, listen to my interview on this topic on this Hawke Media podcast.