How do you command attention from your preferred companies when the online world is awash with so much content that it’s easy to get lost in the crowd? In the past, creating good-quality articles and sharing them on social media might have been enough to drive buyers to your site. But this tactic is no longer sufficient if you want to stand out.
With the advent of technology to accurately identify companies browsing online, the ability to place advertising in front of them has become possible. We call this approach account-based advertising (ABA). Not many organizations are taking advantage of it yet, but get ahead of the game and you could see significant growth in 2020.
The idea of ABA is very simple. It uses technology to detect whether someone in the company you want to reach is browsing a publisher’s website. If it is, it will place a personalized advert to draw this lead to your site.
ABA allows you to define a really specific audience. Once you’ve worked out who you want to target, you develop content that will resonate with them. Unlike traditional marketing efforts that are focused on quantity, ABA puts quality centre stage.
It works by identifying key personas at the companies you want to reach by using sophisticated micro-targeting technology. ABA allows you to get in front of key stakeholders using messaging tailored to their role and the stage of the buying cycle they’re in. You can target small groups at big organizations in a low-cost way.
Before now, it has only really been possible to proactively reach these people using methods that are quite intrusive. Perhaps you’d call them up, send an email or even try and visit them at their office. But it’s increasingly difficult to make an impact doing this today when everyone is time-poor and constantly being bombarded with (often irrelevant) content. The number of times required to truly get in touch with someone is increasing because of all this noise.
Funnily enough, if you want to get people to pay attention, it’s best to do it subtly. ABA is a light-touch way of getting a message in front of the person you want to talk to without irritating them enough to dismiss you.
Put simply, ABA can provide the following benefits:
Traditional forms of advertising, such as CRM and Google Ads, are merely reactive. They are limited to the people who search for the keywords you target or end up on your website. These approaches are well-trodden and still have value but they’re not going to reach all the people you’d like to notice you.
On the flip side, ABA is a proactive approach. Your targeted display advertising can reach contacts who aren’t on your email list and even those who have never heard of you before.
Personalization is key. This shouldn’t be a ‘throwing dirt at the wall situation’ because frankly, not a lot is going to stick if you’re not thinking carefully about your audience. Automation may increase your success but at the end of the day, technology is just a tool. The messaging has to be right or the campaign will not succeed.
That said, it’s vital to demonstrate your relevance without the messaging being so personalized that it gets a little creepy. It is possible to take it to far. Getting the balance right is key.
The number of stakeholders involved in a deal is increasing — according to Gartner, the decision-making committee for a B2B solution now typically consists of eight to ten colleagues. For all sorts of logistical reasons, you’re unlikely to be able to reach all of them during the sales pitch. But you could use ABA to make them aware of your company and what your values are.
Increase brand awareness with all those tricky-to-reach stakeholders and boost your chances of closing. The higher-ups may not have time to visit your website or download your whitepaper, but personalized advertising can reach them on their terms. I’ve seen what a difference ABA can make; recent campaigns we’ve run show that accounts targeted in this way are twice as likely to close on average.
We all know that display advertising rates are negligible at best in the b2b space. The average click-through rate (CTR) is a paltry 0.05%. So how do you improve on that figure? By reaching only the companies you want to target.
And it’s been demonstrated for decades that a correlation exists between a brand’s share of voice (SOV) — the market a brand owns compared to its competitors — and its rate of growth. Get your SOV above your share of the market (SOM) and you’re likely to succeed. While those who set their SOV below SOM will often not. The rate of growth tends to be directly proportional to a company’s ‘extra’ share of voice (ESOV) — the difference between SOV and SOM.
ABA will allow you a larger SOV for a lower price than your competitors whose advertising techniques are still stuck in the past.
Use ABA to go across the whole pipeline — from the start of a deal, right the way through to close. Then use it to expand your user base.
If you’ve got existing clients that work with a subset of your products or in certain locations, you can easily expose the rest of that organization to your other offerings. ABA allows you to expand your presence within large companies.
On average, I’ve seen companies who embrace account-based advertising drive around 30% of the target organizations to their websites within eight weeks.
A recent client’s campaign was so successful that 80% of prospects turned up on their site within two months. This is what can happen with a really good advert. The company had a compelling message that key leaders in the field were intrigued by and that’s what you need to be aiming for.
ABA may be in its infancy but it really can add a powerful new dimension to your arsenal and allow you to reach the vital stakeholders. The key to success is ensuring that you not only create the right messaging but have a robust follow-up program in place for once you’ve captured your prospective audience’s attention.
The impact of ABA can go far beyond just people coming to your website. We’ve seen organizations using this technique experience growth on every channel, from social media to email. The companies you’re targeting are more likely to interact with your other marketing activities after they’ve seen your advert. ABA results in better quality conversations and more meaningful connections. As we start the new year, it’s well worth looking into how it could help you meet your 2020 KPIs.