How to Optimize Account Nurture Strategies During an Economic Downturn
The global economic downturn has impacted B2B buying behaviors. Companies typically react to the threat of a recession by cutting as many expenses as possible to improve short-term margins. Buying committees have more questions and hurdles to overcome before purchasing. As a result, sales cycles become even longer and more challenging, adding complexity and friction to the sales process.
For marketers, this means a shift in how to reach and engage the buying committees still in need of solutions. Developing strategies that move accounts through the funnel without breaking the bank is more important than ever. Madison Logic experts recently discussed navigating the downturn with a multi-channel nurture strategy that maximizes marketing spend and converts accounts faster.
Read on for their key takeaways.
1. Marketers need to consider changes to buying behavior and adjust their approach based on shifts in the market
LinkedIn’s “95-5 Rule” says only 5% of target accounts are in-market. As a result of current market conditions, that ratio is shifting to 99-1, with only 1% of accounts actively seeking new solutions due to tightening budgets.
This means that only 1% of a target account list is in-market, and the remaining 99% is not ready to have that conversation.
How does this impact marketing strategies? While it’s important to continue targeting the 1% of buyers in-market, brands must also stay relevant to the 99% out-of-market. The economy will eventually bounce back, and maintaining a persistent presence with those buyers ensures more top-of-mind awareness when they’re ready to buy.
Marketers need to move these two groups of buyers into and through the buying journey with different messaging strategies.
- Target the 1% group with content related to evaluating solutions and keep the brand top-of-mind as a knowledge expert and partner to solve a buyer’s business problem.
- The 99% need content that makes them problem aware, and this problem needs to be solved versus the status quo.
Marketers need to be precise in pushing their solutions and focus on educating these buyers rather than selling to them.
2. Effective nurturing requires attention from the entire buying committee, not just individual leads
Converting leads into opportunities successfully involves more than talking to one person, particularly in this economic climate when buying needs are evaluated closely. Each company has a buying committee or buying group, and each buying committee member has their reasons or business focus for selecting your solution. Additionally, each buying committee member requires their own timeline when purchasing.
Marketers must do more than get a single buying committee member on board. Now more than ever, buying committees must come together and agree on the best solution for their business. Marketers can move accounts through the funnel by addressing the specific pain points of each buying committee member more efficiently to move the account forward.
Every member of the buying committee is going to have a different reason to look at a solution. So, it’s crucial to speak to them in a way that will resonate with their needs.
3. Success depends on sales and marketing alignment
Sales and marketing alignment is a core tenet of ABM and nurturing accounts successfully. From the jump, both teams need to collaborate and agree on ideal customer profiles and target account lists, key messages that highlight the value of your solution, and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and goals associated with nurture strategies.
It starts with a conversation between a marketing team member and a sales development representative to close that communication loop and foster stronger relationships. Once this relationship is established and solid, work together to tie marketing efforts back to the sales pipeline and opportunity conversions. Make sure to track how marketing drives engagement within the accounts sales wants to engage and ultimately converts those leads into closed-won business.
These insights enable marketers to demonstrate marketing value and adjust and optimize their approach to maximize their budget.
4. Personalize, personalize, and then personalize some more
Since each individual has a different business focus, successful ABM nurturing hinges on personalization when targeting and engaging with your audience. When designing a more personalized buying experience, keep the following in mind:
- Tailor and personalize content to the specific needs, interests, and preferences of accounts and personas. For example, target content around state-of-the-art patient care to a Director of a hospital, not a Director of Supply Chain Management.
- Consider the content purpose and personalize accordingly for maximum impact. If targeting the 99%, give them educational content on how to solve a problem with a new cloud solution, not a how-to guide on evaluating cloud security vendors.
Through personalization in nurture campaigns, marketers can successfully guide accounts across the buying journey with a leading voice as a partner that buyers can trust.
5. Don’t just guess; use data to inform your nurturing strategy
Data is essential for ABM campaigns, particularly for nurturing strategies that aim to drive the most relevant buying experience and run cost-efficient nurture campaigns.
Leveraging multiple data sources is the key to understanding which accounts are in that 99% and which are in that 1% group. For example, data points like company firmographics and technographic data can help paint a picture of companies marketers can target, while B2B intent data helps inform who’s in that 1% and who’s in the 99%. Adding on engagement data also reveals the best messages and content that speaks to these accounts ahead of first interaction.
Marketing automation and customer relationship management (CRM) data help build nurturing audiences. For example, who engaged with the content? Are they clicking through certain emails? Have they downloaded the latest eBook? Enable recording of these points to help understand who is already interested and how existing campaigns track against goals.
Lastly, data helps optimize ABM nurture campaigns and move a sales team over those last-mile objections that arise. Coordination and sharing of data between sales and marketing help identify which assets led to a final conversation, what aspects of the solution customers are responding to the most, and how marketing’s support can help sales be more consultative and personalize their outreach to target accounts.
It’s important to know what’s working and what to amplify versus what isn’t and how to pull back on aspects to improve. Data takes the guesswork out of strategies and maximizes results with the campaign intelligence needed to succeed.
Perfection is the enemy of progress
The key takeaway? Don’t overthink your ABM nurturing strategy.
It’s crucial to stay top of mind even when buyers are not actively in the market for your solution. Rather than making your approach too complicated, concentrate on keeping your brand visible by providing personalized and relevant content to your target audience. This will help move accounts through the funnel and give you a competitive edge over competitors who have scaled back.
By continuing to invest in staying top-of-mind, marketers can gain a competitive advantage over their competitors who have scaled back. Those focused on keeping their brand in the forefront to ensure leads stay on the buyer’s journey will emerge stronger and more resilient from the current economic climate.