Content nurturing for ABM: Moving from theory to practice

This article by Sonjoy Ganguly, Madison Logic’s Chief Operating Officer, originally appeared on Martech Today.


Here is a scene that’s all too familiar: Your Sales and Marketing organization has bought into an  Account-Based Marketing approach — adopted the mindset, organized, suited up on the tools set. You’ve embraced the principles of content nurturing in order to attract, engage and convert the decision-makers inside your key accounts. But you are asking yourself, “What does that really look like tactically?”

I get it.

Moving from theory to practice and actually developing and deploying your arsenal can be a heady, if not daunting, proposition. Here is some basic guidance on how to put one of the best moves of your marketing career into full gear.

The decision, mindset and suiting up was the first part of the move, of course. What comes next is learning how to consult the data analytics to determine the exact right types and composition of content assets, stage by stage, based on the target deciders in your buying groups.

Let’s take a look at the practical phases of a true nurturing plan.

Eyes and ears on your audience

If you’ve suited up from a tools and solutions standpoint, you likely have access to richer audience data than you have had in the past. You may have organizational and functional titles, content interests, surging content interests and even where they likely are in the journey, as indicated by any number of data signals.

The next level is getting comfortable, leaning in and making sense of that target audience, aka decider data, so that you can plan for their journey.

Content joins the journey

Understanding journey phases is a more mature reflection than pinpointing attraction, engagement, consideration and conversion. It’s more granular than that.

Dynamically optimizing your message to each account based on their current stage in the buyer’s journey is simply more precise and effective. By unifying first- and third-party data to dynamically implement this approach, you stand a much greater chance with the accounts that sales wants to influence.

Picking your assets and hitting the mark

The theory is great. Now you need to literally define and develop your assets.

Start by identifying your personas based on journey stage, then evaluate the messaging that will drive deeper engagement at each known stage.

This new way of thinking about the buyer waterfall will enable you to dynamically drive engagement based on your active, or inactive, relationships. However, you need to think about the assets you need today, as well as what you will need tomorrow.

Keeping current on assets

The discussion forum of yesterday is the webinar of today. The video clip of last year is the podcast of this year. As trends shift, you need to have an efficient model to modify your assets periodically based on these shifts.

It’s not just about different formats; most organizations don’t have budgets or resources to continuously develop assets based on trends in format or, more importantly, content.

By working with their editorial and content teams to evaluate market trends, marketers are then able to allocate budget to periodically creating groups of assets or repurposing them, based on buyer stage and what apparently is popular with these groups.

Perhaps your team co-authored some research with an outside research firm and you got a little news coverage for the piece. This attracts the attention of other influencers in the space. With live format webinars becoming increasingly popular, these influencers might become guests presenters on such a webinar.

This webinar affords you bite-sized content parcels that can be leveraged into a B2B social campaign, with messaging variation — the possibilities are endless, as you continue to monitor what’s working, the call and response, intent signals and the opportunities for reformulation and parsing. This focus on evolving your assets keeps you current.

Making your systems work for you

Your ABM approach must work hand-in-hand with cross-channel marketing and attribution and, of course, marketing automation itself.

As prospects move through the stages toward a purchase decision, you need to optimize which channels you use to reach them. At earlier stages, you want to use a blend of both content syndication and digital advertising channels, and, as the account progresses, you should be optimizing your engagement toward digital advertising over content syndication, in order to influence and nurture the influencers and decision-makers at that account further.

In the end, the strategic changes that are necessary to enable a more effective nurturing solution include:

  • Development of multiple assets.
  • Content strategy aligned to buyer stage.
  • Agile content strategy to respond to shifts in market trends.
  • Channel optimization based on buyer stage.

Theories have a funny way of tricking us into thinking we are making progress. But it’s in the practice of what we believe, the tangible measures and actions, that we truly make headway.

IN THEORY, THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEORY AND PRACTICE. BUT IN PRACTICE, THERE IS.