How can you improve your account based marketing efforts? Good data.
By now, anyone in business knows that data matters just as much as the technology that uses it. In fact, you could argue that — much like the fuel that runs an engine — the two are completely dependent upon each other.
You can create the most efficient engine on the planet, but it’ll be worthless until you fill it with the right fuel to get those pistons moving. That’s the relationship between data and account-based marketing: Data informs and fuels whatever direction an ABM initiative takes.
Still, most companies attempt to understand the technology instead of the data. Those that are fluent in both can better equip themselves to thrive and reap a competitive advantage. Gaining that edge won’t be easy. In fact, Experian’s 2017 Global Data Management Benchmark Report states that poor data quality plagues 94 percent of U.S. companies. Once a misspelled name or incorrect number enters the system unnoticed, long-term forecasts for everything from marketing to sales to customer service are thrown off.
You could be reaching out to the right person with the wrong message or, worse yet, chasing down a lead that never existed. Either way, your ABM strategy is sputtering to a stop by the side of the road. By improving the accuracy of your information, you’re much more likely to gather enough momentum to beat your competition to the finish line.
The Data Ideal
Sharpening the data your ABM engine runs on isn’t as simple as topping the tank off with more gas, though. Getting better data starts by attaching it to an effective unique identifier. While most companies link their information to a company name, that option can yield a messy mishmash of incorrect labels and duplicates.
There are also identifiers like Dun & Bradstreet's DUNS number or Thomson Reuters' PermID, but these present their own challenges and are impossible to memorize at scale. In my experience, your best option is always a business’s primary URL — “primary” being the operative word here.
By using a company’s primary URL, you can then ping it for signs of life and scrub it from your records if the account no longer exists. Why waste the time, money, and resources on a business that went kaput? With your unique identifier in place, you can next give a spit shine to some of those dirty accounts. Those are often the hardest to solve, as they require tedious handwork and discipline to scrub those incorrect and incomplete records from your data.
But the time and effort will be worth the trouble. Good marketing hinges on accurate and abundant information and dirty accounts make it far more difficult to market your wares, and that goes double for any ABM campaigns.
At its core, an ABM approach starts with the account. If an account contains incorrect information, your team is talking to the wrong person and other departments are hindered from communicating and collaborating.
Your CRM needs to talk to your ABM, which needs to talk to your customer success system, and so on. Bad data is like diesel fuel in your car's gas tank. The engine may run at the outset, but it'll break down sooner rather than later.
Making Data Combustible
Starting with accurate data means you'll talk to the types of customers who respond most to your product. So rather than focusing on all the peripheral workings of your next campaign, use the following steps to hone your data quality:
1. Get everything in step.
A comprehensive data strategy will ensure every aspect of your sales and marketing efforts reaches the right people. Any misalignments in either your data or your account mapping will result in your message falling on deaf ears.
To avoid bad data, you’ll obviously want to identify your ideal customer, but also make sure you’re working with current information. After all, people change jobs, companies change locations, and businesses change hands.
With the right information in place, you can then move to mapping your campaign. Start with the “big” aspects of each activity; once these main elements are laid out, break each down into smaller, more actionable parts.
2. Mind the elements.
A proper ABM strategy helps a business stay on track and make the most of the content it creates. Our company's Competitive Relationship Graph maps the degree of competition between any two companies, helping clients reach the maximum number of accounts within a given criterion.
For example, imagine a sale just closed. Plugging your company into Owler's graph would allow you to find lookalike competitors working in the same space; you’ve now got a list of leads most likely to convert.
It’s all about stitching together a fuller picture from the raw data available to you. Sales already use similar tactics to compile a list of prospects, so this just makes the process a little easier and more strategic.
3. Don’t let up.
Knowing what's happening within your accounts is a critical aspect of any effective engagement strategy, and that’s where your map really comes in handy. It’ll guarantee you follow up with accounts at the right times.
Sure, marketing automation will help. You can send out “personalized” follow-ups to all your prospects on the basis of their initial responses or whether they clicked on a given ad, but the timing of your correspondence must be spot-on.
Integrate some level of marketing automation into your customer relationship management. Plot when and what sort of messaging is needed to take interested parties to the next level, then track the impact of what you’re putting out there and adjust accordingly.
Data is just as much about quality as it is quantity. Without a high degree of quality, your business won’t be competitive. Make sure you’re working off the most accurate information available before mapping out your campaign and reaching out to your target audience. Otherwise, all you’ll be left with nothing but exhaust.