Just a few weeks ago, I spoke at the account based marketing conference FlipMyFunnel about how lead gen tactics can scale account based marketing (ABM), and how ABM tactics can boost demand. A common question asked after my talk was: “What customer/web visitor attributes should I start with?” The answer, which could fill another blog post, depends on go-to-market strategy, target account segments, and marketing objectives. But before I get to those specifics, I want to define the possible attributes to focus on and their importance.
There are three basic categories of attributes for individual web visitors:
- Account: what organization do individuals belong to and what are the needs of the company? What is their purchase process like?
- Persona: what is the responsibility of the individual? What are their objections and concerns? What is their role in the purchase process?
- Interest: How engaged is an individual? What are they engaged in? How does an individual’s interest match the collective interest of the organization?
Each category needs to be used for truly effective targeting, customization of messaging, and calls-to-action, but, if I had to choose one to start with, account attributes are the most important. While individuals are the ultimate decision makers, they are buying based on the needs of the organization. So, marketers must group segments by organization first. Then, I would consider account interest. If several individuals from an account are responding to campaigns, consuming content, and researching on the web, that indicates organizational interest and purchase intent, rather than a single individual who may be very engaged, but just wants to learn. After understanding the interest of the organization for the target accounts, then, consider addressing the needs of specific persona as it relates to their impact on the purchase decision.
Account based targeting attributes
- Employee size or revenue:
The employee size or revenue for a target account usually correlates positively with budget size. The bigger the company, the bigger the budget. In B2B, one web visitor could be worth $1,000,000 or more in comparison to another visitor. Not only does size influence revenue potential, but it’s also an indicator for purchase complexity. The bigger the company, the more decision makers, the more formal, and drawn-out the process. In addition, product needs tend to vary by company size. Big companies may require special adjustments to your product and services, while smaller companies tend to focus on price.
Dynamically customize content, messaging, and CTAs on the web for account segments with the highest revenue potential, first. Not only will results improve, but the most valuable accounts will receive the best customer experience possible.
Industry or verticals is another common and effective segmentation for target accounts. Most of the time, this is a simple way of segmenting the market universe by need or perceived need. Different needs require different messaging and language for certain target segments, for example saying “students” for education companies, “members” for nonprofits, and “customers” for commercial enterprises. Different industries may also desire different product configurations, and have different buying processes.
By dynamically customizing the website by industry, just like a sales team would, marketing campaign performance will improve.
Segmenting by the lifecycle stage is important, because typically, there are different costs associated with winning deals at different stages of the lifecycle. New prospects typically cost significantly more than retaining existing customers. And, often, a successful acquisition strategy may comprise of different go to marketers and value propositions than growing and retaining customers.
I favor using a RAD (retention, acquisition, development) framework, which I first learned at Dell. It’s the “land and expand” framework, but accounts expand by share of wallet spend (SOW). SOW was a measure for comparing how much a customer spent with us vs. a competitor. If a customer spent <10% of their available budget with us, and 90% with our competitors, they were considered an acquisition account. If they were just a prospect or a customer who spent <10% of their budget with us, then we still treated them the same. As a customer, <10% share of spend meant that they were still evaluating us. If our share of spend grew to >10%, then they had completed their pilot or evaluation phase with us.
Now, the challenge with existing accounts was cross selling to a different buying team, or selling different products to the same buying team to increase SOW and expand our share of spend in that account. We had already proved our value, so our job was to spread the word. Once we achieved >50% of the budget relative to competitors, we were in retention focus. While our retention accounts were loyal and would advocate for us, we found that they still liked to keep a couple of vendors.
- Named account or target accounts
While lifecycle and firmagraphics (geo location, employee size, and industry) are the most common ways to segment accounts, there are other approaches. Your company may have agreed on a list of targeted or named accounts for strategic reasons or developed a list using statistical modeling.
Persona based targeting attributes
After marketing and customizing messages and CTAs based on account profile, consider how a visitor’s role may influence campaign personalizations. Different titles typically indicate the role and responsibility of the individual, and how much influence or decision-making authority they have at a company. There also may be a reason to customize the message and CTA based on responsiveness. Executives typically only respond to other executives. Subject matter experts to other subject matter experts, and so on.
- Interest based targeting attributes (formerly persona, and now account based)
Interest targeting such as campaign response and content consumption has historically been a persona or individual based metric. But, we’ve found that understanding account interests is a better indicator of purchase intent. More individuals responding to campaigns, browsing content, and researching on the web indicates broad organizational interest, while one person could signal a false positive. We have all been that one person in the organization researching and learning when there was never any intent for the organization to buy.
- Content Interests
What type of content are visitors consuming? What does that indicate about their readiness to buy? Are they looking just at category thought leadership or also case studies and pricing pages? Are they consuming the specific solutions or segment pages that were meant for your target audience, or are they interested in other products and topics?
Content engagement from one individual in an account may indicate some interest, but if there are dozens, that indicates organizational interest and need. That may require a specific call to action for that account. Or, if they are looking at content that is different than what is most popular for similar audiences, it might help to customize the website to direct them toward relevant pages. For example, for one of our clients, Savi, every visitor from the government is encouraged to visit the government solutions page through customized messaging and pathing. They are free to browse the entire site, but Savi wants to make sure that visitors from the government organizational also see the government-oriented solutions.
- Campaign Source
We’re all trying to reach our target audience by planning and executing a number of marketing campaigns. Response to those campaigns is a strong indicator of interest or purchase intent. Many times that response can’t be measured by the click through, because a person may view the campaign, but then be triggered to visit the corporate website. These unattributed visits can be responsible for a huge uptick in web traffic, which is why display ads have a metric called “view through” attribution showing the traffic generated by the display ad impression instead of simply measuring click through. For example, one of our clients, Digium, customizes the web experience triggered by specific campaigns. If visitors from an account were interested in cloud based phones during the paid media campaigns, then the account’s visitors to Digium.com will first see offers and messaging about cloud based rather than premise phones.
Those are the definitions and break-downs for each category, but you’ll have to stay tuned for a follow-up post to learn which attributes are most effective for generating campaign outcomes depending on more specific target audiences, value propositions, and go-to-market strategies.
Want to learn more about how to specifically customize the web experience using these attributes to improve results in just a couple of days?