There was a time when content marketing seemed like the best inbound marketing tactic around. When it first came on the scene, it was the ultimate in meeting your prospects with the right message at the right time. But now that everybody’s doing it, gone are the days when you could own a particular word or phrase on the web just by publishing good content about that term.
But even as it struggles to deliver the same ROI it once did, content marketing continues to be a critical (and highly effective) piece of your marketing puzzle. Useful content that helps businesses solve their problems is still one of the best tools you have for moving prospects through your marketing and sales funnel.
Luckily, good content and account-based marketing are pretty cohesive tactics. Because the best content marketing centers around creating practical answers to customers’ needs, implementing a content marketing strategy to coincide with your account-based marketing efforts does not necessarily require reinventing the wheel.
Start By Flipping Your Funnel
“Flipping the funnel” is a term coined by marketing author Joseph Jaffe, who argues that a traditional, linear approach to guiding leads from the top down the sales funnel is inadequate.
The reason you might need to flip yours (or do away with it altogether) is because your content marketing will be targeting the top decision makers at each company. These prospects typically are already highly informed and more engaged about your product or service, and you’re encountering these leads at the middle or even bottom of your marketing funnel. A top-down strategy won’t meet them with the right message at the right time.
It’s worth noting here that this doesn’t mean you’ll never write top-of-the-funnel content again. ABM is a single tactic that should be utilized in tandem with other components that already work for your marketing strategy. There is a time and a place for traditional marketing tactics—they aren’t mutually exclusive from ABM.
How ABM Will Inform Your Content Marketing Strategy
Account-based marketing content begins by addressing who you are writing to. ABM requires that you treat your accounts as markets of one, where you specialize your message to all the individual decision influencers within that account. As you can imagine, this means your content marketing will need to become very versatile—but also very specific. Basically, ABM content marketing is all about writing and delivering specialized, high-level niche advice to your prospects.
When it comes to the “how,” these four basic rules of B2B content marketing still apply.
1. Speak to Your Target Audience By Addressing Their Problems
Given that your content needs to address the problems of a carefully selected, small group of individuals, you’ll need to diligently study that group. Each piece of your marketing content should make them feel as if they are being spoken to directly (because they are!). The quickest way to do this is to repeatedly ask yourself, “What keeps this person awake at night?” Your prospect is, after all, a person first. Their business goals aren’t the end-all-be-all of their work life; their problems are.
2. Quality Matters More Than Quantity
When it comes to ABM content marketing, generic clickbait deliverables just don’t cut it (not that they usually do anyway—but that’s another blog post for another day).
Whether for brand awareness, SEO, thought leadership, or other goals, quantity does matter. But in the battle between quantity and quality, focused, niche material is the only answer to solving the problems for the few well-informed decision makers you’ve identified as targets.
3. Define Your Goals Carefully and Measure for Success
We won’t go as far as to call them vanity metrics, but soft metrics like retweets, follows, and increased traffic aren’t concrete enough levels of measurement for account-based marketing. Instead, metrics like increased pipeline velocity, lead generation, or revenue are the only way to carefully track how effective your content is.
Use these metrics to define what your goals are, and then measure, measure, measure. If your content isn’t converting, it’s time to pivot.
4. Get Creative
We don’t “utilize telecommunications devices that permit two or more users who are too far apart to be heard directly to conduct a conversation.” We talk on our phones.
People don’t actually use jargon and buzzy language when they talk, so why do we still write about products that are best-in-class, multichannel, cloud-based, feature-rich… (I mean, honestly, what does any of that actually mean)?
Remember what we said about business goals versus problems: at the end of the day, with ABM, you’re connecting with a human being. So when it comes to your content, talk to them like that’s what they are! Make jokes, tell stories, offer quick and handy tips. Your content should be creative and relationship-focused.
Finally, Don’t Try to Reinvent the Wheel
ABM content marketing can be customized in two ways. The first is to manually create custom content for those individual accounts and leads, and the second is to use automation to more carefully segment the content you already have. The second approach goes without saying, but the first probably seems intimidating to the point of being ineffective. This is where content atomization comes in.
You don’t need to start from scratch for every individual prospect. You can take one piece of existing material—say, a gated ebook—and slice and dice it into many other pieces of work: blog posts, webinars, infographics, social media posts, and more. Each of those pieces of sub-content can, in turn, be targeted particular audiences based on their needs and interests.
Content marketing and account-based marketing are two tactics that can and should cohabitate perfectly within your greater digital strategy. With a little finesse and a great deal of attention paid to the individual needs of your prospective customers, you’ll be able to create niche content that meets them with the right message at exactly the right time.
For more insights into integrating account-based marketing into your digital strategy, download Oracle and Leadspace’s free ebook: Account-Based Marketing Guide for Modern Marketers.
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