If, as a marketer, you’ve ever partnered with your sales team to:
- Create case studies to help them close deals
- Run a webinar targeted at specific potential customers
- Create content to educate specific prospects or accounts and convert them into leads
… then you’ve at least participated in Account-Based Marketing (ABM).
And for most marketers (esp in B2B), ABM isn’t anything new.
Marketers have been practicing ABM since the ’90s — but the ITSMA ABM certification coined the term in 2004. So it’s hardly a new marketing practice.
But for the purpose of this guide, we’re not talking about ABM as a whole.
Instead, we’re focusing on a critical part of it — ABM content (or account-based marketing content).
[Author’s note: We’ve collaborated with Alyce’s ABM & Field Marketing Director, Nick Bennett, to create this guide. Nick’s forte is ABM, and ours is content marketing. So we reached out to him to contribute his expertise on how marketers can use content + ABM to drive revenue.]
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
Let’s define it properly: What’s ‘ABM content’?
In simple terms, ABM content are messages you create and distribute that’s targeted at a specific account. And “account” here can be a specific role, industry, vertical, or organization. (We’ll show one example shortly).
Nick puts a fine definition on it; he says it’s the type of content you create, partnering with sales, to target “a defined list of priority accounts.”
When you create ABM content, you’re not just creating content to build brand awareness or rank on Google.
Instead, you’re creating content your sales teams can use to directly drive revenue. And we’ll be sharing more about this in this guide.
But this begs an important question: why should you go through the stress of using content for ABM marketing?
Why not just use your content marketing to rank on Google, drive thousands of monthly visitors, and leave those as the main ROI of your work?
Why use content for ABM (and not just traffic, pageviews, etc.)?
There’s the obvious reason that it helps drive sales.
But there are three other key reasons you should be using content for account-based marketing:
1. Doing work that’s tied to revenue
Traditionally, content and most other parts of marketing are known for building brand, driving traffic, building email lists, etc. — all of which don’t always link directly with revenue.
And that’s okay — since more traffic and views often lead to more sales. Except you can’t always prove that it impacts revenue.
But using content for ABM gives marketers the chance to tie their work to revenue — in a way that’s more measurable.
You’ll move past reporting on content marketing KPIs like traffic and pageviews and start reporting results like:
- faster sales cycles because buyers are consuming content in an ABM campaign
- potential buyers clicking through ads because of your marketing content
- potential buyers sharing and talking about your content on social media
- potential buyers going from content pages to product or sales pages
- more ideal buyers raising hands to talk to sales
All this means you’ll be doing more meaningful work when you use your content for account-based marketing since you’re directly contributing to revenue growth.
On top of that, doing more meaningful work helps to grow your career. And that leads us to the second reason below.
2. Doing work that gets you recognition and promotion
Using content for ABM — instead of just for traffic and views — helps you grow your career and brand as a marketer.
How? Well, because ABM gives you the opportunity to talk about the results your work produces in a more meaningful way.
For example, which of the following do you think sounds better:
- Our marketing content generated 100,000 visitors per month
- Our content has helped sales generate $700k in the last six months
If you’re like most marketers, B sounds way better.
That’s the type of results you get when you use your content for account-based marketing, and not just traffic and pageviews.
With results like this, you won’t only be gaining recognition in your industry, your company will probably reward you for it with promotions and more perks.
But the content has to be really good, or it won’t get tangible results. Nick puts it like this:
“Using content for ABM will get you the chance to directly impact revenue. And that’ll get you more recognition for your work.
“But the content has to be good,” Nick added.
So, using content for ABM would almost always give you a chance to generate marketing-sourced revenue. But if your content doesn’t get people feeling like they got real value from it, it won’t work.
3. Becoming an almost irreplaceable marketer in your company
When heralding traffic and pageviews as your results, you become easily replaceable.
But these days, almost anyone can drive traffic.
Plenty of people can write something on LinkedIn that immediately gets over 50,000 views in one week. And outside B2B? A teenager can create a skit on TikTok and reach millions within a matter of weeks.
But creating content that partners with sales, helping them attract ideal buyers and close deals? That’s a different ball game. And if you’re able to crack it, you won’t be easily replaceable.
With all that being said, let’s now dive into how to use content and ABM to drive or improve revenue.
(Author’s note: if you haven’t subscribed to the Grow With Content series and would like to, you’ll see a form below).
How exactly do you use ABM content to drive revenue?
1. Ask sales what content they need to close more deals
Most of the time, your content determines the types of buyers you attract.
For example, Gong’s recent article on advice to women in sales would almost definitely attract … that’s right… more women than men in sales.
And it’s not rocket science. The content you create determines who you attract.
So ask your sales team what content they need you to create to attract their target buyers and close more deals.
For example, they can tell you to create more case studies for specific industries. And this can be because they’re finding it hard to close sales with prospects from those industries.
Or they can ask you to create some more educational content on certain topics — because prospects usually object when they mention those topics on sales calls.
Whatever their case is, creating custom content, based on what your salespeople ask for, will help your ABM content impact revenue.
But don’t overdo it in a way that your sales team determines 100% of the content you’re publishing.
Nick says it like this:
Next, if you haven’t already, you want to start listening to sales calls.
2. Listen to or participate in sales calls
Listening or participating in sales calls has never been more important for marketing.
When we asked Nick, “Do you think marketers should participate in sales calls?”
“Yes,” he said. “100% and if you aren’t, are you really a marketer?”
In his own words:
Buyers are looking for brands who listen to them.
And one way they’ll know you’re listening to them is through the content you’re putting out.
3. Create custom content for specific accounts
After you’ve asked sales what content would help them close more deals and listened to some sales calls, you should have enough data to create custom content — specifically for your target buyers.
“What’s custom content,” you ask?
As the term implies, custom content are educational materials you create for specific audiences. They help you attract specific prospects better and convert them into customers faster.
When we asked Nick how he uses content in account-based marketing, he said it’s about creating custom content for specific accounts. In Nick’s words:
And usually, the more custom your content, the higher its performance.
You can determine how custom you want it to be.
For example, if you want it to resonate with people in specific roles within an industry, you’ll be mentioning the role and industry in your content titles.
This way, your target buyers will know you’re talking to them and that’ll motivate them to pay attention and even respond to your messaging.
This also means people outside of your target market won’t be paying attention to your content since they can already see it’s not for them. So you can make your content as custom as you want.
The narrower you get, the more custom your content will be, and the more likely it will reach and impact the specific prospects you’re targeting.
4. Select distribution channels where your target customers spend quality time
There are several distribution channels you can use.
But to reach your specific audience, you can’t use all of them. You need to choose the specific ones where your target buyers spend time every day.
For many, if not most B2B businesses, that’s email, organic LinkedIn content, and super-targeted ads. Nick mirrors the same idea:
“For specific accounts, I’m using email, a bunch of ads, organic channels, and employee activations too (to make sure we amplify the sound).”
And it makes sense that Nick is focusing on these four distribution channels since they usually provide the best targeting capabilities.
5. Finally, track your results
At Premium Content Shop, we generally believe that while you can track a lot of content marketing metrics and KPIs, you can’t track every single result you get from content marketing.
For instance, you can’t track the number of:
- Potential customers reading your content, nodding their heads in agreement with your thoughts.
- People forwarding your content to their colleagues over emails because they feel they’d find it useful.
- Dream clients reading your content and getting familiar with your brand.
- People sharing your content in their team slack groups because they know it’s useful for some work they’re doing.
But still, you want to track how much impact your content is having on revenue.
On top of that, you also want to know which specific content is driving revenue — so you can double up on what’s working and ditch what’s not.
So how do you track results?
We’ll probably create another article on how to track content marketing results. But generally, you can use:
- The multi-touch function in Google Analytics to track which content leads read before they converted.
- HotJar or Smartlook to track how visitors are moving through your funnel.
Your content can do more than drive traffic and views
You can use your content to impact revenue. You just need to add some elements of ABM to it. Partner with your sales team and work together to drive revenue.
Get to know the types of content they’ll need to close more sales. Also, know which topics and content will help them attract the specific customers they’re currently targeting. In the end, you’ll end up getting more meaningful, revenue-impacting results with your content.