We spoke to 4 ABX pioneers - David van Schaick and Chris Burke from The Marketing Practice, Chris Barnes from Omobono and Nigel Williams from Kingpin to get their advice on what makes the best account experience.
There is little doubt that account-based marketing (ABM) is a very effective approach for B2B marketers. Despite this, it’s often kept in a separate marketing silo from media, executive engagement, digital efforts – and is not necessarily conducted in harmony with these other areas.
But the ability to target, or even just measure with precision, the impact of broadcast channels is opening new doors to a more integrated approach to provide account-based experiences (ABX).
ABX - The Evolution of the Account Based Strategy
ABX is a strategy that combines the precision of ABM with the data-driven responsiveness of digital, orchestrated using experience design principles. It elevates the orchestration of tactics and content that have become common demand generation practice to deliver connected and highly tailored account experiences. This builds on the shift - led by ABM - from marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and a lead-based tech infrastructure to marketing-qualified accounts (MQAs) and an account-based data and technology ecosystem. Like ABM, ABX seeks to combine deep account insight with focused targeting to align Sales and Marketing resources towards the best opportunities. However, ABX emphasises the importance of an orchestrated account experience. This involves creating a connected, tailored experience based on research and previous interactions and delivered across all customers facing functions and digital properties. The shift in the last letter is also helpful in that ABM has always been a joint Sales and Marketing initiative and applying a Marketing label doesn’t represent the strategy effectively.
What makes great ABX
There are many elements that go into creating an account-based experience, but here are five of the most important:
Each interaction for the prospect should feel like it’s progressing the conversation or picking it up where it was left off at every touchpoint.
Think of it like calling up a call centre with an issue about something you've ordered. Then the next time you call up they have all the context from your previous conversation, you don’t have to explain who you are and the situation or where you are in the process, the call agent will just know.
Decisions on what to serve up as part of the buyer’s journey are made based on real-time customer insight and interactions in combination with historical data, meaning more accurate and timely experiences can be provided to each member of the buying group.
This and the continuity elements remove some of the complexity of the typical buying journey, creating an easier buying environment for a prospect.
3. Engaging with the full customer journey
Good account-based experiences shouldn’t end at the point of sale – it’s also about how marketers continue to nurture and build a relationship with customers through the post-sale journey, helping to drive consumption and create advocacy.
Marketers need to be interested in understanding the account and the people that work in the business, including their aspirations, challenges, tools and processes. Knowledge of the product or service and alignment across the account team will help achieve this more effectively.
ABX also requires marketers to think more widely and create experiences at any stage of the customer, whether the account is a prospect or an existing customer to be serviced or grown.
Responding quickly when needed, particularly to an incident or when things aren’t going as well as expected, is another important aspect of the ABX approach. The ability to respond quickly can be helped by sharing learnings from engagements in the market, particularly customer outcomes and emerging trends.
5. A human-first approach
As part of creating an ABX, marketers need to understand the role of each individual and how their role influences others in a company.
ABX is about moving from marketing thinking to customer thinking, connecting different pieces of the journey and ensuring marketers are having the most relevant conversation with the most appropriate person at the most appropriate time.