When It Comes to Account-Based Experiences, Branding Is Essential

By Georgia Bradley

According to Bombora Company Surge, during the last 90 days, interest in ABX (Account-Based Experiences) increased 53 percent while interest in ABM (Account-Based Marketing) decreased by 55 percent.

Why are intent data showing that shift?

B2B marketers know that their path to success requires building long-lasting, trusted relationships with the accounts that matter most. With that, we've seen a rush to focus on adopting ABX as a solution over ABM, where priority accounts are used to drive audience targeting from a paid, owned, and earned media perspective. ABX goes beyond marketing interactions to include sales, service, and every interaction in between.

An ABM strategy can be effective in terms of delivering individualized messaging, content, and offers at an account level to drive immediate leads. However, success is generally short term. According to a study from Ehrenberg-Bass, only 5 percent of B2B buyers are in market at any one time. Thus, brand-building and lead-nurturing activities become essential. Building relationships that keep your brand top-of-mind is the only way to take advantage of sales opportunities as they arise.

Companies that want to be market leaders need to evolve their ABM approach and create account-based experiences (ABX) that orchestrate the entire customer experience – from brand awareness to solution engagement to deal closure and beyond. This integrated effort is the path to deliver a seamless and continuous experience that never breaks down, always nurtures trust, and continually drives value for customers.

How to pave a path to success:

  • Ensure internal department integration. Many B2B organizations still operate in silos when it comes to marketing, sales, and customer service, but from a customer perspective, they are dealing with one company. B2B buyers expect the same personalized, frictionless, and anticipatory experiences they receive in B2C across every interaction with a company.
  • Improve the level of personalization. Account and individual-level personalization is the backbone of ABX. It has traditionally been accepted that tailoring communications and content will be more effective, and we now have the data and technology to deliver. This goes beyond being able to target at an individual level through media. It is about understanding and identifying all the individuals within a buying committee at an account level and their role within the purchase cycle, then delivering messaging, content, and offers that are tailored to their needs.
  • Balance brand and demand. Yes, proving the impact of marketing on sales is important, but this should not overshadow the importance of brand. Think about the biggest traffic days on your website. They were more than likely a result of a big brand campaign. Creating a magnetic brand that ensures you stay top of mind is essential so that when your prospective customers are ready to buy, they think of you first.

New technology platforms continue to evolve to help B2B marketers organize and implement their ABX strategic efforts, which makes this an exciting time to be a marketer in B2B. The data and technology to deliver truly personalized account and individual-level communications, content, and offers exists. However, we can't forget the importance of connecting the entire experience, from brand to demand and sales and service, if we are truly going to impact ROI.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Georgia Bradley is SVP of Strategy at Merkle.