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account based marketing: the paid traffic angle

Pascale Smith
by Pascale Smith - July 21, 2017

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Account Based Marketing (ABM): for some, it’s the latest trend in B2B marketing that everyone is talking about. For others, it’s a matter of “Hardly new, we’ve been doing it for years.”

The intent behind account based marketing – focusing resource on the businesses and prospects you see as best fit for your product or service - is as true today as it was 25 years ago.  What exists now, however, is a layer of technology that hasn’t been around very long.  And this technology is what is making ABM exciting.

These technologies include platforms which are now widely available to suit different budgets (not just those with deep pockets) allowing automation and tracking communication with prospects.

But there are some really exciting emerging opportunities in this space around Ad Tech.  Not just communicating one-to-one with prospects by email or phone, but also targeting them precisely through display advertising, LinkedIn sponsored content, Facebook ads and more – we call this Account Based Advertising.

This dual approach fills the prospect’s digital space with your messages – it allows for much stronger brand recall and brand confidence.  And given most of these activities are ultimately trackable to your pipeline sales, it’s fully ROI measurable.

Advertising in this way is the ultimate in ad spend efficiency – you are only paying per click or per impression for the exact audience you want.  You can also tailor the ad messages depending on what you know of the targets’ pain points.

Account Based Advertising

There are two main methods to do Account Based Advertising.  The first is based on a known audience to you and the second is based around audiences whose behaviours have shown that they are in the market for the products or services you offer; so-called “intent analysis”.

When you have a target list of prospects that are known to you – companies, names, phone numbers and emails etc., you can use this list to better target your advertising.  Most social platforms and Google allow you to upload a list of names and emails to create specific advertising for these prospects.  You can adjust your bidding strategy and messages accordingly, which sounds ideal.  There are however, two important points you should be aware of: 1. These platforms insist that you have permission to use this data for communication purposes. 2. Email is the primary identifier on these platforms – which makes sense as two people can easily have the same name – yet many of your prospects are unlikely to have signed up to social platforms with their work email address.  In our experience, if you upload a list of target accounts of work emails – you will get around 20-30% match in Facebook and 35 – 45% in LinkedIn.

So, ultimately, depending on the size of your list of prospects, whilst this is laser precise it can be low in terms of volume.

The second method is based around intent analysis.  Here, you create an audience based on their behaviour.  For example, cookie-based intent analysis maps the content people are reading to their IP address, the IP addresses can be tracked back to a specific company.  If there is a surge in intent (ie. people are searching your specific product or service more than usual), one can assume that this company should become part of your prospects list.  This can give you a list of companies you can advertise to (LinkedIn allows you to do this).  Many ad platforms now have built-in “intent analysis” as a new product offering.  Yahoo! Gemini (Yahoo!’s search and display ad platform) offer what they call “intent-driven” data based on search behaviour, app usage and content consumed to target your ads more specifically around products and services you offer.  Kenshoo have exciting technology which allows you to advertise on Facebook to individuals based on their search behaviour in Google. AdRoll are beta testing intent based advertising – to use it you will need to be added to the waiting list and OutBrain  (the content syndication network) has also launched intent based content syndication.

A need to change perceptions

Many in the B2B marketing world are still hesitant about paid traffic.  There is an enduring perception that with very long sales cycles, such specific audience requirements and the idea that “social isn’t a place for work-related content”, it is easy to build an argument against doing paid search or paid social as part of B2B marketing efforts.

The reality, however, is that with technology, advertising has grown up faster than these perceptions. Advertising can be so much more targeted (spray ‘n’ pray no more) and actually, given its measurability and flexibility, it's exactly the type of marketing which can really grow your funnel in a cost effective – and cost measurable - way.

Paid search, display and social are massive growth areas in B2B marketing and at Sherpa we have a test, test, test mentality.  If you want to discuss using some of the tactics outline above for a test or pilot campaign – or you are already using paid traffic but failing to get efficiency – please talk to us.

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