Website Content and Its Role in ABM for Industrial & Technical B2B Companies
Website content is a critical asset in any inbound marketing strategy. Optimized website content is the vehicle that allows your website to rank for SEO topics and keywords.
The content on your website guides the user through a general understanding of who you are and what you can do for them, examples of similar businesses you’ve helped in the past, how you can solve similar problems, and the details, specs, and information about your offerings — ultimately prompting them to reach out to you, converting as an inbound lead.
The importance of website content extends far beyond inbound, however. Website content is also a key component of a good ABM strategy, a B2B social media plan, sales enablement, and helping your sales department inform, nurture, and close deals.
Since planning, researching, writing, optimizing, and publishing website content represents a significant investment of time and resources; it’s important to repurpose every piece of content as much as possible. In this article, we’ll dig into how website content fits into your ABM strategy and how you can tailor or optimize your website content for this purpose.
First, let’s go over some of the basics of ABM and how it can fit well with a sales and marketing strategy for B2B industrial and technical companies.
- What is ABM?
- How is ABM relevant to B2B technical & industrial marketing?
- How can I do ABM without expensive enterprise ABM platforms?
- What content do I need to support an ABM strategy?
- Which pieces of content can be repurposed?
- How can I get started generating content for ABM?
- ABM vs Inbound for B2B industrial marketing & technical companies
What is ABM?
Account-based marketing (ABM) is the process of researching, identifying, and marketing directly to people that you’ve identified as good matches for your target ICP and personas. In ABM, companies are typically referred to as “target accounts,” and they should match all of the markers that you see as defining your future best customers.
Once you’ve identified your target accounts (companies), either from a known list or by using research tools like ZoomInfo or LinkedIn, you’ll need to do a little sleuthing to find the contact information of key individuals within those organizations that match the persona or job title of your typical decision maker or influencer.
Then, you’ll roll out an ABM campaign by essentially reversing the inbound marketing system, so that you’re doing outbound marketing directly to these target accounts and individuals—in a helpful, not salesy or spammy way. This type of strategy existed before there was inbound marketing, but it didn’t have the benefit of the easily accessed research tools and tracking that we can implement today.
How is ABM relevant to B2B technical & industrial marketing?
The majority of all B2B technical, industrial and manufacturing companies that we work with have several characteristics in common:
- Complex products and services
- Niche audiences
- Multiple personas
- Long sales cycles
- Transitioning from traditional selling to internet marketing
- Global reach and supply chain, GDPR
- CRM, ERP, MAT integrations
Two of these characteristics in particular are relevant to the discussion of B2B technical companies implementing ABM: niche audiences and multiple personas.
ABM won’t work if you’re just sending a blanket message to everyone you can find. That’s called “spray and pray” or just plain spamming. Don’t do either of those, because the results will not be good, and your time won’t be spent efficiently.
ABM can be transformative when you’re able to very tightly define your niche audience and their relevant pain points, challenges, and needs, and get that message to the key influencers in buying decisions. In B2B technical companies, we typically see two primary personas influencing buying decisions: the engineer or technical person as a key influencer, and a C-level or purchasing department as the end decision maker. Usually, each needs the buy-in of the other, so if you’re able to raise awareness of your company with both, you’re money ahead.
How can I do ABM without expensive enterprise ABM platforms?
Very often, if you start searching for ABM solutions, you’ll land on very exciting and technologically advanced tools that are a) very expensive and b) intended for enterprise organizations. A mid-sized B2B marketer may have difficulty utilizing these platforms due to the smaller size of their highly niche audience and the budget expenditure that these tools require.
However, there are right-sized strategies to adapt and utilize the principles of ABM for your needs. To implement ABM methodology in its simplest and most impactful form, all that you need are:
- A clearly defined niche audience
- A list of prospects that matches these characteristics
- A series of outreach touchpoints
- Content that addresses their unique needs and pain points
Review this article on Getting Started with ABM for a list of tools for researching your list and implementing your touchpoints. These can include email, postal mail, phone, social, and even hyper-targeted Google Ads.
What content do I need to support an ABM strategy?
As we’ve defined it, the essence of ABM is reaching out to a specific group of people with useful, relevant, and helpful information that overlaps with what your company has to offer. “Information” generally refers to “content,” and that’s really the meat and potatoes of the whole system.
You’ll want to think first about the specific pain points, challenges, or needs for the niche you’re trying to reach, and what content might be the most relevant to them. Would it be a materials guide? A case study that describes how a similar company benefited from a new technology? A how-to article or video on a process or procedure that’s relevant to them? Avoid leading directly with your products and services, as this comes across too much like a direct sales pitch for this type of campaign. Focus on helpful information and resources.
You’ll want to start your campaign with the following pieces of content:
- Email sequence (2-4 messages) as a base template that you can customize for each recipient. The content of your emails should generally lead to a CTA of booking a meeting, but it should also provide links to useful content for those who aren’t ready to book a meeting or just want to learn more first. If you’re targeting multiple personas/job titles with your sequence, tailor the message to the pain points, needs, and challenges of each.
- At least 2-4 articles, resources, and/or case studies (linked from the messages above)
- Display (remarketing) ad copy
- Landing page for remarketing campaign
- Gated content offer (a conversion from the landing page)
- Email marketing nurture campaign (ongoing)
Which pieces of content can be repurposed?
Content generation is resource intensive, so you’ll want to get multiple uses out of any content that you generate. You’ll want to look at ways to get content assets doing double duty. For instance:
- The email sequence could be adapted to a similar email nurture campaign sent to MQLs (marketing-qualified leads) who’ve downloaded your gated content or met a minimum lead scoring threshold.
- Any ungated articles, resources, or case studies should be SEO-optimized so that they’re showing up in search results for relevant searches.
- A remarketing campaign (shown to visitors who click the links in your email outreach) can be shown to all site visitors, in addition to those coming from the emails.
- The landing page and gated content offer could also be promoted to other relevant audiences, through such mechanisms as:
- Exit intent form on relevant pages
- LinkedIn lead ads
- Highly targeted PPC ads promoting the whitepaper or resource specifically
How can I get started generating content for ABM?
Getting any flywheel turning initially is always more effort than maintaining momentum. So wherever you are, my best advice is to create a plan, and just start somewhere. Here are a few tips that will help get your ABM content ready to go:
- Make sure that you have a solid ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) and High Level Personas before starting your campaign.
- Work on generating a target list and the content concurrently, to divide and conquer and gain traction quickly.
- Map out the content pieces that you’ll need for the campaign, and note whether you have existing content that could be repurposed or adapted for the campaign.
- If you’re just getting started, definitely try to lean heavily on relevant content assets that you already have.
- Before creating any individual content piece, create an outline that covers key points, addresses why the piece of content is relevant to the user, and what you want them to do next.
- When developing pieces of content that promote something else (such as a display ad that promotes a gated content offer via a landing page), first create the thing that’s being promoted (the gated content), so that you can easily articulate its value in the promotional pieces (the ad and landing page).
ABM vs Inbound for B2B industrial marketing & technical companies
ABM is often referred to as an inverted funnel. If you think of an inbound methodology as trying to attract as many semi-qualified people as possible and, with each step of the funnel, filtering out the less qualified, less engaged prospects until you end up with highly qualified, highly actionable leads, ABM is like reaching out directly to the bottom of the funnel, to those already thought to be the most qualified and actionable. However, within the types of B2B marketing programs that we see for industrial, technical, manufacturing, and life science companies, we see ABM principles and inbound principles very tightly intertwined. Even the broadest inbound campaigns in these industries are efficient only if constructed to reach an audience that is already very niche. Going too broad would only create noise and confusion in the sales funnel.
Within our specialized space, ABM and inbound are really two different levers, or angles, for reaching the same audience, whether they’re actively looking for a solution or you’re actively seeking to be on their radar before they’ve begun to look.