In Part 1 of this blog, I focused on six trends to help convince B2B agencies that they should make ABM display advertising part of their revenue streams.
Ok. Let’s say I have done my job and you are now sold on ABM display advertising. Now what?
To tap into those new ABM display advertising revenue opportunities, you are going to have to supplement the skills and talent of your current staff. If you are a traditional B2B agency you probably have account management, copy writing, graphic design, media buying, negotiation, production management, public and media relations well covered.
To help your clients succeed with ABM, you are going to have to hire some talent with skill sets and experience that you may not have needed—or considered—in the past. As a B2B agency, here are the five skills that you should seriously consider as you plan to embrace ABM and help your clients.
1. Strategy: You need to hire a few folks who have “been there, done that.” Successful strategy experience cannot be underestimated—and it is truly appreciated. Most of your clients who will be interested in ABM and display advertising “don’t know what they don’t know.”
The London-based organization, B2B Marketing, outlines five stages of ABM maturity (see below). From the clients and prospects that I speak with, most are in the first three stages. A few are reaching Stage 4, Mature ABM. All need to rely on trusted advisers (or guides) who can navigate them through tough terrain and read ever-changing conditions and adapt accordingly around budgeting, goals, expectations, metrics, and more. These strategists need to have industry and technology knowledge so that they can combine the right tools and platforms at the right time for a successful journey. They have to be able to provide leadership, cross-organizational collaboration, and value propositions that works for the internal agency team—as well as the client’s team.
Source: B2B Marketing
Strategists are especially needed around budgeting. Most clients are still struggling with budgeting on two levels. One, how much money should be allocated for ABM programs versus lead generation or demand generation programs? Two, once a commitment has been made to ABM, what tactics and technologies should be used in a pilot, North American rollout, or global engagement. Most clients will rely on their agencies to help them answer the questions: “How many ABM program dollars do we need?” “How do we deploy those dollars?”
When your clients are ready to begin an account-based marketing program, the strategists will play key roles in advising around account selection and account segmentation. There are a lot of ways to prioritize and target accounts and clients will rely on and appreciate the perspective of agency strategists to ensure that the accounts that are most likely to engage are selected. Your strategists might select accounts based on deal size, annual revenue, or number of employees. Or, they might show your clients how other strategic factors like influence in the market, likelihood to purchase, or higher than average profit margins might be selection criteria to consider.
2. Technology Awareness and Data Analysis: In 2011, www.chiefmartech.com put out an infographic showing 150 marketing technology vendors on it. In 2017, that annual infographic identified nearly 5,000 vendors. Few clients have the time and resources to keep up with marketing technology vendors, capabilities, and nuances. Perhaps that is why according to a recent survey from Marketing Technology Industry Council, only 12% of senior-level B2B marketing executives reported seeing significant value from their MarTech. Yet, according to Gartner, CMOs are spending up to 22% of their budgets on marketing technology. They obviously see the importance of it. Some of your clients look to industry analysts for marketing technology guidance, some will look to you. Others will continue to be on the outside looking in—but they could use your help.
ABM display advertising and other aspects of Account-Based Marketing (predictive, intent, events, orchestration, social, advocacy) all rely on technology. There are best-of-breed solutions as well as all-in-one platforms. If you showcase technology-savvy skills, your clients may call on you to consult with them on helping them to build their marketing technology stack. Perhaps you can show them how to get their program data to flow from one platform to another such as: intent data to display advertising to marketing automation to CRM.
But technology awareness is only one part of this skill set. Data analysis is the other part. Agencies really need to look for people who have corporate experience around marketing operations or sales operations. These candidates tend to know technology, metrics, reporting, and data analysis. They can “mix and match” data and provide clients with meaningful operational insights. Some of your clients will have staff expertly using marketing operations and analytics technology such as:
as noted by www.chiefmartech.com and TBR in the article, “Amazon and Google now lead two key martech categories as vertical competition heats up.” Some will have one of the platforms listed below but don’t know how to leverage them. Still others do not have any of these technologies and definitely need the help of your technologists and data analysts. Otherwise it is all “Greek” to them.
“Only 12% of senior-level B2B marketing executives reported seeing significant value from their MarTech.”
Marketing Technology Industry Council
3. Account Data Buying: I would recommend that your agency supplement its media buying skills with account data buying skills. These skills may be developed in an existing staffer—or they may require the hiring of a new resource. The data vendor landscape is growing exponentially, and data is being offered in so many different types and packages. You need to have folks on staff who thoroughly know two types of data. One, online data. When should they be buying cookie-based data? How is the accessible data within the cookies different from vendor to vendor? When should they be buying IP-based data? Are there times when they should buy both? Two, offline data. What kind of account data can you get offline? When does the usage justify the cost?
Also, these buyers need to know the capabilities of general and niche data providers inside and out. Every data provider will tell them that they have the best data quality. You need expertise in this area to ensure that your clients are effectively and efficiently using data—and not putting campaigns at risk due to untested or non-productive data. The staffers with account data buying experience need to be able to pinpoint the right data to target the right accounts—not an easy task. If your agency can provide successful data recommendations, it will noticeably grow more long-term client relationships.
The truth is your clients and prospects realize that they need data to drive programs and decisions. They are budgeting for it. In fact, according to the State of Data 2017 study published by the IAB Data Center of Excellence and the Data & Marketing Association (DMA), U.S. companies will have spent $10.05 billion on third-party audience data in 2017 for advertising and marketing efforts.
But as Orchid Richardson, Vice President and Managing Director, IAB Data Center of Excellence, notes, “Audience data is only powerful when you can put it to work, and this research shows that U.S. companies are turning to outside help to tap into that power. These findings must be seen as a call-to-action for more guidance and education across the ecosystem.”
These spending trends and findings open many lucrative opportunities for the agencies with the technology awareness, data analysis, and account data buying skills.
“Audience data is only powerful when you can put it to work, and this research shows that U.S. companies are turning to outside help to tap into that power.
IAB Data Center of Excellence
4. Digital Speed: I can’t tell you how important this skill is. I have had clients tell me that they have changed agencies because their previous agency was slow to respond. Whether it is fair or not, clients are using more digital technology and are expecting engagement—if not results—to happen almost immediately. Digital speed is also important when it comes to campaigns and programs. Clients are expecting agencies to help them adapt and optimize as much as and as quickly as possible. This expectation may also affect how you look at technology. For example, a given technology may only offer batch reporting while a competitive technology offers real-time reporting. Something to consider to give you an edge—and strengthen your revenue opportunities.
5. Buyer Behavior Identification: If you don’t already have one or two specialists who can build personas and map buyer journeys, please put these skills on your wish list. During the program planning and launch phases, persona creation and buyer journey mapping gives the program focus. These skills will help identify and confirm buyers and behaviors at different marketing and sales stages. Once the program is running, buyers and their behavior is validated, tracked, and measured through various reports. These reports should be given to the account researchers and data analysts before being shown to clients to capture insights, trends, and key touch points.
These staffers are the architects who build the framework for your clients’ positive experience. Buyers from different industries buy differently. Different job functions from the same industry buy differently. Buyers who buy following one journey one quarter may buy differently the next quarter. Having talent who can help your clients identify and leverage buyer behaviors will prove to be extremely valuable in the world of account-based marketing.
6. [Bonus] Customer Retention: Here is something to ponder. Most organizations pilot, test, or run with ABM display advertising to get more awareness with prospects. However, it is a proven fact that it takes a lot less time, money, and effort to retain or upsell customers. Few clients focus on ABM display advertising and retargeting for customer retention. Here is where your agency can generate revenue for itself and its clients. Customer retention requires the ability to research, compile, and analyze data. It also requires the ability to identify buyer behavior. Perhaps this skill can be combined with the previously mentioned buyer behavior identification and/or technology awareness and data analysis skills to justify a full-time position.
These six skills will help you take advantage of currently untapped revenue opportunities by differentiating yourself to gain new ABM display advertising customers and to retain and grow existing customers.
I would like to leave you with this final thought and consideration. According to B2B Marketing’s latest Account-Based Marketing Benchmarking Report: “60% believe their team only have some of the capabilities to successfully deliver ABM. Two-thirds of marketers consider ABM very important to their business, yet most of them lack the skills and resources to deliver on its opportunities.” Sounds like huge revenue opportunities to me…
About Kelly Waffle: As Vice President of Marketing at Kwanzoo, Kelly brings more than 20 years of demand generation, marketing automation, and account-based marketing (ABM) experience. He has been a trusted adviser as a practitioner, consultant, vendor, and agency creative director/copywriter. Kelly has won Marketo’s Revvie Award as well as Eloqua’s Markie Award. He was named to Onalytica’s 2017 Top 50 Martech Influencer List.