For the past decade or so, B2B marketers have been using the SiriusDecisions demand waterfall to build out a demand generation funnel to nurture and route leads, track lead status and their sales pipeline. Companies have spent millions of dollars trying to fill the top of that waterfall or funnel with leads. Many marketers have optimized their funnel stages to push as many qualified leads as possible, that Marketing can pass onto Sales. Millions more have been spent on marketing automation (MAP) and customer relationship (CRM) platforms.
Over the past three years B2B companies have started investing in technologies and tools to help transform their current lead-based demand generation processes using “Account-Based Marketing (ABM).” Much has been written about ABM. If you are new to the space, the responses to this question on Quora can help:
Whether you are a large, global, B2B enterprise or a B2B SaaS software business, you have a broad range of platforms and tools to help you build out your ABM tech stack and put together an ABM strategy for your company.
However; while making these investments, most marketers have overlooked the stage between the very top of the funnel and when a lead is identified. We call this stage “ZeroTouch-to-Lead.”
From ZeroTouch to Lead: A Critical Revenue Gap for Demand Marketers Today
Today’s marketing and sales technology platforms and tools are great at managing, analyzing and driving demand, once a buyer from a target account has identified themselves by filling out a form (a “Lead”). There are many platforms and tools that can assist once you have leads in your pipeline.
However, as the visual below shows, today’s tools completely miss the “ZeroTouch-to-Lead” stage, at the very front end of the process. With ABM, you’d start with accounts first, identify your buying groups (called “Demand Units” by SiriusDecisions) at those accounts, as well as their buyer personas (or profiles). Then track engagement and interactions with all the members of the buying groups, whether they fill out a form (turn into a lead) or not, all along the buyer journey. You would map out your buyer journeys across the entire buying group in the aggregate, or map out journeys of individual buyers from that account.
Given new online B2B audience data that is now available, marketers can provide actionable insights on the ZeroTouch-to-Lead stage buyers to enterprise sales teams, before the buyers have self-identified (with their email address).
We call this extended B2B marketing and sales process the ‘ZeroTouch- to- Close’ process. The specific insights you can hand off to Sales are all actionable, with information on the accounts that are engaging, the persona mix and geo location of the buyers, and the specific ad messages or website pages that draw engagement, enough for SDRs and BDRs to effectively prioritize their sales outreach.
The Right ABM Platform For Your ZeroTouch-to-Close Process
As we dive deeper into the “ZeroTouch-to-Lead” stage of an overall B2B marketing and sales process, it’s important to understand how marketers can engage with prospects at target accounts, who have never ever engaged with the brand.
One option, as shown in the visual below is to purchase “names” (first name, last name, email, title) that match the buyer personas of interest who are part of the buying group at target accounts. The demand gen team can then attempt to engage with these prospects through marketing & sales (SDR) emails, SDR phone calls, or hosting live events.
The other option, that can deliver greater efficiencies and lower costs, which many B2B companies are pursuing today, starts by serving ABM ads to your prospects. After engaging the prospect with a “first touch” ABM ad, the same buyer is served retargeting ads to further engage them with more messages, and educate them in a non-intrusive way.
The behavioral data collected off ad messages and website visits is then turned over as “actionable insights” to Sales teams to help them prioritize and personalize further interactions.
Key Considerations for Moving Buyers from “ZeroTouch-to-Lead”
An ABM platform that can move your buyers along from ZeroTouch- to- Lead, while collecting valuable insights for your Sales teams must be able to execute the following process:
- Start with accounts (e.g. HPE Inc, hpe.com) and buyer personas (e.g. Director of IT)
- Create custom audience segments of online cookies that match the target accounts and buyer personas. Alternately create business IP ranges that match the target accounts, when cookie data is not available or limited in volume, for specific accounts located at certain geo regions (e.g. accounts located in EU countries).
- Deliver ABM ads to anonymized buyers from target accounts identified using these online cookies. Alternately deliver ads to all visitors who browse the web via specific business IPs (that are mapped into target accounts).
- This type of ABM platform gathers engagement information from buyers who click on ABM ads, or captures interaction data from buyers who view an ad, and then directly visit the brand’s website.
- These platforms can provide interesting buyer journey reports to Sales that look like the following:
- Here SDRs and BDRs have actionable information on specific accounts that are engaging with the brand, the geo location of the Buyers from those accounts, and the specific product/solution of interest to them.
- The platform must ideally provide reports periodically (e.g. weekly) to individual SDRs, BDRs, or specific regional Sales teams for the accounts that fall within their ownership area or field territory. These reports would complement Lead-based reports from their MAP and CRM, that cover engagement from known contacts at target accounts.
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