September 20, 2021

How to do Strategic Planning for ABM using Apollo

Written by Karli Stone

It’s undeniable that Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is becoming the future of B2B business.

In a typical sales model, your sales reps are taking a broad approach to lead generation. They are cold-calling, scheduling meetings, sending out mass emails, trying to capture as many leads as possible. But, if you’re a B2B business or a company selling high-value solutions to enterprise customers, marketing to individual leads often won’t get you the results you want.

The fact is: capital is being wasted on bad-fit accounts. Forrester Research has found that less than 1% of B2B leads ever become paying customers!

This is why many B2B sales and marketing teams are shifting to Account-Based Marketing. ABM extends beyond individual contacts and looks at accounts holistically, focusing on best-fit accounts that show the highest potential of becoming customers. It’s a multichannel strategy that differentiates messaging to target accounts based on their specific needs. With ABM, you not only have a better understanding of the needs and pain points of a company, but you have more opportunities to get the answer you want due to being connected with multiple decision-makers!

Because ABM is an approach that focuses on personalization, deep account research, and customized campaigns, it can be a lot to balance! Investing in a tool like Apollo can help guide you through your key accounts. Read on to learn more about strategic steps for planning an ABM strategy and how Apollo is there to support you every step of the way.

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Defining Your ABM Goals and Strategy

To get started planning your ABM strategy, you have to map out where you’re going and what your goals are. What do you want to accomplish with ABM? What are the metrics you will use to measure your success? Establishing clear goals will shape your entire strategy and promote a shared understanding among your team.

Some common goals of an account-based marketing strategy include:

  • Eliminating x-amount of wasted time and resources
  • Improving audience engagement
  • Improving marketing and sales alignment
  • Measuring and optimizing programs
  • Targeting and managing the right accounts

To get a better understanding of what your goals and objectives should be, look to your data! As a data-first sales engagement software, Apollo’s got you covered. 

First things first, you should integrate Apollo with your CRM. By doing this, you can count on your data being reliable. Account-based data is synced every 60-120 minutes, so you can rest assured that your CRM data is 100% up-to-date!

Identifying Your Target Accounts

Once you and your team are on the same page, you’ll need to identify the accounts you want to target. This is the cornerstone of Account-Based Marketing. 

The accounts you look to target should fit your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). These are the accounts that will inherently receive the most value from your product or service. 

Example: if you are selling solutions that are highly-priced, only available in Japanese, and are only relevant for the food industry, your target accounts should be Japanese-speaking companies within the food industry with more than 500 employees.

Does it make sense?

But, identifying your target accounts takes more than relying on your ICP. Let’s take a look at how Optimove found success using Apollo in honing in on their ABM target accounts…

Optimove is a CRM Marketing platform that was having trouble breaking into the mid-market. Before Apollo they went off of very basic demographics to target accounts, mostly relying on legacy industry data and their history within their market. They wanted to better understand who their target accounts should be.

“Targeting the wrong customers is a carry-on mistake,” said an Optimove Executive, “whatever you do after that doesn’t matter because you did not select the right customers from the beginning.”

So, using the data available in Apollo’s database, they completely re-evaluated who they were prospecting. They were able to target accounts by evaluating the data Apollo provided on the functions of businesses and the decision-makers within them (an immensely huge part of ABM strategizing!)

Using their new target accounts, Optimove was able to confidently deploy brand new ad campaigns and launch their new-and-improved ABM strategy! That brings us to our next step: planning your ABM messaging.

Selecting your Channels and Crafting Your Messaging

Account-based marketing strategies are so impactful because they allow you to tailor messaging to best-fit accounts rather than waiting for qualified leads to show up at your door.

Think about who you are targeting and select a messaging channel that will resonate best with them. You can deploy ABM campaigns through channels such as:

  • Email
  • In-person events
  • E-books and white papers
  • Websites
  • Blogs
  • Social Media
  • Display ads
  • Search engine ads
  • And more!

Don’t forget to consider what messaging channels have been major revenue generators in the past. Those are likely strategies that you still want to implement. 

Now, what about the content?

With ABM, it’s all about differentiating messaging based on specific personas. With Apollo, you can build specific sequences customized to address the needs of companies you want to sell to.

With Sequences, admins and teammates can institutionalize their best practices for engaging accounts into easy-to-follow guides that automatically add defined tasks to your sales teams’ Apollo dashboard on set schedules.

See what works and what doesn’t! Use A/B test message templates, scripts, and strategies against each other to confirm the best versions of your messaging strategy!

To create your first sequence, navigate to Engage > Sequences > Create New Sequence. 

create a sequence

From here, choose to build a new sequence or use one of the helpful pre-built templates that Apollo provides. Next, name your sequence, set your permissions, and set your messaging schedule, along with many additional advanced settings. 

Once you have your settings in place, click + Add Step in the middle of your new sequencing page. Select the Step Type you want to add and the amount of time you want to wait for it to be automatically triggered after the previous step. 

Sequences allow you to personalize messaging and automates the whole process! This not only saves time but encourages the consistency you need for your account-based marketing strategy. Learn more about Apollo’s Sequencing feature and how to create your own here.

Executing ABM Campaigns 

Now, it’s finally time to put your messaging to market, and Apollo is there to help you optimize and automate your workflow. 

Rules Engine allows you to automatically take actions in Apollo that would have previously required manual input. The feature automatically carries out specific actions based on conditions set by you. These automated actions can take place after a “trigger” event or on a recurring schedule, based on the ‘Rule Type’ selected. 

It not only streamlines ABM prospecting but allows you to personalize the experiences of each valued account. To learn more about the specifics of setting up a rule, refer to our blog post.

You will also need tools that will help you gather and sort data from your ABM campaigns. Custom Fields is an Apollo feature that allows you to capture your most useful standardized data on your target accounts, which you can then leverage back into messaging and reporting. Support your custom workflows and keep all your specific account information in one place with a sync from Salesforce

To create a custom field for an account, navigate to Settings > Accounts > Fields. Click +Add Field and name your field. Then, select your data type (if you have Salesforce integrated with Apollo, select which Salesforce field to map your new Apollo Custom Field to).

With Apollo, organizing your account information during your campaign is really that easy!

Evaluating and Optimizing

Like any business strategy, you need to accurately measure and track your ABM efforts and remain flexible enough to optimize them when necessary. Be sure to regularly test, measure, and optimize your account-based marketing campaigns, not only holistically, but also at the individual account level.

This can be a complex step. Most databases show you an overview of your data and expect you to do all of the analyzing, but Apollo Analytics allows you to create custom reports and dashboards so you can measure anything that is relevant to you!

Analytics opens up a whole new world of actionable reporting for your salespeople. Here are some of the cool things it allows you to do:

  • Track activities, individual and team performance, message effectiveness, ROI, and most anything else that can help you analyze and construct an effective ABM campaign
  • Fully customize date ranges and filters to view stats by exactly when, what, and who you want to see
  • View results in clear data tables as well as half a dozen prebuilt graph styles
  • Organize private, public, and favorite reports and dashboards in your own folders for easy navigation and sharing

Account-based marketing is never stagnant. And the Analytics features will support you in making personalized adjustments at scale and speed.

A growing number of B2B marketers are embracing account-based marketing and the numbers are speaking for themselves. According to the Alterra Group, 97% of marketers achieved higher ROI with account-based marketing than any other marketing initiatives.

The fact is: ABM works.

And by utilizing the data tool Apollo offers, you can make ABM work for you at any stage of your campaign.

Get Started with Apollo

Karli Stone headshot Karli Stone

Karli Stone is copy writer and content creator living in Los Angeles, CA and a proud University of Washington grad. When she’s not wordsmith-ing, you can find her biking along Santa Monica Beach, following the Seattle Seahawks, or catching a flick at her local cinema.