By now, many of us have heard of account-based experience (ABX), the customer-centric approach to account-based marketing (ABM). ABX has quickly become a marketing buzzword, often seen as a departure from ABM. But the idea of ABX isn’t revolutionary. Listening to each customer and taking action based on their individual engagement should be at the core of every foundational marketing approach.
HubSpot reports that one of the biggest challenges marketers face with ABM is delivering a personalized customer experience. ABX helps solve this challenge by giving us a way of talking about funneling contacts through the buyer journey based on action and intent. However, contrary to popular belief, ABX does not cancel out ABM, but it should be executed within your existing ABM approach.
Implementing ABM campaigns based on data like personas or industry verticals requires making a lot of assumptions about the audience. Even if you’ve done extensive research on your buyer persona, you’re making decisions about the interests of tens of thousands of people based on a very small subset. Despite our best efforts to lump buyers into buckets, our assumptions are quite often off base, leading to messages being cast out to the wrong buyers at the wrong time.
Up until last month, we were employing a persona-based ABM strategy for one of our largest and longest-standing accounts. That is until Account Director Dan Seitz evaluated performance and found that the approach wasn’t delivering a great customer experience.
“If anyone should define the interests of our audience, it should be the audience themselves,” said Dan.
Using our old strategy, we were making assumptions about what content our audience was interested in based on the labels we assigned them from our identified personas. This is an inherently flawed approach because we are basing marketing and sales outreach on what we think we know about them, rather than their individual actions.
As Dan pinpointed, “By creating nurture tracks that feature content relevant to action points on the site, we curated a content experience that our audience has actually expressed interest in - regardless of whatever persona bucket they superficially fall into.”
Through ABX, we’re able to show our customers how much we value them and that we are truly ready to listen to their needs on their terms, instead of ours. We’re able to deliver trustworthy messages that feel relevant to the individual and help us build relationships with real buyers, rather than our assumptions of buyers.
Here are three steps you can take to start focusing on individual buyer’s experience:
- Track activity based on action and intent and share relevant user data across your marketing and sales teams. CRM and Marketing Automation platforms like HubSpot allow you to gather data about users on a more individual basis, so you’re no longer making assumptions based on personas. Depending on the size of your total addressable market, you may want to use an intent-based tool like 6Sense or Demandbase to discover which accounts are in-market.
- Create content that maps to interests around your particular industry and solutions. Use the data from your CRM and Marketing Automation platforms to tap into what potential buyers are truly interested in right now. Keep in mind that their interests are likely to shift over time and you will need to evaluate and revisit your strategy often.
- Make sure that your sales and marketing teams understand the ABX approach and workflows, and document how they will work together. Beyond reading trending articles, make sure your team knows what the ABX approach is and how it enhances ABM. You and your team should be able to define what types of intent/interaction are going to trigger when a lead can be passed off from marketing to sales.
ABX isn’t new, but it does serve as a good reminder to focus on individual buyers’ journeys. Instead of ditching ABM altogether, try adding ABX to your existing approach. You’ll likely find that it creates more meaningful experiences for your audience that turn your leads into sales.
Megan joined Beacon Digital in 2017 with an official title of Account and Content Manager, which really meant she did whatever needed to be done to keep a three-person marketing shop going. She learned a lot, eventually setting her sights on building a well-oiled creative department capable of cranking out anything composed of words and design, and committed to making it good. Four years, 160 clients, countless campaigns, and a triple-threat team of content, creative, and production all-stars later, she left the walls of her beloved creative department to think big picture. Now, she spends her days putting plans into action in an effort to scale services, improve workflows, foster team growth, and bring teams together.