How many retargeting ads do you encounter in a day? What about semi-personalized emails in your inbox? Probably too many to count.
Now, how many times is your team offered a free lunch delivered to your office in exchange for participating in a webinar? Or how many billboards do you pass by on your drive into work that are personalized with a message specifically to you? I’d guess these numbers are significantly lower.
That makes sense – after all, both of those campaigns would require significantly more time, energy, and resources to execute than a canned email or display ad. But the return on those campaigns likely matches the effort that went into planning them.
Let’s face it: if you’re going after high-value accounts, low-effort marketing campaigns just won’t cut it. They may help you generate a small amount of awareness (and may even help you get your foot in the door), but they won’t “hook the big fish”, if you will.
The below targeting campaigns are examples of account-based marketing at its finest. There is an art (and science) behind developing effective ABM campaigns –– and nailing it will make or break the success of your program.
Learning from Effective Account-Based Marketing Examples
1. Lunch and Learns
Recently, account-based teams have been experimenting with “pizza-nars” which as the name implies, is a webinar accompanied by pizza. The idea is straightforward –– pizza is delivered to target accounts for them to enjoy while they watch your webinar.
Don’t limit yourself to just pizza, though – lunch and learns can be done with anything from coffee to a food item of their choice, so you can wine and dine your prospects from the comfort of their own desks. This helps to boost webinar attendance and is a great way to encourage prospects to pay attention.
Keep in mind, the webinar content has to be compelling, first and foremost, and you have to think about the messaging that will accompany the delivery as well as the follow-up or call to action at the end.
Account lifecycle stage: This approach can be useful across the account lifecycle from initial engagement to upcoming renewals, expansion or even re-engage at-risk accounts. You could even go so far as to build out personalized webinar experiences with customized landing pages so the prospect or customer feels as if the webinar is hosted just for them – which can be a great way to show off product updates or educate people on your platform.
2. Bespoke content experiences
Snowflake, a cloud-based data-warehousing company, leveraged its in-house expertise to develop a robust library of high-quality content, which they use to create individualized experiences for target accounts. At any given time, the Snowflake team is running 500 concurrent individualized account-based campaigns, and each of these 1-to-1 campaigns is developed in tandem with their sales reps (who know their accounts inside and out) to create personalized messaging and content experiences.
These content experiences aren’t intended to drive conversions, either. None of the customized content is gated. Instead, Snowflake strives to build credibility with its audience first, only then using retargeting tactics with those that engage to drive traditional conversions through weekly demos or free trials.
Each campaign can be launched quickly and starts with digital advertising as a means to distribute the experience to the right account depending on where they are in their lifecycle. You can run the same or similar campaigns by leveraging a platform like Uberflip in tandem with your advertising and marketing automation platforms.
Account lifecycle stage: This approach is most useful when trying to gain initial engagement or progressing an account to meaningful engagement. It can also be used in a Land and Expand strategy to penetrate other departments within the organization.
3. Interactive storytelling
When GumGum, an applied computer vision company, wanted to win over the business of T-Mobile, the CMO took to researching the buying committee starting with the executive leadership team.
He discovered that T-Mobile CEO John Legere is a big Batman fan. They used this intel to develop an idea that made the CEO part of the of the GumGum story. The result was a comic book –– T-Man and Gums –– created by their team of editors, writers, illustrators, and letterers. They shipped 100 copies to T-Mobile and its agencies of record, and long story short… they won over the account.
You can download the GumGum comic book here. We included a picture of the cover below!
This particular example is pretty resource intensive, so you may want to reserve campaigns of this scale for your top tier accounts. However, you can achieve a similar effect in your own way by gathering as much intelligence as possible into the contacts at your target accounts. You can run personalized direct mail campaigns to those contacts (maybe you send them merch related to their favorite movie or a bag of their favorite coffee) in order to spark a conversation.
Account lifecycle stage: This approach is ideal for establishing initial engagement with a new account like GumGum did, or it could be used to engage with new buying committees within an existing account.
4. Bold billboarding
Sometimes you have to be bold. And that was the case with Intridea, a web products and services company when they were trying to grab the attention of the folks at the ad agency Ogilvy & Mather. The team purchased a billboard across from Ogilvy’s Manhattan office with a simple, but bold message: Ogle this, Ogilvy. It included a custom URL, which featured funny GIFs and personalized messaging. The bold approach landed them a meeting with the ad agency – in fact, they got a call from Ogilvy New York CEO Lou Aversano and OgilvyOne managing director Dimitri Maex to set up the consultation.
*Note: the URL is now inactive, but it was fairly simple in nature – it included the GIFs mentioned above along with the text, “Made you look. Now hire us. AngularJS, Rails, UX/UI and more.”
Again, this is an extreme example. But this form of experiential marketing (where prospects or customers interact with your brand in a real-world setting) can be quite effective in engaging your prospects on a deeper, emotional level.
On a smaller scale, you can leverage experiential marketing at trade shows, customer appreciation events, and more. In a B2B setting (and specifically when you’re trying to nurture prospects), you can aim to create an experience for those who might not yet be sure how they would use your product or service. If you can come up with a way for them to interact with your brand in a way that clearly outlines how it will benefit them, it will help them understand the product and be more likely to start a dialogue.
You can also partner with another company in your industry (so long as you’re not direct competitors) in a co-branded experience so that you can distribute resources more efficiently and still take advantage of the mutually beneficial promotional opportunity. If you want more experiential marketing examples, check out this article from Hubspot.
Account lifecycle stage: Intridea obviously used this to gain initial engagement with a new target account. But the campaign could also be used to expand within an existing account or progress an opportunity.
5. Interactive product launches
Remember the View-Masters that were all the rage in the 80s? When Rapid7 was preparing for its latest product launch they captured the “unboxing” of it on the click-through picture wheels. It ended up being wildly successful because it masterfully tapped into that feeling of nostalgia among the prospects they sent it to. It proved a fun, interactive way to engage target accounts in the new product.
Interactive product launches don’t necessarily have to include in-person events, either. You can create interactive digital experiences (think custom landing pages, videos, or heavy visuals) to help promote a product launch or educate prospects/customers on new features. For instance, you could create a landing page that features a real-time platform walkthrough or create a gamified experience so users can learn about your product while having fun doing so.
Keep in mind that many online experiences are now dominated by visual content. The essential form of communication is moving away from text-based interactions and shifting towards videos, pictures, or a combination of the above. So when you’re developing these interactive experiences, make sure to incorporate plenty of visual content!
Account lifecycle stage: This approach can be used across various stages of the lifecycle –– to get on the radar of new target accounts, upsell current customers, or even salvage at-risk accounts.
These account-based marketing examples should get your creative wheels spinning, but keep in mind, the boldest (or richest) bird doesn’t always get the worm.
You have to start with a solid target account list and have a methodical, data-driven mindset when building campaigns. There are a few other best practices to keep in mind:
- Keep the message positive. Attempting to “scare” an account into action rarely works, and can have the opposite effect.
- Be realistic about your resources. How time- and resource-intensive will this campaign be to execute and do you have the time to do it? Can you scale it? In some cases, the goal won’t be achieving scale, but you have to know the goal going in.
- Start with your end goal. With the above account-based marketing example from Snowflake, their goal was not conversion but rather to build relationships and establish trust and credibility. Knowing that will influence how you shape your campaigns.
- Leverage brand advocates and partners where possible. Social proof can go a long way, and partnering with other industry powerhouses can be mutually beneficial.
- Think about the follow-up. The campaign doesn’t end once the package is sent or billboard is up. In fact, that’s just the beginning. Have your messaging and follow-up cadence ready before you launch and ensure that marketing and sales are aligned on the follow-up plan.
- Strike the right balance between value and fun. Fun may get their attention, but you also have to deliver some sort of value, whether that’s entertainment value or education.
For more on how to engage with accounts, get The Complete Guide to Account Engagement.