How to create a B2B experience with the customer at the center

The evolution from ABM (account-based marketing) to ABX (account-based experience) is far more important than changing a letter on a client presentation.

Done well, it can drive greater value with top customers and demonstrate the business impact of a marketer’s work, in an age when return on investment has rarely been greater.

The good news, however, is that it’s not a complete overhaul. of ABM. Rather, think of it as a refinement of the ABM model, one better designed to adapt and respond to two big strategic shifts in the B2B market.

More shopping influencers

The first is the ongoing transition from a prospect-based view to an account-based view.

B2B brands increasingly understand that purchasing decisions are rarely made by an individual, but rather by a group of people within an organization. Influencing purchase therefore requires a much more cohesive view of the customer and their journey, as well as more detailed insights into the correlation between engagement and business outcomes, to understand which marketing efforts are paying off.

In the current economic climate, in particular, this last element is really important. Being able to demonstrate account-level impact is increasingly a key way for marketers to show the correlation between their work and business success. That’s why we’re seeing metrics like ARR (Annual Recurring Revenue) and NRR (Net Revenue Retention) becoming core effectiveness metrics for B2B marketing teams.

The “rule of thirds”

The second change ABX is responding to is buyer behavior in the buying process. With the digital shift, which has only been exacerbated by the pandemic, it is increasingly common for the buyer to decide, leveraging multiple different channels to make their decision. McKinsey calls it the ‘rule of thirds‘: the idea that buyers now use a mix of about a third of traditional in-person sales meetings; a third remote tools, such as videoconferencing; and a third self-service channel, such as e-commerce or social media.

Therefore, B2B organizations must also interact with these buyers through multiple touchpoints. In fact, McKinsey found that those who allowed buying on more channels grew their market share at a faster rate than those who used fewer. To achieve this, however, marketers need to understand: what does each of their interactions look like? And where can we add value? Appreciating this requires a much more integrated approach, naturally bringing together marketing and sales, but also service, product and the entire front office.

ABX helps provide that. In short, it makes the customer the anchor of all decisions and priorities, creating a single view of their experience across multiple channels at every stage of their journey.

Ripening Technology

In other words, it takes all the good things about ABM – the targeted approach and the level of customization – and kicks them up a notch, with a much more holistic strategy. Rather than programming a personalized ads campaign targeted to 200 key accounts on LinkedIn, for example, an ABX strategy would include an ongoing approach, combining engagement across digital channels with physical experiences with no firm starting and ending point. , and collaborating throughout with sales and all other customer-facing functions.

Technology has helped make this a reality – because while ABM may have been on marketers’ radar for a while, it’s only through a maturation of available technology that this approach can truly to be efficient. Yes, it’s a complex and cluttered ecosystem, but if you can simplify and bring together the right tools, it can make customization and orchestration more feasible at a higher pace and scale.

So how do you go about it?

Data is central

The starting point should be to create a clear and comprehensive picture of customer journeys, mapping them across multiple channels and functions. Because these touchpoints are often dispersed across an organization, this can require new levels of coordination and collaboration, but it’s critical to moving to an ABX model.

Data will be at the heart of this. It’s not hard to find these days – in fact, most organizations are packed with everything from CRM to advertising data and website analytics – but it will need to be consolidated and unified into a single view for each target account. . It should also record how these accounts’ engagement changes over time, to demonstrate the real impact of marketing.

The next step is to take this understanding and insight into the customer and their journey, and turn it into a seamless multi-channel experience, with creativity and storytelling at its heart. This story should be clearly executed across physical and digital platforms, rather than planned in silos.

This element might require a level of sophistication within the marketing teams, who will all need a solid understanding of both overall strategy and execution across all the different touchpoints.

While it may require a big shift in mindset – for marketing teams and, indeed, for all customer-facing functions – the payoff from switching to ABX can be truly significant. JSwitching to ABX can help achieve larger deal sizes, accelerate pipeline velocity, and increase customer value.

If you’re new to understanding ABM, don’t think of ABX as a whole new approach. Instead, think of it as an expansion and evolution of ABM, which can help B2B organizations meet market needs, help marketing teams prove their business influence in a tough economic climate, and also offer a high experience to customers.

Would you like to speak to The Marketing Practice about your ATM needs? Get in touch.

David van Schaick is CMO at The Marketing Practice.

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