The following is an article by guest contributor Caroline DeVore, Senior Director of Account Strategy, StudioNorth
Getting an account-based marketing (ABM) campaign started—and getting the results you want—can seem like an overwhelming job. In the health IT marketing community, there’s still a huge hunger for advice and inspiration on ABM programs, with multiple answers to every question marketers may have.
The truth is, there is no formula to create a successful ABM campaign for every organization, industry or target audience. There are simply too many variables at play. But as an example of how a great ABM program can be built, I’d like to share the story of one campaign we executed that not only rang up great numbers for our client—it was also recognized as the 2020 Medigy HITMC Awards Marketing/PR Campaign of the Year.
A “mostly homegrown” ABM program
The “Cybersecurity: Unlocked!” campaign we developed for Lenovo Health in 2019 was what I like to call a “mostly homegrown” ABM program. While it was a long-tail, multi-touch campaign spanning several months, it wasn’t something we built in a lab and handed over as a single, self-contained entity.
On the contrary—each touchpoint in the campaign helped direct touchpoints that followed, with individuals creating their own journeys based on the communications and outreach, they engaged most strongly with.
What’s more, many of these communications and assets leveraged learning from existing campaigns to repurpose content. Repurposing existing educational content helped our budget work even harder, of course, but it also gave us confidence that our messages were connecting with new prospects. Retooled content that had already proven its ability to engage previous audiences delivered the educational value our prospects needed to learn more about leveraging Lenovo solutions and make key decisions.
One more crucial element: partnerships. We invited partners to bring complementary perspectives and learning to our webinars, podcasts and blogs. In addition to sharing Lenovo perspectives and solutions, we included the voices of our partners whose solutions would certainly be key components of the workflow Lenovo’s customers and prospects were implementing. Building a more complete “voice” deepened our engagement and helped Lenovo deliver a more authentic, big-picture message.
Creative touchpoints create a true experience
So how did the actual campaign play out?
Our theme was built around security and protecting patient data, focused on employee protection to bring a more human-to-human angle to our outreach. By connecting in-market activities through creative design, partnerships and messaging, we fashioned a multi-quarter, multi-channel, multi-mode journey for Lenovo target accounts. Touchpoints included:
- A multi-pronged email campaign that sparked connection and unlocked the door to follow-on meetings
- A direct mailer
- A white paper
- An eBook
- An infographic
- A webinar invite
Supported by “always on” campaign elements:
- A robust website
- A blog series (Fun fact: B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads than those that don’t.)
- Internal sales training on the campaign
- Consistent messages in live and virtual events (HIMSS, SIIM, RSNA)
- Social media (delivered through sales and corporate channels)
- Awareness and syndication campaigns (leveraging vertical media partners)
These touchpoints varied by channel to help deliver content in modes that would appeal to a diverse audience within each target account. If someone didn’t read the white paper, for instance, they might prefer an infographic or respond to a webinar invite. Content a CISO or CIO may value was different from content a clinician or clinical department leader would value.
Responses to two or more education touchpoints triggered delivery of a direct mail piece with a valuable security key (provided by a partner)—a down-the-funnel asset that acknowledged extended engagement.
By weaving separate in-market touchpoints together, we created a richer and more meaningful educational experience for our target accounts.
Giving before you ask to get
One key factor in this campaign’s success was giving targets true educational resources about cybersecurity, not sales collateral.
Strong, educational content is even more valued than giveaways—decision makers and influencers want to learn something of value they didn’t know before about the market, trends, best practices and how to solve challenges. Yet respondents in a recent IDG study said only 38% of the work-related content they downloaded during the previous 12 months provided value. So an ABM campaign that delivers solid educational content automatically stands out from more than 60% of the competition.
That 2019 IDG report on the technology buyer’s journey confirms that tech buyers demand educational content, and a lot of it:
- 86% of respondents said it is challenging to find high-quality content, up from 79% in 2017.
- 74% of technology buyers are more likely to consider an IT vendor who educates them through each stage of the decision process.
- 73% report that if a vendor does not supply educational content during research, it negatively impacts their impression.
- 61% say that educating non-technical functions withing their organization requires more educational resources from vendors.
The golden rule of ABM: Give before you ask to get. Reaching prospects isn’t about throwing content at the email or social “wall” to see what sticks. It’s about delivering value. And educational content for every title and influencer is critical, since as many as 23 people are involved in the purchase decision for enterprise technology—up from 11 just four years ago.
Our on-the-ground ABM campaign results show that including partners in our communication journey strengthens our ability to connect with a broad range of decision makers and influencers in an account. We’re not just selling Lenovo products, solutions and services, we’re building complementary messages that address a wider range of educational gaps.
In that vein, we collaborated with key partners to give targeted accounts deeper and wider ranging insight. We brought in Yubiko in to talk about the role of authentication keys in an overall cybersecurity strategy. Keys are a complimentary authentication solution to those delivered by Lenovo.
For another webinar, we invited cybersecurity experts from Absolute and Imprivata to join the conversation and offer their perspectives on device and user security, endpoint visibility and single sign-on, all capabilities available with Lenovo solutions.
These partners didn’t just lend extra credibility—they also promoted the live webinar and replays to their prospects and customers, creating an invaluable ripple effect of awareness.
We held our partners to the same promise to deliver highly educational materials—and they delivered.
Results beyond benchmarks
I’d love to share the actual results of this campaign, because they are remarkable—a true source of pride for everyone involved in the StudioNorth-Lenovo partnership. The campaign metrics, however, are proprietary.
I can say that email open and click-through rates significantly exceeded industry benchmarks, and the still-ongoing campaign has handily beaten its account engagement goals.
Can your organization create a “mostly homegrown” ABM campaign to achieve those kinds of results?
Yes! When you can …
- create and repurpose content that speaks to multiple engagement styles
- focus on educational content that genuinely addresses your targets’ needs, and
- let individuals create their own journeys based on the communications they engage most strongly with
… you’ll gain readers’ trust, you’ll deepen relationships with prospects as they move along the buyer’s journey and you’ll help your sales team move the revenue needle in a positive direction.
I’d be happy to talk about this campaign in more detail! Please drop me a line at email@example.com.
StudioNorth is an independent marketing agency based in Chicago. They work with organizations around the corner and across the globe to find human relevance in a commercial world. Their unique H2H (Human to Human) approach leverages customer insights combined with their deep B2B, industry expertise to craft meaningful and memorable experiences between their client’s brands and their audiences.