Why SEO Plays an Important Role in Account Based Marketing
Account Based Marketing
Forrester defines Account Based Marketing (ABM) as “a strategy through which marketing and sales jointly obsess over how to pursue, establish, and grow long-term, highly engaged revenue relationships with specific customer accounts.”
ABM is often referred to as a “holistic approach” to marketing with a blend of sales and marketing that focuses on accounts rather than leads. Marketing teams who embrace ABM see it as the next logical step in modern B2B marketing, especially if they have hit a wall with traditional inbound and are trying to reach enterprise-level brands.
The foundation of ABM is built on several assumptions for B2B buyers and marketing:
- They are highly self-educated before they reach the conversion stage
- There is usually a team of buyers rather than one single decision maker
- Targeted lists and advertising will yield better ROI than traditional “wide net” strategies
While outbound methods make up a large part of ABM, SEO and account based marketing efforts can share the same goals:
- Raise the LTV of existing customers
- Keep new prospect accounts in the pipeline
- Reduce the buying cycle time for high-value accounts
SEO and Account Based Marketing
Does the shift from Lead-to-Revenue Management to Account Based Marketing change the future of SEO in B2B marketing?
Yes and No.
SEO will still have a place at the table to connect B2B buyers with the right product or service. Research shows that 71% of B2B researchers start their research with a generic search.
Modern SEO as a stand-alone service delivers value to brands in all of the following areas:
- Mobile-first algorithms
- Social media placements for branding and thought leadership
- Quality, long-form content production for target audience
- Voice search optimization
SEO strategy in combination with an ABM approach helps brands leverage the power of search engines and content to maintain engagement, interest, and interaction.
- SEO for the buyer’s journey
- Content optimization for long-term nurturing
- Early stage sales cycle
- Topic & keyword research for multiple decision makers
- Customer retention SEO
Let’s explore how each of these SEO tactics will drive results for Account Based Marketing.
SEO for the Buyer’s Journey
Focusing on SEO for the Buyer’s Journey ensures that landing pages are targeting the right buyers at the right time.
Buyers and key decision makers who land on a website page that speaks to their intended questions or queries will help move them along in the sales funnel. The targeted marketing approach in ABM will require an SEO strategy that aligns every persona on the decision-making team with specific keywords and topics.
Content and website assets are created for the main decision makers.
Persona and conversion data will guide the creation of content and downloadable assets, podcasts, and videos. SEO teams will be responsible for identifying keywords and topics that potential accounts are searching for and create content that keeps the brand directly in front of key decision makers, edging out competitors.
Content Optimization for Long-term Nurturing
The B2B sales cycle from website leads takes an average of 75 days (SalesForce). The lead to opportunity cycle has an average of 84 days. From there, the decision process often moves at a faster rate.
SEO tasks will focus on targeted, strategic assets that appeal to accounts to drive engagement, brand recognition, and trust building. Before ABM, SEO focused on capturing lead data from website visitors. With ABM, content optimization focuses on the entire account potential, creating assets and content that appeals to accounts at every stage.
Early Stage Sales Cycle
SEO strategists will work with sales team members to identify questions, concerns, and objections that apply to accounts in the early phase of the sales cycle. From there, the SEO team will ensure that the website has content that helps reinforce trust and authority with potential accounts, so they are not lost during the research phase.
Research for Multiple Decision Makers
Before ABM, SEO teams were likely to target personas with specific keywords to drive leads. Once the ABM approach is in place, SEO teams will focus on topics and keywords that appeal to a specific target market and speak to multiple decision makers.
Customer Retention SEO
Harvard Business Review reports that increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. If a company invests in a solid SEO strategy, using existing SEO resources and tools will help with customer retention.
ABM framework is built around customer value and Lifetime Value, and SEO teams can deliver ABM results by working closely with sales teams to identify customer retention topics, keywords, and assets.
ABM Tracking, Metrics, and Analytics
Since ABM focuses on accounts rather than leads, it’s important to set up tracking for Customer Lifetime Value. Simple, right? Not quite.
While Google Analytics offers Lifetime Value Tracking (LTV) and provides valuable data for ABM, it won’t stand up to a robust CRM like Salesforce to deliver predictive analytics for your marketing team.
If you’re ready to begin tracking, the best thing to do is get started, analyze the data, and adjust tracking as necessary.
LTV tracking in Google Analytics for ABM purposes works best with Custom Metrics. You’ll also need to define audiences with Custom Dimensions – use the Google Developer guide to get started with dimensions and metrics.
Tag manager will help track ABM campaigns and engagement from email, social media, and referral partners.
Bounce rates will indicate the success of landing page content with their intended audience. High bounce rates will indicate that landing pages are not interesting to visitors and not connecting with decision makers.
Goal Completion will help marketers follow the path of engagement. Destination goals will identify problems with the funnel path for ABM campaigns.
Account Based Marketing KPIs
While Google Analytics can track the effectiveness of marketing programs that capture results from existing customers and specific targets, it will take CRM power to measure the overall success of ABM. ABM works best when sales and marketing are aligned, and nothing provides valuable data like an advanced CRM tool.
These CRM solutions offer ABM campaign support:
If you use a CRM that’s not on the list above, be sure to inquire with the support team. The list is meant as a starting point for those who are just getting started; it’s not an all-encompassing list.
When it comes to SEO and Account Based Marketing, set it and forget it is not an option. Procrastinating to the point where competitors are capturing all of the high-value accounts isn’t a viable option either. B2B teams can start today by defining sales and marketing journeys and setting up proper tracking. Once journeys are defined, and sales and marketing teams can identify the weak points, SEO & ABM can begin to work together for skyrocketing success.
As Marketing and Sales teams begin to work together, a better prospect experience emerges, driving even more value to potential new accounts. When sales and marketing teams are on the same page, tracking and reporting the most important metrics, the account journey appears and will guide digital strategies, including SEO. Together, SEO & ABM will uncover user intent, giving marketing teams insight and direct access to key decision makers on high-value accounts.
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