There’s targeted marketing, and then there’s account based marketing. Targeted marketing is something we’re all familiar with online, as ad companies learn more about our preferences and we see advertisements more relevant to our interests and what we’ve browsed previously. Account based marketing takes that a step further, and in its most focused form refers to marketing activities produced and directed at specific organizations or people, solely for the purpose of earning or keeping their business.
Account based marketing (or ABM) doesn’t make sense for every company or industry, but it’s especially popular with B2B companies and in industries where a single lead or client represents a significant source of revenue. If you’re an IT security company and can sign up a business client that will provide you with regular work for years, for example, it’s absolutely worth it to devote marketing and sales attention specifically at a promising lead in an effort to convert them.
Industry data suggests B2B sites only have about a 2% conversion rate on average, so taking steps to improve that rate using personalized marketing efforts can be a big boost for B2B companies. That’s where live chat comes into play. Implementing a live chat platform onto your business site is one of the easiest and most efficient ways to start applying account based marketing strategies to appeal to your biggest leads.
In this article we’ll take a look at how live chat software fits into an account based marketing framework, and discuss conversational commerce techniques you can apply to bring the power of account based marketing to work on your site today.
Account based marketing is about talking to specific potential customers, rather than broader audiences. A live chat widget on your site is a low cost, low friction way to offer that kind of personal communication at scale. Combining real-time visitor tracking data, the information in your customer relationship management software (CRM), and the skill of your live chat agents allows you to effectively nurture high value leads when they are on your site by catering to their personal preferences and addressing their specific pain points.
Live chat platforms like Formilla allow you to see the visitors who are currently on your site and, through integration with your CRM, to see their names, associated companies, and other information about them. That makes it easy to address leads by name when they are returning to your site after initial introductions. Since account based marketing is usually a longer-term process with an ongoing nurturing period, it’s likely your potential customers will return to your site several times as they do their research and consider their options. Addressing them with a name (along with titles like “Dr.” or “Mrs.” as appropriate) each time shows that you are paying attention and are ready to assist them.
If you want more data on your visitors right from the start, you can implement services like Clearbit that use cues to determine what companies are browsing your site. This is useful for B2B and SaaS companies since it can help guide their initial conversations with new leads.
Beyond live chat, you can also set up a chat bot to greet returning customers by name and title, offering a friendly, automated face that can quickly connect the visitor to a live chat agent if needed, but that doesn’t have the same social pressure that can come with a human agent standing by. If a lead has indicated they prefer to browse in peace and will reach out if they have a question, then a chat bot allows you to respect those wishes while still offering a personalized greeting.
Live chat is a useful tool right at the start of your account based marketing campaigns, because the information you gather through chat is a great way to determine which site visitors actually fall into that “high value customer” category. To set out your ABM strategy, you’ll want to define what qualifies a potential lead for that kind of personal marketing attention. Then during your initial live chat interactions, ask questions to qualify that lead and gather information for your CRM.
Once you’ve identified a good candidate for account based marketing you can easily flag that lead in your CRM as “high priority” and begin to target them with ABM activities on and off your site. For a SaaS company you may aim to schedule a demo with that client tailored towards their specific business needs, while if you run a financial services company you might share a testimonial from a previous customer in the same industry as your new targeted lead.
In the early stages of account based marketing, you may still be dealing with customers in larger blocks rather than individually. In this case, you can set up live chat departments specializing in different types of customers. You can then use chat bots or front-line live chat agents to greet incoming site visitors, identify their general needs, and route them accordingly. You can also pay attention to the specific links or marketing activities that attracted a visitor to your site, and use that as an indication of the type of customer they are likely to be.
At Formilla, we know that visitors who come to us from a Shopify link are often small ecommerce sellers. They respond best when we talk about the ecommerce applications of the Formilla platform, and so we guide them towards conversion on those terms. We’ll generally route new visitors who we can identify as originating from Shopify links towards agents and chat departments best prepared to handle their specific needs.
One great account based marketing technique is to use live chat to provide a customer service “fast lane” to your highest priority clients. While live chat wait times are usually short compared to other communication methods, a few minutes can still be too long when it comes to winning the business of clients that can make or break your business. Whether you’re trying to close the deal with a new customer or keep your biggest existing customers happy, you can use live chat to provide a convenient, immediate connection to personalized support from your business.
There are a couple of ways to accomplish this “white glove treatment” with live chat platforms like Formilla. You can use real-time visitor alerts and proactive chat to make sure that your live chat agents identify high priority clients when they arrive on your site, and immediately reach out to let those clients know they are available to help. That way, your biggest leads and customers not only don’t have to wait “in line” for live chat help, they don’t even have to click the button themselves.
Another way to give your customers direct access to support is through the use of a “direct link.” This is a URL that can be shared via email or chat that will open a dedicated chat window when clicked. This can be a very useful ABM technique if you’re nurturing a business client towards conversion and want to work closely with them while they are evaluating potential options. If they know your business is immediately available, one click away, even before they are paying customers, that gives them the confidence that you will take care of them if they decide to go with your company rather than competing options.
For some industries, it might make sense to go as far as creating “personalized buying experiences” for different potential clients or categories of clients. For these leads you could create specialized sections of your website that highlight certain features that you know (based on your research and previous discussions) your potential customer cares about. Remember that the average B2B site only has about a 2% conversion rate, so taking the time and effort to curate a shopping experience specifically for a priority account is one strategy to boost that metric.
A personalized buying experience can be as simple as a dedicated landing page aimed at a specific account you are trying to market to. Share a link to that landing page with your potential customer, and make sure you have a live chat agent standing by specifically for the widget on that landing page. That agent should be familiar with the layout of the landing page and the customer’s situation and preferences, so they can guide the lead through the experience, connecting the information about your business on the landing page with the customer’s needs.
So, what would an ABM framework look like in practice? The exact structure that works for your industry will vary, of course, but here’s a general example of how the pieces could fit together.
As you can see, you don’t need a huge investment and complicated new tools to make the transition to account based marketing if it makes sense for your business. Your existing marketing activities still have a role to play in bringing visitors to your site, at which point live chat agents can identify good candidates for elevated ABM status. Then on-site and off-site marketing activities with that potential client should be personalized according to their preferences and needs, to increase their chance of ultimately converting.
Snowflake is a cloud-based data warehouse company and an account based marketing success story. As covered in detail by ABM in Action, Snowflake’s ABM strategy revolves around creating tailored “content hubs” pulling from their extensive library to focus on the needs and priorities of specific account types. The company’s Sales and Marketing teams worked closely together to identify customer pain points and must-haves, and developed a system for efficiently creating specific online experiences directly addressing those issues.
As ABM in Action explained:
“[…]specific programs are tailored for an individual IT operations manager or business intelligence contact within target accounts. The messaging focused solely around the contact’s interests and needs in data lakes, data sharing and other topics pertaining to cloud-based data warehouses.”
Snowflake tailored content covers and titles specifically to address their target accounts, used data from their CRM and from the insights of their sales team to determine what content would interest specific accounts, and continually used engagement data to examine what was working and what wasn’t. As a result of tying their display advertising into these content hubs, Snowflake has seen “close to a 150% increase in ad conversion.”
It’s easy to see what a big success account based marketing has been for Snowflake. The addition of live chat into their current process – both to gather information about the needs of new accounts up front and on the content hubs themselves to make them more interactive – would only improve the effectiveness of this technique
Even if the most individually targeted forms of account based marketing don’t make sense for your business, live chat makes it easy to add more personalization into daily customer interactions on your site. Addressing potential clients by name and answering their questions quickly and efficiently are just good business practices in general, and agents trained and equipped to identify what leads are looking for and how to nurture and convert those leads through personal, conversational attention can help you improve your on-site conversion rate.
You can get started with live chat and chat bots on your existing business site with a free trial of Formilla. Our platform is easy to add via a plugin or app to a wide variety of site building platforms, and our integration with Zapier means that Formilla can feed data to a wide variety of connected services, like MailChimp and Freshdesk, to fit seamlessly into your existing marketing framework.