Using Buying Group Signals to Enable Buyers and Accelerate Momentum in Q4

With Tricia Wiles Ruiz, Creative Content Manager, True Influence

B2B marketers need to stop counting leads.

You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s a message worth repeating: Account-based marketing (ABM), or as some practitioners now call it, Account-based engagement (ABE), is about moving a business toward a signed deal – not about getting clicks that ultimately don’t advance the conversation with key prospects.

As marketers look for ways to accelerate momentum in Q4, they need to avoid the trap of “counting leads” and look for signals within Buying Groups that indicate your tactics are moving the account toward a signed deal. These signals may take the form of purchase intent intelligence or direct interaction with your digital channels, but in either case you need to identify what’s working and focus your energies there if you want to hit the ground running in 2022.

Letting buyers “lead the dance”

I recently spoke to Jessie Johnson, a principal analyst for Forrester focused on demand gen, about the best approach to accelerating momentum in Q4. The trick is to never forget that the buyer is “leading the dance,” as Johnson puts it, so any extra push you make late in the year must fall in line with their established purchase research behavior. You can certainly amplify your current efforts, and extend them by personalizing core content for other Buying Group members, but you can’t push an account outside its comfort zone just because you need to keep inside sales busy.

“Your prospect doesn’t care about your goals – they care about their goals,” Johnson said. “You can always tell when a salesperson really needs to close. Don’t lead with that. Stay focused on the signals.”

Becoming a real partner in the B2B purchase journey

My chat with Johnson, part of our True Influence Accelerating Revenue Series, covered a wide range of topics, with us agreeing that despite the challenges, it really is a fun time to be a B2B marketer. Some of the issues we discussed include:

Acceleration tactics for Q4

If you have a budget, the first logical step is to simply look at your current campaigns, see what’s working, and put additional resources behind them. Again, Johnson warns against focusing only on direct response metrics “that light up our dashboards.” Instead, target Buying Group signals that indicate you are actually moving the account.

If you don’t have excess budget (and, really, who does?), focus on your in-house lists and social channels. There’s a cost to execute, to be sure, but it’s probably nominal compared to paid sources.

Johnson also suggests looking at what she calls “primary” assets, like in-depth whitepapers and case studies, and finding ways to create derivative, personalized assets from that content to target key Buying Group roles and personas. A home run here is finding tactics to get other Buying Group members engaged with a key piece of “primary” content – a webinar, for example – to which a key decision-maker has already responded positively.

Moving toward buyer enablement

A key note for Forrester over the past couple years has been the need to move past just engaging prospects and truly enabling their purchase decision.

Engagement means you have a prospect’s attention; enablement means you are providing them with the information and tools they require. Obviously, marketers still need to find the hook that will initially engage prospects, but once the conversation begins, the real focus should be on how your content moves them along the purchase journey.

Johnson stresses that enablement is critical as B2B buyers become more like B2C shoppers. They demand answers immediately, and they expect you to provide additional information in a logical flow that smartly anticipates their next questions. As Johnson puts it, nobody wants to wait until 9 a.m. on a Thursday to find a flood of follow-up emails in their inbox.

Contextualization vs. Personalization

Johnson makes an interesting, and I think very useful, distinction between contextualization and personalization when it comes to content planning and creation. The two exist on a continuum, she stresses, and they work together to enable prospects’ purchase research.

  • Contextualization focuses on how content meets the information needs of a Buying Group role at various stages of a purchase journey. For example, a Champion will typically want to know the five big wins your solution offers as part of their initial research. After spelling those out, you’ll also want to provide a clear contextual path for them to read high-level use cases or testimonials. This enables their self-driven learning path.
  • Personalization focuses more on the persona that inhabits the Buying Group role for your solution. If the Champion typically is from finance, lean heavily on big win numbers and risk aversion as the triggers to engage their attention. As you interact with the prospect, you’ll learn specifics about keyphrases and even delivery mechanisms that help your content stand out. Combining personalized content with the preferred delivery channel will result in tactics that drive your strategy.

Of course, the lines can get a little blurry, but I think keeping these two concepts in mind is really useful in executing a content strategy, particularly when it comes to personalizing your primary content into various channels.

Check out the episode!

Be sure to check out our full conversation with Jessie Johnson on your favorite platform.

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