4 Steps to a Successful Account-Based Ad Campaign

4-Steps-to-a-Successful-Account-Based-Ad-Campaign3Like many B2B marketers, you’re probably assessing how digital display ads fit into your 2014 marketing mix. We’re all learning more about how ads can deliver relevant messages and forge a connection between a brand and its customers. Of course, “connections” are nice to have, but if you’re a little wary of whether that type of engagement really moves the revenue needle, you’re not alone.

As ad technology improves and becomes increasingly integrated with marketing technology platforms, it’s getting easier to leverage the power of display ads for B2B marketers. In fact, if you’re able to collaborate with sales to target and track ad campaigns with specific accounts, it’s a whole different ballgame.

Suddenly, your ad campaign is no longer just a “nice to have” for marketing – it’s a key growth driver for sales.

Suddenly, your ad campaign is no longer just a “nice to have” for marketing – it’s a key growth driver for sales. So how do you go about running a successful account-based ad campaign?

We talked to Chris Geddes, a Targeting Solutions Consultant, to get his perspective on best practices. He shared the following four steps to building a complete, account-based ad campaign. Here’s his battle-tested advice:

  1. Build an account list The first step to an account-based ad campaign is building a list of key accounts determined jointly by sales, marketing, and anyone else with purchasing influence within an organization. Your future buyers will closely resemble your current buyers in terms of industry, revenue, company size and other firmographic data, so it’s important to understand those essential characteristics. This list helps you avoid paying for clicks and views from companies that will never be your customers.
  2. Review your named account list and segment accordingly Your next step is to review and segment the companies on the named account list. Just because your list is “sales approved” does not mean it should be your final, universal advertising list. It’s highly likely that your list contains a mix of existing customers, prospects and partners. The core message for each of these groups is different, therefore they shouldn’t receive the same ad creative. For advertising purposes, segment these target accounts into smaller lists. You can segment by stage in the buyer’s journey, company size, industry, etc.
  3. Determine whether your creative matches the segment Once you’ve made these distinctions, it’s time to think about personalized messages that are appropriate for each unique segment. For example, existing customers don’t need to contact sales. Prospects would rather learn what you do before filling out a form. In other words: matching relevant creative to the correct segment is essential to a successful campaign. You’ll also want to consider how your call-to-action aligns to both your creative and your audience segment. Often, the goal of ad campaigns is lead gen and the creative becomes all about driving audiences to a registration form. In fact, new prospects won’t necessarily want to share their information until they know something about your products or services. At the early stages of a campaign, the focus should be on education and awareness.

    As you get deeper into your segmentation, you can map messages to where an account falls in the buyer’s journey. You can also create content that specifically targets a specific industry, location or account.

  4. Make your website experience consistent with the advertising experience What happens if a target company fails to click an ad but still is intrigued enough to visit your website to learn more later? Will your advertising message be easily accessible and recognizable on the homepage? On average, a landing page has less than 4 seconds to capture the viewers’ attention, and the homepage is the largest landing page a company can create.

    Consistent messaging across campaign elements such as your display ad creative and your website content is essential. Without it, your target accounts won’t hang around long enough to let you know they’re interested.

It’s Worth It

The steps above may seem like more work than the average top-of-the-funnel ad campaign, but there is a corresponding reward. If you invest some dedicated planning time into your ad campaign at the very beginning you’ll be rewarded for your efforts with not only higher quality leads but better results in subsequent advertising programs. More importantly, you’ll create the foundation for meaningful engagement with your customers for the duration of the lifecycle.