The time is now. The age of Account Based Experience (ABX) has arrived. Marketing will never be the same.
ABX represents the next evolution of account-based marketing, and — we believe — a realization of this model’s true potential. In simple terms, it involves reframing ABM and B2B go-to-market strategy through a distinct customer-experience lens. But effectively harnessing and executing ABX requires a true understanding of the why, who, and how.
To help modern marketers fully grasp and leverage this revolutionary concept, Demandbase CMO and ABM pioneer Jon Miller has penned The Clear and Complete Guide to Account-Based Experience, which offers a comprehensive practical blueprint for activating ABX.
It goes without saying that we’re excited about the advent of ABX, and we know we’re not alone. As the marketing and business community makes this vital transition, we asked some of the most respected leaders in the space for their views on what it means to go from ABM to ABX, and why this customer-centric shift will lead to transformative business results.
Timing isn’t everything, but it’s table stakes. If you’re not connecting with prospects at a moment where they are ready to
engage with your content and internalize your message, you can’t make that crucial jump from marketing to experience. MarketingThink CEO Gerry Moran likens the dynamic to angling:
If you teach people how to fish, they’ll figure out you’re selling fishing poles — and buy yours. Outstanding ABM is a client-focused content marketing approach. First, well-timedmessaging helps them frame their problems and opportunity on their terms. Then the right offer at the right time on the right channel hooks the client so the account-based marketer can reel in the sale with one-to-one messaging. Unfortunately, too many B2B marketers start fishing too far down the ABM funnel too early — programmatically spending the money on trying to catch the MQLs and SQLs without putting in the work.
“First, well-timed messaging helps them frame their problems and opportunity on their terms. Then the right offer at the right time on the right channel hooks the client so the account-based marketer can reel in the sale with one-to-one messaging.”
Natalie Petouhoff of Genesys has built her career around a sharply customer-centered philosophy. She sees a gap in the way today’s businesses are connecting and communicating with those they serve. To her, evolving to ABX means moving from general to specific in our segmentation and messaging:
All companies need to completely rethink how they approach the marketplace; putting the customer front-and-center means they are contextually relevant which builds trust, shows empathy, and creates loyalty.
The evolution from account-based marketing to account-based experience is about changing the focus to the specific customer and what they need. When it comes to ABM, I often see companies pick personas and try to generalize the message and blast out content. With ABX, I see it as an experience that is far more personal and relevant than mass segmenting and targeting. ABX is being able to know where the customer is in the buying cycle and using intelligent insights to know when to engage, with what content, and what to say to each and every account.
“When it comes to ABM, I often see companies pick personas and try to generalize the message and blast out content. With ABX, I see it as an experience that is far more personal and relevant than mass segmenting and targeting.”
Robert Rose, Chief Strategy Advisor for the Content Marketing Institute, has said in the past that “customer experience may be the only differentiator left.” Getting CX right requires an advanced ability to infuse personalization, which — as he points
out — isn’t the same thing as personal. He views ABX as a powerful
framework for reinventing relevance:
ABX is an excellent approach to one of the biggest misconceptions in delivering high-performing customer experiences: personalization is not the same as personal. The more personalized the content, the less personal it becomes. Isn’t it weird that we believe that
removing all the surprises from our customer experiences makes sense? The content presented is certainly unique to that individual – perhaps even addressing them by their name, title, and organization. But, in most cases, it’s hardly the most relevant, empathetic, or surprising the customer with something she didn’t already know.
Personalization is simply predicting what the visitor will find most familiar. But worst of all, is that in B2B we know our opportunity does not lie with just one person. The relevant content the visitor might be looking for is that which to share with her colleagues. And it’s hidden because, you know, it’s personalized for her. This ABX approach comes at this challenge from a very interesting angle. The key starting point is that in B2B, we are making the customer’s experience relevant and personal to the account – not the person. As B2B Marketers we need to better understand the Account’s Customer Journey, and begin to know when, where and how different people come in and out of that process. That’s a fundamentally different approach – and one that B2B marketers will do well to explore.
“ABX is an excellent approach to one of the biggest misconceptions in delivering high performing customer experiences: personalization is not the same as personal.”
What does it really mean to go from “marketing” to “experience”? Pendo CMO Joe Chernov explains the distinction from his view, and argues that ABX strategies are accessible to small and large businesses alike – in either case, you just need to get aligned:
Account-based experience is the convergence of two trends. The first is the shift from mass-appeal to direct-appeal in the waymarketers craft and deliver their messages. Although account-based strategies are more commonly applied up-market than down, they don’t necessarily have to be limited to the enterprise. After all, the end goal is to appeal to a “persona of one,” and that aspiration can apply evenly to enterprise and SMB alike.
The second trend is the transition from “marketing” to “experience.” Unlike “marketing,” the idea of an “experience” is outward focused; it’s empathetic. Taking an account-based focus across the entire customer experience means everyone who touches the buyer’s journey — from marketing to sales, from sales legal through customer success — all need to be aligned around the unique attributes of each customer. Ultimately an account-based experience is as much about organizational alignment as it is about the principles employed by the go-to-market team.
“Ultimately an account-based experience is as much about organizational alignment as it is about the principles employed by the go-to-market team.”
What does a brand marketer think of ABX? Jason Miller, ActiveCampaign’s Senior Director of BrandMarketing, sees ABX as the catalyst for creativity throughout and beyond the funnel. He sees it as the equivalent of white-glove service — where every stage of the journey (good or bad) gets ample support, resources, and response:
Account-Based Experience further validates the trend of delivering a stellar experience through omnichannel sales and marketing. By leveraging a bespoke strategy based on what you know about that account, it opens a host of new creative approaches to engage throughout the funnel and close the gap by helping that account be successful and grow even after the deal is closed.
The most exciting part of this evolution, in my opinion, is the inclusion of the brand for building trust and social proof for validation. Building a brand is now table stakes for sales and marketing, and I would argue that it’s now on par with big data.
This approach makes me think of a Hollywood agency and the super-agent approach to signing a key client. They would provide a white-glove service above and beyond at every part of the actor’s or actress’s career path, providing support in the good times and the bad with an army of resources at their disposal. Sounds like ABX to me.
“By leveraging a bespoke strategy based on what you know about that account, it opens a host of new creative approaches to engage throughout the funnel and close the gap by helping that account be successful and grow even after the deal is closed.”
We appreciate these marketing luminaries sharing their perspectives on what the evolution of ABX means to them. For a full exploration of this shift, including in-depth practical guidance on taking the next step with your B2B go-to-market strategy, check out The Clear and Complete Guide to Account-Based Experience.