How ON24’s Bryn Powell Balances Personalization and Scale for ABM

It’s getting to be late September, the temperature’s dropping and the technology community is abuzz. We’re getting close to Salesforce’s annual conference, Dreamforce. There are sessions, panels and a small assembly of events and gatherings taking place in association with the convention and we’ll be at a few of them.

One such event, the B2B Champions Club, running from September 25th to the 27, offers attendees the opportunity to take a closer look at what a full-fledged customer view can do for marketing efforts. Our own Bryn Powell, Senior Marketing Manager of Global Programs at ON24, will speak at the gathering on Thursday, September 27. Her topic of choice? Account-based marketing and how to balance personalization with scale. It’s a topic that’s close to our hearts as members of the ABM Leadership Alliance.

We sat down with Bryn to talk about her session. What follows is a brief Q&A edited for clarity.

Q:

What will you be speaking on at the B2B Champions Club?

Bryn:

I’ll be speaking on a challenge I face personally in my role, which is how to balance personalization and scale when it comes to developing an ABM strategy.

Q:

What does that entail? What are we talking about when it comes to personalization at scale?

Bryn:

ABM is clearly a buzzword and I think all companies are trying to implement ABM strategies into their demand-gen mix. One of the challenges I found, as a marketer, is really being able to scale ABM. I think that’s a shared challenge for marketers.

One of the biggest decisions you have to make is how personalized do you make your content so that it’s still scalable. So it’s really finding that balancing act between how personalized you get with content while still having the resourcing and bandwidth to support programs.

In my session, I’ll be digging through some of my strategies as a marketer — particularly on what I’ve found and how I’ve been able to find a balance, even though it’s always a work in progress.

I’ll be sharing examples of how I’m finding that balance with my top accounts and my strategy there through the lens of our webcasting ABM strategy. I will be covering a few of my own case studies focusing on how I use webinars to actually provide that engagement and what I do to personalize that content to make relevant and high-value offers for our prospects and customers.

Q:

How does one scale from an individual, personalized level to a larger scale?

Bryn:

Our view, especially at ON24, is not only making it about the account but also the audience – to really get down to that granular level. At the point where you’re doing one-to-one ABM, that is not scalable, and that’s why you have to have a true understanding of your audience, not just the account. For one-to-one, you need to understand who you’re genuinely trying to resonate with.

From there, after one-to-one, I’ll go through how we’re slightly personalizing and making relevant content for key accounts and key users. We’ll find those aspects you can personalize verses what can be scalable. Lastly, we’ll take a look at the groups, or personas, that B2B marketers are targeting and break it down into subgroups either by industry, vertical, persona, use case — we’re looking at being able to speak to the audience and providing them with a high-value offer.

So, it’s really about finding that balance between what you need to customize completely versus what you’re able to group and bucket and create relevant content for the program at a more scalable rate.

Q:

Can you walk us through the basics of creating a personalize webcast or ABM program?

Bryn:

Yeah. So, there are a couple key things that go into my ABM strategy. You need to have that high-value offer, but to have that high-value offer you must truly understand your audience. So you need to know what’s going to resonate with them and — oftentimes this is the challenge — understanding which content will matter most to them.

So actually, you need to use your ABM strategies as well as a feedback loop to make sure that your content is resonating — that either the account you’re going after or the persona you’re going after is engaging with your content. You will also need to work with sales to get a deeper and closer look at the account. This is often, sometimes, overlooked in marketing. We can’t be as close necessarily to all of our prospect or customer accounts. So it really pays to leverage sales insights as well in this.

The other piece that’s important when looking at personalizing is understanding the vocabulary you use. It’s not just changing a logo or changing a company name but actually using their language in your content. If you are using account-specific marketing in that one-to-one, highly personalized program, you want to make sure you’re using the buzzwords and keywords that resonate with them, whether that be the key product launches they’re going after, the key metrics that they use. We have even tailored some of our messaging knowing our accounts buyer journey and how they classify their own marketing funnel.

Q:

What about connecting at the vertical level?

Bryn:

When you’re getting down to vertical level, it’s important to use the jargon that the industry resonates with. If you’re looking at a financial services company, they may not speak about prospects and customers. Instead, they may speak about potential clients and existing clients. It’s small things like this, I think, that make your audience more engaged with what you’re saying and be able to actually connect with your messaging.

I also think that it helps show that you are more credible in the space. I do attempt to find that balance in my marketing efforts with company jargon, account-based jargon but then also making sure that you’re speaking to the vocabulary of an industry or a subset of personas as well.

If you are using personas, such as product marketing versus customer marketing, there’s going to be different keywords that resonate with those folks and different KPIs that they’re looking for and ultimately you’re trying to help your customers or prospects achieve their business goals. So, really speaking to that from the upfront is key.

Q:

How important is it to, and how closely should you, work with sales for ABM efforts?

Bryn:

I work with sales extremely close. This is definitely key in developing your initial ABM targeting and understanding which accounts are a priority. It’s a balance between what sales wants provided with really actionable data from the get-go as well as continuously kind of checking in on that data. You need to make sure that the priority accounts are still aligned and that we are seeing results from a personalized approach to these accounts. But definitely leveraging the relationships that sales has with the customer accounts or prospect accounts is critical.

Q:

Last question. Are there any trends you’re seeing or anticipating in the ABM space?

Bryn:

I think for the last few years the focus of ABM has really been on tools and technologies to automate a lot of ABM. And I actually foresee a shift focusing back on the audience member and not necessarily the automation that’s in place.I think as folks really ramp up and understand personalized marketing more, we’re going to see a shift kind of away from a fully automated ABM program and back to a human focus.

In my eyes, I would say marketers have been focused on identifying who our ABM targets are and how to reach our named accounts. I think a lot of the trends in the ABM space have been focused on sort of that up-front of who should we be going after and how do we get in front of them.

What hasn’t been the focus thus far is the content and what messages you’re really reaching them with. And I actually foresee that being kind of the next step in the ABM journey. Putting the focus back on how are you actually interacting with these folks rather than just understanding who they are and driving them in. It’s now going to be about how you’re actually interacting. I also think there is going to be a shift on the individuals and less spray-and-pray of full accounts. So, really, taking ABM past just the account name and really to the targeted person in your persona.