Power Your Growth
ABM is an iterative process. When running ABM campaigns, companies get the best results when they take the information they've learned from their previous cohort and use those insights to improve their targeting and messaging strategy. But, when starting out in ABM and running your first few campaigns, you may have questions about what to focus on and how to lay out your next cohort to maximize results. This article is designed to break it down for you so you'll understand cohorts, how they work, and what you should be looking for in order to continuously perfect your marketing approach.
A cohort is the next version of your ABM campaign. While most companies start with one central cohort, over time, as you learn more about your audience, begin to segment out different lists for retargeting, and hone your marketing messaging to appeal to specific groups, you may run multiple cohorts simultaneously. However, each new cohort should be a more focused version of the previous cohort (and should contain tweaks based on what you learned in the past campaign).
Think of your first cohort as setting your team up for success. You want to ensure your audience is correct by trying out some messaging. Consider your second, third, and future cohorts as iterations of the first. Once you've honed in specific insights and adjusted your marketing approach, you're ready to launch your next cohort.
Cohorts should run for about 30 to 60 days. That will give your campaign enough time to increase visibility and engagement, allowing you to warm up leads effectively. It also allows enough time to see if certain accounts have fallen off in intent signals so that you know which accounts to pursue and which to release.
Each new cohort is a unique opportunity to refocus your efforts for reaching targeted accounts. To ensure you are iterating effectively with every new cohort make it a habit to gather insights from a few key areas:
After your first cohort, you may find that your audience needs some tweaking. You can go back and adjust it by:
Treat your first (or previous) cohort as a learning curve. It will provide valuable insights that will allow you to tighten up your audience list and help you focus on accounts that better align with your product or service offering.
After you've adjusted your audience and before launching your next cohort, check your list to look for any accounts that may not need to be a part of your ABM campaign any longer. There can be several reasons why an account may need to be removed:
If any accounts need to be removed, simply delete them from your list so that you aren't wasting energy focusing on the wrong leads.
Note that, if you are using an ABM platform, automation will do a lot of work in terms of cleaning up your list, however, it’s always a good idea to give your list a once-over before kickstarting your next cohort.
The best ABM campaigns function across multiple channels. Ensure you are creating various touchpoints for your audience to interact with. This includes:
Each cohort should have multiple channels so each account has numerous opportunities to engage with your content. This helps you build brand visibility and trust that will ultimately help sales engage in social selling once a lead has become "hot."
Programmatic ads, no matter which cohort you’re working with, are a great way to help you gain brand visibility and sharpen your marketing messaging. As you embrace an omnichannel strategy and move through cohorts with a mix of programmatic, Facebook, and LinkedIn ads you'll want to note how they perform. To understand how an ad is being received by your audience, check its CTR (Click-through Rate). Higher CTRs indicate more engagement and signal that your messaging resonates with leads. A CTR of 0.08 or 0.12 is typically a good indicator your ads are effective. If you aren't getting any clicks (or fewer than 0.08), you may need to experiment more with your messaging.
Since many accounts will overlap across cohorts, you'll want to ensure you're measuring engagement across the entire lifecycle of your campaign. Cohorts will begin to stitch together over time, with new cohorts releasing every 30 to 60 days, but with a 6 to 12-month content cycle that can reveal engagement patterns over the course of months. For each account, no matter the cohort, you should be capturing:
Then, once a contact hits a threshold for engagement, it is ready to be passed off to sales to start the social selling process, the next stage of the ABM process.
For example, an account in the first cohort that continues to show intent signals will inherently be placed on the list for the next cohort. They may show signs of engagement (like clicking on an ad or opening an email). By the end of cohort 2 (or maybe the start of cohort 3), they've shown enough engagement signals to warrant passing them to sales. Since it may take a few cohorts to get the account to the level of engagement needed to be passed to sales, you must constantly track and score leads to contextualize them for sales.
The most important thing to remember about your next cohort audience is that it likely contains many accounts from your previous cohort. You do not want to keep showing the same content, which will lead to less engagement. Therefore, it's a good idea to look at your previous cohort's content, reflect on what worked/didn't, and adjust your marketing materials so they're more likely to encourage engagement.
Remember: since ABM is about building relationships and creating value, the content shouldn't come off as a sales pitch. Instead, share content like tips and tricks, best practices, or constructive insights your target audience would benefit from. They're more likely to engage with your content - and keep engaging over time.
Whether you are using templates, playbooks, or some other method in which you are organizing your campaign cadence, you want to make sure everything is updated for the next cohort. That includes:
Each cohort should have its own unique playbook/template with visuals and marketing content that best addresses the target audience's interests and pain points. New cohorts may also need adjustments related to data and insights you’ve learned along the way. For example, did the last cohort reveal that audiences don’t really respond to Facebook ads or that a specific piece of content caused a spike in CTRs? Ask yourself what you learned from the insights of the last cohort you could use to make the next cohort even more successful - and then apply that strategy to the campaign template.
The best thing about ABM is you can continuously learn from previous campaigns and apply those insights to every new cohort. That way, you'll be able to find new ways to engage with your audience and perfect your messaging.
Use the data and insights you're collecting to determine what resonates with each new cohort and continue to build on past success. Remember that accounts can overlap from cohort to cohort, so you want to ensure your marketing materials stay fresh.
ABM is designed to encourage engagement, and the best way to nurture that instinct in your audience is to ensure your content isn't sales-focused. Instead, use ABM to position your brand as a thought leader, and you'll gain more CTRs, email engagement, and web visits that, over time, will help prime leads for direct sales engagement via social selling!