A great ABM campaign can drive leads, boost awareness and engagement, and ultimately help your sellers penetrate new accounts. A bad one can waste your marketing dollars, turn prospects off, and—as you’ll see below—maybe even get someone fired. There are a lot of ways a campaign can go wrong, but perhaps the biggest stumbling block is building a campaign around personas that are outdated or just plain wrong.

Here’s how access to human insights—from someone who knows your prospect’s industry, org structure, and internal politics—can help you avoid that mistake, and craft better, more personalized messaging that grabs attention and gets results.

Personalization and ABM Success

Today’s digital landscape is so saturated with content and competing demands on attention that generic messaging has almost not shot of breaking through the clutter and resonating with prospects. This means personalization matters more than ever—but effective personalization continues to evade marketers across the board.

  • 79 percent of organizations that exceeded revenue goals have personalization strategies in place, compared to only 31percent of those that merely met revenue goals and just 8 percent of those that missed revenue goals.
  • 68 percent of marketers have a hard time getting real-time views of their customers.
  • 83 percent of marketers say that creating personalized content represents their biggest functional challenge.

There are two key takeaways here. The first is that personalization may be a determining factor in the bottom-line success of marketing and sales teams. The second is that, despite its importance, it’s also an area where many marketers are struggling. From the convergence of these two findings, we can conclude that uncovering newer, better ways to personalize messaging should be a pressing concern for today’s forward-thinking leaders.

When Personas are Persona Non-Grata

The data is unequivocal: Personalization is closely tied to revenue impact. At the same time, ill-conceived personas in place can do just as much harm as no personas as all. Whatever the root cause—bad data, outdated intelligence, inadequate insights into prospects’ org charts or operating models, you name it—marketing efforts built from nebulous personas are the shortest path to ineffective outreach. After all, how can you expect to hit your target if you’re aiming in the wrong direction from the outset?

What’s more, when personas fail, they can do so catastrophically. Just consider the following scenario in which, barring the last-minute intervention of an Emissary, our client likely would have landed in some seriously scalding water.

The client, a major data storage provider, was attempting to penetrate a global telecom giant. They invested time and money into the creation of a sophisticated ABM campaign designed to get the telecom’s employees to sign up for a free trial. Using available data on the org structure and their existing client personas, they created personalized ads, landing pages, and more. There was just one problem.

If any of the people they targeted actually converted, those people would have been fired.

That’s because certain data regulations within the industry impose tight controls on where and how customer data can be stored and transmitted. Violating those regulations would have resulted in immediate dismissal, and it could even impact the company’s reputation and bottom line.

In the nick of time, their Emissary explained why this was such a potentially disastrous mistake, and then helped the client course-correct and develop new personalized messaging that wouldn’t get anyone canned.

Keep this story in mind the next time you think you can rely on personas alone to reach and engage your prospects.

From People to Personas

With so much at stake—and with personas alone being unreliable—what should you actually do to personalize your messaging? Most revenue teams will say they start by mining sales intelligence tools like DiscoverOrg. But these tools will only take you so far—and the information they can’t provide, as the example above illustrates vividly, may result in risks that can capsize your sales efforts before they’re even really afloat.

That’s why you need to work backwards, starting with empirically gleaned information about the real-time state of your prospects’ today—including the complex tapestry of motivations, needs, and challenges at play. And while that will ultimately result in sophisticated personas, it needs to start with flesh-and-blood people.

To do that, consider these three tactics:

  • Take advantage of conferences. Industry conferences can be invaluable for enterprise sellers, and not only because they’re a great way to build your pipeline. For one, conferences are ideal settings for the kind of initial information-gathering that’s essential to building targeted personas. Even simply knowing who your prospects send to attend a conference—and where they fall on the org chart—can reveal kernels of insight into organizational priorities and where the company is in the buying journey. So if you’re looking to build better personas this year, look no further than these 12 conferences you can’t afford to miss.
  • Leverage your network. Veteran salespeople tend to amass fairly extensive networks over their careers. And while mining these relationships for insights into prospects’ organizations might not be your first instinct, that can be a costly mistake. The bottom line is that you need to craft highly personalized outreach efforts to be successful, so the more in-depth information you have access to, the better. Scour LinkedIn for former colleagues who may have worked with your prospects in the past and see what you can dig up. This kind of inside tip can make all the difference.
  • Engage an Emissary. Say goodbye to second-hand speculation, opinions, and guesswork. Emissary puts you in the driver’s seat, with access to former enterprise buyers at your prospects’ organizations. These folks have witnessed and led the enterprise deal-making process from the inside, so they’ll give you insights with unrivaled scope and accuracy—which will help you build more personalized messaging, and then some.

Download the Playbook

For more on how to develop custom personas for your ABM campaigns, download ABM: What’s Next? 

In this free guide, hear from industry experts about:

  • The latest ABM vendors and solutions
  • Actionable tips for implementing and executing a winning strategy
  • Real-world examples of ABM success
  • How to align your team

Executive Insights

Still running ABM campaigns based on nebulous personas? Then you’re definitely missing out on new business. Using insights from a real human, on the other hand—someone who can inform your ABM campaigns and help focus your efforts and improve ROI—often yields significantly more deals and higher bottom-line value. It’s a simple change in your approach to ABM that can deliver massive results.