While those tactics may have differentiated your campaigns in the past, they no longer do (or won’t soon). One way to stand out is to go beyond keyword targeting and create PPC campaigns for specific targets—an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy.
This post gives you six tactics to help execute PPC campaigns as part of an ABM strategy. You can’t focus on paid channels alone, however. Other tactics that support paid campaigns—like company-specific content and strong social media profiles—are equally vital.
To get started, you first have to balance your ABM efforts with the always-on campaigns that drive consistent growth.
The Quota-Campaign approach
You can’t execute a smart, super-personalized ABM PPC campaign without first making sure your team is hitting their minimum quotas.
ABM campaigns dedicate resources and time toward only a few prospects, and enterprise-level leads often have long sales cycles. That makes an ABM-only approach risky. So how do you balance the allocation of resources between ABM and traditional campaigns?
The Quota-Campaign approach is one solution. The Quota-Campaign approach establishes minimum output levels while allotting the balance of time to projects—like ABM campaigns.
Your Quota project focuses on weekly (or monthly) minimums, like relaunching brand campaigns or optimizing existing product-focused campaigns. Once quotas maintain an undercurrent of growth, you can test more freely.
This is where Campaign projects (i.e. PPC for ABM) begin. These campaigns periodically spike growth by deploying tactics outlined below. Regardless of tactic, however, all ABM PPC campaigns start with one thing: ad creative and supporting content.
Ad creative and content for ABM PPC campaigns
With account-based content, you’re usually cutting out search engines and proactively reaching out to prospects. Content for paid advertising campaigns—ad copy, images, landing pages, downloadables, etc.—is all personalized for singular brands. (Or, at the very least, narrowly targeted verticals.)
So what content is essential to run an ABM-focused paid campaign? Below (on the right) are just a few examples of account-based content, most of which can be used in PPC campaigns. (There are more specific examples further below.)
The key is to customize content for specific targets and channels (e.g. Google Ads, Facebook retargeting). That task can quickly become expensive. To make content creation more sustainable:
- Think of content production in terms of topics (e.g. Trends in Industry X), not outcomes (e.g. a blog post). You can repackage variants of the same information for multiple channels (blog, whitepaper, video, etc.).
- Create industry-specific (rather than company-specific) downloadables that can be lightly redesigned for multiple targets.
- Translate company research into competitive research—research on four prospects’ PPC campaigns, for example, can be offered to each as competitive research on the other three.
Ultimately, the array of offers and offer timing require the support of multiple channels. PPC campaigns for ABM don’t work well in isolation.
With that in mind, a few tactics detailed below have important supporting roles, even though they’re not “PPC” or “ABM” tactics per se. Each helps integrate PPC campaigns with a multi-channel ABM strategy.
1. Customer Match In Google Ads
As the Google Ads Support Center explains:
Customer Match lets you use your online and offline data to reach and re-engage with your customers across Search, Shopping, Gmail, and YouTube.
With ABM campaigns, this offline data (like prospect/lead information) can help you customize your ABM ads. Ideally, you’ll be using some form of lead management tool to keep track of how far your prospects have moved through your ABM funnel.
With Customer Match, you can target users based on their Google accounts (if you have their information), so only your ideal ABM prospect list sees your ads.
To set up Customer Match in Google Ads:
- Create a list in Google Ads of your ABM prospect list.
- Upload the data file containing user contact info.
- Create or update your new custom ABM ad campaign.
- Now, when these users are signed into their Google account, they see your ads.
And this is only getting started with targeted PPC campaigns for your ABM strategy.
2. Similar Audiences in Google Ads
Like their Facebook counterparts (Lookalike Audiences), Similar Audiences in Google Ads allow you to scale your Customer Match audiences by entrusting Google to identify similar users (potentially from the same company) to add to your list.
Similar Audiences let you gently expand your audience while ensuring it’s visible only to relevant eyes. Just be cautious that your ABM strategy doesn’t devolve into an old-fashioned spray-and-pray campaign.
Still, if you’re targeting a narrow vertical rather than a specific company (or don’t have the data for a true company- or target-specific ABM campaign), Similar Audiences can be useful.
Keep in mind, though, that just like Lookalike Audiences, you need at least 1,000 users in your Customer Match Audience to start scaling.
3. Radius Targeting in Google Ads
Radius Targeting in Google Ads is a cheeky way to get your ABM prospects to engage with your ads during work hours (when business decisions tend to be made).
If you know the address of your target company’s office (or simply Google it), you can isolate the geolocation of your ads to the radius of that company’s property.
This eliminates wasteful spend in siloed ABM campaigns and also enables you to focus your ad copy on the exact audience you’re targeting. If your highest value prospect company has one location, there’s no need to target an ABM Google Ads campaign to the entire city.
4. Promotion of account-based content via social media
Social media may be the most powerful ABM channel. Both paid and organic strategies engage directly with the decision-makers of the companies you’re targeting.
LinkedIn is the king of social media platforms for ABM. Success, however, is not just about running ads—it’s about building an authoritative presence that helps build a relationship with potential buyers after you capture their initial interest with, for example, a promoted post.
How do organic efforts connect to paid social campaigns? Let’s take a look at a brief ABM social promotion campaign that we ran recently.
First, we started off with a list of software companies we thought were a good fit for our agency—ideal prospects. We then created content just for them, based on the value they could instantly take home.
We decided to create a series of hyper-personalized videos that we called “Funnel Fixers.” Each was tailored to their specific needs and their brand and included:
- Overall SERP analysis for their primary keywords;
- Overview of their competitor ads;
- Analysis of their ad copy;
- Analysis of their landing pages and forms;
- Prescriptive suggestions based on our findings;
- Potential competitor analysis (1–3 examples per video).
To promote these videos across our paid social channels, we cut smaller, bite-sized snippets out of the original videos and promoted YouTube links across our branded channels on LinkedIn (as well as Facebook and Twitter).
This is also where LinkedIn is an ABM powerhouse for enterprise-level B2B marketers. For starters, boosting these videos was a must. We kept an eye on how these posts performed organically to decide when (and where) to boost them.
LinkedIn Pulse rewards a spike in engagement by raising the placement of your content in the feeds of LinkedIn channels you tag. On top of these boosts in LinkedIn visibility, you get to engage directly with your target decision-makers (which is why strong company and individual profiles are important—more below).
Because you can track down actual individuals based on which companies they work for, you can customize your LinkedIn social promotions by tagging decision-makers at the companies you’re targeting—starting a conversation with the person who will sign on the dotted line (with content made specifically for them).
LinkedIn also allows for scheduled content promotion to keep your brand top-of-mind during the long sales cycle. You can integrate LinkedIn posts with automated social management tools like Buffer.
By the time your scheduled Sponsored Content ads re-engage your LinkedIn audience, your content will have earned plenty of social proof.
But before you start spending thousands on LinkedIn Ads…
Make sure that your presence on LinkedIn reflects well on your brand. Many interactions with ABM prospects may take place organically, as comments on promoted content, for example.
That means optimizing your company page and getting individual reps to optimize their personal LinkedIn profiles.
“Optimizing profiles” means:
- Consistently sharing branded content;
- Sharing and tagging external content to boost authority;
- Tagging prospects in relevant, helpful posts;
- Posting about locations and events;
- Not salesy at all;
- Participating in conversations via comments;
- Direct Messaging prospects while approaching conversion.
If this seems overwhelming, you may want to invest in the LinkedIn Sales Navigator to make engaging these prospects easier to manage.
Once you’ve developed a LinkedIn reputation that your prospects can trust as an authoritative voice (as opposed to obnoxious sales rep), your Linkedin Ads campaigns will be much more likely to generate a strong ROI.
5. Scaling ABM PPC campaigns with dynamic text insertion
As mentioned earlier, ABM has its drawbacks. It limits the scope of your campaigns to a much smaller audience. Dynamic text insertion can customize your broader marketing and promotion strategies to strengthen your brand presence and support ABM campaigns.
It’s a way to offer more tailored messaging to prospects at scale—somewhere between a traditional blanket approach and hyper-targeted ABM efforts. That effort can help maintain a consistent message after a prospect clicks on an ad or joins your email list.
Dynamic text matches the copy of your ad, landing page, and thank-you page with the exact words your prospects used to find you in the first place. Depending on where prospects are in the funnel, you can customize your CTAs as well.
If you’re a company or agency that offers multiple services (e.g. PPC and CRO), then you may want to segment your prospects based on the type of account-based content your traffic comes from.
If this is the case, dynamic text insertion is the perfect solution to continue message matching from externally facing content to the internal, customized user experience.
6. Account-based retargeting for ABM
ABM retargeting isn’t that different from ordinary retargeting. The key differences are the greater precision of targeting and customization—for the audience and the specific point in the funnel.
As Ed Fry details, running effective retargeting ads for ABM is a multi-step process. A reverse IP lookup (with the help of Clearbit or related tools) can reveal the associated company of site visitors.
But that list may still be too broad. The next level of refinement is to narrow the list to best-fit companies. You can do that with CRM data and lead-scoring software.
Real advancements, Fry continues, come when you enrich prospect information and create dynamic ad audiences—serving ads to the best prospects within the best-fit companies while avoiding tedious re-uploading lists.
Such well-targeted PPC campaigns for ABM, Fry notes, have two benefits:
1. Disengage ads after paid conversion – this prevents wasted ad spend and confusing offers. Not every prospect at an account will hit a burn pixel. Dynamic audiences ensure you’re only retargeting individuals before the conversion.
2. Saturate ads to stakeholders who are close to paid conversion – it pays to accelerate pipeline, and further down the funnel with a small, high value audience, it can make sense to outbid everyone else for the inventory amongst your target
When it comes to ABM and Facebook Retargeting, the biggest win is re-engaging the same users about the same offer based on their previous interest.
Facebook retargeting layers customer contact information over already highly custom-built audiences. This makes it the perfect ABM weapon for prospects who may be interested but are currently unavailable. This can be for a few reasons:
- Currently with another vendor;
- Don’t have the budget;
- Are going through internal changes at the company, etc.
Facebook Dark Posts (i.e. posts that are not publicly visible) can help identify the most compelling offers, keep you engaged with unavailable prospects, and help you to gauge where they are in the ABM funnel.
Here are a few more ways to make sure your ABM retargeting doesn’t go to waste:
- Keep your brand and messaging ever-present in the eyes of your prospects with display ads on competitive keywords.
- Improve your organic and paid presence on branded keywords as your prospects move down funnel from research to consideration.
- Use Facebook Dark Posts and Smoke Tests to identify new ABM offers to increase click-through and conversion rates.
The saturation of the PPC market with hyper-targeted campaigns has made it more difficult to stand out. ABM is a potential solution.
ABM focuses the list of target accounts to a select few or even one at a time. This cranks up the pressure to close. Using a Quota-Campaign approach can balance ongoing needs with ABM campaigns.
Successfully run ABM campaigns allow you to stand alone in your dedication to potential clients by creating ads and content just for them. It also helps you surround them on all sides with:
- Customer Match, Similar Audiences, and Radius Targeting in Google Ads;
- Strong profiles, tailored content, and boosted posts on social media, especially LinkedIn;
- A focus on retargeting to keep prospects warm during the long sales cycle.