By its nature, IoT is a decentralized investment. It crosses traditional organizational barriers and breaks down silos. As a result, IoT often impacts several different departments, ranging from executives to IT and operations. Each stakeholder needs to understand their individual role in an IoT transformation. But also, all departments must work together to implement the solution and to measure its results.
As you can guess, marketing and selling IoT can be complex. Like any sale, marketers need to clearly communicate compelling business value. But with IoT especially, marketers also must reach and educate many individual stakeholders. For example, IT managers may be especially concerned about security risks, while business executives need to weigh implementation costs with long-term ROI.
On average, the number of people involved in a large technology purchase has increased from five to seven (IDC).
In order to set up the IoT sale for success, marketers should educate and nurture multiple buying roles within a target company. They need to find ways to deliver unique, individualized messaging and overcome obstacles and concerns. In this way, account-based marketing (ABM) is a great strategy for IoT because it targets individuals or small groups specifically.
Account-based marketing is a critical component of IoT marketing. With ABM, you target specific audiences rather than generalized ones. The goal of ABM is to create demand generation for target prospects or prospect types. You share curated content with individual audiences across channels like paid media, email, and advertising. Content raises awareness and educates prospects. A great ABM content offer is tailored for an individual buyer’s needs, goals, and challenges.
In addition to drawing in new business prospects, more than 80 percent of marketers say ABM has significant benefits to retaining and expanding their existing client relationships (Marketo).
If traditional marketing is a wide fishing net in your toolkit, then ABM is the bow and arrow. And in the complex IoT sale, ABM lets you reach and educate the right people efficiently. Let’s look at some ABM best practices for IoT companies.
To be effective, IoT marketers need to identify the unique value that their IoT solution provides overall. Your company-wide value lives in your value proposition. This should be a compelling statement that explains why IoT is a necessary and worthwhile investment.
IoT value often comes in the form of:
New revenue streams
Reduced overhead and cost savings
More accuracy and efficiency in daily operations
Improved research and development
Greater insight into business
Better quality of life for end-users or operators
Safety or procedural improvements
Expansion into new markets
Next, you will need to identify individual messaging for each major buying role. First ask: Who is involved in your IoT sale, and what are their individual pain points and goals? Do some research first to understand how your solution benefits and challenges each buying role, whether they fall in executive, IT, operations, or somewhere else.
Create a “messaging map” to get your marketing and sales teams aligned. You want to identify challenges for each buying role, and address any specific concerns they will have. For example, will IT need reassurance on data security? Does operations need to sunset a legacy system or process? Will staff training be an issue, and for whom? Add these insights to your messaging maps — one for each major persona, with “value snippets” that you can use in your campaigns.
These value language snippets can be tested and will change over time. But they are a solid start to unify your messaging across different ABM channels and content.
ABM lets you deliver educational content directly to your target buyers, educating them and alleviating pain points before they become a blocker to the sale. Effective content marketing is tailored to individual buyers.
For example, you can create short videos, one-page fact sheets, and how-to guides for individual buying roles involved in the IoT sale. Identify each content offer in its title by the persona it targets. Make sure you have a range of content to educate each buyer on IoT, why it matters to them, their role in implementation, and the value to their department and team. Get ahead of their concerns candidly in your content marketing.
Many IoT companies partner with other solution providers within the IoT stack. Leverage partnerships up and down the value-chain to co-create and research content. Then promote to your partner’s audiences and vice versa. You will expand your reach and build trust in your paired solutions. For example, in the agricultural IoT space, sensory machinery providers partner with companies that create data analysis applications for industrial farmers. Together, they create videos and PR materials that help explain their paired solution and build trust.
You have a value proposition and content — now how do you reach the right buyers for IoT? Successful ABM campaigns take advantage of several different channels to reach their buyers. They may run a LinkedIn sponsored content campaign, followed by a targeted email drip campaign, and supplement their nurturing with programmatic ads remarketed to their target audience.
Experiment across channels and run simple tests to determine which channels have an impact. Make sure to compare apples-to-apples metrics like conversions and clicks. The number of impressions or views will matter little when you’re targeting a segment of individuals.
Over time you’ll create an ABM playbook of best practices and understand the messaging, content formats, and channels that work for the buyers in your IoT sale.
IDC, Marketo via SalesForce, “10 Account-Based Marketing Stats That Will Knock Your Socks Off”