Account-based marketing demands conversational content

This is a guest post from Bruce McKenzie from Business Information Graphics

Account-based marketing works on building relationships within key accounts. Essentially, it’s talking to the right people at the right time, and deploying a variety of content as the basis of continuing conversations.

Account-based marketing differs from the traditional sales funnel in its emphasis on engagement. In the clever model devised by Terminus CMO Sangram Vajre, you can see that, from the outset, the “content” needs to be personal. You’re not obliged to hijack attention amid the cacophony of competing promotional messages. We know who the target is. We need to appeal to self-interest. We have a relationship with these accounts. So strictly promotional content will be much less prevalent.

Source:  Vidyard

Source: Vidyard

Here’s the “flipped funnel” ABM model devised by Sangram Vajre, CMO of Terminus and founder of the #FlipMyFunnel community. The stages are:

  • Identify. Figure out who are your best-fit customers; who would benefit most from your product or service?
  • Expand. Find out exactly who are the right people to engage.
  • Engage. Get the right content out on the right channel. Not just video — case studies, graphics, landing pages, email, social media.
  • Advocate.  If you do the engagement right, you’ve got relationships you can build on.

Video and the complex customer lifecycle

In the world of tech solution marketing, the customer journey is complicated. The Gartner customer lifecycle model below puts account-based activities into the customer lifecycle. It captures the experience of tech marketers, where members of a buying committee, with divergent interests, engage in different activities at intervals.

Where do we drop our video pins on this map? This is the customer lifecycle model published by  Gartner’s Hank Barnes

Where do we drop our video pins on this map? This is the customer lifecycle model published by Gartner’s Hank Barnes

Hank Barnes, who created this model, told me that tech solution marketers he talks to are a puzzled as to how where to use videos over this lifecycle. That is, if you wanted to drop pins representing different kinds of video onto this map, where would you drop them? Branding and overview explainer videos at the intake? Technical videos like webinars and subject matter expert interviews farther along the way? That makes sense. But it’s a hit-or-miss approach to exploiting opportunities for engagement, in a world where personalized customer communication is becoming the norm.

Customer engagement drives profit — there’s ample data to back that common-sense notion. Watching your videos is part of the customer experience. Here are four of the “Rules for Account Based Selling,” according to Salesforce.

  • Identify target personas
  • Engage continuously
  • Monitor and measure activities
  • Personalize content

To apply these rules, you need new video formats and distribution platforms.

Video from the customer’s point of view

From the customer’s point of view, videos can represent a risk: Valuable content? Or a waste of time? Or a little of both? The sooner something valuable appears, the better the customer experience.

From the customer’s point of view, videos can represent a risk: Valuable content? Or a waste of time? Or a little of both? The sooner something valuable appears, the better the customer experience.

To engage with content, a viewer needs some assurance that the content is what he’s looking for.

When a buyer clicks a link to a white paper, for example, he knows what to expect — an in-depth treatment from the seller’s point of view. He can scan it to see whether it’s worth reading. No more guidance required.

But when a buyer arrives at a video, he has only a vague idea of what’s in it. He begins at the beginning, hoping it won’t take too long to get to the issues he cares about.

Even a 90-second B2B video can take too long. According to Vidyard's 2017 B2B Video Benchmarks, 25% of viewers will leave within 25 seconds, and just over half will make it to the end.

That would seem to call for putting your key message very near the start of video. A video that doesn’t feel immediately responsive to the customer’s situation is a less than ideal customer experience and does little or nothing to increase engagement going forward. That’s not good for account-based selling.

What does responsive online engagement look like? It’s conversational.

More and more, “responsive” means messaging, chatbots, and voice interfaces (Siri, OK Google).

Microsoft says the operating system of the future isn't Windows, but "conversation as a platform." Facebook says chatbots are the key for businesses that want to sell to Messenger's 900 million monthly users.

Many user experience experts think this where the human/computer interface is headed. No more websites or mobile apps. Just assistance.

Using video opportunistically

What makes a video responsive? It answers a customer question that’s top-of-mind.

What makes a video responsive? It answers a customer question that’s top-of-mind.

How can video deliver a better customer experience? One of video’s underused superpowers is its ability to make us understand something we didn’t understand a minute ago. That’s an experience people find satisfying.

Video is good at explaining things visually, telling stories, communicating the spirit and enthusiasm of your best people.

The opportunity is to exploit these powers of video. The genre doesn’t matter. Buyers aren’t looking for webinars or interviews, they are looking for insight. If you concentrate on making videos that communicate insight, you’ll develop a library of multi-purpose videos that can be used in many kinds of conversations, including webinars.

Video FAQs

Look at your FAQ page and see which questions can be effectively answered with video. Make Q&A landing pages for individual solutions, combining text, video, diagrams — whatever works best for each response.


Every good blog post about a tech solution represents a lot of hard work and careful thought — an investment of valuable resources. A competent video producer should be able to increase its value many times over by transforming it into a bite-sized video.

Talk to your subject matter experts

Ask your subject matter experts and sales teams which questions they are asked most often. The answers might make terrific videos.

Bring existing visuals to life

Look at the diagrams, charts, and use-case illustrations in your existing content. A lot of them could be much more effectively communicated in a video story or step-by-step motion graphic.

Repurpose your technical videos

Look at your existing webinars and other long-form videos. They probably contain good answers that could be improved with graphics — and excerpted. Or, simply add clickable chapter headings to provide a much better user experience.

Persona-based videos

Instead of one-size-fits-all, top-of-the-funnel overview explainer videos, make explainer videos that are persona-based. Short videos have more impact when they leave out stuff people don’t care about.

Put a chatbot in your video

You can embed responsive guidance in any video right now. It’s known as “interactive video.” Clickable objects enable the viewer to branch to other content. Input fields and buttons can trigger responses. The user never needs to navigate away from the video, so the experience is immersive and engaging. (These clickable objects could easily mimic chatbots.)

Distribute on an analytics platform

You can learn a lot about customers from the questions they ask. Short videos that answer these questions will generate a lot of customer data and insight for your sales and marketing teams. They’ll help you plan better content to create more engagement. That has to be good for the bottom line.

A better customer experience: turn buyers into advocates

For account-based marketing, you need a library of responsive video content. Don’t limit it to standard categories. You want videos that enhance landing pages, videos that target specific buyer categories, videos that quickly satisfy buyer concerns.

If your videos are part of the conversation, they’ll contribute to a customer experience that turns buyers into advocates — and keeps your account-based marketing program on the high road.


Since 2004 Bruce McKenzie, founding partner of Business Information Graphics, has been developing videos to increase sales engagement for companies such as IBM, Cisco, Brocade, Quantum, Compuware and many startups.