Forget ABM. Contact-Based Marketing is the Future

If you are in the marketing or sales space, you’ve heard the term ABM (Account-Based Marketing). In fact, you’ve probably heard it over, and over, and over. 

ABM has been the hot buzzword over the past 5 years, with everyone from CEOs to sales teams to digital marketers hopping on the ABM bandwagon.

However, like most trends, ABM’s time is running out.  As we can see in Google trends, ABM is past its peak.

This isn’t terribly surprising to us. In fact, it’s a large reason we launched our B2B solution

ABM has its limitations. 

Marketers and sales teams need more than just company names or job titles. They need real data about the people they are selling to.

They need contact-based marketing.

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Understanding Contact-Based Marketing

Understanding contact-based marketing is key to appreciating its role in creating deeper, more effective customer relationships in today’s digital landscape. Let’s dive in.

What is Contact-Based Marketing?

Contact-based marketing (CBM) is a highly targeted marketing strategy that focuses on engaging with individual contacts or decision-makers within organizations.

Unlike broader marketing approaches, contact-based marketing centers on understanding and catering to the specific needs, preferences, and behaviors of individual people rather than the company as a whole. 

Contact-based marketing involves:

  • Personalization: Tailoring marketing messages and offers to address the unique interests and pain points of each contact.
  • Data Analysis: Utilizing detailed data from various customer touchpoints to inform and customize marketing efforts.
  • Multi-Channel Engagement: Reaching out to contacts through their preferred communication channels, which may include email, social media, direct mail, and more.
  • Building Relationships: Establishing and nurturing long-term relationships with key decision-makers through ongoing, relevant, and value-added interactions.
  • Aligning Sales and Marketing: Coordinating closely between sales and marketing teams to effectively convert personalized marketing efforts into successful sales outcomes.

The main goal of contact-based marketing is more individualized marketing for stronger customer relationships and higher conversion rates.

What’s the Difference Between Account-Based Marketing and Contact-Based Marketing (ABM vs. CBM)?

The primary difference between contact-based marketing and account-based marketing is the focus on individuals vs companies. 

CBM targets individual contacts or decision-makers within an organization with an emphasis on the personal preferences, behaviors, and needs of specific people.

ABM focuses on entire accounts or organizations. The strategy is to treat individual companies as markets in their own right, addressing the collective needs and characteristics of the organization as a whole.

CBM is also highly personalized to the individual, taking into account their role, influence, and personal preferences while ABM personalization is more at the account level, aligning marketing messages with the organization’s industry, size, and overall business needs, rather than individual preferences.

Why is Contact-Based Marketing Necessary?

Contact-based marketing is really just the natural evolution of account-based marketing.

As technology has evolved, so have we.

Sales teams have realized that you don’t sell to businesses, you sell to individuals.

Individuals have realized that they are a precious commodity. 

The result? Personalized marketing to individuals, not accounts. 

Organizations must focus on creating personal connections and that won’t happen at the account level.

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6 Key Components of Contact-Based Marketing

Contact-based marketing represents a strategic shift towards a more personalized and individual-centric approach. As mentioned previously, CBM is about understanding and engaging with each contact on a personal level. 

Here are the key components that form the foundation of an effective CBM strategy:

  1. Personalization
  2. Data Analysis
  3. Customer Journey Mapping
  4. Segmentation and Targeting
  5. Multi-Channel Engagement
  6. Feedback and Continuous Improvement

Let’s dig a bit further into each.

1. Personalization

People want personalization and CBM thrives on crafting messages and experiences uniquely tailored to each contact. It’s about going beyond generic marketing pitches and speaking directly to the individual’s needs, interests, and challenges.

CBM involves using data to create content that resonates with each contact, whether it’s through email campaigns, social media interactions, or personalized web experiences.

2. Data Analysis

Like most things in marketing, data is the lifeblood of contact-based marketing. Understanding each contact’s behavior, preferences, and interaction history is necessary for effective personalization.

Advanced analytics tools are also used to process data from various touchpoints – such as website visits, social media interactions, and past purchase history – allowing marketers to gain a comprehensive understanding of each contact.

3. Customer Journey Mapping

The average customer needs eight touchpoints before a sale and in most cases, those journeys are going to be different. 

CBM recognizes this by mapping out the individual steps each contact takes – from initial engagement to the final decision-making process.

By understanding these journeys and understanding intent, marketing and sales teams can identify opportunities for personalized engagement.

4. Segmentation and Targeting

When we think of individual contacts, we don’t always think about segmentation. But in CBM, segmentation still plays a pivotal role – it involves grouping contacts with similar characteristics or behaviors to tailor marketing efforts more effectively.

Segmentation can be based on various factors like demographic details, behavioral patterns, or purchase history, enabling marketers to create more focused and relevant campaigns.

5. Multi-Channel Engagement

Contact-based marketing isn’t limited to a single channel. It’s about engaging with contacts where they are most active and receptive – whether that’s email, social media, phone, or in-person interactions.

A multi-channel approach ensures that the communication is not only personalized but also delivered through the most effective medium for each individual.

6. Feedback and Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement is key in contact-based marketing. This involves listening to feedback from contacts and using it to refine and enhance future marketing efforts.

Implementing mechanisms for collecting feedback and making adjustments based on this input ensures that the strategy remains dynamic and responsive to the needs of each contact.

Contact-based marketing is a powerful tool for building stronger, more meaningful relationships with your contacts. It’s about shifting from a one-size-fits-all approach to a more nuanced, individual-focused strategy that resonates on a personal level.

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The Advantages of Contact-Based Marketing

Contact-based marketing offers a range of benefits beyond its core components. Here are five notable advantages of CBM:

Enhanced Customer Experience

According to Salesforce, 56% of consumers say most companies treat them like numbers. Not good. 

People want to be treated well and contact-based marketing can help create a better customer experience. By focusing on individual contacts, companies can address specific needs and preferences, leading to a more satisfying and engaging interaction for the customer.

Example: A retail company might notice a customer frequently browsing eco-friendly products. They can then tailor their communications to highlight new sustainable products, special eco-friendly offers, or relevant corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Increased Customer Loyalty and Retention

Personalized interactions foster a deeper emotional connection with customers, which can lead to increased loyalty and higher retention rates.

Example: A service-based business like a telecom operator might use CBM to offer personalized plan upgrades or loyalty rewards based on individual usage patterns, significantly reducing churn rates.

Higher Conversion Rates

We know that customers are more likely to engage with content that resonates with their specific interests and needs. By delivering more relevant and timely messages, contact-based marketing can lead to higher conversion rates. 

Example: An online education platform can send targeted course recommendations based on a user’s browsing history and past course enrollments, leading to a higher likelihood of course purchases.

Marketing Efficiency 

Time and resources are two precious commodities in business. Thankfully, contact-based marketing helps improve efficiency and utilize resources more effectively. Focusing efforts on individual contacts who are more likely to convert reduces waste in marketing spend.

Example: A B2B software company could use CBM to focus its resources on engaging key decision-makers in organizations with a higher propensity to purchase, rather than a broad, less-targeted audience.

Better Alignment with Sales Teams

Businesses with strong sales and marketing alignment are 67% more effective at closing deals and 58% better at retaining customers.

Contact-based marketing can help create that alignment by providing detailed insights into customer preferences and behaviors – both invaluable data points for sales teams. 

Example: In a tech company, the marketing team could provide the sales team with detailed insights into a prospect’s interests and pain points, enabling the sales team to tailor their pitch and increase the likelihood of closing a deal.

At the end of the day, contact-based marketing is not just about reaching out to individuals; it’s about understanding and engaging with them in a way that adds value to their experience with your brand. 

How to Implement a Contact-Based Marketing Strategy

Adopting a contact-based marketing strategy can be transformative for businesses seeking a more personalized approach to customer engagement. 

But like anything else, you want to have a plan and you want to make sure you are following best practices:

  • Start Small: Begin with a pilot program to test the effectiveness of your CBM strategy before rolling it out on a larger scale.
  • Focus on Quality Over Quantity: It’s better to have fewer, high-quality personalized interactions than numerous generic ones.
  • Leverage Technology: Utilize marketing automation, AI, and data analytics tools to enhance your CBM efforts.
  • Continuously Learn and Adapt: The digital marketing landscape is always evolving. Stay informed about new trends and technologies that can enhance your CBM strategy.

With the best practices out of the way, here’s a step-by-step guide to implementing CBM in your business:

Step 1: Define Your Objectives

  • Action: Clearly define what you want to achieve with CBM – be it increasing sales, enhancing customer engagement, or improving customer retention.
  • Challenge: Avoid setting vague goals; be specific about what success looks like.
  • Best Practice: Use SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound) goals to guide your CBM strategy.

Step 2: Gather and Analyze Customer Data

  • Action: Collect detailed data on your customers, including demographics, purchase history, online behavior, and preferences.
  • Challenge: Ensuring data quality and privacy compliance can be complex.
  • Best Practice: Use reliable CRM tools and respect data privacy laws (like GDPR).

Step 3: Segment Your Audience

  • Action: Based on the data collected, segment your audience to identify key individuals or groups for targeted marketing.
  • Challenge: Avoid creating too many segments which can complicate your strategy.
  • Best Practice: Focus on meaningful segmentation that aligns with your business objectives.

Step 4: Develop Personalized Content and Campaigns

  • Action: Create content and marketing campaigns tailored to the interests and needs of each segment or individual.
  • Challenge: Balancing personalization with scalability can be tricky.
  • Best Practice: Use automation tools where appropriate, but keep the personal touch in your content.

Step 5: Choose the Right Channels

  • Action: Identify the most effective channels for reaching your contacts – this could be email, social media, direct mail, or others.
  • Challenge: Different contacts may prefer different channels, making it challenging to manage.
  • Best Practice: Use multi-channel marketing strategies and monitor which channels perform best.

Step 6: Execute and Monitor the Campaigns

  • Action: Launch your campaigns and closely monitor their performance, making adjustments as needed.
  • Challenge: Constantly adapting campaigns based on real-time feedback requires agility.
  • Best Practice: Use analytics tools to track key performance indicators and be ready to pivot quickly.

Step 7: Collect Feedback and Refine

  • Action: Gather feedback from your contacts and use this to refine your strategy over time.
  • Challenge: Consistently acting on feedback to improve can be resource-intensive.
  • Best Practice: Establish a systematic approach for collecting and implementing feedback.

Step 8: Align with Sales and Other Teams

  • Action: Ensure that your sales team and other relevant departments are aligned with the CBM strategy.
  • Challenge: Achieving interdepartmental alignment can be difficult in larger organizations.
  • Best Practice: Regular communication and joint planning sessions can help maintain alignment.

Implementing a contact-based marketing strategy requires a thoughtful approach, balancing personalization with scalability, and aligning various teams towards common goals. It’s important to have a plan and execute it like you would any other strategy to really see success.

How Customers.ai Supports Contact-Based Marketing

Customers.ai plays a pivotal role in empowering businesses to effectively implement and benefit from contact-based marketing. Here’s how:

  • Website Visitor Identification
  • Real-Time Data and Insights
  • Enhanced Contact Enrichment
  • Personalized Marketing Automation
  • Segmentation and Targeting Capabilities

Website Visitor Identification

Our Website Visitor ID X-Ray pixel goes beyond traditional analytics, revealing the identities of individual visitors to your website. The result? Actual insights into who is engaging with your site – names, emails, company affiliation, job titles, domains, and more.

With this knowledge in hand, you can tailor your marketing efforts to these specific visitors, creating highly personalized experiences and content that resonate with their unique interests and needs.

To install the Website Visitor ID X-Ray Pixel, sign up (for FREE!), go to your dashboard, and navigate to My Automations. 

Select + New Automation and get your pixel. We have easy install options for Google Tag Manager, WordPress, and Shopify, or you can install the pixel manually.

Real-Time Data and Insights

Our website visitor identification functionality works in real-time, giving you immediate feedback on visitors and allowing you to understand the interests and intent of each contact.

Real-time data means you can not only create targeted follow-up campaigns with personalized content, but you can act fast and ensure you are reaching your audience while they are interested.

Enhanced Contact Enrichment

Contact and lead enrichment are the heart and soul of successful sales teams. Unlike ABM tools, Customers.ai data goes beyond just company and account data. 

Our B2B tool offers business emails, Linkedin profiles, company domains, and more. 

The more data you can gain about your visitors, the better your contact-based marketing campaigns will perform.

Personalized Marketing Automation

Customers.ai provides advanced marketing automation capabilities, allowing you to send personalized emails, notifications, and messages based on visitor behavior and data.

Our integrations with automation tools and CRM systems also keep the process as seamless as possible. 

By ensuring that each contact receives relevant and timely communication, enhancing the chances of conversion and building a stronger personal connection.

Segmentation and Targeting 

We are all about segmentation. Why? Segmentation is crucial in CBM for tailoring marketing campaigns to different groups and ensuring that each contact receives the most relevant and impactful message.

We recommend segmentation right at the start, which is why our Website Visitor ID X-Ray pixel offers segmentation capabilities.

Moving From ABM to CBM

As you can see, contact-based marketing marks a significant shift from the well-trodden path of ABM, addressing its limitations by focusing on individual contacts rather than broad accounts. 

By embracing CBM, marketers and sales teams can leverage real, actionable data to create personalized, impactful interactions that resonate on a much deeper level. 

Contact-based marketing isn’t just the next trend; it’s a more sustainable, customer-centric way of engaging in the B2B and B2C space. 

Customers.ai serves as a robust support system for businesses looking to adopt or enhance their contact-based marketing strategy.

By providing detailed insights into individual website visitors, enabling personalized communication, and integrating seamlessly with existing CRM systems, we really can help businesses create more meaningful and effective connections with their contacts.

Important Next Steps

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Contact-Based Marketing FAQs

Q. How does contact-based marketing differ from account-based marketing?

Contact-based marketing targets individual decision-makers, whereas account-based marketing focuses on entire organizations.

Q. What are the key components of contact-based marketing?

Key components include personalization, data analysis, customer journey mapping, segmentation, and multi-channel engagement.

Q. Why is personalization important in contact-based marketing?

Personalization in CBM is crucial for addressing the specific needs and preferences of each individual contact, enhancing engagement and effectiveness.

Q. Can contact-based marketing improve customer retention?

Yes, CBM can improve customer retention by creating more personalized and relevant experiences for individual contacts.

Q. What role does data analysis play in contact-based marketing?

Data analysis in CBM helps understand individual preferences and behaviors, enabling more targeted and effective marketing strategies.

Q. How does contact-based marketing impact the customer journey?

CBM personalizes the customer journey for each contact, catering to their unique needs and preferences at each interaction point.

Q. What types of businesses benefit most from contact-based marketing?

Businesses with high-value products or services and those in B2B industries often benefit most from CBM due to the importance of individual relationship building.

Q. How does contact-based marketing align sales and marketing efforts?

CBM aligns sales and marketing by leveraging detailed contact insights to create cohesive, targeted engagement strategies.

Q. What technologies support contact-based marketing?

Technologies like CRM systems, marketing automation tools, and data analytics platforms support CBM by providing detailed insights and facilitating personalized engagements.

Q. Is contact-based marketing suitable for small businesses?

Yes, CBM is suitable for small businesses, especially those looking to build strong, personalized relationships with key customers or clients.

Q. How does contact-based marketing drive lead generation?

CBM drives lead generation by targeting specific, high-potential contacts with personalized messaging, increasing the likelihood of conversion.

Q. Can contact-based marketing be automated?

Certain aspects of CBM, like email campaigns and data collection, can be automated, but it still requires a personal touch for maximum effectiveness.

Q. How do you measure the success of contact-based marketing?

Success in CBM is measured by engagement rates, conversion rates, customer retention, and ultimately, the ROI of marketing campaigns.

Q. What challenges are associated with implementing contact-based marketing?

Challenges include maintaining data quality, achieving personalization at scale, aligning sales and marketing teams, and ensuring privacy compliance.

Q. How does contact-based marketing enhance customer experiences?

CBM enhances customer experiences by providing highly relevant and personalized interactions, making customers feel valued and understood.

Q. What is the role of content in contact-based marketing?

In CBM, content is tailored to address the specific interests and needs of each contact, making it a vital tool for engagement and conversion.

Q. How does segmentation work in contact-based marketing?

Segmentation in CBM involves dividing the audience based on specific criteria like behavior or preferences, allowing for more targeted marketing efforts.

Q. What is the future of contact-based marketing?

The future of CBM includes more advanced personalization, integration of AI and machine learning for deeper insights, and a greater focus on customer data privacy.

Q. How do you build a contact-based marketing strategy?

Building a CBM strategy involves setting clear goals, collecting and analyzing contact data, personalizing content and campaigns, and continuously measuring and adjusting tactics.

Q. How important is multi-channel engagement in contact-based marketing?

Multi-channel engagement is crucial in CBM for reaching contacts on their preferred platforms, enhancing the effectiveness of the marketing efforts.

Q. Can contact-based marketing help in upselling and cross-selling?

Yes, by understanding individual customer needs and behaviors, CBM can effectively identify opportunities for upselling and cross-selling.

Q. What types of content are most effective in contact-based marketing?

Effective content types in CBM include personalized emails, targeted blog posts, custom videos, and interactive content tailored to individual preferences.

Q. How does feedback influence contact-based marketing strategies?

Feedback is essential in CBM for refining strategies, improving engagement tactics, and ensuring that marketing efforts remain aligned with contact needs.

Q. What is the importance of CRM in contact-based marketing?

CRM systems are vital in CBM for storing and analyzing contact data, tracking interactions, and providing insights for personalized marketing strategies.

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