Account-based marketing (ABM) has been getting a lot of attention lately, and for a good reason. The strategy itself isn’t new. What is new is that now it’s easier to deploy, thanks to the availability of new IT solutions.
Why is this? ABM requires extensive research to identify targets and create highly personalized marketing campaigns. This takes considerable time and resources.
Today, B2B buyer data is everywhere on the web. There are also many predictive analysis and user tracking tools you can use. As a result, it’s much easier to get proactive and identify the accounts you want to target.
How ABM differs from traditional marketing
Traditional marketing is lead-based. The idea is to expose a wide audience to your advertising content and generate plenty of leads. Your potential clients can be companies or individuals. By definition, you don’t control who interacts with your content.
In contrast, account-based marketing focuses on targeting specific prospects using a micro-marketing approach. The campaigns are tailored to match the unique needs of these accounts.
In essence, each account is treated as “a market of its own”. You control who engages with your content. ABM is a B2B marketing concept. The targets are always companies. It’s a good fit for high-value deals.
Why use account-based marketing?
In the B2B setting, decision-making is seldom a one-person job. There are usually many key players and influencers involved. ABM allows your teams to connect with each stakeholder in the corporation. This way, you can address their individual needs and market to all of them at once.
Account-based marketing is a powerful revenue driver. The majority of B2B marketers agree that ABM yields higher ROI compared to other approaches.
As said before, ABM has a very narrow focus target-wise. So, rather than spreading yourself thin on multiple fronts, you go for in-depth targeting. By delivering highly-personalized content, you maximize impact and minimize costs.
Sales and marketing alignment is important in ABM
Successful ABM execution requires unified sales and marketing efforts from the outset. Not that it would hurt your other business endeavors either. From target identification, through engagement tactics and nurturing, to conversion. It’s all a joint effort.
Make sure both teams understand their respective roles and the campaign objectives. Allowing discrepancies, dis-coordination and conflicting actions can doom your campaigns.
It’s a good idea to use a CRM solution to automate the alignment process. It will allow both teams to share important account-related info and coordinate efforts. CRM reports and campaign stats will help them assess the situation and adjust tactics.
Are ABM and inbound marketing mutually exclusive?
Contrary to how it may seem, ABM marketing and inbound marketing are not incompatible. But because of the differences in the approach and target audience, it’s easy to assume just that.
ABM marketing focuses on a specific set of accounts. Inbound marketing tries to bring in as many prospects as possible by casting a wide net.
The truth is these strategies work great in tandem. For instance, you can use ABM as a prospecting tool to identify your target accounts. Then, implement inbound tactics like SEO, social media and content marketing to engage them.
How to put a successful ABM marketing strategy in place
There are several key elements to a successful implementation of your ABM campaign.
Identify your target accounts
As with any marketing approach, choosing the right target audience is key. Use a set of criteria that best apply to your business to determine your target accounts. Research the accounts in detail.
Look into company size, employee count and revenue per annum. Consider strategic factors as well. Revenue potential, market influence, the potential for repeated purchase, expected profits, etc. This way, you’ll be able to create the right content and choose the best engagement tactics.
Identify key decision makers
As a general rule, the bigger the company, the more decision makers there are. Familiarize yourself with the corporate hierarchy and find out how purchase decisions are made. Identifying the key players and influencers will help you find the best ways to engage each of them.
You can leverage your connections on LinkedIn to get in touch with a decision maker or someone close to them. Or, you can try LinkedIn Sales Navigator to find the key players in the account.
Define buyer personas
Buyer personas are research-based profiles of the account stakeholders. The key thing to remember here is that buyer personas are not about the buyer. They are about the buyer’s purchase habits, which is what you are trying to influence. Basically, the behavior, attitudes, and criteria that make them choose one product over another.
Create your content
Quality content is key to engaging account-based targets. ABM and inbound marketing are a great mix at this stage. Design company-specific content that appeals to each stakeholder within the target company.
Create it around the challenges companies face and the solutions they need. For instance, HR would be concerned with staffing, payroll or recruitment issues. Interact with all key players, but keep the main focus on closing the sale.
Select deployment channels
Your choice of channels will depend on the industry and company roles you are targeting. Find out where your account’s key players spend their time online. This way, you can deliver content to the right places and track their engagement.
The buyer persona for each key player will provide information about the best channels to use. If the key player is a marketing expert, choose LinkedIn as they frequently post there. Others may respond better to phone calls, blogs or webinars.
Or, if you’re already communicating via email, consider newsletters and face-to-face meetings.
Strategize and implement
Once you have your targets, content, and channels picked out, it’s time to devise a strategy. There is no magic formula when it comes to ABM implementation. It will depend on your resources and campaign goals. Multiple goals within an ABM campaign will require a set of different strategies.
Successful ABM execution requires close coordination of efforts across deployment channels. This is necessary so you can avoid repetitive and conflicting messaging.
Keep in mind that in ABM, you need to measure the campaign success as the account develops. Unlike other approaches, you can’t wait for closed deals and revenue to measure success. This is because it usually takes a while for ABM targets to convert.
The longer the cycle, the more you need to know what’s going on. The way to do this is by tracking key player engagement. By quantifying the depth of interaction, you’ll be able to measure campaign progress.
If you’re considering Account-based marketing, you might want a partner on your side
Whether you’re considering account-based marketing as a sole strategy or planning an ABM-inbound mix, getting help from someone with experience will save you a lot of time and effort.
At DemandZEN, we offer the latest and best in demand generation and digital marketing. Our experts are fully versed in the operation of multiple CRM/marketing automation systems. These include Salesforce, Marketo, Eloqua, and most recently HubSpot. Even more importantly, we know how these tools fit into an ABM marketing approach.
You can look at our experienced marketing team as your partner in success. When you work with us, we are there for you to help with implementing and devising the marketing strategies that work. To inquire if our services are right for you, feel free to reach out.