You may have heard of account-based marketing (ABM) buzzing around marketing and business strategy networks. If you’ve considered ABM, you likely heard some of the following:
According to research groups, such as the Altera group, 97% of marketers believe account-based marketing yield a higher ROI than other marketing approaches. ABM can help marketers close deals on a whale (a prospect that is 10 to 20 time larger than your average prospect). Account-based marketing is essential to some businesses but can potentially harm others.
But what exactly is ABM and how can you leverage it to enhance your company’s bottom line?
Account-based marketing is a strategic initiative to hyper-segment key accounts for your business and reach out to them through a number of channels and guide them through the sales funnel. These accounts are usually your most profitable, viable leads that won’t necessarily close a deal in a few weeks. Usually, the ABM grooming takes place over the course of a few months.
Unlike other targeting efforts, ABM also relies heavily on the collaboration of your business’s sales and account management departments. When using this strategy, it’s important to create a unified front and engage the prospect(s) with a consistent call-to-action.
Typically, account-based marketing is utilized in B2B industries as it provides an alternative to the broad messaging marketers usually provide to capture a variety of businesses. B2C markets often already require more personalized content and individuals often have less ROI to offer for the level of investment that ABM requires. However, the customized content and marketing approach of ABM can still be very useful in B2C markets.
Strategies Behind ABM
Account-based marketing strategies follow the same crucial steps; regardless if you’re targeting B2B or B2C prospects and narrowing communication to a one-to-one or one-to-few basis. Here’s a step-by-step process for how to begin your account-based marketing strategy for your business.
Step 1: Identify Your Key Accounts
The first step to an effective strategy for ABM is identifying your high-value accounts and finding out who are the key decision makers. Look back at your sales data for large leads or perform some market research and target accounts based on the potential revenue they can bring, their potential need for your product or service and the likelihood of them choosing your brand.
Step 2: Find Out Who You’re Speaking to
As outlined by AdAge, you are either marketing on a one-to-one or one-to-few basis when marketing to accounts. With the one-on-one approach, you are focusing all your efforts on a single account and can create highly specialized content and advertise to its stakeholders with specific call-to-actions.
If you opt for the one-to-few approach, you can diversify your prospects and group together accounts that share similar needs and business goals. This way you can optimize your communication with slightly less specific, but still personalized, content.
Step 3: Create Personalized Content
Remember, while you are trying to secure a deal with valuable accounts, it’s important to speak to all key decision makers and ensure your brand’s messaging is consistent. The most effective ABM campaigns highlight pain points for accounts and offer concrete solutions. Be as specific as possible and take the time to understand the accounts’ challenges before crafting your message.
Step 4: Maximize Your Reach
Market to your accounts through multiple channels and maximize efforts depending on where they are most active. Leverage email, social media and retargeting ads to reach them with frequent communication customized to the channel being utilized. However, be mindful of overdoing it – no one wants to be harassed online.
Step 5: Present a United Front
Employ your ABM campaign with an organized, united front across your business. Make sure sales and account management are on the same page and optimize outreach through every resource possible. Email the account with branded content about the benefits of using your product and their regional sales manager can follow up with a phone call the next week.
Step 6: Measure Progress and Make Improvements
Regularly measure and analyze your ABM campaign progress to identify successes and adjust tactics if necessary. Track results with an individual account as well as your target accounts overall.
Why Use It
Account-based marketing offers many benefits. It can help your brand cut through the noise when trying to reach key accounts that can have a huge impact on your bottom line. Additionally, personalized content helps members of your account connect with your brand and at least increase your brand awareness if a deal does not happen right away.
Accounts gained through ABM are also known for yielding a high ROI due to their larger opportunity revenue than smaller accounts gained through less customized campaigns. Beyond a greater initial payoff, these targeted accounts are more likely to maintain a strong relationship with your brand and do repeat business.
Lastly, ABM brings together sales and marketing as a team to pursue high revenue. Any successes achieved through these collaborative efforts boosts morale and creates a happier, more satisfied team overall.
Account-Based Marketing in 2018
Although not a new strategy, ABM has boomed recently as marketing trends have ditched the tired, generic advertisements for more personal content and storytelling. According to Pardot, account-based marketing was taking off with companies in 2018 although nearly 45% reported “just starting” their ABM efforts.
Common issues with the strategy last year were a lack of alignment with sales, an inability to execute ABM tactics and poor quality data. While these barriers to executing account-based marketing may have limited how companies used this initiative, it also means room for growth and improvement in 2019.
What Account-Based Marketing Will Look Like in 2019
Based off last year’s findings, account-based marketing in 2019 is shaping up to be bigger than ever.
Building intimacy with accounts is likely to be a major trend in 2019 as it has been a theme for other marketing efforts for this year. Get to know your account member’s pain points and understand the decision makers you’re targeting before crafting your message. Once you know what they’re looking for, you can build rapport by customizing your communication to reflect the needs of each person you’re reaching out to.
When it comes to account-based marketing in 2019, you need your sales team to achieve success. They can help you understand which accounts to focus on and provide insight into their obstacles. In addition, your sales team play a huge role in executing your strategy by directly contacting accounts, sharing custom-built content and ultimately closing the sale.
Tools to Use for ABM
Account-based marketing can require a great deal of time and effort to discover target accounts, create and manage a personalized marketing campaign and continuously assess results. Here are some of the top tools to help you streamline and oversee these processes.
Engagio ABM offers B2B marketers tools to track accounts that engage with your brand, optimize resources on warm leads and measure success.
Marketo helps brands unify ABM in one platform with segmentation, cross-channel engagement, revenue-based account analytics and more.
Adobe Campaign enables you to use customer data to create, coordinate and deliver campaigns through a variety of channels including email, mobile and others.
Sigstr leverages dynamic email marketing to target audiences with timely and relevant content to help guide accounts through every stage of the buyer’s journey.
LeanData connects data to people at the center of your CRM to align crucial information to utilize for driving revenue.
Tips for Effective Account-Based Marketing
To optimize your account-based marketing efforts, there are many factors to consider. You don’t want to overwhelm accounts with your communication, waste resources such as time and money or employ an overall ineffective campaign. Here are some tips of common mistakes to avoid and best practices to ensure your account-based marketing is a success.
First, do not automate too many processes in your ABM process. Although marketing automation helps streamline tedious tasks such as sending emails or posting to social media, the overuse of automation can damage the human element of account-based marketing. Beyond that, it’s every marketer’s worst nightmare to be seen as spam or overly aggressive by your target accounts.
Instead, opt for more intimate, direct communication. No matter how personalized your marketing content may be, nothing can be more personal than a phone call. This can also be easily executed by your company’s sales team.
Choose your accounts carefully. Ensure that the key account you are reaching out to is a good candidate for your offering and is worth the time, money and resources that you are investing into them. The warmer the leads, the better. Do not waste valuable resources into a cold lead – even if it is a whale.
To help save time and effort, leverage your existing resources when putting together personalized content for ABM. Assess your white papers, presentations and other existing marketing collateral to brand them for your target accounts and emphasize what makes your brand the right choice.