Not just a buzzword but a game-changer for top marketers since the mid-2000s, ABM has become a staple in today’s marketing endeavors to drive demand and increase ROI. Tweet This! According to Rollworks, “B2B organizations such as Bottomline Technologies, People.ai and OneNeck IT Solutions are relying on a blend of traditional demand generation tactics with ABM strategies to cater to their audiences and appease senior leadership.”
ABM has picked up more steam in recent times as vendors, bloggers, and market research firms all fuel a resurgence in account based marketing’s popularity. In 2017, only 29% of marketers had found ABM to be effective, whereas by 2019 the success of ABM shot up to a whopping 97% compared to other marketing tactics.
ABM’s success strongly lies within the enablement of marketing and sales to close their deals in a targeted and coordinated fashion. Plus, personalizing your brand messages at scale never looked this good!
In this article, we’ll breakdown how you can adopt a winning ABM strategy for your business – with the help of the right tools, team alignment, and process. Let’s go!
What is Account Based Marketing?
Account based marketing or ABM is a strategic and targeted marketing strategy, where key business accounts are marketed to directly. It’s a focused approach to B2B marketing where marketing and sales teams come together to target the best-fit or high-quality accounts and turn them into customers. Top B2B leaders say it’s no longer an option for marketers and sales to work separately. According to Alterra Group, marketers achieved a higher ROI of 97% by incorporating ABM initiatives into their marketing initiatives.
Account Based Marketing Vs. Traditional Marketing
Instead of casting a wide net for leads with large-scale marketing campaigns, ABM focuses on high-value accounts to nurture, convert, and retain them over time.
As opposed to traditional marketing tactics, in ABM sales and marketing work hand in hand to create a hyper-personalized experience for each target account. Account based marketing is more suitable for pursuing large companies that have longer sales cycles and complex sales needs. Traditional B2B sales on the other hand, is more appropriate for small and medium businesses that tend to be cheaper to acquire and quicker to purchase.
Who Uses Account Based Marketing?
Companies that are seeking to acquire specific and high-value customers have found an ABM strategy to be the most effective instead of taking a broader approach to their sales and marketing initiatives.
Account based marketing is a strategy and not a technology. There are typically four goals for adopting an account based marketing approach:
- Improvement in sales collaboration
- Cross-sell/up-sell the existing buyer accounts
- Acquire new logos
- To break into a new market/vertical
Benefits of Account Based Marketing
- High return on investment – Effective ABM deployment can achieve higher business ROI. The 2014 ITSMA Account Based Marketing Survey stated that “ABM delivers the highest return on investment of any B2B marketing strategy or tactic.”
- Reduced resource waste – The focused nature of ABM strategy allows marketers to focus their resources efficiently and only run those marketing programs that are highly optimized for the target accounts.
- Personalized and optimized – The ABM tactic calls for personalizing your communication and messaging to specific accounts so your campaigns resonate with these target audiences. Customers are much likely to engage with content that is addressed directly to them and is relevant to their business and stage in the buyer journey.
- Clear on tracking goals and measurement – It is easier to draw a clearer conclusion based on the effectiveness of campaigns whether email, ads, web, or events, for a smaller set of target accounts instead of a vast set of metrics.
- Sales and marketing alignment – Account based marketing is one of the most effective ways of aligning sales and marketing. This is mainly because a marketer, when running an ABM program, operates with a mindset very close to sales – thinking in terms of accounts and how to best target them.
Successful Account Based Marketing Examples
Here’s an example of how Engagio ran its first ever ABM campaign and saw great results through a unified multichannel approach.
Complex Account Based Everything Bonaza - Engagio
- Target accounts: 300
- Goal: have 20% of those accounts turn into opportunities (65% Marketing Qualified Accounts per engagement with a 30% meeting rate)
- Marketing: owns initial setup and execution of the campaign, delivers MQAs to sales
- Sales: owns follow-up to any responses and MQAs, converts engagement into opportunities
- Channels utilized: Human emails from/to multiple players + Direct mail package + LinkedIn profile views + LinkedIn messages + Phone calls + Account based ads
Below is Engagio’s day-by-day breakdown of how the campaign played out:
Engagio discovered that engagement with the campaign didn’t cluster around a particular channel; it was scattered.
Key takeaway: Multichannel approach is key for maximum engagement. It’s important to hit all the different touchpoints so we can have everyone’s response – and to always deliver value, regardless of the channel.
- In order to engage prospective customers, LiveRamp adopted a multichannel approach that allowed teams to book several meetings with Fortune 500 companies.
- LiveRamp credited their success to four main initiatives:
- Strong alignment between their marketing and SDR teams
- Their high value, regional thought leadership events that emphasize learning and development
- Cohesive engagement and messaging via personalized display advertising, marketing email promotions, multi-touch SDR strategies, and direct mail
The teams used a hyper-focused approach to target list creation and took this strategy to come up with 15 high-value clients. That resulted in a 33% conversion rate from cold leads to meetings within just a four-week timeframe. LiveRamp also found that their ABM campaigns performed significantly better than their broad campaigns and generated a 2x increase in previously dormant accounts as well as a 10x increase in year-on-year revenue.
Key takeaway: It takes integration of multiple initiatives in order to create a successful ABM campaign. LiveRamp’s hyper-targeted approach coupled with strong coordination between their teams as well as their high-value offerings that sought to educate and inform their prospects integrated seamlessly, resulting in success.
Is ABM the Right Approach for Your Business?
Some surefire ways to determine whether account-based marketing is the right choice for you is to determine whether:
- The sales cycle involves a research/evaluation phase and it often involves multiple stakeholders.
- Your sales and marketing teams are looking to make a bigger impact with a more strategic focus.
- You’ve noticed that existing buyers who generate the most revenue have distinct characteristics, or you have identified accounts with distinct characteristics that can generate more revenue.
- There are organizations with needs that your solution clearly addresses.
- Your organization is looking to break into a new segment, territory, or vertical, or going after your competitor’s customers.
- Your organization offers several products or services and has set goals to grow buyer lifetime value through up-selling and cross-selling.
How to Create a Winning ABM Strategy for Your Business?
Choosing target accounts will vary for every company as each organization has unique business goals and a personalized strategy that’ll determine its criteria. Before you start putting together an ABM plan, there are three key foundations to look into:
- Purpose of your ABM program
- Accounts you are targeting
- Prospects within those accounts that you’re targeting
Identify and Pick Your ICP (Ideal Customer Profile)
Before you get started with your ABM efforts, your marketing and sales operations need to do some heavy research to help you make an informed decision about the accounts you select. Determine which industry, company size, location, annual revenue, up-sell opportunity, profit margin, etc. are right for yielding your business the highest long-term profits. This research needs to be both qualitative and quantitative.
If you don’t know which accounts to target or have exhausted your initial list, collaborate with the marketing team to build a predictive model. Predictive analysis takes into account millions of data attributes from both internal and external sources (company’s tech stack, hiring trends, social media activities, funding level, marketing solution, CRM, blog posts, third-party websites, social media channels, etc.), then applies machine learning to understand who is showing the highest propensity to purchase.
Next, prioritize your accounts and decide which ones to go after first. It’s crucial to prioritize the lists in order to demonstrate early success and maximize your ABM ROI.
“Give priority to the account types that are most relevant to you—the accounts where you have a good understanding of the potential buying journey and those that you already have content to support.” – Marketo
Map Your Accounts
After you’ve prioritized your target accounts, start mapping personas inside each key account. This will give you a closer look at which buying groups are best to target. You must understand your audiences well – what challenges each persona faces, what impacts their decision, and who makes those decisions.
- Have a plan that focuses on the key part of the organization. Consider the
- Financial health
- Business initiatives
- Personnel developments
- Organizational structure
- SWOT analysis
- Industry analysis
Successful and effective marketing should start by understanding your audience. This is especially important when the audience makes up an entire buying group, or a specific set of key individuals who decide when, what, and where to make the purchase.
Create the Right Content
You must have relevant content to communicate the value of your solutions to your ABM audiences. To offer custom-tailored brand experience across all channels, consider personalizing content for the contacts at your accounts.
Creating scalable content to support your ABM model across the entire buying cycle might sound a bit overwhelming at first but not impossible. Before you start to make original content from scratch, look at what you already have in your library. You may have a comprehensive list of content with details about its date, audience, and so on that can be put to use or help you find potential gaps.
This way you know which content to update, repurpose, or discard from your repository. Start by building an effective content strategy for your target accounts once you’ve got a clear idea of what content you have, the gaps that exist in the content repository, and who you’re creating the content for. You can use a content/message matrix to map what content you’re going to use to reach your target across the buying journey.
Distribute your content across social, email, websites, etc. and make sure the process is organized so that no target account receives the same content twice, or any irrelevant content for the stage they’re in.
To engage your ABM audiences, your content has to be personal, relevant, and timely.
Measure and Optimize Your Account Based Marketing Results
You can’t gauge the success of any of the strategies without understanding its revenue impact. So, you must make your ABM results actionable, tangible, and available in real time. It is reported that about 60% of CMOs have trouble proving their ROI – one of the main reasons for that is not asking the right questions.
Once your campaign has been running for 30 to 60 days, check to see:
- Whether your personalized content proved to be engaging? If so, how?
- If the accounts are becoming more engaged with your brand?
- Whether you are expanding the number of known stakeholders within these organizations?
- Did you move any of these targeted leads down the funnel?
- Whether you’ve generated any revenue from these campaigns?
- What could you do better going forward?
ABM Tactics and Practices for Your Campaign
Select the Right ABM Technology
Tools designed for ABM have a lot to offer companies just adopting the strategies vs. those who’ve been executing ABM for some time. The right ABM solution will provide valuable insights all the while reducing the effort for personalizing campaigns and monitoring the results.
Ensure that your software fulfills your business needs and goals throughout the entire lifecycle. From strategy and compiling your list of target accounts to distributing personalized content across channels and measuring the results.
Target Through Multichannel Approach
Having a multichannel approach isn’t just for marketing. Sales development teams could use both online and offline channels to drive outbound marketing opportunities. To quote Marketo, “Based on the accounts that marketing and sales decide to pursue, sales can prioritize its outreach and follow-up on higher account scores that have the propensity to purchase. Sales can use a variety of channels—email, social media, and cold calls—to do research on and target different stakeholders within each account. Informed by data from your marketing automation solution and CRM system, they can ensure that they’re having relevant conversations with their prospects and tracking their progress.”
Whether you’re a novice or a seasoned professional looking to expand your ABM horizon, Deck 7’s account based marketing services can beautifully guide you throughout the journey. That’s because we help companies scale growth and revenue by creating systems that enhance relevant relationships using highly customizable content.
For B2B companies that are looking to generate a higher ROI from their marketing endeavors and create long-lasting relationships with high-quality accounts, ABM may be the right choice for you. But before you proceed, carefully assess, analyze, and determine what changes would have to be implemented within your teams, what tools should be purchased, and what processes to put in place.