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Account-Based Marketing (ABM): A B2B Leader’s Quick Guide

June 15, 2020 | By Satish Sadasivan

1. A Definitive Introduction to Account Based Marketing (ABM)

What is Account Based Marketing (ABM)? How does account based marketing work? How to do account based marketing? And, for that matter, WHY account based marketing?

According to the State of Marketing Report by Salesforce, b2b buyers have higher expectations of personalization than the average consumer. It is difficult to personalize marketing efforts when decision-makers are often a group rather than an individual.

Solving that problem, Account Based Marketing (ABM) comes as a strategic approach in which B2B marketing focuses on highly targeted accounts that have been identified as being well suited for business. Also known as Key Account Marketing, ABM requires close coordination between marketing and sales to identify and directly market to specific individuals and organizations. Being a customer-oriented marketing approach, it coordinates personalized marketing or sales efforts to open doors and deepen engagement with specific customer accounts.

Unlike Blanket campaigns that are used to cover the whole market, ABM considers each individual account as a market in their own right. ABM is an alternative strategy for the B2B marketers who cast wider marketing campaigns in the markets just to achieve as many as sales as they can. ABM clearly sets and schedules campaigns designed to build a personalized relationship with each account.

An ABM strategy concentrates marketing and sales resources on a defined number of targeted accounts and deploys personalized campaigns that are designed to resonate with each account. It’s equipped with marketing messages that are based on the attributes and needs of the addressed companies.

Unlike regular marketing campaigns, time will still be invested in developing instructive and compelling content (for buyer enablement), but the content will be tailored to the buyer's personality and will be naturally designed based on signal data. The more resources you invest in creating tailor-made content for your ideal customer, the better your chances of gaining their attention to your services and gain traction from them.

2. Why Account Based Marketing Is Important for B2B Companies?

B2B buyer behavior is rapidly changing with respect to technological shifts, organizational requirements, and many other factors that are changing the B2B paradigm. To race with the transformation and gain traction, B2B marketing approaches must change as well.

B2B buyers have more power today. In fact, by the time they land on your website for the first time, they might already have gone through 60% of their buyer journey. This raises the need to effectively start Buyer Enablement campaigns as earlier in their buying process as possible. Also, the fact that the buyer journey is taking longer than ever is another big challenge that needs to be addressed.

This is where a customer-oriented marketing approach like ABM can help. It enables the B2B marketer to weed out the less valuable accounts early on and ensures that marketing and sales are in complete harmony to focus on the most valuable accounts. As a result, the teams can get into the critical process of engaging and inspiring your accounts much sooner and faster.

Account-based marketing (ABM) is being taken up by a growing number of B2B marketers due to its high growth potential, low costs, and its effectiveness in driving long-term revenue growth.

Choosing ABM gives an opportunity to close down several barriers that will otherwise be time-consuming:

  1. Marketing efforts can become more focused and personalized when targeting only the accounts that matter the most. This increases the likelihood that our content and brand stand out uniquely in front of each decision-maker.

  2. ABM switches the focus from initiating leads to focus on the buying group as a market. Rather than sticking with the traditional lead conversion method of the funnel, the marketers can follow the way that companies are going.

  3. ABM prioritizes according to the size of the targeted accounts. Most important accounts can be considered as a different market with campaigns and blogs specifically targeted at them.

3. What Are the Key Benefits of Account Based Marketing?

Account Based Marketing (ABM) is a powerful tool to make sure that you are not wasting your marketing efforts targeting the wrong audiences. Rather, the approach enables the B2B marketer to help:

Make Your Prospects Care Sooner:

Send personalized messages to the targeted audiences in a way that they start caring about your company’s products or services, and increase your chances of making a sale.

Align Sales & Marketing, and Become Better At Closing Deals:

ABM requires your sales and marketing teams to align their efforts, which is a huge benefit because: according to a study by MathMarketing and Marketo, companies with greater sales and marketing alignment have been 67% more efficient at closing deals.

Higher ROIs:

Research from Altera Group suggests that 97% of those surveyed said ABM helped them achieve “somewhat higher or much higher ROI” than other approaches.

4. Who Should Implement ABM?

Not all companies can implement ABM successfully because developing a loophole-free marketing approach can be challenging. The resource distribution and time allocated are higher and might even force them to choose the traditional approaches to make cost reductions. 

On the same note, ABM strategy works out for the companies which particularly seek to acquire high-end customers and are willing to invest their time and resources on focused accounts consistently.

The following questions can help you figure out if ABM is right for your company:

  1. Do you have big, high-value accounts on your prospects list? (If not, if your prospects are high-volume low-value set, ABM is not the best fit for you.)

  2. Do you have enough data about your key accounts? (Data is at the core of Account Based Marketing (ABM) and without it, the probability of success is shallow.)

5. What Are Some Account Based Marketing Mistakes?

ABM is easy to understand and strategize but can be super hard to implement from ground up. This is perhaps why so many ambitious ABM programs by even big companies fail. 

Here are some commonly made ABM mistakes you should make note of:

  1. Not building your account intelligence: lack of a clear understanding of who your target accounts and decision-makers are and what they really want and need. The more you know about them the better. This includes Fit, Intent, Relationship, and Engagement data.

  2. Failure to align sales and marketing

  3. Failure to personalize

  4. Not creating and consistently reviewing the company’s ABM Toolkit

  5. Not synergizing ABM with inbound marketing

  6. Selecting the key accounts not based on strategic selection but merely for the sake of making a list

  7. Lack of tools to track in real-time and track the right metrics

6. ABM Best Practices

Mastering ABM is not just about avoiding mistakes, but also about being proactive and implementing the best practices that have been proved to work. Here’s a list of best practices to note a few:

  1. If your company is are just starting out with Account Based Marketing, focus your efforts first on a) selecting your key accounts and b) understanding their needs and wants, and c) double-checking their fit to your revenue goals.

  2. Remember the 80/20 rule? Provide value 80% of the time you interact with your account and use the other 20% to talk about your services and products. But no matter, get obsessed with helping them resolve their pain problems.

  3. Make sure that every piece of content your accounts see about your company is highly relevant and contextual.

  4. Although it seems like a good idea to get in front of your customers whichever channel they are using, it’s better to use only the most relevant channels.

  5. Measure your ABM efforts, track them consistently, and optimize based on campaign insights as they are available.

7. Generating B2B Leads With The Help Of ABM

Unlike Digital Marketing, Account-Based Marketing is an account-specific approach, where you have to know and study the accounts that are being targeted. This will help the marketers to plan strategies and campaigns easily.

Lead generation can be visualized quite differently with ABM compared to the traditional lead gen approaches. ABM is special in a way that the leads it generates come with a higher trust in the company offering the solution to them. This can fuel the relationship to be long-lasting and loyal.

8. ABM Content Strategy

The content strategy for an ABM campaign starts with finalizing your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Next, you need to leverage the Intent Data on what the decision-makers in each of your target accounts are researching -- especially on third-party sites. Learning this can help both the marketing and sales teams to tailor-make the landing pages.

Traditional marketing approaches usually cast a wide net on the market, trying to reach as many companies as possible. But this usually leaves an account without a significant impression on your brand and how you can actually help them. Building trust is hard especially in a B2B setting where more than one decision-maker is involved for every high-value buying decision to be made.

Therefore, your ABM content strategy should note the fact that addressing such a high-value account can typically need more time, effort and so the cost of implementation. 

9. How Exactly ABM Can Help Turn Your Accounts Into Customers?

What’s the basic purpose of a marketing strategy? Converting strangers into audiences and audiences into customers. ABM pretty much does the same except you target high-value clients and the rate of success can be significantly high.

With ABM, you know who you are targeting, down to every crucial detail that can inform your sales conversion process. It will be easier to take each decision-maker in taking them through the complex buying process through ABM’s buyer enablement content.

ABM basically eliminates or resolves all the issues that usually make it hard for your accounts to quickly decide on which solution to go with. If your accounts have a need and you can show them you can help, there is no reason they won’t engage with your content and consequently, covert.

10. Can You Automate Your ABM Campaign? If So, How?

To give you a headstart, you can automate 3 areas of an ABM campaign:

  1. Building Accounts

  2. Lead-to-Account Matching

#1 Building Accounts

Account-based initiatives usually get requests to target hot accounts and follow new trends. If you don’t have marketing automation in place, it could take you weeks to respond to such requests. However, with automation, you can reduce the response time down to a few hours.

 

The following table from Marketo Engage can help understand this:

#2 Lead-to-Account Matching

Connecting an account to a lead that’s already in your CRM can save you hours to kickstart an outreach.

 

When you automate the matching process (i.e. bulk matching), you can save time on the cleanup. This basically means the automation software is helping you do the work within an hour which usually takes days or weeks of manual work.

 

Data maintenance is another area where automation can help, which can help your team focus more on the accounts that are potentially easier to convert.

11. Impact of Data Quality in ABM

The success of any ABM strategy depends on how effectively you are choosing the target accounts. If this step is misinformed by bad data, there is nothing one can do to make the campaign a success.

 

The Ideal Customer Profile should have the following data and the more frequently it’s cleansed the better results it can hope to provide. The data points include:

 

1) industry/vertical, 

2) employee number by the department, 

3) annual revenue, 

4) budgets, 

5) geographical info, 

6) tech stack they use,

7) account’s customer base size, and

8) their level of organizational maturity

 

The more accurate this data the easier it is to find, engage, and covert your accounts.

12. How To Build The Database For Your ABM Campaigns?

Account Based Marketing (ABM) basically depends on the concept of “accounts” and “groups of accounts” that perfectly match with your products and services. And building your database becomes the precursor to making the ABM campaign a success.

 

When building an ABM strategy you need a data service in place that drives the following actions:

  1. New data build

  2. Data consolidation

  3. Data cleansing and validation

  4. Data enrichment

  5. Data maintenance

 

Along with that, you should be able to create research automation that consistently provides data in near real-time. The data should include:

  1. Persona profile

  2. Company profile

  3. Market research

Check out EvolveBPM's iINTEL platform where you can avail cutting-edge Data Research and Management Solutions to a global clientele.

13. Finding The Best B2B Data Partner For ABM

Since it requires more manpower, time, and resources to collect data and build a reliable ABM database, using a sales intelligence and data platform can be a huge help. It’s a best practice to take the help of a B2B data partner so that you can skip the time spent and use the partner-powered data resources.

 

Goals should be aligned and should be stated clearly to the partner with whom the company has decided to collaborate with. These objectives can give you a clear idea of the benefits and help you decide if they are the right partner.


 

Being a customer intelligence, data and lead generation, EvolveBPM's platforms Innovator, TechBase, and Trapyz have been helping  companies to implement and successfully run Account Based Marketing campaigns.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

It's time to expand the horizons!

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