Does Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Even Work?
June 17, 2020
Once a buzzword, ABM is becoming somewhat of a confusing topic. What was originally meant to help streamline marketing and create faster conversions is now a frustrating mess of way too many opinions, ending in what feels like a waste of time. So that begs the question—does ABM even work? Looking at the basics of what ABM can do, we can see that it has taken on a lot of different meanings, yet, at the end of the day, the value still stands—prioritize your marketing.
How to Identify Your Priority Accounts
We know not everyone is in the market to buy your product, that is pretty clear. However, the first and most important step to a successful ABM strategy is to look at who your perfect buyer would be. There are a ton of ways to approach account prioritization, but first and foremost, we need to identify what the accounts should look like. What revenue, employee size, employee composition (job titles), does your target account have? While it would be great to have everyone buy your solutions all the time, narrowing down your approach to key accounts that have specific “looks” to them will help you tackle this daunting process.
- What ideal companies would you want to buy your software? Why?
- What companies are set up to gain the most value out of your solutions? Create a list of those companies and create defined attributes for them.
One thing that is greatly overlooked when creating a target account list, is how that list will align with the sales team. At the end of the day, sales teams are the ones who will be seeing the results of your efforts, so it’s important to make sure your ABM strategy runs parallel to the sales strategy. If ABM was ever meant to be one thing, it was meant to be the ultimate sales enablement tool. Your ABM strategy can empower your sales team, and transparency is the perfect place to start. Letting the sales team know what priority accounts they’ll be seeing leads from can help the sales leaders with strategy and projections.
- Sit down with the sales leaders. What do they think of your top account definition?
- What challenges are the sales team facing with their day-to-day work? Think of how you can map that out with your ABM strategy.
The Buyer’s Journey
Now that we’ve set up the top accounts, defined what they look like, and aligned them with sales processes; the next step is to put your ABM strategy into action. Your ABM marketing strategy should look different than your other marketing nurtures. Knowing that each account has its own set of needs and struggles, look at your top account definition—what trends do you see? Creating a timeline of how you can convey those needs and struggles specific to the list of targeted accounts, is crucial. The goal here is to customize your marketing strategy, yet staying broad enough to speak to a group, instead of an individual. Your buyers know what they need, all you have to do is hold their hand while you walk them across the line.
- What does your buyer’s journey look like? What do you want them to feel, think about, and research? Think about how you can enable them to search for a solution.
- What story are you telling with your outreach? Who is the hero and who/what is the villain? Taking your buyers down a path of overcoming challenges can keep them engaged for longer periods of time.
In order to utilize your target account list to its entirety and make the most of your strategy, it’s now helpful to figure out a way you can loop in a retargeting approach. SEO, Social, and Display are all great places to start with this. Looking at these channels, they all have one thing in common—pulling the buyer in. We’ve already figured out how to push out marketing to the priority accounts, but now it’s crucial to pull them into your website. The end goal is to get your prospects to raise their hands and say “yes, I want to talk to you now” right? Most of these channels come with spending money, however, it’s possible to set things up on your own as well. A good step with this process is to figure out what your bottom of funnel offerings are. Those will be your most engaging options to pull your targeted prospects into your website. With a little bit of research and data analytics, retargeting can be extremely beneficial.
- What is your down funnel content or offering? Is this up to par with what your competitors are doing?
- Come up with realistic expectations for these channels. Ads and SEO are highly competitive spaces and can cost a lot of money if relied upon too much. What are two-three goals for this outlet?
We all know it’s essential to be continuously researching what your competitors are doing, however, leveraging this data in your ABM can help you stand out amongst the noise. While it’s impossible to know in detail what their strategy looks like, you can find out a lot of what they do by simply searching them on Google. What comes up with a Google search? When you go to their website, what marketing materials are they focused on? Analyzing this will help you speak more clearly with your target accounts on what advantages you have. You’ll also be able to creatively approach standing out against your competitors. This all comes with time and planning, so taking this in strides is highly recommended. Don’t go for a complete overhaul, but maybe focus on one or two things you can implement to help give you the advantage.
- Who are your top three competitors? What did you find that your solutions do better than theirs?
- How does this fit into your buyers’ journey?
Qualify, Disqualify, Repeat
ABM, if nothing else, is a method of trial and error. So, it goes without saying, your strategy should be somewhat malleable; able to fit changes and priorities as they come along. Don’t rely on what worked once in the past, if it’s not working now, don’t be afraid to change it.