The ABM Essentials: Overview, Benefits and How to Implement It
April 2, 2021
Recently, many people have been talking about account-based marketing thanks to the buzz created by bloggers, marketers and market research firms in the digital marketing world. The term, invented in 2014 by ITSMA, describes a concept that B2B vendors have been practicing for several years but without a name.
So, what exactly is account-based marketing and why are businesses jumping on the train?
What is Account-Based Marketing?
Marketers have to deal with a major challenge nowadays—get their products or services to the target customers or audience. Traditional marketing often takes a generalized approach—more like casting a large net into the ocean and hoping it catches fish. The approach is mostly speculative because it is often hard to tell who gets the message and if they will be interested. Account-based marketing changes that by creating organization personality, tailoring marketing messages for the targets and starting a conversation.
Account-based marketing is a strategic approach to sales and marketing that involves marketing to high-value businesses as a single entity. Essentially, B2B marketers identify prospects consisting of major businesses, target their stakeholders and develop a custom-made marketing strategy deployed through different channels to cater to their needs and personas. It is essentially personalized marketing but on a major scale.
Tailoring a sound and intriguing message to these major stakeholders is critical because they have high revenue potential and a high impact on sales and marketing. With ABM, you can remove less-valuable businesses on time to streamline your marketing efforts toward specific high-value accounts. And the result? Improved ROI and better customer loyalty.
Before delving into how businesses can integrate specific account-based marketing tactics, let’s review the advantages.
Why Implement Account-Based Marketing?
The idea of ABM sounds intriguing, but you might be thinking, is it really worth the trouble? A fact is evident; the feedback from many marketers is that account-based marketing delivers high and consistent ROI. According to a study done by the Altera group, 97 percent of the participants stated that they recorded higher ROI with ABM than other marketing channels.
However, that a marketing strategy works for some businesses is no guarantee it is the best option for you. The fact is that the ABM approach is best implemented with large sales enterprises with more than 1000 employees. The reason is that the final sales decision involves multiple stakeholders. While this does not exclude non-B2B companies with less than 1000 employees, you still need to decide if adopting account-based marketing is logical for your business model and sales cycles. If you have a small business with a low marketing budget and restricted time, ABM is probably not for you.
Account-based marketing is something you should implement if you are interested. This strategy’s primary goal is to launch a sales campaign targeting higher-value opportunities from the outset, get the highest ROI from the marketing campaign, and set the path for lasting success by aligning sales, marketing, and account management.
Developing an Account-Based Marketing Strategy
Account-based marketing is highly valued and strategic with the potential to generate incredible results, so you need to get it right. ABM strategy is not a day’s effort—it takes a building block of strategies that incorporate intent data and a system that streamlines communication between sales and marketing. Yes, there are platforms and software that integrate automation and account-based marketing, but businesses will need to dedicate time and research to develop their ABM strategy.
The steps below can help you with the process:
Identify the target accounts
Marketers are familiar with a buyer persona, but ABM goes beyond differentiating personas. You will be developing a plan for the entire organization and not one person. This is important, and you need to get off to a great start. The first step of your ABM strategy should be identifying the basic structure of businesses that generate the highest revenue for your company. Set defining categories for organization personality like industry, company size, annual revenue, profit margins, and location for those accounts that generate the most profits over the long-term. These are the target accounts for your marketing campaign. You will need qualitative and quantitative research to create this data. Without defining the target accounts, the ABM strategy is pointless.
Do Your Research
After identifying the target accounts, you need to find out the organization’s key decision-makers and how they make the decisions. Learn about the structure of the organization and develop strategies to influence the stakeholders in each of them. Remember, with ABM, the knowledge (read as data) you possess on each target account is key to marketing success. You can use your company’s CRM (if you have one) and social platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn.
Develop Personalized Content
Whatever data you could get from the last two steps, you need to use them to create a personalized message that appeals to the stakeholders and the businesses. This process entails a deeper understanding of unique pain points and presenting the solution you have through an engaging message. Remember that the premise of ABM’s effectiveness is personalizing, in contrast to generalization—which means the content will pique their interest.
Determine the Best Marketing Channels
After doing your research and creating the right content, you need to find the right channel for your marketing campaigns, or the effort would have been futile. This process requires finding where the stakeholders hang out online and their intentions while using platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. For instance, when targeting an executive in a financial company, it is advisable to target Google ads on finance websites like Bloomberg and MarketWatch. LinkedIn and Facebook are excellent platforms for targeting because they allow businesses to run promotions targeting specific businesses and roles within the business. Your campaign is targeted, so avoid overwhelming the prospects with messages across multiple platforms.
Develop Strong Relationships with the Stakeholders
After piquing the interests of the high-value accounts and their stakeholders, you need to develop a strong relationship with them. It takes months or even years to develop strong relationships. This is more about meeting their needs consistently and delivering the highest level of satisfaction while ensuring professionalism. Make the businesses feel like a priority through effective communication, proper organization, dedication, and consistency.
If you have been running your marketing campaign for over a month or two, you need to measure and determine the success of your account-based marketing strategy. Metrics like engagement rate, leads, and revenue can help show your performance level and if you need to make any changes going forward. Do not be disappointed, even if the results are not according to expectations. The interesting part of online marketing is that the results are measurable, which means you can check your performance and what improvements to make.
Account-based marketing does not have to be a hassle. The core concept is to build an aligned sales and marketing process that focuses on a specific set of accounts. You are identifying the major issues faced by the business and tailoring your marketing to meet those needs. With the right approach and strategy, you can begin to engage the right-fit accounts and get closer to achieving your business goals.