These days, many marketers started including account-based marketing into their marketing strategies. As per a Siriusdecision report, in 2016, more than 70% of B2B companies possess staff who are dedicated to the account-based marketing program. Whereas, in 2015, only 20% of B2B companies had account-based marketing (ABM) program in their strategies.
There is a rapid growth of demand for ABM from 2015 to till date. It is proven by the Altera Group research that marketers are having more profit when they adopt ROI described account-based marketing compared to other marketing approaches. Before delving more on this, let’s see what is account-based marketing?
How is ABM different from other marketing strategies?
Account-based marketing is one of the highly effective business strategies adopted by most of the B2B organizations. In this strategy, marketing and sales teams pick high-value accounts and treat those prospects/customers as their own market. Those prospects are nurtured by personalized content, events, campaigns, etc. These promotional activities are dedicated only to those prospects rather than industries.
This is completely different from traditional marketing. “B2B marketers have realized the limitations of traditional demand generation programs and measurements and instead are rapidly embracing the power of ABM,” said Peter Isaacson, chief marketing officer at Demandbase. Beyond lead generation, ABM works toward upselling by focusing on existing customers.
As per Hubspot, outbound marketing is a kind of interruption to the target audience which may not be fruitful as expected. But when inbound marketing is added to ABM, it works well.
Inbound marketing such as distributing unique content, SEO, and good customer experience resonate perfectly with ABM. Some B2B organizations adopt inbound marketing as an essential step before implementing ABM as it helps to attract the target accounts. Then, ABM boosts those accounts to proceed further.
How does Account-based Marketing Work?
These days, especially when it comes to B2B organizations, ABM has a high demand. There are several benefits we get from ABM marketing strategy:
- Sales & marketing alignment
- Good ROI
- Shorter sales cycle
- Personalized & optimized account
- Reduced wasted resource
Sales & Marketing alignment
Most of the organizations have difficulties in aligning sales and marketing team. Perhaps, the conversion rate gets affected a lot because of the gap between both teams in many organizations. With ABM strategy, an organization does not have to worry about the alignment of the sales and marketing team.
ABM strategy forces both teams to be aligned. Both teams have to research accounts and concentrate on them crafting valuable content and campaigns. This alignment helps to nurture a prospect well by ensuring all the communications and contents are consistent for target accounts. Clear communication and the mutual understanding between two teams pass a lead from one hand to another without repeating the same content or campaign or the same nurturing process.
According to the 2014 ITSMA Account-Based Marketing Survey, “ABM delivers the highest Return on Investment of any B2B marketing strategy or tactic.” ABM provides a clear picture of ROI that is easy to measure and decide whether to continue this strategy or not.
Measuring ROI precisely based on the accounts, ABM tactic works well and you can nurture those accounts for the long term business even after the existing business.
Shorter sales cycle
Generally, the life of sales is too long. In an organization, there are so many people involved in a purchase decision, if you go through top to bottom. ABM shortens the sales cycle since the targeted account is nurtured personally. This personal nurturing process is more effective than the general nurturing process. A normal sales cycle runs for a long time with uncertainty as there may be inappropriate prospects. Whereas, ABM streamlines the entire sales cycle within a short period.
Also, the conversion rate is higher with ABM compared to other marketing strategies. Sometimes, ABM helps retain existing customers for a long time.
Personalized & optimized account
The approach of ABM is more personalized that gains a special impression of the prospects. Compared to a generic approach, the ABM approach is more effective as the sales and marketing team tailors the campaign, creative assets, and other required stuff based on the research and the information extracted from the research.
When your content and business proposition are relevant to your prospects, they will engage and will show interest in your pitch. But in the generic approach, crafted content and campaign may not be relevant to all the prospects. One or two may take interest to be engaged. Therefore, spending time and effort in ABM provides more conversion.
Reduced wasted resource
In all startups, each resource and his/her effort is monitored and calculated to micromanage. When an organization adopts the ABM strategy, it will not have to put extra effort to micromanage the things. ABM reduces the resource as the marketing team focus only on the optimized account to target. They work only on those accounts that have been researched.
Without ABM, you will not be able to pick the targeted accounts to work on. If you work on the random accounts, you will need more resources to work on inappropriate accounts that may not produce conversion. You need more resources and time to check and verify if those accounts are your ideal customer profile or not.
What kind of approach does an account-based marketing campaign take?
Different organizations adopt different types of steps to execute an account-based marketing campaign. Here are a few common approaches most of the organizations take.
Define high-value accounts
This step is very important as you are going to pick an account. Analyze your existing customer’s accounts and observe their firmographic data. Based on the information, get your ideal profile, and find high-value accounts. Consider all factors such as revenue potential, influence in the market, etc. while determining your ideal profile.
You can define the high-value account from your existing customer list and new prospects as well. There are several hacks to find your ideal customer profile:
- Take the help of LinkedIn search alert for your ideal customer profile
- Set your requirement based on the industry and geographical location
- Identify highly influenced account
- Find the accounts who are repeatedly engaged with your content
Research your target accounts
Once you identify high-value accounts, the next step is to know more about them. Check if they are responsible to make a purchase decision in their organization. Instead of their position, focus on their roles. Once you know this, it will be easier to nurture them.
Use some tools like CRM or Ampliz Peoplefinder to find the information in order to save your effort and time. Also, social media platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook will be helpful for this purpose. Once you get the information, you need to match those to your organization’s requirements in order to proceed further.
Create targeted content and campaign
After researching the account you will be in the position to understand your prospect’s pain point and needs. Based on their needs, create content, and craft campaigns to target them. ABM is completely different from the generic approach. That’s why ABM requires a specific inbound content that is created only for the target accounts.
In order to create a personalized campaign or content, your sales and marketing team need to work together. When you analyze both teams’ sights on a particular account, you will find a few common signs which will help you create or design the content and creatives.
Find an appropriate channel
Well, now you are ready with your content. In order to make your content or creatives reach your prospects, you need to find a channel where your prospects are spending more time. While researching the accounts, this part is mandatory to cover. Once you get an appropriate channel to promote your creatives and that channel will be effective to carry your message to your target audience, you are all set.
For this, Facebook and LinkedIn are powerful platforms. These platforms have advanced options to promote your content such as location-wise, preferred timing to promote, and many more.
Measure and analyze
Once you execute the campaign and it has been run for 30 to 60 days, you can analyze and evaluate the result if your campaign is effective or not. If it is effective you can move ahead. If not, you need to find out the leaky bucket. There are several ways to find it:
- See if your personalized content is engaging
- Did your strategy move your prospect down to the funnel?
- Are your prospects engaged with your content and not taking any action?
- Is your campaign helped you generating any revenue?
Analyzing ABM’s result is completely different than measuring general lead generation tactics. For ABM, both sales and marketing teams are jointly responsible. In order to make ABM result effective, sales and marketing teams’ effort should be effective.
Account-based marketing and personalization are like two sides of a coin. Personalized content is more important than other approaches. According to you what is the best approach to account-based marketing?