What Is Account Based Marketing?

What is account based marketing? (abm)

Account-based marketing (ABM) is finding increasing popularity among several B2B marketers. They are making it an essential component of their marketing efforts. ABM is a concept that meets both the short-term goal – to generate leads, and the long-term goal – to help those leads drive the revenue growth continuously.

What is ABM (Account-Based Marketing)?

Account-based marketing is a marketing strategy that directs resources towards engaging pre-defined, targeted customer accounts. The sales and marketing teams need not have a specific alignment, but it forces them to align because, at the account level, it becomes crucial for both sides to be in sync for the precise message to be delivered.

It presents an exceptional opportunity for businesses to have increased revenues within a short period. ABM, when used by the sales and marketing teams in sync, can give better results and prevent marketers from making extra efforts for lead generation. The sales and marketing teams can then offer customized solutions to targeted accounts.

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Why is ABM the key to success?

As a marketer, you’re always looking for new ways to drive revenue for your organization. Traditionally, B2B marketing teams have subscribed mainly to a lead-based inbound marketing model. It includes driving awareness and engaging the most significant number of potential individual leads through content marketing and other digital marketing techniques, then nurturing those leads and guiding them down the funnel toward sales. Not having an account strategy in mind is the biggest problem that we have overlooked.

Even as buying circles grow, marketing teams are feeling the brunt of the pressure to influence revenue growth directly. The primary reason that the ABM approach is seeing momentous uptake. ABM emphasizes on relationships in your highest opportunity, highest-value accounts.

As marketers have become proficient in digital marketing at scale, and analytics capabilities have improved, it’s become clear that not all generated leads are the best fit. As a result, marketers are wasting time, budget, and resources on the wrong opportunities. It has created the need for more targeted techniques and technologies.

Assume you sell an expensive B2B SaaS product or consulting service. Better than taking a blanket approach where you go after small companies, SMBs, and large enterprises – you might start by concentrating on those prospects that have the utmost need and within the required budget.

While ABM is not a new concept, it’s quickly becoming table stakes for B2B brands of all shapes and sizes due to recent technological advances and is becoming the new footing for all B2B sales and marketing endeavors. The goal is not to abolish lead-based efforts but rather to find the right combination of lead- and account-based strategies that work best with your business and maximize results. 97% of marketers achieved a higher ROI by incorporating ABM than with any other marketing efforts, according to Alterra Group.

ABM requires that marketing and sales engage each person on the buying team in a personalized way. A customized approach is essential when aiming for marketing and sales efforts at a few select, high-value opportunities.  

How does ABM work for businesses?

Despite the increase in the number of buyers, marketing teams still face the heat to make an impact on revenue growth. It is one of the primary reasons that is leading to the rising popularity of account-based marketing. Relationships are a vital factor for businesses in their most-valued accounts in terms of opportunity and revenue.

For businesses that offer specific products or consulting services, approaching all the clients is not the ideal way to do business. Instead, these businesses can focus only on individual accounts that best fit their need and budget.

Marketing and sales teams can work in unison to engage and convert accounts by combining their resources. It will also help in creating a specific approach that should ideally improve engagement and subsequent sales.

Creating tailored solutions according to the business needs of the clients and offering them something more can help businesses steer ahead of the competition. Personalization is a vital aspect of ABM, and it is irreplaceable. When it comes to high-ticket accounts, there is no other way than personalizing the approach to win their trust and appreciation.

The benefits of using ABM

  • Boosts overall sales and marketing ROI:

    Account-based marketing is a value proposition for everyone, including the sales and marketing teams, besides the customers. ABM can work for businesses irrespective of their size, so long as the focus is on high-ticket accounts. It readily aligns with the account-based approach that is followed by sales teams. According to the 2018 Account-Based Marketing, the Complete Business Requirements Guide, 93% of B2B marketers worldwide consider Account-Based Marketing( ABM) extremely critical to their overall marketing efforts.
  • More Personal: They can personalize their approach with the committed involvement of marketing teams. The sales process can become fast-paced with the targeted approach, which helps them the sales teams close the attractive deals quickly. Rather than working on dicy leads, the marketing team can work with the sales team closely on a pre-defined list to win clients at a faster rate.

    ABM redirects your sales and marketing efforts to a targeted audience with laser precision, and it also entails coordinating and personalizing your messaging and communications to specific personas and buying groups within each target account.

    According to the 2017 Maketo’s State of Engagement Report, 66% of B2B consumers expect personalization in most of their interactions with brands or vendors. Buyers are more likely to engage with content that resonates with your targets and is appropriate for their business and phase in the buyer’s journey. Because ABM is intrinsically personal, augment your operations for the right audience.

    According to a LinkedIn report, “The ROI Argument for Account-based marketing,” around 84 percent of businesses that use ABM have agreed that the returns from ABM are higher than traditional marketing campaigns. The marketing team gets a much better understanding of the target audience of the company.
  • Highly efficient and Acutely Targeted:

    By deciding on the accounts to target, you can have a profound impact on the way you consider sales and marketing and the types of campaigns you execute, along with the shared resource gaps that you need to fill.

    Instead of throwing a wider net, you can also prepare targeted messages for clients as they will value only pitches that they can connect with on a personal level. The clients will appreciate it because they will understand that the marketing team has invested their time in creating a customized pitch.

    Always look for ways to target key decision-makers in specific organizations. By strategically focusing your efforts, you minimize the expense of resources on inferior quality leads or not so essential market segments. And because ABM requires business-specific buy-in from the beginning, everyone works toward achieving a common goal.
  • Improved the buyer experience:

    By using a robust ABM solution to mechanize the delivery of appropriate, personalized communications across all channels, the improved buyer experience in comparison to using specific solutions for one-off campaigns. Each persona receives content that is relevant to them at the buying stage they are at, which builds confidence and loyalty over time.

    Therefore, instead of going expansive by carpeting folks with content that a particular market or industry demands, with ABM, you go meaningful — you have to do in-depth research into accounts and design operations specifically for them. Tailor every engagement along the buyer’s journey. The alternative to doing what’s convenient for the company, with ABM, the focus is on undertaking what’s most fitting for prospects and decision-makers inside of your target accounts.

ABM vs. Lead Generation

Over the last couple of years, Lead Generation was the most viable approach for B2B marketing. Until recently, though, Account-Based Marketing (ABM) has created a thrill within the sphere and has been increasing in use as the preferred marketing approach of the marketing professionals. What is the difference between the two strategies?

Lead Generation – Generate as many leads as possible

Lead Generation is all about producing new leads. The main objective of this process is to get the attention of (higher level) the decision-makers and influencers with particular title types. The team gauge and score leads on how the business defines the marketing qualified lead (MQL), on how they respond to campaigns.

Businesses track the responses with a CRM and marketing automation system. The lead is nurtured continuously and followed through this course, building curiosity and an inclination to purchase the product or service. The process transfers the leads from the marketing team to sales once the prospect has amassed enough points to catalog them as an MQL.

The accomplishment of marketing is the count of leads and MQLs they can produce. The degree to which marketing and sales collaborate depends on the business. Most of the time, the two teams work as detached units with constrained interests and goal alignment.

Account-Based Marketing – Align Marketing and Sales

ABM is the polar opposite of generic lead generation tactics. Unlike with Lead Generation that tries to preach the company gospel to as many beings as possible, ABM focuses on specific, targeted accounts. These are the high-quality leads that the company wants to engage with as part of the business plan.

By having a laser focus on select accounts, the business can condense its sales cycle, upturn their revenue, and improve the overall customer experience due to the tailored approach that companies operate as part of the buyer journey.

It compels a shift in the attitude for marketing and sales, particularly with what their objectives are within the company. It means that for any ABM plan to be successful, both marketing and sales need to work jointly.

How to engage sales and marketing teams for ABM strategy

For businesses that are looking to achieve success through an ABM strategy, involving their sales and marketing teams is of utmost importance. If this doesn’t happen, the clients will most likely get a divided experience, with the efforts of sales and marketing overlapping each other.

Both sales and marketing teams must function meticulously and communicate regularly to create a winning strategy that also becomes successful for the client. They must align each other right from the beginning to craft a well-researched and tailored plan that is engaging and fits the needs of the client. While generating new business and expanding the existing one remains a priority, companies must also have specific short-term goals that can align with the long-term goals. Some of these could include:

  • Accelerate the sales cycle
  • Identify the primary decision-makers of each client
  • Interact with them frequently
  • Improve revenues from the existing clients
  • Promote loyalty among existing clients
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How to create an ABM strategy?

The first and foremost goal for a business to create a successful Account-based marketing strategy must be to align their marketing and sales teams. They must have a common goal of targeting and landing accounts. The marketing team must channelize their efforts and budget towards clients that the sales team feels mort appropriate. Do it by crafting content and developing strategies with agreed common goals, execute them, and monitor the success. Here are some critical steps you must follow to create an ABM strategy:

  • Identify high-ticket clients

    Businesses must scan through their existing customer database to select the few ideal clients that meet their requirements.  Scan their profiles and create several Ideal Client Personas. Pick the one persona that best fits your product. It will help the departments align their focus.  Use tools like Ampliz SalesBuddy that can aid you to find profiles based on your persona and connect directly to them through either LinkedIn or email with a personalized message.

    The preferences could be extensive, including profitability, long-term prospects, and happy clients, which make it valuable to work for them.  Engaging with such clients would not only lead to success but also a long-term value for your business.

    Also, it does not mean that you ignore the other existing clients; instead, tap on them for opportunities of expansion. For new clients, identifying their urgency is crucial, which could help you determine how much money they would be willing to spend.
  • Select the right resource for the right client

    For businesses that are looking to win bigger deals, it is the core responsibility of the marketing and sales teams to promote a consensus among the key stakeholders. Identifying resources that can wield their influence on the buying decision of the client is essential. You can include key people from your management like CMO, CIO, CFO, and other high-level executives. If you consider the whole account, then individual contacts are necessary. Aligning the needs of the clients with their strategic objectives should be the key focus area of businesses.
  • Create tailored campaigns

    The next step after selecting the target accounts and the right resources for the right client should be to create tailored campaigns that clients can find engaging. It is vital to develop campaigns that can promote better relationships for ensuring the success of ABM. The drive must include the messages that resonate with the interests and challenges faced by the client and proposed solutions to overcome them.

    The content must ideally have a unique selling proposition (USP), a strong point that could influence the buying decision of the client. The content plan must have a good thought leadership that can resonate with the client. Create an authoritative point of view and frame the story in terms of the value you will be delivered to your client’s business. Including relevant examples that show your ideas are concrete and that you have done your research on the client’s business.
  • Select the right channel

    Identifying the channels used by target accounts and the primary stakeholders for their research on trends and solutions can help you. It will vary based on different parameters like industries, roles, and other factors, so a customized approach will help you.
  • Assign right responsibilities

    The roles and responsibilities of all the resources must be specified. The strategy adopted by the marketing and sales teams to connect and engage with clients must also be defined. The campaign must highlight the appropriate channels to deliver the message.

The next step after the creation of the strategy is the execution. The campaigns can be a mix of direct emails, special events, ads, and other channels. An account-based marketing strategy helps drive relationships, so you can use that to improve your outreach. Once done with the execution, the last but the most crucial part is to evaluate and optimize the results.

For the ABM strategy, the sales and marketing teams are accountable for driving sales and earning revenue. Some of the parameters for evaluating the effectiveness of the campaign would be:

  1. Measuring the account engagement
  2. The number of deals won and their value,
  3. The number of opportunities created

 The strategy and tactics for the future can be adjusted based on these results.

Account-Based Marketing Examples

Here are some great examples of ABM campaigns we have come across.

Terminus’ Air Cover, Events, & Pipeline Spurt Campaigns

“Air Cover,” “Events,” and “Pipeline Acceleration” are three distinct Account-Based marketing (ABM) campaigns that Terminus’ sales and marketing team can run parallel to each other. Let’s analyze them one after other:

  1. Air Cover Campaign: As business development representatives focus on prospect accounts, Terminus’ marketers aim for the contacts and key decision-makers within the accounts with relevant online ads. The directed or focused ads help build awareness within the prospects before, and at the same time, as representatives are reaching out.
  2. Event-Based Campaign: As events are a big part of their immense marketing tactic, Terminus built an event marketing promotion playbook that covers all the activities that can happen leading up to, all through, and after the events. Sales and marketing collaborate to recognize the target accounts for these operations – they look at previous event attendees, pre-registration lists, and also target prospects that are near where the event is happening. After an incident, follow-up kicks in, which includes ads focused at event attendees, emails and social media posts, and very focused calls and emails from sales reps.
  3. Pipeline Acceleration Campaign: This campaign strictly has three operations, but all three focus on a single thing: closing deals. Sales and marketing team up to come up with messages and ads that equals the opportunity phase different prospects are in — early-stage, mid-stage, and late-stage opportunities.

While Terminus’ campaign-specific goals for each of the examples described above also have necessary metrics to look at for each ABM campaign that ran. The ABM campaign metrics are summarized here:

  • Engagement (Count of target companies you are engaging with?)
  • Close rates (Are they improving?)
  • Time to close (Is it decreasing?)
  • Deal size (Is it increasing?)
  • Upsell/cross-sell opportunities (Are they growing?)
  • More opportunities created (Is it happening?)

Engagio’s “complex account-based everything bonanza.”

The title above is an unadulterated quote from Engagio’s first-ever account-based marketing campaign. Here’s how the campaign operated:

  • Accounts Targeted: 300
  • Objective: have a 20% conversion rate (65% MQA per engagement with a 30% converted to meetings)
  • Marketing Team: owns early setup and implementation of the campaign, conveys MQAs to sales
  • Sales Team: owns continuation to any replies and MQAs, translates engagement into opportunities
  • Channels leveraged: Human emails of multiple players + Direct mail bundle + LinkedIn profile views + LinkedIn communications + Phone calls + Account targeted ads.

Ultimately, Engagio learned that engagement with the campaign didn’t band around specific channels.

Genesys drove 60% of net-new leads with ABM

When the Genesys digital marketing team wanted a solution to reinforce their newly launched ABM plan with LinkedIn.

Bhavisha Oza, the Director of Digital Marketing for Genesys, states that with LinkedIn’s strong professional network, it was exceptional, as it offered an ABM program focusing on IT and support the functions, our primary buyer personas.”

LinkedIn has a very accurate account targeting competencies and LinkedIn Sponsored Content; the team operated campaigns that placed the brand before the target audience.  Combination of targeting and optimization, the team’s Account-Based marketing labors have yielded promising results, with 60 percent of all leads generated were marketing captured.

ServiceNow captured 100% of form fills using ABM

In support of its ABM plan, ServiceNow leveraged  LinkedIn to deliver content to the right decision-makers within select accounts. “We haven’t seen any other solution that can achieve that level of targeting for us,” said Suma Warrier, ServiceNow’s Manager of Customer Acquisition and Personalization. Once they noticed a high proportion of LinkedIn traffic via mobile, ServiceNow combined Lead Generation Forms in its campaigns. The business saw glitzy outcomes, which includes nearly 100% increase in form, fills through the Lead Generation Forms.

SalesLoft’s cost-per-conversion reduced by nearly 50% after implementation of ABM

 SalesLoft’s marketing and leaders revisit the account list tiers every quarter. Then the company targets specific accounts and contacts them through their ABM campaigns designed to engage decision-makers at the highlighted accounts. By using ABM and LinkedIn to bond with prospects on a deeper level. With this, SalesLoft managed to cut its cost-per-conversion (CPC) by half.

Spigit increased lead conversion rate into customers with ABM

While a lower CPC is cause for merriment, the evidence of success is revenue you generate. Spigit leveraged Social media( LinkedIn) targeting and launching a succession of ABM campaigns. The outcomes far exceeded the benchmarks set, with a total lifetime click-through rate (CTR) of 0.517%, an engagement rate of 0.567%. According to Growth Marketer at Spigit, Lin Ling said that they exceeded their revenue goals and achieve 7X ROI.

9 leading account-based marketing tools you must try:

  • LinkedIn
  • Marketo
  • Engagio
  • Hubspot
  • Infer
  • Terminus
  • DiscoverOrg
  • Demandbase
  • Azalead
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Account-based marketing is a promising component of marketing and by integrating sales, it can redefine the way businesses attract clients. ABM can be defined without sales as it is required for a holistic account-based experience. When supported by the right strategy, account-based marketing can create a customer-centric experience with better engagement and results.