Everything You Wanted To Know About Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Detailed guide on account-based marketing

Imagine a world where you could sell to only the most valuable customers. Then you wouldn’t have to waste time on prospects who aren’t your target audience. You would be able to move right into the interaction and networking phase with someone who is. With account-based marketing, all of this becomes possible. 

Creating an account-based marketing strategy will help to develop your business in the long term, as well as improve customer relations and grow revenue. This guide will introduce you to the basics of account-based marketing. Let’s dive in!

What is account-based marketing?

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a strategic approach to B2B marketing that focuses on working with individual/key accounts, rather than broad segments of clients. It is a process that helps to attract leads in a personalized way. Visually, this process is the opposite of generating leads through the sales funnel:

ABM funnel

In fact, the process is based on the integration of marketing and sales efforts to achieve a given strategic goal. The focus is on individual customers called accounts. Which means that to use the account-based marketing strategy, you only need one thing: information about the key accounts (customers).

Feel the difference:

Traditional marketing consists of filling the sales funnel with leads. Next, the sales department works with prospective customers. Some of them reach the purchasing stage, the rest gradually fall out of the funnel.

In the ABM approach, marketers work with the sales department to “lead” predefined key customers through the sale stages and aim to keep the conversion rate close to 100%. And even after the sale, marketing continues to work with customers, increasing their loyalty and helping them to make an upsale.

How does ABM work?

In business, the people who are at the top of the company decide whether or not to enter into a contract with you. They are usually stakeholders, directors, department heads, and so on. In marketing they are called decision makers. In one large company there are on average 5-7 decision-makers. It is them who account-based marketing works with.

Once these individuals are found, the sales department approaches them with a commercial proposal containing information.

There are three primary ways that ABM can function:

ABM types

One-to-one

Focus on 5-10 companies and provide personalized content directly to targeted key accounts. This type of ABM relies heavily on relationships with those customers and is used to win the most profitable customers.

One-to-few

Target clusters of customers with similar characteristics (typically 3-5 clusters, each consisting of 50-100 customers). This type assumes an easier personalization — instead of creating different messages for each company, it scales messaging to larger groups of customers. 

One-to-many

Target lists of 100-1000 companies (no fixed limit). While the above types were more about personalization and relationship building, this type of ABM is for lead generation. The idea is to come up with a relatively large list of companies you think would be a good match for your product, and then reach out to them with targeted content.

Common problems ABM can solve

ABM marketing can be extremely effective in addressing common business problems. Here are just some of the issues ABM marketing can help you with:

Low ROI

Account-based marketing is all about optimizing the return on investment (ROI) to achieve clear business outcomes. 84% of businesses that employ account-based marketing indicate that it delivers a greater return on investment than other marketing efforts.

The problem of personalization

Personalization at scale is one of the most difficult challenges for B2B marketers. Delivering the right message to the right person at the right time requires a deep understanding of each account. Account-based marketing (ABM) can help you solve this problem by letting you focus on specific accounts and target them with precision.

The profitability problem

A significant issue that often comes up without account-based marketing is useless leads, which are costly and time-consuming with no reward. This is another problem that account-based marketing can help with. 

As ABM is a targeted marketing approach, it helps to ensure that you are only spending your time and money on leads that are actually going to be valuable to your business. This means that you are much more likely to see a higher return on your investment with ABM, as opposed to other marketing approaches.

The problem of slow sales

By using account-based marketing techniques, companies streamline the sales cycle. Marketers and salespeople can focus exclusively on those potential customers most likely to generate revenue.

The benefits and drawbacks of using ABM

There are many advantages to ABM strategies. We’ve compiled a short list of the main benefits of account-based marketing that positively impact businesses of all types?

Consistency of marketing and sales

ABM allows marketing and sales to adhere to a common goal, a consistent budget, and an understanding of exactly what everyone involved in the process is doing.

Maximum business relevance to key customers

Account-based marketing implies that you will personalize : content, product information, communications, campaigns, etc. This personalization and flexibility will maximize your company’s relevance to the customer.

Measuring ROI

ABM allows you to easily measure the ROI for each account based on the time and resources spent on it. This is useful since it allows you to see whether specific accounts you invested in were appropriate for your company.

Sales cycle optimization

ABM optimizes the entire sales cycle, increasing efficiency. You no longer need to experiment with different techniques to find and sort through large numbers of leads. ABM ensures that targeted accounts are the perfect audience for your business, so you can move right into relationship building.

Business expansion through establishing relationships with accounts

Account-based marketing encourages you to spend more time and resources engaging and interacting with a group of carefully selected accounts, rather than aiming to quickly close deals with less valuable leads who might prove to be an inappropriate audience for your company in the long run. 

However, ABM marketing has some drawbacks compared to other marketing strategies:

Management challenges

ABM requires a high level of coordination between sales and marketing, which can be challenging to achieve. Because of the lack of communication, strategies are not aligned with specific accounts, making it difficult to personalize messages.

Too much work

Both the creation and implementation of a campaign requires an extraordinary amount of time and energy. Creating, managing, and implementing a campaign for each one of your target accounts entails meticulous work.

The effort must be sustainable

ABM is not a one-time deal. You can’t build a relationship on a one-time basis; it takes time and multiple points of contact. Once you’ve established a rapport with a key customer, you need to continually dedicate resources to maintain it. This might include sending personalized content or inviting them to events.

How to develop an account-based marketing strategy

The ABM marketing strategy includes several steps:

  1. Define your high-value accounts

When creating an ABM strategy, answer the question of who your company wants to work with. Which companies (accounts) are of interest to your organization as clients?  

To do this, consult with the sales department. They probably have a few potential clients in mind. But you should also take into account companies that have not been considered before. 

To identify new target accounts, make a profile of your ideal customer. Analyze your best accounts and identify the traits that unite them. These may include the following characteristics:

  • Type of organization
  • Size of organization
  • Annual revenue
  • Geographic location
  • etc.
  1. Research those accounts

When you have a list of potential customers, study each of them. Because ABM is more target-oriented, your business needs to find the people in those organizations to help you make the sale. There is no need to get everyone’s attention, you are trying to deliver targeted messages to the Decision Makers on your list of target accounts.

Ask yourself the following questions to identify decision makers, influencers, and stakeholders:

  1. What are the positions and responsibilities of the targeted Decision Makers?
  2. How long have they been working with the target account and in that niche?
  3. What do they care about?
  4. Are they a decision maker or are they an influencer?

It’s also important to understand the specific challenges and needs of each account, as this will inform your campaign strategy and help you to create targeted messages that are relevant to their situation.

  1. Create personalized content & messaging

Once you’ve identified who you’ll be targeting, generate content for them and develop a unique selling proposition. Your ABM success depends on your ability to generate content tailored to the specific needs of your target accounts. By creating the content that addresses the pain points of your target accounts, you can create a more effective ABM strategy.

You should present yourself as a knowledgeable counselor rather than a salesperson. You must offer tangible value that promotes informed decision-making.

  1. Decide on the best channels for your campaigns

Each key account will respond differently to marketing messages, depending on the communication channels you choose.

At this point, you need to determine which channel is best suited to communicate with your target audience in your chosen area. This could be email, social media, events, or something else. In addition, be mindful of opt-in rules and other limitations placed in your region.

  1. Launch your custom marketing campaign

Send the generated marketing campaign through your chosen channels. It’s important that the sales team is also involved in the development of these targeted campaigns. They must be prepared to handle incoming requests and feedback correctly.

  1. Track the performance

ABM is easier to optimize because you are dealing with a small number of leads that have much more potential value than leads in traditional marketing.

After analyzing your first ABM campaigns, determine whether you’ve chosen the right communication channels, whether the marketing message worked, and how you can cut time to close a deal.

Account-based marketing tactics and examples

Each company has its own unique approach to account-based marketing, employing different tactics depending on the attributes of the target account, the segments chosen, and the channels available.

In-person events

When thinking about account-based marketing examples, in-person events are a great way to get started. If you have enough budget, these can be extremely powerful experiences for your target accounts. Not only do these events provide an opportunity for high-level executives from each account to meet and get to know each other, but they also offer a place for learning and networking.

The key to making in-person events work is to design them with specific account needs in mind. For example, if you’re targeting large enterprise accounts, your event might focus on discussing common pain points and solutions. Or, if you’re targeting small- to medium-sized businesses, your event might focus on product demonstrations and hands-on training.

Webinars

Webinars provide an opportunity to get to know your potential key customers better, identify their needs and pains. 

For example, you sell some useful software for business like CRM systems. Record a series of webinars on various features of the product. If customers have questions, for example, if they are using a particular feature for the first time, send them a webinar video about that feature.

Email campaigns

Email is one of the most successful forms of communication, with over 4 billion users. Email marketing is a popular way to acquire new consumers. In contrast to a volume-based marketing technique that might use templates and automation, account-based marketing means producing unique email messages for each business and individual.

A customer’s inbox is often flooded with one-size-fits-all mailings from brands. That’s why personalized offers are just what you need to attract a potential client. Don’t know where to start? Our list of the best email marketing campaign ideas is there to help you.

Direct mail

Try direct mail as a way to personalize your approach. This good old strategy is often used when the person being targeted has a high chance or desire of making a purchase. A meaningful gift will show that you care and they’ll be more likely to return the favor. If you use direct mail correctly, you’ll see your prospects eagerly engaging with your brand in ways they never have before!

Other

Paid advertising and web personalization are two common methods of ABM. 

With paid advertising, you can use platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook to target specific companies and personas. 

And with website personalization, you can create a tailored experience for target prospects on your website. For example, for each individual visitor, customize web copy, images, layouts, and calls to action depending on the individual visitor’s identity and past actions.

Conclusion

  1. Account-based marketing is a special approach in marketing where activities are aimed at engaging specific leads.
  2. ABM differs from other areas by its focus on a high percentage of conversions. If the loss of leads from the funnel is common in traditional marketing, then the ABM approach implies flexibility, up to changing the product for the sake of key customers.
  3. AB marketing helps companies with long sales cycles to shorten it. 
  4. Developing an account-based marketing strategy begins with market research. Companies search for potential clients, formulate personalized offers for them and only then involve the client in communication.
  5. In account based marketing, the same promotional tools are used as in lead generation: hosting in-person events, conducting webinars and conferences, and sending personalized email campaigns. But in this case the communication is more individual.

Have you ever used ABM strategies?

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