All B2B marketers have faced issues like driving unqualified leads and generating engagement from audiences that are not the ideal fit for their business. Historically most of the B2B marketers focused on inbound and other outbound marketing strategies to drive attention to their products or services but there was a lot of wasted spending and efforts. But with the insurgence of Account-based marketing, marketers can narrow down on key accounts, companies with a certain revenue or of a specific size and create a marketing campaign to cater to those specific accounts which will help in driving higher close rates, better ROI and sales. With Account-based marketing, you can target best-fit accounts and turn them into customers to promote long-term business growth and boost revenue.
What is account-based marketing?
Account-based marketing is a marketing approach implemented to target and engage your key accounts and turn them into long term customers. It focuses on the high value accounts that are most likely to convert and uses customized programs and content to engage with them. ABM directs marketing and sales resources to nurture a specific set of target accounts and engage with the key decision makers within those accounts.
ABM helps in achieving shorter sales cycles by eliminating the poor leads which reduces the effort and time of marketing & sales teams. Also, by focusing on the specific high value targets, it can deliver higher ROI than your other marketing campaigns.
Account-based marketing continues to evolve with the progression of marketing automation and AI. This has enabled marketers to execute ABM strategies at scale and understand their ideal customer profile at a granular level. With the impact of technology, ABM has now become more measurable and affordable for businesses.
Inbound vs. ABM
A lot of B2B marketers want to know if they should be aligning their resources to account-based or inbound marketing. But before we try to answer that question, let’s understand the key differences between these two strategies.
Some marketers believe that one strategy will work better than the other for their business model, but they can also complement each other. By combining the two approaches you can get better results from your campaigns.
Through your inbound marketing efforts, you can generate new leads and then identify new target accounts from the pool for ABM.
Types of Account-based marketing
ITSMA* in the early 2000s identified three different ABM approaches that marketers take: Strategic ABM, ABM Lite and Programmatic ABM
Strategic ABM: This approach is reserved for strategic accounts and is executed on a one-to-one basis. Marketers use fully customized programs for a small number of individual accounts as an integral part of the overall account plan.
ABM Lite: This is a one-to-few approach, concentrated on a wider group of strategic accounts. Focus is on small groups of accounts that share similar business attributes and challenges. Technology plays an important role here to help automate the account insight process, campaign execution and measurement.
Programmatic ABM: This approach focuses on using Martech to automate ABM and expand reach to hundreds or thousands of accounts. Programmatic ABM is less resource-intensive as it enables marketers to automate various traditional ABM steps.
How do we create an Account-based marketing strategy:
To drive a successful ABM strategy, high-value accounts should be carefully chosen. Once you have selected the ABM approach you want to follow and accounts to target, your marketing and sales teams can start collaborating to deliver personalized campaigns through the right channels and yield best results. Below are some steps that will ensure that you are starting off in the right direction with your ABM strategy:
Step 1: Identify your key accounts
Once you have selected the ABM approach you want to follow, start identifying the key accounts that you want to target. Define the characteristics that are common in your ideal customers, which should include attributes like industry, company size, company type, location, annual revenue, etc.
Step 2: Identify the right contacts
Once you have shortlisted key accounts, the next step is identifying right contacts within the targeted companies. It is very important to identify key decision-making roles within selected organizations to engage and persuade them to take the purchase decision.
Step 3: Customize your content and messaging
Develop customized content that speaks specifically to the targeted accounts and key stakeholders. Understand what content you will use across the different stages and make sure you are creating messaging to address the pain points of your target accounts.
Step 4: Select the right channels
Determine which platforms do you stakeholders spend most of their time on and select those channels to promote your content to engage them. You can use combination of multiple channels to deliver you message in an integrated way.
Step 5: Execute your campaigns
While your campaigns should be personalized and tailored to the accounts, but it is important to make sure that they are relevant for each contact among those accounts. Do not clobber your stakeholders with repeat messages using multiple platforms and ensure that you strike a balance in deciding the frequency of your ads.
Step 6: Measure, evaluate and optimize
Give your campaigns enough time (30-45 days) before you start measuring and evaluating the results. To evaluate the effectiveness of your campaign, you should measure engagement, clicks, form opens, leads, revenue, downloads, etc.
If the results of your campaign are not as expected, try to understand the issues and then optimize accordingly.
Account-based marketing is a great B2B strategy, but you should not be expecting that it will transform your revenues and sales overnight. Set realistic goals and focus on gradual improvements. You would see positive results; however, it will need long-term strategic thinking.
* Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) is a research and advisory firm, specializing in B2B marketing strategy and development for firms selling complex solutions.