The Essentials of Account-Based Marketing

Johanna Rivard on Oct 31, 2016 in Content Marketing

In the modern business era, adopting an Account-Based Marketing (ABM) approach is increasingly becoming recognized as a key business strategy for B2B marketers. What used to be purely account-based selling in the past has evolved to include marketing strategies that yield higher ROI at a fraction of its previous cost.

Technology has played a huge role in this evolution. The latest marketing tools and platforms have paved the way for ABM practitioners to scale their efforts through software and apps that provide predictive analysis, effective leads management capabilities, and the ability to produce highly targeted content.

Using ABM solutions enables users to adopt an automated, programmatic advertising process to identify key personnel or accounts, which in turn help them tailor communications depending on what part of the buying stage prospects are in at any given moment. Simply put, marketing automation and digital demand management channels have allowed marketers to do more with less.

These factors result in increased focus on business objectives because these new tools allow sales and marketing to align their strategies. With an ABM approach, these two teams work in a collaborative environment rather than in silos. Through this effective alignment and account targeting methodology, the vast majority of businesses have reported increases in lead quality and ROI.

Here are a few things to consider when implementing an ABM approach:

  1. The Role of IT in ABM

Role of IT in ABM

Having a dedicated IT team at hand ensures that you’re working within a reliable, secure platform. They are there to facilitate the integration of ABM tools with your existing network, making the transition as smooth and seamless as possible. They the can also address any hiccups that inevitably occur whenever new software is introduced. However, spending precious resources and waiting for IT teams to identify, select, and deploy ABM technologies is something businesses were finding difficult to accept.

Thankfully, technological advances in ABM-related software have made it easier and more cost-efficient for businesses to jump on the ABM bandwagon. This has enabled organizations of various sizes to implement ABM tactics to deliver personalized marketing to hundreds of accounts.

  1. Funnel Stage Targeting

Sales Funnel Targeting

(Image source: InAlign)

The traditional waterfall marketing funnel casts a wide net to catch as many prospects as possible. ABM attempts to modify this model by narrowing the lead base first instead of doing it in the end.

The process begins with a thorough understanding of your target customer profile, which is made possible by paying close attention to CRM reports and other B2B data about your ideal prospect. Having a set of criteria to work with helps you identify where your biggest opportunities may lie.

This approach enhances your targeting and personalization capabilities so you can increase lead quality and in turn, sales conversion rates.

  1. ABM Leverages Existing Customers

ABM Leverages Existing Customers

Not only is it less costly to tap your current customer base, but it also promotes loyalty because of your efforts to provide additional personalized products or services that fit your client’s needs. Cross-selling and renewal campaigns can now be more targeted with the help of data-driven marketing tools.

These automated tools allow you to develop individualized cross-selling or upselling techniques such as complimentary product trials that supplement existing products or call to action services that resonate with your customers.

Keep in mind the Pareto principal, which states that you should be focusing on the 20% of customers that deliver the most revenue so you can increase the ROI of your marketing activities.

  1. The Focus Should be on Your Biggest Opportunities

Focus on Big Opportunities

Expand your current base by building your list of organizations, companies, business roles, and key personnel that fits within a set of criteria you’ve identified. Remember that it takes an average of 5.4 decision makers to sign off on a B2B account, so you need to take that into consideration.

After you’ve identified your target profile, it’s time for you to increase engagement with awareness campaigns via online and offline channels. Once you’ve gained momentum in your relationship building efforts, it’s only a matter of time before loyal customers become brand advocates. These advocates are the best sources of high-quality referrals and positive recommendations.

  1. Marketing and Sales Must Align

Align Sales and Marketing

The primary cause of conflict between sales and marketing stems from the different goals they typically pursue. In a traditional company setting, sales teams are measured against their ability to convert the most number of leads, while marketing sees lead generation primarily as a numbers game. This means that sales values highly qualified leads with a greater inclination to buy, while marketing is more concerned with getting as many leads as possible, regardless of their propensity to convert.

With ABM, the metrics used to assess whether or not a marketing campaign is a success has to be shifted towards a more sales-centric approach. Overall, marketing has to be measured based on the amount of engagement from each lead instead of focusing on the number of leads in the funnel.

  1. ABM Means Personalized Communication

ABM Means Personalized Communication

The fundamental basis of ABM is personalized communications. You need customer data for ABM to work because this data can help you personalize communications in the future, increasing your ability to relate to their inherent needs and create a better buying experience.

In a multi-platform world, your website, mobile apps, emails, events, and every other brand communications channel should be tailored to accelerate the buying journey. This means modifying your messaging, CTAs, social proof and other aspects to deliver the right buying experience to the right customers at the right time.

Conclusion

In some organizations, ABM can be better than Inbound Marketing because the former allows for a more targeted approach, only engaging companies that are ideal users of the product or service you’re offering. With Inbound Marketing, your ability to control your audience is limited—anyone can download your e-book or subscribe to your newsletter, reducing the qualification requirements to become a lead.

ABM allows you to optimize a bigger percentage of your prospects because they were chosen based on a number of criteria you’ve collated from relevant sources, which includes their digital footprint or predictive tools. It’s not based on guesswork or a theoretical customer roadmap but actual data. This, coupled with the ability to scale at a low cost, are the key reasons most B2Bs should consider applying an ABM approach in their future marketing strategies.

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