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Account-based marketing (ABM) is more than just a buzzword, especially within the B2B marketing community. Why? Because the B2B buying process has changed due to the power of digital content which means:

  • Buyers are well informed
  • And the number of stakeholders involved in purchase decisions has increased

This creates a challenge, who do you reach out to? Sales? Marketing? Finance? HR?

Businesses still operate with marketing and sales teams working in a silo, with zero collaboration or transparency. You need to step away from this approach and align the two together to target key accounts.

The Definition

Enter Account-Based Marketing. ABM in my eyes is ‘Zero Waste Marketing’, where sales and marketing work together to target key personnel in your key targeted accounts, rather than individuals. This allows for the overall focus being on having full visibility about your buyer needs and building with specifically targeted accounts. This is my definition but below is a textbook definition of ABM provided by SiriusDecisions:

“Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategic approach marketers use to support a defined universe of accounts, including strategic accounts and named accounts. It also includes support for the post-sale customer lifecycle using marketing’s toolkit to contribute to the overall customer experience. ABM provides guidance on how to deliver the insights, goal setting, strategy and planning, integrated marketing execution, and sales alignment required to support growth, retention, and loyalty objectives. It also provides guidance on how to measure marketing’s impact beyond demand creation within defined groups of prospect and customer accounts. ABM helps to evolve the role of marketing to reflect a stronger alignment with sales objectives and customer needs to deliver better execution and revenue outcomes.”

The Process

ABM allows you to engage with all influencers in the decision-making process and aligns sales with marketing. How?

  1. You do your research first. Identify the key accounts you want to go after. These accounts should be suitable in terms of offering and size.
  2. Data is key. Dig deep and use various tools (data fox, datanyze, linkedin etc) to find your key accounts and the contacts that are key to the decision making process.
  3. Content is king. Start to create your content in various formats and tones to appeal to your targeted accounts and influencers.
  4. Position yourself (sales), and brand as thought leaders, experts, the go-to people for real insight, advice within that specific industry.
  5. Get in front of them, use various channels both off and online to get your message across and create brand awareness.
  6. Make sure your messaging and perception stays consistent across every channel, platform and touch point used.
  7. Keep things moving. Momentum is key and you want to use every opportunity to stay front of mind, keep the targeted touch points coming.

Through the roughly outlined steps above, you will hopefully start to capture leads (form fill or direct approach etc.) This is where sales and marketing need to align to work together. Once a lead has been captured it’s down to sales to nurture that lead and down to marketing to help support sales. Marketing needs to step in and engage with all the other influencers associated to the account through the various channels. This raises brand awareness, aids the sales without interrupting their sales process.

The Benefits

ABM, if executed correctly, is an effective strategy that can help businesses create and sustain growth and profitability with both new and existing clients. Research from ITSMA found that over 80% of marketers who measure ROI say that ABM initiatives outperform other marketing investments. Below I’ve listed 5 of the key benefits ABM can offer:

ROI

ABM delivers the highest ROI of any B2B marketing strategy or tactic according to ITSMA. As mentioned, I like to think of ABM as ‘Zero Waste Marketing’ as it’s targeted, precise, personalized and accurate. Which makes it easier to measure ROI.

Personal

75% of customers prefer personalized offers according to Aberdeen. ABM takes this on board and allows you to map personalized messages and content to your buyer personas at the different stages.

Correct Channels

Convenience is key and engaging with your targeted accounts on the correct channels by giving them relevant and valuable content is perfect. You need to understand which channels are relevant to your target audience and focus on optimising your content for these identified channels.

Shorten Sales Cycle

With ABM you remove unqualified leads which shortens the sales cycle and allows you to focus on the accounts most likely to purchase from you.

Deal Size

You can identify which accounts generated the most revenue and use this as a profile to target other accounts and fill up your ABM funnel. You ideally want to look at purchase history, sales feedback, account profiles and buyer behavior to name a few.

Final Word

ABM provides an excellent opportunity for your sales and marketing teams to focus on the same goals. The synergy created can help boost sales and grow your company.