ABM might be a new addition to the marketing buzzwords dictionary, but the concept is nothing new. Account-based marketing (ABM) has existed as a marketing strategy for decades. If you’re influencing more than one individual in an organization for a deal, then it’s likely that you’ve been practicing some form of ABM.

So why has account-based marketing only recently gained widespread popularity and practice among B2B businesses? In the past, ABM was a fairly tedious, manual, and sales-driven process. However, the introduction of new digital ABM technologies has removed the barrier that kept small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) from employing the strategy, allowing organizations of all sizes to do ABM at scale. In fact, our SMB marketing team at Marketo has seen great results with this account-centric strategy.

SMBs Stand to Make Huge Strides with ABM

By implementing an ABM strategy, SMBs can realize significant business and revenue growth. According to data from the Marketo ABM Benchmark Survey, 33% of B2B SMBs are already conducting ABM. This means that one-third of B2B businesses recognize the benefits of and are investing in account-centric thinking to more effectively utilize their resources and focus their efforts.

Account-based marketing is a necessary tactic for SMBs, in particular, for several reasons:

  • Improve marketing ROI: As an SMB, your time and resources (aka people and money) are especially precious. ABM allows you to use your resources more strategically since you’re spending them on the accounts that matter the most. When the SMB segment of Marketo’s marketing team began implementing an ABM strategy, we discovered that our target accounts were 40% more likely to close than non-target accounts.
  • Drive attributed revenue: Strategic ABM allows you to deliver a set of coordinated activities across target accounts. With this laser focus, you’ll gain a better understanding of the impact of each activity so you can focus your efforts on the most effective ones. While we call the tactic account-based marketing, in reality, it’s a way of thinking that influences all areas of the revenue team. By driving marketing-generated or sales-generated revenue through targeted activities, you can greatly increase the number of closed deals and spend your time and energy more thoughtfully in the meantime.
  • Generate more conversions and qualified leads: Broad-based marketing casts a wide net, luring in a large number of leads—not all of which are qualified ones. However, when you select your target accounts in ABM, you look at which business profiles are more likely to buy your product and thrive while using it. Because you’re factoring this in on the front-end, your conversions and sales qualified leads (SQLs) will improve on the back-end.
  • Drive business momentum: While SMBs may have smaller account lists, an ABM strategy will help you achieve more big-impact wins because you’re vetting your target accounts from the get-go. In fact, Marketo’s SMB marketing segment has noticed a 50% increase in average selling price (ASP) from our target accounts vs. our non-target accounts.
  • Align sales and marketing: Account selection is collaborative. By discussing strategic account selection criteria with sales, you’re guaranteeing increased visibility and buy-in across all of your revenue-generating teams. Not to mention, both teams feel more confident about dedicating their time and resources to implementing the strategy.

3 Key Steps for Account-Based Marketing

Despite the numerous benefits, implementing an ABM strategy from the ground up can seem daunting, especially if you have a lean team or limited resources. The key is to start small and gradually expand the strategy over time.

Here are the three main steps for SMBs to implement account-based marketing:

1. Identify and manage high-value target accounts. The account selection process can’t be rushed. Every business has different reasons for going after a specific subset of their audience. You’ll want to evaluate factors such as territory, industry, lifetime value, and more.

As an SMB, it’s vital for your team to identify your highest yield account profiles so that you can focus your marketing budget and time on accounts that will not only result in bigger deals and preserve your sales team’s energy, but will also be more likely to renew and become advocates for your product or service.

2. Engage target account leads in every channel. Once you’ve identified your target accounts and have a management system in place, it’s time to get marketing! Think about the primary channels where your target audience is engaging, create personalized, relevant content, and orchestrate programs that drive desired outcomes.

Marketing teams at small or medium-sized businesses have limited bandwidth. You don’t have money for endless program types, and even if you did, you wouldn’t have the people to execute all of them. By keying into the channels that are the most effective for your target accounts and identifying at which point in the buyer’s journey these programs are most pertinent, you can accelerate the sales process without overextending yourself.

For example, at Marketo, we’ve been running a multi-channel direct mail program for target accounts that have not connected with our sales team. We identified the correct contacts within our target accounts and trigger part one of a two-part direct mail when they reach a mid-level engagement score to prompt them to call our sales team. After the call, we trigger a second, higher value direct mailer. This program has proven to be a successful way to accelerate mid-stage prospects within our target accounts.

3. Analyze your results and optimize engagement. Finally, to understand the success of your ABM strategy, you must measure the impact. Define success at all stages of the ABM process–from account whitespace insights to channel engagement to account score. These insights will help you optimize your programs and provide sales with vital information needed to close the deal.

Closely monitor your successes so that you can attribute pipeline and revenue to your targeted efforts and compare those findings with results from your non-targeted efforts. By doing this, you’ll be able to prove the impact of ABM so you can invest more resources in this tactic over time.

Ultimately, to fully achieve a scalable ABM strategy, despite limited time and resources, SMBs must invest in the right ABM solution. There are many things to consider when evaluating technologies, but it really comes down to finding a tool that will allow you to build out your strategy in the three ways outlined above–by helping you target and manage accounts, engage accounts across channels, and ultimately measure revenue impact.

Are you ready to start your ABM journey? We’ve got you covered! Download our cheatsheet How Small and Medium-Sized Businesses Benefit From an Account-Based Marketing Strategy to make a business case for ABM and get started.