account-based marketing strategy types

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) has exploded in popularity within the last few years. According to SiriusDecisions, ABM is a strategic approach that focuses on aligning demand creation programs and messaging against a set of defined accounts and goals in a way that is relevant and valuable to those accounts.

Marketers are recognizing that need to focus on specific accounts. According to recent research from SiriusDecisions’ ABM Command Center, 91% of B2B marketers believe that account-based marketing is “extremely” or “very” important to overall company success. As a result, B2B organizations are allocating more of their marketing budgets to ABM — in some cases by quite a bit. The number of organizations that are allocating more than 30% of their budgets to ABM increased from 17% to 54% between last year and this year.

One area marketers are investing part of those budgets is web personalization. In fact, 39% state that they will increase investment in personalization by over 30% this year compared to last year to support their ABM initiatives.

Why Personalization?

The primary reason that marketers adopt an ABM strategy is to reach the ideal customers for their company’s product or service, rather than simply placing their message out there to attract anyone regardless of whether they are a good fit. Of course, this strategy hinges on the ability to get the right message to each of those ideal customers about why the product or service is right for them. Website personalization helps marketers grab the attention of target prospects, engage them with relevant content, and convert them to leads and customers.

But much like there is no one-size-fits-all message that applies to every target account, there is no one-size-fits-all ABM strategy that can apply to all organizations. SiriusDecisions has identified three different types of ABM strategies that it has seen its clients use: industry, named account, and large account ABM.

In the rest of this blog post, I’ll outline each type of ABM strategy and provide an example of a personalization campaign you can deploy as part of that type of strategy.

Industry ABM

According to SiriusDecisions, the broadest form of ABM is Industry ABM, which focuses on a moderate or large number of new or existing accounts in the same vertical or other specific segment. Marketers often use this approach when their products or services are applicable to a broad group of prospective customers but want to focus on those that are the best possible fit, or when their products are tailored to the needs of a particular industry, such as healthcare or financial services.

For example, Mendix uses web personalization to display relevant content and messages across its site to visitors that fall into one of its target industries. In one campaign, Mendix has incorporated an industry-specific eBook in the navigation of the website itself. When a visitor from the insurance industry clicks on the solutions tab, he is presented with a relevant eBook such as 3 Digitization Priorities That Insurers Can’t Ignore. This campaign doesn’t disrupt the site experience, and most visitors won’t recognize that the navigation experience has been personalized.

account-based marketing strategy types

With this blend of ABM and web personalization, Mendix saw a 10% increase in overall leads generated and a 6% reduction in homepage bounce rate. For more detail on how Mendix uses personalization as part of its ABM strategy, check out this case study.

Named Account ABM

With a Named Account ABM strategy, marketers target a moderate or large number of specific prospect accounts. In contrast to an Industry ABM strategy where specific accounts are not determined, in this approach a list of target accounts is created and targeted by a combination of sales and marketing outreach. Each salesperson may have a list of accounts in his or her territory, totaling hundreds or thousands of named accounts across the company.

The major challenge with an approach like this is scale. With a large list of accounts, it can be difficult to target each account with a personalized message. On we have approached this problem with web personalization. We leverage our existing content and target accounts with IP lookup and other data sources to show each account a personalized modal that includes their company name, logo, account executive, and relevant content. This is done automatically, so each modal does not need to be designed separately with unique campaigns to target them to the right accounts, making it quite scalable.

account-based marketing strategy types

Large Account ABM

With a Large Account ABM strategy, an organization targets a small group of large accounts. Marketers that adopt this type of strategy often have a product or service with a higher selling price, a longer sales cycle, and a narrower applicability to a limited set of companies. In many cases, target accounts may already be customers, and the focus is on retaining and upselling those accounts.

Obviously, this approach requires extremely personal outreach, typically done at the individual level. Relationship-building is critical for a Large Account ABM strategy. Web personalization to support this approach will vary depending on the goals of the website.

When many of your website visitors are existing customers, you can use personalization to ensure your website is as relevant as possible to make the customer feel special. You can greet her by name, remove any mentions to irrelevant information or CTAs for non-customers, and recommend content she has not already viewed that is relevant to her specific needs. The site shouldn’t recommend that she contact a salesperson or request a demo if she is already a customer. Instead, it can remind her of her existing account executive or support representative.

Final Thoughts

Note that the strategies outlined in this post are not mutually exclusive — an organization could apply all three of them to its own marketing efforts when appropriate. The trick is to work closely with your sales team to identify which approach, or blend of approaches, works for you — and then identify the web personalization campaigns that will help you achieve your goals.