Many marketers are now focusing their attention on Account-based Marketing (ABM) as part of their overall marketing endeavors. According to HubSpot, 67% of brands leverage account-based marketing. Even though a lot of companies are now implementing ABM campaigns, it is a fairly new concept for many others. Marketers vouch about the success of their ABM strategy. An ITSMA survey of B2B marketers reported that 87% of them reported that their ABM efforts outperformed other marketing efforts in terms of ROI.
More and more businesses are investing in ABM. If you are new to ABM this article will give you all the information you need to get started. A successful ABM strategy is rooted in the alignment of sales and marketing. Many companies lack this alignment. Once you start understanding ABM you will know why this is important.
Let’s dive into ABM to understand the concept and how marketers can benefit from this.
What is Account-based Marketing?
ABM is a business strategy that focuses on engaging few target accounts. Marketers create content, campaigns and use marketing resources for the individuals related to this target account rather than the whole industry.
Instead of engaging a wide number of audiences using lead-generation, marketers using ABM work closely with the sales team to identify key prospects and then create personalized messages and content for them. This form of marketing is done by enterprise-level sales organizations and is lucrative to business-to-business (B2B) endeavors. Since ABM is beneficial for organizations with multiple buyers, it makes it critical for B2B companies. The main goal here is to address the needs of the organization by connecting to its stakeholders.
ABM helps organizations focus on few high-value accounts. Companies can tailor their content, messaging and other communications based on their buyer’s journey. This boosts their ROI and increases customer retention and loyalty. This calls to mind another strategy which may seem similar but is not, and that is inbound marketing. How are both these strategies different and can they work together?
Let’s find out.
ABM and Inbound Marketing
HubSpot defines inbound marketing as “a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them”. One major difference between ABM and inbound marketing is that they have opposite sales funnels. ABM is started with looking for target accounts and then followed by creating personalized content to build lasting relationships with customers. While inbound marketing is started off by creating relevant content to attract leads, engage and convert them. ABM focuses on a select group of accounts. On the other hand inbound marketing casts a wide net to attract potential customers.
Both these strategies also have their share of similarities. They both need to understand their customers well in order to create personalised and relevant content for them. ABM and inbound marketing aim to build a long term relationship with customers.
ABM and inbound marketing can help an organization get positive results when they work together. Inbound marketing can work as a foundation for implementing an ABM strategy. Companies can start with inbound marketing to attract potential leads and then use account based marketing to delight target accounts by creating personalised content and experiences for them. This way you can attract a wide range of potential customers. Moreover, you can create content that works well for both ABM and inbound marketing strategies.
Now let’s talk about some benefits of ABM.
Why Account-Based Marketing?
Marketers are constantly under pressure to generate revenue. This is one of the main reasons many are turning to ABM. Since ABM focuses on building relationships with high-value accounts and targets with more opportunities, this helps convert more targets. Along with increasing revenue it can give you a focused sales and marketing strategy, better relationship with customers, align your sales and marketing teams etc. Let’s take a more detailed look into this.
A focused sales and marketing strategy
Like discussed above, an account-based strategy begins with identifying a set target account that your sales team would like to engage, and then creating customized content for them. Instead of running your campaigns on a list of different channels, account-based marketing helps you focus on specific accounts that you would like to target. This allows you to increase the effectiveness of your messaging. By focusing on select accounts, you can save on the time and money required to convert these customers.
It aligns your sales and marketing
Sales and marketing play different roles in an organization. Sales is more focused on getting leads while marketing seeks more visibility. Before you can begin targeting there needs to be a conversation between the two teams in order to identify the target accounts. This helps marketing get a better insight on sales goals, and the sales team can see how marketing’s position is an important part of the sales process.
ABM requires both sales and marketing teams to collaborate. This improves communication and trust between both teams. When the marketing team is running its campaigns, the sales team can see how marketing delivers on their target accounts. If any of the target accounts have any questions or problems, either team can resolve it. This creates a seamless and delightful experience for the customer. Alignment can also help the team work together and patch up on any tensions between them.
It strengthens your relationships with customers
With ABM you can relate and resonate with the customers also focusing on their needs. This will make the customers extend contracts and continue to do business with your company. B2B buyers are expecting more customized selling experiences, and ABM is providing them just that with relevant sales content and messages.
ABM aims to create a long term relationship with your customers. When you create personalised experiences for your customers they are delighted and want to continue their business relationship with your company.
Business relationships with high-value customers
ABM ensures that you target accounts that have the potential to bring more opportunities for your business. These high-value customers help you generate more revenue as they want to invest in your business. It increases the Customer Lifetime Value (LTV), which helps you retain your existing customers. This way you save on the cost of acquiring new customers. It also increases customer loyalty and satisfaction.
With account-based marketing and advertising, marketers ensure that sales teams are having more successful conversations with their targets. Before sales teams are reaching out the customers are already exposed to company messaging.
This also speeds up the sales process by cutting short the time sales teams spend grooming a lead. Here the customers have a personalized experience which increases the potential to convert. ABM focuses on the right leads from the start, so more time and money are not wasted down the road. Increase in revenue means the expansion of your company.
Now that you understand ABM let’s discuss some tips that will help you launch your campaign.
Tips to launch an ABM campaign
Identify your target accounts
Determining your target audience is a key step for a successful ABM strategy. It mainly focuses on creating engagement with the target accounts and increasing awareness of your business for them.
Identifying the target audience should be a combined effort of marketing and sales as data is required from both teams. Data like location, industry, company size, market influence, annual revenue, repeat purchases etc.Once you know your target accounts you will know how to appeal to them and introduce them to your business.
Research your target accounts
Once you have identified your target accounts, get to know the company and who the important players are. This can help you present your product or service to the target account. LinkedIn can be a good tool to research about the company and the decision-makers and influencers in it.
The decision makers of the company have a final say in any matter. As ABM aims to create personalised content for its target audience, it can ensure that you influence the decisions of their key decision makers. To persuade them, you will need to understand them better. Look at their position in the company, responsibilities, goals, challenges and more. Once you get to know what they need help with, you can create content to show them how you can solve their problems.
Build your content
Once you have the names of key players within each account, it is time to create content for them. This content should be centered around the pain-points of those specific businesses. Like discussed above, create content that shows them how you can solve their problems or help them achieve their goals. Every campaign will include content like guides, e-books, videos, landing pages etc. which should be relevant to the target accounts.
This will ensure that target accounts engage with them. This is the reason research on target accounts is so important.
Choose your channels
After creating content, look for channels that will be effective in engaging your target accounts. Looking at which social media platforms your users are spending more time on and how they consume the content will help you reach them. For example, in case of B2B companies, LinkedIn is the best option to reach other businesses and other professionals. Researching the key stakeholders also becomes easier with LinkedIn. Choose your channels wisely as you will be using them to reach and communicate with your potential customers.
Align sales and marketing teams
ABM cannot work successfully without the collaboration of your sales and marketing teams. In an ABM strategy, the role of the sales team is as important as that of a marketing team. You will require the help of both teams to create a strong ABM strategy. While marketing teams research and create relevant content for target accounts, sales teams communicate with these accounts to close the deal. Not only that, sales teams also help with research and content creation for these target accounts. And to select these target accounts, you will need input from both these teams.
Sales and marketing teams should come together and align their efforts to create an effective ABM strategy. Use tools that help them collaborate and have access to all the information or data they may need. This can make it easier for them to share information with each other. When they can easily communicate and share data with each other, both teams are updated on the status of their target accounts. It helps build a seamless experience for customers.
Here are some best practices you can adopt to align your sales and marketing teams.
Build ABM team
Building an ABM team is important as you can set aside a team that is fully dedicated to work with target accounts. It depends on your company as to how many members you want included in this team. You will need some members for both the sales and marketing teams to create an ABM team.
This team will be responsible to research target accounts and create personalised content for them. Both these tasks require quite a bit of time investment. You want to make sure that these members are working to implement the ABM strategy without them having to worry about other responsibilities. This will help the ABM team to only focus on ABM related tasks and help create a strong strategy. Hence, the managers from both the sales and marketing teams should hold a meeting to discuss how to build this team and then create this team dedicated to ABM efforts.
Run the campaign
When running your campaign there are a few things you should make sure. You need to ensure that the messaging and content is similar across all your channels. You do not use different content on different channels, that can confuse your audience. The messaging or content should not be repetitive or conflicting.
Measure your results
Your campaign results should be measured properly. As we discussed before it can help you use your resources in the right way.
These are some of the questions you need to ask while measuring the results of your ABM campaign:
- Are you growing the list of known visitors in the target account?
- Are there any changes in the way these targets respond to the content?
- How much revenue has been generated from these target accounts?
When implemented correctly, an ABM strategy can be very beneficial to your company. It can give your business high-value opportunities and shorten the B2B sales cycles. ABM has the potential to change your business and make it more profitable. Team collaboration is an important factor that determines the success of your ABM campaign. When your sales and marketing teams work together, they can collaborate on creating a consistent and seamless experience for your target customers.
Before getting started with your ABM strategy, consider these tips discussed above and plan your strategy. This can help you create a strong and effective ABM campaign.
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