Account Based Marketing: The What, Why and How.
What’s it all about?
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a modern strategy that rewards marketing and sales teams working together to target best-fit customers through a personalised and joined up approach.
Tech Crunch offers a useful explanation: ‘It’s like flipping a traditional inbound marketing funnel upside down. Instead of generating leads, segmenting, activating and then selling to them, ABM takes the opposite approach. You identify specific key value clients, build relationships with these targets and sell solutions according to their collective or individual needs’.
In essence, ABM encourages the crafting of customised campaigns. It’s about working together to align, move and nurture individual clients through the pipeline, both before and after lead conversion.
Whose it for?
ABM is typically used in enterprise-level B2B business with more than 1,000 employees to help sales and marketing teams transform their tactics:
Engage earlier in the sales process and target higher value opportunities
Customise an individual approach for customers
Align marketing initiatives with sales and account management strategies.
There’s a market perception that ABM is a discipline that only suits large organisations but the principles of this approach suit all business organisations.
Startups have an advantage of being able to adopt a systematic ABM approach at the outset of their business. Nurturing individual customers often comes easiest within small businesses. But the individualised approach can be lost when business grows. ABM is about re-setting this focused customer approach at the forefront of sales and marketing - no matter the size of the organisation.
Of course, in the early stages of growth, tools like Hubspot are useful platforms to set up and run automated, connected sales and marketing. However ABM is far more than a co-joined system of sales and marketing. It’s about recognising high value customers and customising a consultative approach.
In many large scale and established businesses, ABM is an approach that may require a structural change or a re-organisation of a workforce because ABM works best when blending the skills and knowledge of sales and marketing experts to form a new collaborative operational system.
What is ABM fixing?
ABM is perceived as the magic ingredient to solve the failings of traditional sales and marketing programmes. It unites teams behind a core set of strategic accounts with the goal of growing relationships and winning revenue.
One ABM expert commentator says “think of it as a game of rugby, where sales and marketing need to be passing back and forth down the field to create a win and drive account growth”.
Why ABM is valued?
In our modern digital engagement economy, everyone and everything is connected. New and evolving channels, strategies, and technologies allow sales and marketing teams to engage with customers on a whole new level.
We all know that in competitive markets, capturing the attention of potential customers can be challenging. Because of this, ABM helps companies focus on the highest possible ROI. It’s a tactic that places the energy of sales and marketing on the highest value customers.
To reach their goals, many companies seeking high-value customers often find that an ABM strategy serves them better than casting a broad net.
A focused customer approach
“The best vendors that I’ve worked with are the ones that don’t just arrive and give you an off-the-shelf presentation, but actually really take time. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you need to have some basic understanding of the business you’re presenting to and come in with some knowledge of their value to make recommendations based on facts.” Pete Markey CMO, TSB Bank & former Marketing Director, Aviva
As this experienced CMO shares, a customer centred approach is key to conversion. But creating this new internal process (and culture) with identifying the right data and tools to implement this new approach, can take time.
This is often where agencies can help support large organisations to sprint forward solutions without getting trapped in operational business bureaucracy.
What are the key steps of ABM?
Identify your target accounts. Marketing and sales work together to build an initial target list. Use lead scoring to help rank the accounts and make sure everyone is focused on the ones with the highest propensity to close.
Deep dive to better understand your buyers and which departments are the right ones to target. You want to understand what challenges the target business faces, how decisions are made and who makes those decisions.
Create content that is tailored specifically to target customers. According to Adobe Marketo, 82% of prospects value content made for their specific industries and 67% say the same of content created for their specific job functions. Create messaging that is relevant to their business and stage in the buyer journey.
Integrate ABM into your multimedia strategy. Your target clients are on a multitude of different platforms daily. To effectively engage them, you want to execute cross-channel campaigns, targeting the right people in your target accounts on different channels with planned and personalized content.
Measure and optimise. Remember not to rely on one measurement system but use a range of systems from website traffic to MQLs and meetings. Measure at key time frames - 1st month, 3 months, 6 months and so on.
How can we help?
There are a wealth of different methods a business can utilise to identify ideal customer accounts. Unpacking the data, selecting the right service tools and designing the right strategy for your business is often best supported by an expert external resource.
One of the biggest opportunities for example, is to decode the swathes of information available and isolate content that is helpful to the buyer. Evidence shows that many enterprises are looking to vendors to help them sift through and make sense of overwhelming data.
Initially an agency can work with internal stakeholders to identify potential clients because every client’s ABM strategy and activation looks different. Some will lazer target a few target accounts, while others may focus on a selection of like-minded industries.
Equally, some ABM programmes blend a mix of paid activity to generate new leads. Other businesses may use marketing automation to nurture these leads through a collaborative sales and marketing funnel.
Tactics can be further supported by ABM tools that help identify and engage clients such as Demandbase or Terminus. Working with an experienced ABM agency can add rapid and deep expertise, reducing the time it takes to implement the right approach.
Contact us to find out more about our account based marketing expertise and how we can help accelerate your business growth!