Today’s B2B marketing has shifted from a “large net to many fish” mentality, to now fishing with very accurate spears. Welcome to the world of account-based marketing (ABM). ABM is an alternative B2B marketing strategy designed to align sales and marketing resources on a specific list of desired accounts with tailored messaging, versus targeting a market segment with a message designed to appeal to them all. Here are the top five reasons why an ABM strategy should be in your B2B marketing arsenal.
Reason #1: Traditional Demand Gen is Broken
As B2B marketers know, the decision set within the business-to-business category is fragmented. We must differentiate the end user from the influencer from the buyer, and deliver very specific messages to each, to influence the purchase decision. ABM does just that by targeting specific companies based on firmographics (industry, location, size, etc.) so you are reaching the right individuals within the decision set. In this sense, we’re flipping the traditional marketing funnel.
The traditional marketing funnel focuses on casting a wide net across various digital channels. In ABM, the target is a defined list of best-fit accounts.
ABM Hack: There are 5 Steps to ABM
- Identify Desired/Best-Fit Accounts
- Profile Target Accounts
- Create Contacts
- Launch Campaigns
- Measure & Analyze
Reason #2: Your Decision Maker is a Beast
In the competitive B2B marketing landscape, the margins are high, the stakes can be even higher, and reaching the right decision-maker can be an arduous endeavor. In B2B sales, high-value, high-consideration services typically involve reaching multiple stakeholders. ABM focuses on solving the buyer’s problem by appealing to multiple viewpoints, concerns and mindsets within a single target account.
The ABM model is built on account insight. The more you know about your target accounts, the better you can deliver tailored, customized programs and campaigns. When identifying your target accounts, there a few factors to consider.
- High yield. We want to target accounts with strong profit margins.
- Product fit. We want to make sure that our product/service will solve our prospects’ business challenges.
- Competitors’ customers. Market share is a beautiful thing, and by targeting competitors’ customers, we can increase this.
- Strategic importance. These are companies that may not have the highest profit margins, but their logos help establish credibility or diversity within your client portfolio.
ABM Hack: Once you choose your target accounts, it’s time to map internal key players. This includes identifying the organizational structure and key decision-makers.
Reason #3: You’re Probably Wasting Money…Seriously
The great thing about ABM is because it’s so targeted, it allows resource efficiency. These marketing campaigns are designed and optimized for specific target accounts, which leads to less waste. Along with less waste comes a clear ROI. By executing an effective, more specified ABM campaign, your company will be able to drive clear business results. Then, when you analyze the effectiveness of an ABM campaign, it will be easier to draw apparent conclusions because you’re dealing with a smaller set of accounts versus a wide set of metrics.
The key with any marketing strategy is measuring, learning and optimizing. ABM is no different. When reviewing the analytics of your ABM campaign, be sure to look at individual campaigns across accounts, as well as trends on the account level to ensure the most accurate picture.
ABM Hack: Segment the buying stages: early (pre-purchase), middle (commit to change) and late (evaluation). Each stage should have specific content types for your target personas (influencer/end user, buyer).
Reason #4: It’s 2018…It’s Time to Use Technology to Your Advantage
Let’s face it, we all believed robots were going to eventually take over. It’s time we stop postponing the inevitable and become friends with the bots. ABM platforms are sophisticated machines that target specific accounts through one-to-one programmatic predictive targeting, using various data sources, targeting capabilities, and affiliate networks.
Whether you use an all-in-one ABM platform, or build a manual ABM technology stack, there are thousands of martech vendors out there, some with AI-enabled capabilities smarter than humans will ever be. This can help automate, accelerate and analyze the effectiveness of your ABM strategy.
ABM Hacks: To find account data, consider these platforms:
- Dun & Bradstreet
To find similar accounts with predictive marketing and analytics, consider these platforms:
To find competitive data (i.e. what systems your target accounts are using), consider these platforms:
Reason #5: Your Sales Team Will Thank You
ABM is a team sport. To truly drive results – marketing, sales and IT must work and play nice together. The more you align these teams, the more impact is driven into results. ABM innately operates with a sales mindset. We’re talking in terms of accounts: targeting them, attracting them, and generating sales.
As far as roles are concerned, IT should be brought in at the beginning of an ABM campaign. We need to make sure any platforms chosen are able to integrate with current CRM and systems. They should also be brought in at various checkpoints to ensure systems integrity. Marketing should own the top of the ABM funnel, focusing on targeting the right prospects within the right companies. Obviously, sales is tasked to close the deals, but should ultimately work in sync with marketing to identify key gaps or opportunities (i.e. frequently asked questions, content gaps, etc.) throughout the customer journey.
ABM Hack: Lock your target accounts for a six-month time frame to ensure proper testing. Minimal account swapping should be done during this time.
Want more funnel fun? Download our whitepaper, “Content Marketing: Driving Full Funnel Demand” to learn more.