Account-Based Marketing

Account-Based Marketing:
What You Need to Know

Account-based marketing (ABM) is using highly targeted marketing efforts to establish new relationships or grow existing relationships with a defined list of high-value companies or groups of companies. It is a relatively new term to describe a strategy that’s existed for decades.

Instead of trying to appeal to an entire vertical or industry with one message, ABM allows you to craft personalized messages and deliver those messages directly to primary decision makers at the time and place it’s likely to make the most significant impact.

For many years, this level of targeting was reserved for massive organizations with sizeable in-house marketing teams and the resources to afford highly sophisticated tools. But, thanks to the “big data” revolution and recent advancements in marketing technology, ABM is now an attainable strategy for organizations of nearly any size

Whether you’ve been employing more personalized marketing for a while or you’re just exploring the world of ABM, there’s a lot to learn. Here is some background to help you get started.

How Does Account-Based marketing Work?

Your ABM strategy should start with a target list of companies, also called a key accounts list. Instead of identifying characteristics of ideal clients as you might do for a standard inbound campaign, your organization’s sales and marketing teams should work together to create a list of specific companies and, if possible, identify important contacts within each account.

This list can be composed of high-value clients with whom you’d like to expand the relationship, preferred prospects you’re hoping to convert, or a combination of both. If you’re not sure which businesses you should add to your target account list, ask yourself these three questions:

  • Which clients generate the most revenue for your company?
    Consider your top clients. What opportunity do you have to deepen the relationship or upsell on other products or services?
  • Which clients have business units you haven’t yet penetrated?
    It’s typically more expensive to generate business with new customers than to grow your business with existing clients. If you haven’t tapped into every division or department of an organization, ABM can help you leverage your existing relationships to get a foot in the door.
  • What does your perfect client look like?
    Consider using “lookalike modeling” to find other potential new clients, based on the criteria of your best existing customer. For example, if your best client is a mid-size financial services company, identify other players in that same space. You can use your experience in the vertical to establish credibility with new prospects.

Next, you’ll create customized campaigns designed to target each of the accounts on your list and nurture them through the buyer’s journey. This is where ABM technology comes in handy, and can help you build personalized landing pages, calls to action and other assets.

Keep in mind, as with most types of marketing, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach for ABM. The best Account-Based marketing tactics are the ones tailored to your target list.

Is ABM the Right Strategy for My Business?

From small and mid-size businesses to enterprise-level companies, organizations of all sizes are experiencing success with Account-Based marketing. In fact, an impressive 90 percent of marketers reported using ABM in 2017, according to a report by #FlipMyFunnel.

But how do you know ABM will help your business drive revenue? After all, every organization is different, and what works for others may not necessarily yield the same results for your company—especially if you’re not prepared to properly execute a new strategy.

There are three indicators you’re ready to invest resources in ABM:

  • You know which companies you want to work with.
    Your target account list is the foundation of your ABM strategy. Before you invest in ABM technology or begin putting budget behind an Account-Based marketing plan, it’s crucial you have a well-defined list of valuable existing accounts or ideal prospects that will help you meet your revenue goals when they convert.
  • Your marketing and sales teams are aligned.
    ABM success hinges on your sales and marketing teams’ ability to cooperate and work hand-in-hand. You not only need to ensure both teams are bought into and trained on ABM, but they should also be aligned on the same goals and have a plan to execute—together.
  • You know where key decision makers within your target accounts spend their time online.
    For your account-based marketing tactics to be successful, you need to make sure you’re leveraging the right platforms. For example, what social media networks does your audience frequent? Where do they go to consume industry news? Knowing where contacts from each of your key accounts spend their time online will ensure you’re delivering your messages in spaces where they’re more likely to be seen.

If the above statements are true, you’re ready to begin building your first ABM campaign.

Combining Inbound Marketing and Account-Based Marketing Tactics

If you’re already having success with inbound marketing, you might be wondering: why should I bother with ABM? Isn’t it more work to start a new method from square one?

The good news is, inbound marketing and ABM are complementary strategies. Account-based marketing can help you shorten your sales cycle, increase revenue per deal and foster better relationships with customers—and the foundation you’ve laid with inbound marketing will ensure success in all of those areas.

From the audience and following you’ve built through social media efforts to the content you’ve created for your buyer personas, your existing inbound efforts will act as the catalyst to your ABM strategy.

What does this look like in action? Here are a couple of inbound-supported account-based marketing examples:

  • Use social media to monitor conversations from critical contacts within target accounts, and use this information to inform your campaigns. Pay close attention to the types of content they share, the questions they ask and any clues to their current pain points or challenges.
  • Create a personalized email campaign for each role within the buying committee of your target account, leveraging existing content. For example, if you’re a CRM software company, you might send the executive-level contact information about cost savings and organizational efficiency, while you might send the IT department contact information about CRM implementation and security features.

In other words, don’t halt inbound to launch an Account-Based marketing strategy. By tailoring your inbound efforts to fit within your ABM strategy, you can boost existing success while simultaneously developing new business.

If you haven’t yet delved into account-based marketing, don’t panic. Thanks to all the tools and data at your fingertips, building a target account list, developing a campaign and launching ABM efforts has never been easier.

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