Account-Based Marketing (ABM): What It Is, How It Can Help You, How to Implement It, and Examples
Ever thought about focusing most of your marketing on your best leads?
Is this strategy worth the effort? And can you expect a higher return on investment?
The answer is yes – thanks to account-based marketing (ABM).
What is account-based marketing?
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a marketing strategy that targets high-value accounts based on those accounts' specific needs and attributes.
ABM streamlines your marketing efforts and boosts your chances of success without wasting resources on unqualified leads.
ABM is often called flipping the funnel because it begins with a highly-targeted marketing plan focusing on your ideal prospects.
In our business, we segment clients and prospects based on many factors. Not all client segments are suitable for account-based marketing. But account-based marketing is ideal for some client segments. For example, we focus some of our attention on client segments that can most benefit from account-based marketing (typically, larger brands). By doing so, we reduce costs and increase ROI.
This guide shares our wealth of experience and insights in helping thousands of marketers and business owners streamline and optimize their marketing efforts.
Account-Based Marketing: The Ultimate Guide
Benefits of account-based marketing
ABM is a powerhouse marketing strategy that reaps many benefits for businesses.
Here are five crucial benefits to convince you to start your ABM strategy.
1. ABM leads to a higher return on investment (ROI)
76% of marketers using ABM experience higher ROI. The same study also found that nearly half of the respondents saw double the ROI from ABM compared to other marketing investments.
This is because ABM focuses on creating highly-targeted marketing strategies, offering personalized customer experiences to a business’s most valued prospects.
2. ABM strengthens your Sales and Marketing teams
Successful implementation of ABM depends on the smooth collaboration between the sales and marketing teams to achieve shared goals and enhance the effectiveness of their efforts.
The ABM strategy can transform your business as communication, interactions, and content should be consistent. People can easily take over accounts regardless of how long it has been with your company.
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3. ABM increases efficiency
Marketing efforts are more efficient as you already have specific personas to target based on your most valuable prospects. All that’s left to do is to create strategies that will align with their needs and work with your sales team to offer the best customer experience.
4. ABM provides consistent customer experiences
An ABM strategy isn’t a one-time, big-time opportunity. You must stay consistent with your leads and offer only the best experiences to keep people happy. Your marketing and sales teams must be aligned to share crucial information about your accounts and stay on top of your ABM strategy.
5. ABM grows businesses faster
It’s simple – when customers are happy with a company, they are likelier to return and share your business with others. ABM may sound complicated, but it follows this core principle when handling your best prospects. The goal is to satisfy your valued accounts, cater to their needs, and address issues quickly to nurture trust and ensure business growth.
Account-based marketing vs. inbound marketing
You might be wondering how the ABM framework differs from inbound marketing. ABM focuses on your strongest leads, while inbound marketing aims to capture as many leads as possible.
Inbound-style marketing typically includes SEO, content, video, social media, and more. It involves testing various marketing strategies to help your company generate as many leads as possible.
Meanwhile, ABM concentrates on curating and sending highly personalized content that addresses a particular client’s pain points following the customization model of 1-to-many, 1-to-some, or even 1-to-1 for the most important prospects.
Is ABM the right marketing strategy for you?
Although ABM starts targeting prospects at the bottom of the sales funnel and can yield higher ROI results, it doesn’t necessarily apply to all businesses.
ABM is a business-to-business (B2B) marketing approach typically involving enterprise-level organizations with over 1,000 employees. You need substantial resources to invest in implementing on top of your current business activities. So, assessing if this is scalable for your business, especially if you’re a startup is essential. You don’t want to waste time and resources on something your company can’t sustain.
ABM has marginal value for businesses that sell products or services to consumers unless a segment of the consumer clients consumes substantially more of those products and services.
But suppose you have high-value products and services, and a segment of your customers has a substantially higher lifetime value than your other customers. In that case, AMB might be an excellent strategy for your business. Follow the next steps to kick-start your ABM marketing strategy.
Six steps to kick start your ABM strategy
To implement an effective ABM strategy, follow these six steps:
1. Make sure your marketing and sales teams are in sync
An effective ABM strategy starts with in-sync marketing and sales team. Both departments must have clear communication, commitment, and an excellent middle ground for transitioning leads from the marketing funnel to the sales funnel.
For example, if you’re still testing out your ABM strategy, you can pair a marketing and sales person to identify potential accounts to target. Once the process is familiarized, and best practices are developed, scaling up with an appropriate number of people working together can help acquire and win more accounts.
2. Research your strongest leads and create account personas
A core part of successful marketing involves creating accurate buyer personas. Although you’re targetting specific and strong accounts, you must develop a particular persona to help you craft effective marketing campaigns to turn them into leads.
Consider the following when creating personas:
- Objectives, mission, and vision of the ideal client
- Spending patterns and revenue style
- Tools and platforms that ideal customers are using
- Business size and growth pattern
There are many ways to help identify your target accounts. The important thing is that both marketing and sales are working towards the same goal.
3. Start building account plans
Once you have built buyer personas, it’s time to craft specific plans for these accounts. Ensure that the plans address crucial aspects such as customer pain points and the content to engage them.
Buyer personas can be similar but remember that accounts have specific needs. Make sure to tailor your plans accordingly. Each plan should be able to answer two essential target questions:
- Which people on the client/prospect side will be involved in the purchasing decision?
- What content should be created to target each account and each person involved in the purchasing decision?
It’s essential to be as specific as possible to deliver a personalized experience to your target customers and win an account.
4. Choose the appropriate channels to gain more contacts
Sometimes, your current leads are not strong enough to influence sales. Leverage your target accounts to gain stronger connections and increase your chances of winning.
Start by going to the spaces where your current contacts often go, such as social media platforms, industry events, blogs and newsletters, and more. Gain insight and plan to ensure your business is visible in these places.
Don’t waste your time on channels that rarely work for account-based marketing. For example, search advertising rarely works to reach higher-value accounts. If you’re trying to sell furniture to rapidly growing food chains, you won’t reach decision-makers with Google Ads. Instead, you’ll need to identify the chains and owners of each franchise and develop ABM strategies for those leads.
5. Start account-based campaigns
Now, it’s time to start campaigns for your specific target accounts. Account-based marketing takes time and is rarely successful through automated strategies. For example, trigger marketing and nudge marketing are helpful strategies for selling $50 items but are seldom successful when selling products or services for tens of thousands of dollars.
Suppose you’re aiming for someone in the Human Resources Department. In that case, you should know that these people rarely spend much time on social media platforms such as Facebook groups and forums. Determine where they spend most of their time and reach them through those channels.
6. Marketing and sales should always be involved in the buyer journey
Marketing and sales should work as one when implementing your ABM strategy. It’s essential in the entire process of the buyer’s journey.
Both teams should also concentrate on maintaining key decision-makers engaged and establish metrics to measure their performance and progress and identify potential issues.
Account-based marketing examples
How you target a specific account will depend on that account. Here are some real-world examples of how marketers can use to develop account-based marketing programs:
- Events. In-person events are terrific opportunities for sales teams to persuade decision-makers. Personalize your sales efforts by inviting key prospects from your target accounts, hosting VIP dinners, and offering gifts and swag. Plus, remember to send follow-ups after events.
- Webinars. Instead of hosting a broad webinar, customize webinars for specific accounts (or groups of similarly situated accounts).
- Email campaigns. Email marketing continues to be a valuable channel for ABM. But you’ll want to tailor specific messages for each lead instead of sending one to all leads.
- Direct mail. Direct mail is unusual, especially for higher-value accounts. Targeted gifts and marketing tactics via direct mail can help you stand out.
- Personalization. You can personalize a prospect’s or client’s experience by creating a tailored, account-specific experience. By doing so, you focus messaging on particular prospects instead of the generic messaging typically seen by others.
- Paid advertising. PPC can be effective in reaching some ABM target customers. But most PPC advertising is wasted on such accounts.
Account-based marketing can be intimidating. You also can’t expect to get it right the first time around. Consistency is the key to a successful ABM strategy.
So, if the results aren’t satisfactory on your first try, know that you can always try again. The good thing about digital marketing is you have all the tools and resources to help you identify critical issues and reorganize your strategy to make it even better the second time around.
Remember, slow and steady wins the race in account-based marketing.
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