‘Account-Based Marketing’. You might have been hearing this term a lot lately. This is not a new term but off late it is picking up rapidly.
So, What is ABM? How does it work? And as a B2B salesperson why should you care about it? In this blog, you will find the answer to it all.
Capturing buyers’ attention has become so much harder than it was a few years ago. The number of competitions and marketing channels has surged in the past decade. This has created a scenario where each client now has many vendors.
This is where Account-Based Marketing (ABM) comes into the picture.
So what is Account-Based Marketing? It is a precise and focussed marketing strategy targetting a set of clients that are best-fit customers for your organization.
Instead of blindly targeting the entire market, ABM picks and chooses organizations that are most likely to buy from you. ABM engages prospective customers in personalized ways that cater to their specific needs and converts them into customers.
ABM did exist years ago. But the technology that could personalize content for targeted buyers at scale was not available. But, now, that situation has changed. Availability of Marketing tools has facilitated personalization, making it cost and time-efficient. Also, B2B sales organisations are increasingly focused on consolidating their customer base and adding value to limited Large Deal Accounts where ABM is extremely effective. All this has made ABM extremely relevant for B2B sellers.
WHY IS ACCOUNT-BASED MARKETING IMPORTANT?
Traditionally, marketing spends a huge budget on running spray and pray marketing campaigns. ABM drastically controls the marketing budget by targeting only a few customers. These target customers are usually Large Deal Accounts (LDAs) who have higher chances of bringing in a long term business.
ABM also narrows down the target accounts to a much smaller number. This makes analysing marketing campaign effectiveness much easier. This also gives insight to marketers and sales teams on which campaign to continue and which to drop.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ACCOUNT-BASED MARKETING AND TRADITIONAL MARKETING STRATEGY :
Traditional marketing uses a fishing net concept. You see a sea of potential buyers and you put a net all over them. By the time you withdraw your net, you have very few prospective customers remaining.
Account-Based Marketing is archery. The sales and Marketing team take time to aim at their targeted ideal customer profile. And once they are ready they hit the bullseye.
Traditional marketing has an AICP funnel. Attention, Interest, Consideration, Purchase. Whereas ABM creates an inverted funnel. Its stages are Identify, expand, engage and then advocate.
Another difference between the two is that an Account-Based Marketing strategy is targeted and focused on long term relationships. Whereas, traditional marketing is more focused on the short term promotion of products and services.
Different types of Account-Based Marketing.
Account-Based Marketing is classified into three different types depending upon the number of accounts being targeted :
- First is Strategic ABM –
This type deals with around 1 to 10 accounts at a time. This is the most personalised type that yields the highest Return on investment(ROI). But, this also requires the most effort and investment.
2. The second one is ABM Lite –
This type deals with 10 to 100 accounts at a time. It yields a moderately high ROI and requires comparatively less effort and investment.
3. The third one is Programmatic ABM –
This type deals with 100 to 1000 accounts at a time. It is least personalised and yields the lowest ROI when compared to the other three types. But, it also requires the least amount of effort and investment.
Between the three types, there is no best type of ABM. The type of Account-Based Marketing is completely the organization’s choice. It generally depends on what you want to achieve from your marketing campaign.
Five strategies to install a foolproof Account-Based Marketing :
1. Account selection.
The selection of accounts is the first and the most crucial step in Account-Based Marketing. It determines if your ABM strategy is going to be a huge hit or a miss.
If you target the right accounts, you can get maximum benefits. However, if you target the wrong accounts, you will be wasting time, money and resources.
Now, there is no standard process for shortlisting the right accounts, but, before finalising target accounts try answering these questions.
- How well does this account match the Ideal customer profile?
- Have you already engaged with the account in the past? If so, how many times?
- Will this account be easier to work with?
- Will this account deliver a good ROI?
Going through this process and finalising the right accounts is always a joint effort between the sales and marketing teams. The accuracy of target accounts depends on how well the sales and marketing teams work together and complement each other.
2. Coordination between the Sales and Marketing team:
Sales teams and marketing teams seldom work together.
Marketing teams run campaigns in silos and hand over Marketing qualified leads i.e MQL to sales. After this, the sales team qualifies these customers further and works on fulfilling the demands generated by the marketing team.
However, in Account-Based Marketing, the efforts of the marketing team and sales team are combined. This collaboration between both teams is essential for success in ABM.
The sales team usually has greater knowledge about their products and customers and how the product can attract and benefit the target clientele.
The sales team share this understanding with the marketing team. The marketing team, based on this knowledge, organizes campaigns and creates advertisements tailored specifically for these target accounts.
Moreover, the marketing team creates personalized engagements for the target accounts that keep prompting them about your organization and the services you offer. So that, whenever the target account thinks about their problem, your organization and the solution offered by you jumps to the forefront of their mind.
3. Plan a content strategy.
Once you have decided on your targets, next comes personalisation. Personalized engagement is an important aspect when it comes to Account-Based Marketing. And that is why this process requires effort, time and a close understanding of your targets.
After selecting the targets, the sales team and the management team study the targeted accounts. They try to identify the kind of content required to get efficient engagement with them. The engagement is then accordingly personalized by the marketing team as well as the design team.
Then comes the intensity of personalization. This largely depends upon your team, the efficiency of your team and the kind of ABM you have chosen.
For example, if you decide to go with 1:1 ABM, you tailor your content according to each account you are dealing with. Moreover, this type of ABM requires highly personalized content.
On the other hand, if you are going with 1: Few or 1: Many ABM, then you tailor your content according to some of the characteristics that all the organizations share. And this content will be moderately personalized.
After you have decided on the kind and intensity of personalization, the designing team and the marketing team start working on creating that content. However, it is advised that before starting on creating engagement content from scratch, take a look at your existing content. If they are relevant to your targets or could be salvaged by a few adjustments, you would be saving a considerable amount of resources by reusing the existing content.
Your engagement strategy should be rich in different kinds of content. They could be videos, emails, infographics, podcasts, social media posts and others. As long as they are tailored to speak to the clients, any kind of content works on creating efficient engagement.
4. Channel Strategy
If you personalize your content based on your target clientele and then use it somewhere your targets won’t ever see it, your ABM strategy is going to be a huge hit … and miss!
For example, you target a client, identify their needs and wants, tailor your content according to it and then show the advertisement to them on Facebook. It all sounds good until you realize that your client isn’t very active on Facebook and the best way to reach them was actually through email. You have spent considerable resources on Facebook’s advertising, and all for nothing.
This is the reason why along with personalizing engagement content according to your client you must also ensure that the content is being used where the client is most active. This job is primarily handled by the marketing team
The best way to use your ABM strategy with complete efficiency is through adopting a multi-channel strategy.
The different channels most commonly used for ABM campaigning are :
1. Email Marketing.
Email marketing is best applied on 1:Few and 1:Many ABM types. These emails are sent in bulk to all your targets, though they are still personalized to cater to the common characteristics between your targets. Email marketing is one of the most used and most efficient techniques in ABM campaigning.
2. Account-Based Advertising.
Account-Based advertising is mostly used with 1:1 ABM types because of their highly personalized nature. But, along with being more efficient compared to the other techniques, they are also much costlier. They can generate great results for you if done right.
The different types of Account-Based Advertising are –
IP address matching.
In this method, your tech team finds the IP addresses of your target customers’ teams. Your marketing teams design personalized content for your targets and then use them as pop up ads on the websites that your targets visit.
This way whenever your target uses the device with the matched IP address, they are bound to see an advertisement of your product.
Social media websites.
Social media advertising is being increasingly used in Account-Based Marketing. The social media platforms include Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Pinterest, Reddit and many others.
After identifying the platform that your target customers visit, you can display your advertisements on those sites.
Among all the other techniques, social media advertising is the costliest. But, it is also the most efficient and personalized. It also increases the probability of your target customers connecting with you.
This is a great marketing strategy for the 1:1 ABM category.
These emails are sent to your target clientele on behalf of the account executives who have an ongoing relationship with the target.
The biggest difference between email marketing and direct emails is that instead of sending it in bulk to all your targets, direct email is sent to ONE of your targets one at a time.
It is also crucial that the receiver knows and has a good relationship with the sender/the sender on whose behalf the email is being sent.
This strategy is the most cost-efficient. But, it is also time-consuming and reserved for targets who have a good relationship with your organization.
Last but not least is event marketing that has been a go-to marketing strategy for B2B organizations. Even after discovering countless other marketing strategies, event campaigning remains the most used.
In event marketing, you personalize your content according to your targets and arrange campaigning events for them.
But, it is key that these events be small and tailored for the handful of target customers that attend the campaign. By keeping the audience limited, you will improve your chances of personalizing your interaction with them. Moreover, a limited crowd allows you to socialize with more people and spend more time with them.
5. Monitoring Active Campaigns.
Once your campaigns are personalized and put into place, you can sit back and relax. But…not for long. Your work isn’t entirely done here.
Just like any piece of machinery requires periodical testing, so does your ABM campaign. Once your campaign passes the thirty-day mark, it is time for monitoring and evaluating it.
If a campaign is not creating enough value for you, why would you continue to use it?
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to understand if your campaign is serving you well :
- How many leads are generated through the campaign?
- What is the difference (Profit or Loss) in the revenue created before and after the campaign was implemented?
- How many targets contacted your organization after engaging with the campaign?
- What could be the reason why the other targets did not contact the organization?
If after the evaluation the strategy you utilized proves to be unfruitful, it is time to change tactics. Try to think about what your organization could do to better the campaign next time.
Account-Based Marketing is an extremely important Demand-Gen strategy if you are a B2B seller managing Large deal accounts.
This is something you should not miss, so get hold of your marketing team members to understand how you can use it for your set of accounts.
After running ABM campaigns you don’t need to get results in the first go. It’s a long term game. You need patience and perseverance till the time you figure out what works and what doesn’t.
If you have any questions about ABM, you can always ask them in the comment section. I would love to help you. If you find this blog informative and interesting, do share it with people and do not forget to subscribe.
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