Marketers in a B2B setting try marketing campaigns that are cast with very wide nets, hoping to appeal to as many brands as possible. While this method has been used by most marketers and brands, we all know the outcome; a marginal conversion rate of maybe 1% (if you’re lucky) of the target audience. Doesn’t sound so appealing anymore, does it? Account based marketing (ABM) is an alternative to such B2B strategies and focuses the sales and marketing resources of a company on specifically targeted accounts. ABM makes use of personalized campaigns that are designed in a manner that resonates with each target account. Account based marketing is a marketing strategy that aligns the views of the sales and marketing teams of a brand to focus resources effectively on a select set of target accounts with which marketers have desired to do business. It is a complex strategy as it requires multiple departments and teams to work cohesively as one unit. To be implemented successfully, ABM requires technology, access to quality client data, and the creation of quality content that is personalized to suit accounts individually.
ABM treats every single customer as a market of one instead of mass targeting, as in inbound marketing and other traditional strategies. It is often described as ‘fishing with a spear,’ contrary to traditional marketing types that are known as ‘fishing with nets.’ Depending on the starting point chosen by the marketer, an account-based marketing campaign begins with the selection of target accounts or industry verticals, and then the individual brands. Marketers then work on relationships with key stakeholders and decision-makers of that account/ industry vertical. Account-based marketing is an extremely valuable asset for B2B marketers as it possesses the potential to drive stronger and deeper customer relationships and improves customer retention, in turn reducing attrition rates. There are a few types of account based marketing. These types depend upon the marketer’s approach to this strategy. While transitioning from inbound marketing to account based marketing, some marketers go by the book and start with 1:1 targeting. Others may start by targeting a list of accounts within a specifically chosen industry vertical. Some also practice the targeting of an initial list of accounts that they deem worthy. Each account based marketing campaign, regardless of the type, must be tailored to meet the personalization criteria of each account.
To start off on the right foot, this isn’t a comparison that tells you which marketing strategy is better than the other. This simply points out the differences between the two for a better understanding of how exactly account-based marketing functions. Inbound marketing and ABM both have their own pros and cons and unique use cases. In inbound marketing, marketers target audiences via engaging, quality content to draw an audience to either their brand’s website or other social media platforms. Inbound marketing looks to attract large volumes of individuals toward brand websites. The aim of this marketing strategy may be to get people to download gated content so that marketers can then nurture these leads via emails or retargeted ads. Once the lead gets to the bottom of the funnel, marketers have gathered enough data and can then decide whether the lead classifies as an MQL (Marketing-Qualified Lead). This is when brands following the inbound approach begin identifying their target customers. In the case of ABM, this funnel is flipped on its head. Marketers identify the companies beforehand, expand their target list by noting key contacts of that company, and then engage them with content and campaigns. An alternative approach could also be where brands utilize both of these strategies instead of just one of them. In such a scenario, inbound marketing brings you website visitors — who you can track via website visitor identification software — and ABM campaigns can be run on the targets you find. This hybrid strategy provides marketers with a target list early up the funnel. Another plus point is that since these visitors chose to visit your website, they’re already interested in what your brand offers.
Now that the working, functionalities, and unique features of account-based marketing are cleared, let’s get into the importance of ABM for B2B brands and whether it really is worth losing sleepover. A true indicator to pursue ABM is research and studies. One such research report by Alterra Group recorded that 97% of respondents reported, compared to other marketing campaigns, ABM had a somewhat higher or much higher ROI. ABM is generally utilized as a B2B marketing approach by organizations that possess an employee strength greater than 1,000. Therefore, while account-based marketing comprises many benefits, it may not be the go-to strategy for every business. This is mainly due to the presence of multiple stakeholders that are involved during a sale. It may not be practical and affordable for small businesses that have time and resource constraints for the marketing of their products. For organizations, account-based marketing kicks-off the sales process with greater opportunities early in the process. It also provides brands with the highest possible ROI from the campaigns run by marketers. Additionally, account-based marketing aligns the marketing, sales, and account management teams/ departments so that brands enjoy longer durations of success through well-maintained client relationships.
Account-based marketing is a popular approach leveraged by many B2B companies who want to target companies with specific traits. Account-based marketing offers many benefits over other marketing strategies, specifically for companies that want to gain long-term sales cycles with their clients. These advantages of ABM are as follows.
ABM creates uber-personalized messaging for each target account, which is done by studying client info and tailoring the campaign’s creative assets to suit client characteristics and requirements.
ABM successfully gets multiple teams/ departments of a brand on the same track and working side-by-side. These teams identify accounts, create personalized campaigns for each, and move each account through the pipeline before as well as after lead conversion.
As B2B decisions generally include a lot of stakeholders, and the permission of the higher authority keeps delaying the sales process, ABM tackles this problem for marketers. Here, every prospect is nurtured simultaneously, thus effectively shortening the time for conversion.
Since ABM is measurable and precise, it provides the highest possible ROI as compared to any other B2B marketing strategy.
ABM targets a comparatively smaller number of accounts as compared to traditional marketing strategies. This reduces resource wastage by focusing time and professionals on just those accounts.
All that’s left now is to build an ABM campaign that solves any problems that you currently experience. Here’s a brief about how to best implement an account based marketing strategy.
These accounts should possess the potential to contribute significantly to company revenue.
Learn exactly what the account requires and their pain points. It would also do you good to know where these accounts are in their customer journey.
Put the researched information to use to form your strategy and develop creative content that resonates with the targeted account.
Direct your campaigns to your target account.
Measure and analyze campaign data to evaluate your campaigns and efforts.
Now that you are well versed with what an ABM is, how it is used in B2B settings, its importance, benefits, and how to implement it, it’s high time you know which ABM tools to make use of to get the best out of your campaigns. As a marketer, you’re looking for a solution that fits your requirements best. Fortunately, there aren’t too many market leaders to choose from as of now.
Logo by Engagio as seen on the Website.
Delivers reliable automation along with trustworthy analytics, regardless of target audience size. It keeps track of marketing programs, leads, and site visitors. The provision of metrics such as ‘engagement minutes’ demonstrates lead interest.
Logo by Marketo as seen on the Website.
As one of the leading marketing automation platforms, Marketo has added ABM tools to its list of offerings. It provides account scoring and custom segmentation tools that allow marketers to focus on the metrics that actually matter for their campaigns. It possesses predictive segmenting and account-level analysis, and also includes advanced features for email, social media, and native CRM integration, among others.
Logo by DemandBase as seen on the Website.
The Marketing Cloud by DemandBase offers a whole suite of solutions that streamline the marketing process. It includes solutions for advertising, personalization, and account-based measurements, along with consulting services for the creation of marketing strategies.
Logo by Bound as seen on the Website.
Personalization significantly increases the chances of leads converting to clients. Bound helps marketers create personalized paths for visitors when they land on the brand’s homepage. While this is one of its’ offerings, Bound also provides tools that direct leads to future events.
Logo by Terminus as seen on the Website.
Comprising a complete suite of ABM tools that include personalized targeting, engagement insights, and more, Terminus takes a distinctive approach to analytics. It provides marketers with scorecards, reports, and ROI tracking, among other offerings.
To best demonstrate the usefulness of ABM, here are a few ABM use cases for you by Terminus. These are three distinct ABM campaigns that the Terminus sales and marketing team can simultaneously run.
While BD (business development) representatives work on target accounts, Terminus’ marketers simultaneously target the stakeholders of the target account with relevant online advertisements. The ads increase awareness among the stakeholders of the accounts as the BD reps reach out to them.
Terminus built an event marketing playbook that covers all activities pre-, during, and post-event as events form a significant part of Terminus’ marketing strategy. Post-event, the teams follow-up and drive ads targeted at attendees send emails, and social posts, along with direct calls from BD reps.
With this campaign, Terminus solely focuses on closing deals. The sales and marketing teams work together to create targeted messages and advertisements that resonate well with the situation each account is in (Here, situation is the pipeline stage, i.e. early-stage, mid-stage, and late-stage).
Account based marketing isn’t something too new to the field of marketing. Uber-personalization, and highly targeted sales and marketing campaigns have always proven to be better performers when compared to traditional, generic, non-targeted marketing campaigns. However, the one requirement to make this a success is a new way of thinking. As a new age marketer, tracking the number of impressions, or the number of visits your website gets, or the number of leads should not be a priority. Marketers need to now track activities and engagement for individual accounts. This decreases the importance given to those mostly needless metrics and increases revenue and delivers higher ROI. Marketers shouldn’t be worried about only one sign-up from a mass email campaign and should rather place their focus on the one sign-up, as that’s the one that matters most. That, in reality, is the essence of account based marketing.
Hamzah specializes in tech-based marketing and writes about marketing hacks targeted at marketers looking to enhance their businesses. He has an academic background in International Business, from which he draws his ambition as a market analyst. Hamzah is also an avid football fan, and that’s what you’d find him engrossed in, in his free time.