As more and more B2B marketing experts adopt account-based marketing, also known as ABM, into their overall marketing strategy, it’s important to discuss what exactly ABM is and why it should matter to you and your B2B business. Account-based marketing is needed because it accompanies the traditional, short-term marketing goal of lead generation while having efforts to drive long-term revenue growth.
What exactly is account-based marketing?
ABM is simply a strategy used to direct marketing resources to engage with a specific set of target accounts. ABM not only focuses on Smarketing – sales and marketing team alignment – it also forces all of your teams to align due to the personalization at the account level that requires sales and marketing to work together and be on the same page when it comes to account-specific messaging. Ultimately, the goal of ABM is to achieve higher revenues in a shorter time frame.
With ABM, marketers don’t have to search for and wide for lead generation. Instead, they work closely with the sales team to identify key prospects and then create customized content and offers to the buying team with target accounts.
Why should account-based marketing matter to me?
As you may know, B2B marketing teams are constantly feeling pressured to impact revenue growth directly. Because of this, we are seeing the rise of the account-based marketing approach in B2B businesses. Adopting the ABM approach will help your business to focus more on the relationships in your accounts with the highest-value. Alignment of your marketing and sales team will come in handy – their combined efforts and resources can engage and convert accounts more efficiently as they develop more thoughtful, personalized approaches towards these high-value accounts.
How will ABM benefit my business?
There are two sides to the conversation when it comes to who ABM benefits the most. Some say that ABM is most effective for B2B companies selling to a few large key accounts, or those who have accounts of a certain size within a specific industry. Meanwhile, others say that ABM works for B2B companies of any size, as long as they are focusing on high-value accounts. No matter what, ABM benefits the sales team, marketing team, and the customers.
Most sales teams have been utilizing the account-based approach for years, and account-based marketing is the perfect addition to this. Get the marketing team involved, and now sales teams can better personalize their outreach to accounts. When marketing works in collaboration with sales using a defined list, both teams agree that it makes the most favorable targets. Statistics show that 84% of businesses that use account-based marketing say that it delivers a higher return on investment (ROI) than any other marketing campaign. You really can’t pass this up! Additionally, supporting the targeted members of the buying team with relevant marketing messages will help to speed up the sales process, which allows the sales team to achieve better close rates and close bigger deals even faster.
ABM will also benefit your customers as they have a better experience when you use the approach. Buyers prefer a more personalized approach and interaction, and this is exactly what ABM does. Presenting content that is targeted and messages that resonate with the customer’s situation will be recognized by the customer and they will be appreciative.
Aligning your sales and marketing teams around an ABM strategy
In our Smarketing blog, we talked about how to integrate your sales and marketing teams to create a seamless and successful flow for your business. Without the alignment of your sales and marketing departments, your target accounts will receive a subpar experience as the sales and marketing teams stumble all over each other, rather than provide a clear, effective process.
A successful ABM strategy begins with clear communication throughout your sales and marketing team that prevails as both groups fulfill their role in the buyer journey. The main overall business in your ABM strategy is to expand existing accounts or land new accounts. However, marketing and sales should have smaller goals that will help them stay on the same page when it comes to bigger goals. Smaller goals may include:
• Assigning a larger number of decision-makers within each account.
• Accelerating the sales cycle
• Encouraging customer loyalty
• Have a higher percentage of closing large deals
• Grow revenue within existing accounts
How to create an account-based marketing strategy
If sales and marketing share a similar mindset when it comes to account-based marketing and are ready to target and land accounts together – you’re on the right track. Now it’s time to create your account-based marketing strategy using the following core steps.
Step 1: Identifying your high-value accounts
Analyze your current customer base and identify the ones that fit what you would describe as an ideal or high-value customer. These are your customers that are the most profitable, there for the long-term, and are always a pleasure to do business with. Also, consider the existing accounts that have shown interest in expanding with your organization and those that satisfy your strategic criteria.
Step 2: Mapping out individuals to accounts
When a B2B transaction involving a significant purchase takes place, marketing and sales will help to drive unison among the key stakeholders. The first step in this is to identify those within the customer’s organization, such as CMOs, CIOs, CFOs, and digital marketing managers, that can influence the outcome of the buying decision. These individuals are the ones you need to engage with and persuade them to take action.
While individuals connected to the accounts are important, your focus should be on the account as a whole. Connect the concerns and needs of each stakeholder in the buying committee back to the overall strategic objective of their company. The main goal when interacting with these stakeholders is to help drive consensus for a purchasing decision.
Step 3: Defining and creating targeted campaigns
Now that you’ve chosen your accounts to target and the individuals to pursue, your next step is to develop a personalized campaign designed for each account and individual to resonate with. Remember that building and maintaining relationships is a key to success in the ABM process. By aligning your content and messages with the needs, interests, and challenges that each account and key stakeholder faces, you will be providing a unique value proposition and help to influence their buying decision.
Step 4: Determining optimal channels
Research and define which channels your target accounts and key stakeholders use the most to find trends and solutions. The channels may vary by industry, so this should not be a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
Step 5: Developing a strategic ABM playbook
Putting together a playbook that outlines who does what and when will help to clarify roles and responsibilities within your ABM strategy. Be specific when explaining tactics that both sales and marketing will use to engage with accounts and drive action. Your playbook should map out each communication method with the appropriate channel and the relevant message or content.
Step 6: Executing your campaigns
Campaigns can include tactics such as email, special events, direct mail, ads, etc. Since relationships are what drives your ABM strategy, your campaigns should be personalized for each contact. A great way to do this is by having your team members that share common interests with the contact be the ones to reach out.
Step 7: Measuring and optimizing
The process of measuring the results of account-based marketing is different than measuring the impact of traditional lead-generation tactics. When it comes to ABM, sales and marketing are working together to drive the process and revenue. The focus is on moving accounts, not just individuals, through the buying process. With an account-based marketing strategy, you’re tracking account engagement, opportunities created, closed-won deals, and the value that they’ve created for your organization. Allow your teams enough time to generate results, and then adjust your strategy and tactics used as necessary.
Implementing account-based marketing into marketing strategies is on the rise for B2B businesses. Simply put, ABM should matter to you and your B2B business. It is a needed method within the B2B business realm because it takes into consideration the traditional, short-term goals of generating leads, and simultaneously puts forth efforts into driving long-term revenue growth. Interested in creating an account-based marketing strategy for your business? We can help! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for your complimentary consultation session to review how ABM can grow your business in 2021 and beyond.