For many years now, account-based marketing has been a buzz word in B2B marketing. Many organizations are implementing ABM or want to get started with ABM in the near future. But what exactly is ABM and what is the importance of an account-based approach for your organization?
- What is account-based marketing?
- ABM versus inbound marketing
- When and why use ABM?
- Advantages of ABM
- Is ABM the right choice for us?
- Sales and ABM
- Create an account-based marketing plan
- Successfully measure account-based marketing
- Examples of account-based marketing
- Account-based marketing software
- Starting with ABM?
What is account-based marketing?
Let’s start with a definition:
Account-based marketing is a strategic approach that coordinates personalized marketing and sales efforts to open doors and deepen engagement at specific accounts.
— Jon Miller, CEO of Engagio and Co-Founder of Marketo
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a B2B strategy in which you engage with a predefined group of target accounts using tailor-made sales and marketing campaigns. With ABM campaigns, you focus on the personal needs of your key (potential) customer.
You might have heard this quote of marketing guru Dan Ogilvy: “Don’t count the people you reach; reach the people that count”. And that is exactly the marketing approach of account-based marketing (ABM); you focus your activities on a selected group of accounts of which you know they can really add value to your organization.
ABM versus inbound marketing
When you’re getting started with account-based marketing, you first define your goals. Do you have a target list of 3 accounts in mind, or a larger list or even an industry in mind? Marketing and sales define this scope together. Then, you select the target accounts and identify the relevant personas within these accounts. Next, you gather account insights such as business drivers, challenges and purchasing motives.
These insights provide the team valuable input to create personalized content for each account. Account-based marketing is an extremely focused, almost microscopic strategic way of inbound and outbound marketing.
When and why use ABM?
Compared to generic marketing campaigns, account-based marketing campaigns offer some important advantages to you:
1. Better insight in the buyer and buyer journey
Personal customer experience is increasingly important in B2B. Account-based marketing plays into this trend. By creating specific content for a specific account, you increase your relevance to the buyer and/or customer.
2. Better collaboration between marketing and sales
For a successful ABM campaign, you need input from sales ánd marketing. Think about account plans and data, market developments, existing contacts, history, etc. You get started together by defining, creating and rolling out a campaign using relevant content.
3. A more strategic go-to-market approach
In ABM you choose target accounts that are both promising and that could add real value. You only invest time, money and resources in accounts that really matter. This will give you a head start on your competitors who do not implement an ABM strategy.
4. Better results with ABM
Research from Engagio shows that 84% of B2B organizations that use ABM get a higher Return on Investment (ROI). Not only is the average deal size higher because you only focus on accounts that can add a lot of value, but ABM also enables you to create more buy-in within the DMU of your target account.
Is ABM the right choice for us?
Whether your market and/or organization is the right choice for ABM depends on the market and internal organization. Would a 1-1 or 1-few account approach work in your industry? And what about the collaboration between sales and marketing? In this infographic you can assess whether ABM fits you.
Sales and ABM
In order to make ABM a success, it is important to have a good collaboration between the marketing and sales department. Together, you gather interesting and relevant information on the market and on the key target accounts. Sales can share insights and knowledge regarding contacts that they have already. Sometimes Sales can share inside knowledge from other similar customers. Based on that, Marketing can help in building engagement and the relationship.
Create an account-based marketing plan
An ABM plan is the foundation for successful campaigning and growth. A well-structured ABM plan means a bigger chance of success during the actual execution and optimization. At SPOTONVISION we use a 5-step-plan.
Step 1. Getting to know your accounts
Together with the sales team, define which accounts you want to focus on. Choose the target accounts with high value that fit your organization. Define the goals and determine your KPIs.
Step 2. Look for account insights
Gather as much information as possible in order to understand your accounts and stakeholders better. Look at the personas of decision makers and influencers. Map your contacts and map the purchasing process.
Step 3. Create account relevant content
Get started with the creation of personalized and account relevant communication. Create appealing content for you ABM campaign.
Step 4. Build and launch your campaign
Combine different online and offline marketing tactics. Make sure there is close collaboration between Marketing and Sales and work on a consistent message together.
Step 5. Measure and optimize Measure the result of your account-based marketing activities. Share successes and search for ways to optimize your campaign where needed.
Successfully measure account-based marketing
In ABM you don’t try to generate as many leads as possible, but you build a as much engagement as possible within your selected accounts. To measure success and progress, look at the information on account level. Think of:
- Engagement – All activities that are part of your ABM approach are aimed at having valuable interactions with the contacts in your target account. You want to measure this.
- Reach and impact – Are your ABM activities actually reaching the right people?
- Influence – A good way to measure your actual impact and influence, is to compare results between different accounts.
Also read ‘How to measure ABM and its success‘.
Three account-based marketing examples
Example 1: Account focused content
Personalized and customized content can be a powerful base of your ABM strategy. Think of blogs, infographics, e-books, and whitepapers you can make account or industry specific. For example by means of a personalized title or subtitle or a front page adjusted to a segment or industry. Or by sharing customer cases that fit your target accounts.
Example 2: Out-of-the-box 1-1 actions
In order to close big accounts and stand out from all commercial actions of your competitors, you can develop a special and personalized action for one account.
To raise interest, it is important to play into the needs and challenges of this specific account. Make it extra personal by using the same language and words your target account uses.
This example is from GumGum, a software company that wants to close McDonalds as a new customer. They developed a special kit of a Big Mac containing different ‘ingredients’, each explaining a part of their services.
Example 3: Web personalization for specific accounts
You can apply web personalization for account-based marketing different ways. Dynamic content can be used to personalize websites for different accounts or persons within the DMU of an account.
You can change images and texts on a specific landing page. Or go the extra mile and even show different content (e.g. blogs, e-books, and infographics).
These examples show that ABM can be executed in an approachable or a more labour intensive way. Of course, this also depends on your budget and available time. Yet, with a lot of creativity, originality, and guts you can come a long way. And don’t forget; ‘One swallow doesn’t make a summer’. With one successful action you’re not there yet. In order to build long term engagement with your accounts, you need multiple moments of contact, spread out over a longer period of time.
For more account-based marketing examples, have a look at https://www.readycontacts.com/
Account-based marketing software
Even though you can execute and monitor your account-based marketing campaigns using an excel sheet, our advice is to at least have access to a CRM and marketing automation platform. Per phase, we explain how other ABM tools could also help you.
Determining target accounts
To determine your target accounts your CRM system is leading. Your CRM helps you determine your target accounts. What is your ideal customer? In ABM terms, what is your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). The goal is two-sided:
- Determine what the characteristics of the ICP are.
- Select accounts within your CRM that meet the ICP.
It could well be that the account data in your CRM is not sufficient due to missing data, such as number of employees, revenue, etc. In this case, you can enrich your CRM data using an external source such as the Chamber of Commerce or Clearbit.
Collecting relevant contacts
Next step is to get insight in the DMU on a contact level. Which people are involved in the purchasing process of your product or service? Also think about influencers here. You take these roles or functions from buyer persona research.
Gathering insights in target accounts
Within your organization, much is known about the target accounts. Gather this information and enrich it with information from the website and by monitoring social channels and news about the accounts. You can use Google Alerts for this.
There are also tools you can use to grasp ‘intent’. There are plenty of product and service comparison tools – such as G2crowd – that offer visitor information. This way you immediately know which accounts show an interest in your product or service.
You use the insights you found for your content creation. Personalization plays an important role here. Think of adding a company logo to a whitepaper for a specific account. Or personalizing web pages based on which account views the page. This way you can provide each target account a super relevant experience on your website tool.
There are plenty of tools that offer personalization. Most important is that these are linked to your marketing automation platform (MAP). Many MAPs have this functionality already, such as Hubspot, Eloqua, Pardot and Marketo. For stand-alone personalization tools, you can have a look at Evergage, Rightmessage en Google Optimize.
In order to reach and engage persons within your target accounts, you use different tactics:
- LinkedIn – You may already be connected, otherwise you can use InMails or LinkedIn Ads
- Account-based advertising – Tools that recognize the IP addresses of target accounts and have these available for online advertising
- Website personalization (see above)
- E-mail marketing via marketing automation
- Chat functionality via website or messenger platform
- Physical post (Direct Mail)
- Face-to-face (online) events
Measure and optimize
Your CRM and marketing automation are the basis for measuring and optimizing. In addition, there are cloud solutions specifically developed for execution of ABM programmes. Examples are Engagio, Demandbase, Terminus en Triblio.
Getting started with ABM?
Do you want to get started with account-based marketing and are you looking for a practical step by step guidance? At SPOTONVISION we make ABM easy, whether we collaborate face-to-face or online. Most important ingredient for success is close co-operation between your Marketing and Sales. So, when you are ready to work together, SPOTONVISION can facilitate and support with impact. We work in pre-defined sprints, no surprises in the process.
Let’s have a conversation in real life
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