- On this blog post, you'll learn:
- What is account-based marketing;
- Top benefits of ABM;
- What are the steps to do account-based marketing.
In Marketing, we learn to build companies on strategies that reach out to the masses, or at least to the largest number of fitting prospects. That's what inbound marketing and ad campaigns do. And that's not the wrong way to do it: many companies see results from it, and an even larger number of clients reach their goals because of them.
But what about when these strategies don't work on the companies you want to become clients? The solution might be switching to account-based marketing (ABM).
What is account-based marketing (ABM)?
According to ITSMA, the Information Technology Services Marketing Association, the simplest definition is treating individual accounts as markets in their own. It means to focus on, and attract, specific targeted companies. Companies that have a real possibility of purchasing from you, and actually take advantage of your product.
You can think of it as flipping the sales cycle: instead of attracting a large number of leads and then qualifying them to identify hot leads, you'll start with identification. The attraction will be done thinking of these companies (accounts) you want to become clients.
Once you have these highly-targeted leads, you'll treat them as their own market. ABM allows you to speak to their need and provide solutions for their situation, instead of trying to fit them in your product's reality. During this content we'll tell you how to actually do that.
Now the question you're probably asking yourself: can anyone do ABM? Well, no.
- Account-based marketing is ideal for B2B transactions, and not B2C or B2B2C.
- Not all types of B2B products and services will have enough single sale ticket to sustain a company based on ABM, which makes this strategy ideal to enterprise-level (high ticket) accounts.
That being said, you'll learn that it's possible to use account-based marketing in combination with other strategies, and we'll tell you how to connect it with inbound and outbound marketing.
Inbound Marketing + ABM
We have said that account-based marketing is best for enterprise-level deals, right? Well, Inbound Marketing is perfect for attracting small and medium-size businesses. The "casting-a-wide-net" strategy works well in this case. That's because it can attract a large number of possible clients, mature or not, that can be nurtured through automation, for example.
If your company offers solutions for all of these cases, taking both strategies parallelly is a good idea. But it's important to remember that you need to adjust the sales funnel for each case and company - if it's enterprise, an ABM strategy is best; if not, inbound might be best. Adapt the respective arguments and automation flows as well, if using them.
Outbound Marketing + ABM
Account-based marketing uses a lot of digital techniques common to outbound marketing. This means: actively finding accounts that are interesting for your company to have as clients, attract their interest, get their contact information and then reaching out to talk.
With outbound, you're able to have direct contact with the prospect and build a relationship with them.
Top benefits of account-based marketing
Want to know why should you be doing account-based marketing? Here are some of the benefits it may (most definitely will) bring to your company when you focus on high-value companies with the right fit for your solution:
1. High (and clear) ROI
There is a common saying that goes "you have to spend money to make money", right? Well, people don't really like to spend money, and investments suffer the same resistance. But having a clear return on investment and generating revenue for the company make it worth it for the investors. In our case, that's the CEO.
When focusing on high tickets deals, the return is usually a lot higher than, proportionally, other non-account-based marketing strategies. Plus, with fewer points of investment and a controlled and easy-to-track sales funnel, it's easy to see what actions and clients are providing that return.
2. Integration between teams
Since the strategy focuses on accounts instead of marketing, the main basic requirement in account-based marketing is that the sales and marketing teams create the steps and arguments of the sales cycle together. The execution also needs to be perfectly coordinated. It works because the goal is the same, and integration is natural.
Organizations with aligned sales and marketing teams see an average of 32% annual revenue growth, while less aligned companies see a 7% decline in growth.
3. Zero Waste Philosophy
ABM aims to only attract accounts that have real chance to convert into clients. This means the goal is to convert all of them, without leakages along the sales funnel or nurturing strategies. Basically, never lose or waste any opportunity!
Account-based marketing requires you to focus on accounts with the right fit and build a relationship based on excellent customer experience. So it's only natural that you are able to maintain that account for a long period. Not only that, but you manage to keep a rapport with them and end up, hopefully, with a brand-advocate.
Step-by-step on account-based marketing
Now that you're convinced to start doing account-based marketing (I'm sure we convinced you!), check out how you can start to work with it:
1. Define Targets
The first thing you need to forget about is personas - think of businesses, not people! Here are some information you'll need in order to choose the right targets: industry, size, location, annual revenue, what kind of factors influence the company, what is the expected profit margin, revenue and recurrency potential, and so on. Here, you'll decide what is your ideal business - that'll later become a customer.
2. Research Accounts
Once you have an idea of what kinds of businesses and organizations you're looking for, it's time to get researching! As well as identifying the right accounts, it's key to discover who the decision-makers and influencers are and how decisions are made in your target accounts. That's how you'll know what arguments to use and who you must talk to.
3. Personalized Message
Focus on the problems and pain points that the organization needs to solve and create content you can use to attract these key decision-makers and influencers. Also, think of content that they naturally look for and that can be used on nurturing the relationship with them. For personalized messages, think of outbound strategies to get the conversation going and attract their attention.
4. Identify Channels
What channels will be used to start talking to your target accounts? Research these channels - they can be blogs, websites, social media, etc. An example is to use LinkedIn. For this, you'll need to focus on specific people, of course, but use arguments that interest the company as a whole.
5. Run Campaigns
Time to execute what you've planned up until now! Every action needs to be coordinated between marketing and sales to avoid sending different messages to the same person of a target account. The good news is that technology is allowing professionals to coordinate and execute campaigns more easily, at a larger scale, and with a higher efficiency rate.
6. Measure Results
Tracking results is an important part of account-based marketing since this is how you'll be able to prove your ROI. Other than closed deals, it's important to track revenue generation (monthly and annual), engagement, funnel effectivity and conversion rates, for example.
7. Optimize & Re-start
Evaluate strategies and individual campaigns, see what's working and what could be improved, fine-tune your marketing and sale strategies and get ready for your next cycle.
After ABM: the next steps
Once you're able to close the best deals through ABM, there are other steps that need to be optimized in order to retain this client, and that is providing an excellent customer experience. That means:
- having the perfect onboarding;
- focusing on a great customer service;
- strategies that focus on strengthening the relationship between account-head and company-front-man.
Remember that, from the start, account-based marketing focuses on targeted communication and it's a great way to start the road to advocacy. But first, you need to choose your targets wisely, find the right channels and arguments to communicate with them and tracking your results!
We gave all the steps and tips to start your own account-based marketing strategy. Now it's time to act: identify the most valuable targets, trace the dynamic between marketing and sales, and get down to business!