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TLDR;

Definition:

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a marketing strategy that focuses on customers as individuals. Businesses then concentrate their marketing and sales resources on these targeted accounts or customers.

Guiding Principles:

  • Create a more personalized experience
  • Use retargeting ads to help reach targets
  • Integrate channels to get a 360 view of your account

Introduction

The B2B industry is cutthroat. B2B companies battle a growing amount of noise online and offline, making it difficult to grab customers’ attention. Unmet sales goals turn team members against one another. Sales representatives are quick to point the finger at the marketing department blaming poor lead quality. Marketing professionals then point the finger the other direction, blaming a tiring sales process. It’s impossible to successfully grow a business with two key departments acting like enemies rather than allies.

Account-based marketing (ABM) is the answer to the division of these equally important teams. More than 70% of B2B companies embraced ABM strategies in 2016. Even with its rise in popularity, however, many businesses struggle to implement it or see success. In most of these cases, they jumped in without researching or knowing how much work it takes to get it right.

Account-based marketing is valuable to your bottom line. But before you go all in, take the time to understand the requirements and the best way to approach a new marketing and sales strategy. If you’re willing to commit, ABM can turn your business into a thriving, cash-generating machine.

What is account-based marketing anyway?

Traditional B2B marketing methods have businesses throwing their message out into a large pool of potential customers. The hope is that it sticks to a few and convinces them to take the next step. In this scenario, you don’t know if the leads that take action are good or bad.

Account-based marketing, or ABM, is an account-focused approach to marketing. It flips the funnel by targeting select accounts you know you want to close. Marketing and sales teams work together to gain and maintain the account’s interest. These accounts are usually the ones that generate a profit. This means you can skip over the leads that waste your time and cost you money.  

Businesses that see success with ABM create a seamless strategy that keeps everyone on point and accountable. And most importantly, it aligns your key departments, sales, and marketing, helping them work towards a common goal.

Why account-based marketing takes you from zero to hero

Everyone wants to be the hero in their business and their industry. Introducing account-based marketing to your growth strategy not only makes sense, but it also catapults your from zero to hero.

Attract clients you want

ABM messages focus on the actual needs of the accounts that you target, making it more effective than old marketing strategies. According to a survey by Alterra Group, 97% of marketers say that ABM had higher ROI than other marketing activities. The more aware these potential customers are of your brand, the easier it is for them to say yes when you request a meeting.

Aligned departments

Nothing good comes from having departments on different pages. ABM aligns your sales and marketing departments to work towards one common goal. Converting the accounts you want!

Having one goal forces the separate departments to meet often, collaborate, and hold each other accountable. The increase in collaboration drives results.

Positive customer experience

ABM is all about the customer. Using it right means you personalize every message your target accounts see. This improves their customer experience because you make it easy for them to find the information they need and want the most. According to a report from Marketo, nearly 85% of marketers said ABM provided significant benefits to retain and expand existing client relationships.

More money

ABM produces better results. In fact 97% of marketers said ABM had higher ROI than other marketing activities.  Target account knows exactly who you are and what you offer. The time-consuming and challenging conversations are over before the sales team meets with the client for the first time. Your close ratio is better, and expenses are less resulting in a bigger profit.

How to use account-based marketing

So, you’re ready for an ABM strategy? Well, like any great strategy, success comes from a well thought out plan. Here are some steps to use to make your ABM shine.

Define your ideal account

Take a look at existing accounts and filter out which ones you want to target. Analyze these accounts to find common trends.

  • Are they in a particular industry?
  • Do they share common struggles?
  • What types of products or service do they purchase?
  • Are they located in the same geographic region?

From there, you can look through your accounts and decides which ones fit your ideal customer.

Create a plan for marketing messages

During your research, take note of where key decision makers have profiles. Are they on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.? Use this to map a plan of how you want to reach out to them. Since each account is different, create a plan for each to increase results.

Then you can create a list of key decision makers, products, services, new company ventures, and announcements. This information is vital to creating a personalized marketing plan for each account and their decision makers.  

Build personalized content

Start crafting personalized content for social media, paid advertising, and e-mail messages. Speak directly to the company representatives to capture their attention and increase engagement.

So, if you send an email to your target, it’s personalized to them. In fact, 77% of consumers have chosen, recommended or paid more for a brand that provides a personalized service or experience.

Dominating account based marketing in 2017

Now that you’re ready to dive into the account-based marketing world, you need to know how to compete with businesses already seeing success. Here are five key ways to dominate ABM this year.

Personalize communication

Personalization is here to stay. According to a recent survey, 75% of consumers are more likely to buy from a retailer that recognizes them by name or recommends options based on past purchases. In ABM, it’s important to personalize every message your high-priority accounts see. Create unique and engaging content that speaks directly to them or include their business role and company in every message you send to add more personalization.

Customize content for your other target accounts. Break these accounts into smaller industry sub-groups of five to ten. Then send industry-specific content instead of company-specific.

Use paid advertising

Paid advertising options are a great way to reach your target audience. In addition to Google and Bing, you can create campaigns on social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. Paid advertising gives you significant benefits.

First, you can target leads on social media that work for the company you want to target. Second, you can create retargeting ads to follow website visitors around the Internet, subtly reminding them to come back. And those retargeting ads can be very useful. In fact, website visitors who are retargeted with a display ad are 70% more likely to convert.

Measure ROI

There is a lot of hype today about data. And it’s easy to get lost in the amount of data you can access. Tracking engagement and traffic only shows you how well the first phase of your ABM works. Tracking ROI gives you dollar amounts to tie to your success. Real dollars back future ABM investment and boost your long-term growth.

 

Expert tips for account based marketing

“Deploy the type of ABM programs that work best for your company. What does that mean? There are different types of ABM and one might be a better fit for your marketing strategy and goals. You may want to concentrate on a handful of large accounts and dive deep into an ABM strategy, take a few hundred accounts to do targeted marketing to, or fold your ABM accounts into your existing marketing programs.”

Charm Bianchin, Senior Director of Marketing at Marketo
4 Account-Based Marketing Lessons From the Field
Marketo

“During the past 18 months, marketers have come to realize the limitations of the traditional inbound marketing model, according to Miller. "You used to be able to put keywords in your blog posts and rank [in Google] for them," he says. "But now everyone is using content marketing. And demand generation tactics for generating leads have reached a saturation point. So that means going after customers using outbound marketing tactics, like ABM, instead of waiting for people to come to you through inbound marketing efforts."

James A. Martin, Content Marketer and Writer
5 Things You Need to Know About Account-based Marketing
CIO

“They found that the most indispensable sales tactic, social selling, looks a lot like marketing. Basically, social selling involves developing relationships with prospective clients before pursuing sales goals. Social sellers use social media—LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter—to identify and engage with buyers. They leverage the intelligence gathered on social sites to share timely, insightful content. The goal is to establish the salesperson’s value before asking for an appointment or making a pitch.”

Joshua Nite, Content Marketing Manager at TopRank
Do You Speak Sales? What Sales Can Teach Us About Account Based Marketing
TopRank

Conclusion

B2B marketing is hard. In the past, experts harped on creating valuable content to make it easy for leads to find you. Today, the Internet has too much content for business professionals to spend their time sorting through. Account-based marketing is the proactive approach you need to attract the right leads and make more money.

If your business suffers from capturing low-quality leads, account-based marketing is the answer you need. Mastering ABM starts with fully understanding your options and how the strategy works. It won’t produce results overnight, but it will realign your team to work towards the same goal.

The good news is only 20% of companies have had their ABM strategies in place for more than a year. The bad news is this number will grow in 2017 with more than 40% planning to spend more on ABM. Now is the time to embrace account-based marketing or get left behind. Will you choose business growth or demise?