Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategy that’s been helping companies in the B2B arena capture and retain new clients in recent years. In fact, 60 percent of businesses that use ABM for at least a year see a revenue boost of at least 10 percent. Nearly a fifth see revenue growth of 30 percent or more.
While ABM had been proven to work for many types of B2B companies, there are still many who aren’t sure this account perspective is the best approach to revamping their businesses’ marketing. Some worry that relying on “impersonal” methods — phone calls, emails, social media, blogs, videos, display ads, ebooks — will dilute their sales approach and distance the very people they’re trying to attract.
But it’s all about thinking through your tactics. Rather than start with ABM and make mistakes that minimize the return on your investment, avoid the following techniques:
B2B companies that have relied on traditional marketing tend to think about inbound efforts only, meaning they work in a silo — separated from the rest of the organization. In doing so, they handle all the messaging via their content and digital strategies rather than through the sales team’s insights. That frontline view is crucial, and companies that ditch it risk speaking to the wrong audience or addressing the wrong pain points — and never knowing why.
With ABM, your marketing team can’t go it alone and expect results. It’s important to get key account insight from the salespeople who have been working with prospects directly and know more about what they want. Collaborating can create the type of messaging and interactions that result in a higher conversion rate.
“A campaign process that includes both the sales and marketing team’s approval and sign-off will be far more successful than one run in a silo,” explains Brenda Stoltz, the president of marketing and sales firm Ariad Partners.
The entire idea underpinning ABM is that its approach is personalized to each prospect and client. Although there may be some shared pain points or issues, each business client wants to be viewed as unique and receive content that reflects its individual struggles.
To personalize your approach with ABM means learning more about each company (with the aforementioned help from your sales team, along with your own research). Get to know who makes the decisions, what motivates them, and what they’ve done previously to address those pain points. Doing this deep dive into understanding who you’re working with can be the start of a long and beneficial relationship.
Most importantly, conducting this research will clarify just how different each account can be in terms of decision makers and purchase behaviors. I once consulted with two different firms that were working to expand the diversity of their customer base. While both wanted to implement ABM to capture new customers, one was looking to shift its messaging to highlight how its product addressed different needs; the other wanted to focus on how its product was a better value, knowing that’s what drove purchase decisions for its hoped-for audience. Each, as a result, approached ABM differently.
Although it’s good to think beyond inbound marketing tactics, that doesn’t mean you should forgo them altogether. Instead, your efforts should combine the outbound focus of ABM with inbound tactics.
By combining these approaches, you’ll be less likely to miss potential accounts. For example, ABM can play a role in inbound marketing tactics, like your content strategy. The research you conducted on your accounts may reveal patterns or insights you can then use in your content to better connect with an audience or even pursue other types of accounts you hadn’t yet identified. Map out your campaign for each audience or service line so you know how a piece of content is intended to make an impact.
Best of all, mapping your content can empower you to make the most out of existing content (and avoid sinking lots of time in producing all-new content). Repurposing content or vital bits of information reinforces your message and ensures that people who need to absorb the information get it — no matter what they click on. Details as simple as new images or rephrasing to capture the right tone for a new audience can make all the difference.
While you want to collaborate with sales, you don’t want to give the sales team your ABM processes. While collaborating, some sales reps may insist they know better when it comes to identifying leads compared to an insular marketing person. After all, they talk to people day in and day out.
Consider their insights, but also lean on the data you’ve gathered that provides a clearer picture on the best potential leads. Data, as any good marketer knows, is more vital and accessible than ever. If you listened to your sales rep only, you might miss out on some solid accounts. With ABM, it’s not about gut feelings or sales instincts; learn to rely on the data and stand your ground with sales. In the end, both teams will gain a new understanding — and, hopefully, new accounts.
ABM drives greater ROI but does so over the long term, so patience is essential when enacting this strategy. Think of it like weaving a web around an audience: It takes time to spin a story and message that resonates. It won’t make the swift impact that an in-your-face sales strategy would. A greater amount of time is needed to do the research, create the customer or account profiles, develop personalized content, and build relationships.
However, once you put in the time, you should be rewarded with accounts that continue to deliver ROI over a longer period of time than you would with marketing that focuses on short-term sales. Even if you don’t get results in what feels like the right amount of time and effort, don’t give up on ABM — establishing connections and levels of personalization may take longer than you think.
ABM takes considerable practice to achieve what it’s capable of. However, it’s well worth the trial and error to determine what data will move the needle and how you can measure its effectiveness. Its personalized approach can fuel customer growth and your bottom line — all you have to do is sidestep some common mistakes to see it get traction.
Find out other tips to help enhance your ABM and personalization efforts with The ABM Handbook.