When ABM strategies have the potential to uplift marketing revenue by more than 200%, what's stopping marketers from getting started?
In our recent workshop, ‘ABM 101 – Building Account-Based Marketing into your Strategy’, our inbound and ABM experts discussed the impact of – and common challenges to – Account-Based Marketing within different industries, including who it’s right for, why it matters and practical advice to get you started.
In this Article:
- Account-Based Marketing – an introduction
- Why ABM matters?
- Who is ABM right for?
- What you need to get started with ABM
- Next steps: measuring success and external support
READ OUR KEY LEARNINGS FROM THE SESSION BELOW, OR WATCH THE FULL WORKSHOP HERE
Account-Based Marketing – An Introduction
Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a strategic approach to B2B marketing, based on creating personalized buying experiences for a mutually identified set of targeted accounts – namely, those that represent significantly higher expansion or growth opportunities.
Craig highlights, “there are essentially three forms of ABM today:
A dedicated sales and marketing approach focused on a single or small group of selected accounts, which is traditionally sat alongside lead gen and inbound marketing.
Then evolved from that, larger organisations that have matured with ABM and are now looking to take best practices across a wider group of accounts.
The third form of ABM is significantly digital and data-driven focused, which leads to a hyper-targeted and heavy personalised approach across a large group of accounts.”
Why ABM Matters?
Upon the surge of digital behaviours raising the bar, personalisation matters more than ever.
Research by McKinsey & Company found that 71% of consumers expect companies to deliver personalised interactions and 78% said that such content made them more likely to repurchase.
Charlotte adds, “lead generation is far more challenging – people are time poor; they don’t want to be approached or sold to.
With ABM you treat each company or group of companies as an individual market, meaning your approach is much more personalised and relevant – so you’re more likely to engage prospects and distribute budget in the right areas.”
Who is ABM right for?
Though relatively new, Account-Based Marketing strategies have seen a significant uptake in recent times, particularly with B2B organisations – below Gary shares the typical businesses that are more likely to be implementing or investing in ABM as an approach, and why:
“They have smaller target audiences, so a personalised engagement to those key accounts suit their business needs.”
“Technology companies are early adopters of ABM because of their complex and competitive nature. ABM allows them to concentrate their efforts on high-valued accounts.”
“Enterprise-level businesses have the resources and infrastructure to support ABM on a larger scale - the use of intent-based platforms or a large sales force, combined with a substantial amount of data can be leveraged to formalise specific ABM programmes.”
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“Due to their one-to-one nature and how they engage with customers, ABM suits their needs really well.”
“Niche markets can use ABM to target specific verticals and cut right through to their audiences’ needs.
Furthermore, ABM allows them to align their sales and marketing functions, build long-term relationships with their clients and produce highly personalised content, inevitably leading to a higher conversion rate.”
What you need to get started with ABM
An understanding of your customer profile
The core of ABM sits in targeting the most important accounts for your business – so, it’s no surprise that appropriate audience profiles are crucial.
Micheal highlights, “you need to understand the organisations and the people within those organisations – start ABM on a company-first strategy as opposed to a people-first strategy, as people will come and go.”
An understanding of your buyers’ emotional needs
Micheal says, “ignore influencers at your peril – they need to be brought onboard, they need to understand what you're trying to achieve, and they need to go on that journey with the decision makers.”
He adds, “you then need to map them through the funnel to shift people from desire to action, such as having a multi-channel touchpoint to engage all the influencers.
The other thing to consider here is the emotional needs of a buyer – is it fear or ambition? – until you map that out, you will fail at some point.”
A value proposition
Micheal says, “the third and most important pillar of a strong ABM strategy is a value proposition that speaks to those pain points in the moments that matter – you may A/B test this across channels with a series of messages.”
Executive buy-in at the very start
Charlotte says, “you will experience common challenges with ABM, for example, having a lack of intel or information required to create a certain degree of personalisation.
So, when these challenges occur, it's important to have that executive sponsor who manages budget and believes in the programme to champion it throughout its lifespan.”
Align sales and Marketing
Michael highlights, “you can have the best ABM campaign in a marketing sense, but if your sales team aren't aligned to that, you're not going to deliver pipeline – which is one of the main KPIs of ABM.”
Next steps: measuring success and external support
Micheal says, “ABM is the ultimate test of endurance, it's a marathon not a sprint.
In that top part of the funnel, you're going to be thinking about lead scoring and account engagement depending on which platform you're using, i.e. how many times has a client opened their emails, or visited the site.
You're then moving into desire and action, where you must begin measuring pipeline, i.e. the number of opportunities, the size of opportunities, the percentage likeliness to close and ultimately revenue.
At the end of the funnel you can start to think about loyalty and look at repeat transactions.”
Manage your expectations
Craig adds, “you're not going to be generating lots of MQLs at the very start, so keep your wider marketing programme running, and build ABM in on top, then as you start to see success, you can start to roll it out across more accounts.”
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Craig highlights, “there's a lot of conflicting opinions around the use of ABM, but there is also a lot of support out there across all aspects, from devising strategy to managing execution.
If you're new to ABM and want to get stakeholder buy-in, external support can help educate senior management.
For the more mature companies that have been running ABM for some time, external support is often brought in for content execution and a greater technological understanding, to help create a personalised digital experience, orchestrated by tech.”
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