Account-Based Marketing (ABM)
As marketing continues to evolve, new strategies and techniques emerge to help businesses reach their target audience more effectively. One of the latest buzzwords in the world of B2B is account-based marketing (ABM)—with an estimated 70% of marketers now integrating ABM practices into their everyday workflow. This new strategic approach focuses on identifying and engaging with specific accounts or companies, rather than targeting individual leads.
In this article, we'll explore account-based marketing: how it works, the benefits, comparisons, top examples, and ten steps for building a successful ABM strategy. Whether you're new to ABM or want to improve your existing strategy, this guide will give you valuable insights and actionable tips to engage your target accounts and drive growth for your business.
What Is Account-Based Marketing (ABM)?
Account-based marketing is a strategy that focuses on identifying and engaging with specific accounts or companies that are a good fit for your product or service. Rather than targeting a wider audience of potential customers, ABM requires businesses to prioritize high-value accounts and create custom messaging, content, and experiences that resonate with their particular needs and pain points.
B2B account-based marketing requires a coordinated effort between marketing and sales to design customized experiences for each targeted account. This approach has become increasingly popular for businesses that have a smaller universe of potential customers or are targeting priority accounts. By focusing on specific accounts and tailoring messaging to their unique needs, ABM allows businesses to create more effective marketing and sales processes that increase growth and improve their return on investment (ROI). In fact, 97% of marketers say that their ABM efforts result in higher ROI than other marketing strategies.
ABM vs. inbound marketing
Account-based marketing and inbound marketing are two popular options for marketing yet have different focuses and strategies. Here are the key differences between the two:
- Inbound marketing: This method is considered a more generalized approach that aims to attract a wider audience of potential customers through content marketing, search engine optimization (SEO), social media, and other tactics. The idea behind inbound marketing is to create valuable content and experiences that resonate with potential customers so they will come to you when they are ready to make a purchase.
- Account-based marketing: This method focuses on identifying and engaging with specific accounts or companies that are suitable for your brand. ABM requires a more personalized and consultative approach, where businesses focus on building relationships with decision-makers at specific accounts and creating tailored experiences for each.
Inbound marketing can be a more scalable approach, as it can attract a wider audience and is generally more cost-effective than ABM. However, it may not be as personalized as ABM and can lead to longer sales cycles as potential customers move into the sales pipeline.
ABM strategies can lead to higher conversion rates, better alignment between marketing and sales, personalized experiences for customers, and improved ROI. However, it requires more resources and coordination than inbound marketing, and may not be suitable for businesses with a large customer base or that are targeting a wider audience.
ABM vs. lead generation marketing
Account-based marketing and lead generation are two popular approaches to marketing with different strategies for outreach. Here are the key differences:
- Lead generation: The process of lead generation involves identifying and nurturing potential customers by collecting their contact information and engaging them through various marketing channels, such as email marketing, social media, and content marketing. The idea behind lead generation is to generate as many leads as possible and then qualify them for your business.
- Account-based marketing: This process of ABM involves identifying and engaging with specific accounts or companies for your product or service. ABM requires businesses to prioritize high-value accounts and create highly personalized messaging, content, and experiences for the customer.
Using lead generation can often be a more scalable approach, as it can generate a large volume of leads that can be qualified and nurtured over time. However, it may not be as targeted or personalized as ABM and can lead to a longer sales cycle as potential customers move through the sales funnel.
On the flip side, ABM can lead to higher conversion rates, alignment between marketing and sales, better experiences for customers, and improved ROI. Yet it requires more resources and coordination than lead generation, and may not be suitable for businesses with a large customer base or that are targeting a bigger audience.
How Does Account-Based Marketing Work?
To execute an ABM strategy, businesses need to first define their ideal customer profile (ICP), which outlines the specific characteristics and traits of their most valuable customers. This helps them to identify target accounts that match their ICP and prioritize high-value accounts for engagement.
Once target accounts have been identified, businesses can begin to gather insights into those accounts to understand their specific challenges for that brand. This allows them to create messaging that resonates with each account and builds relationships over time.
B2B account-based marketing also requires a coordinated effort between marketing and sales teams, utilizing multiple channels to reach those accounts and measuring the effectiveness of their ABM efforts.
Account-Based Marketing Benefits
Account-based marketing offers several advantages for businesses looking to capture a list of target accounts and drive more sales. Here are the key benefits of ABM:
1. Higher conversion rates
By focusing on specific accounts that are the best matches for your business, ABM can lead to higher conversion rates compared to a more generalized marketing approach.
2. Better alignment between marketing and sales
Account-based marketing involves close communication between marketers and sales to deal with target accounts, leading to interactive strategies and collaboration between the two.
3. Personalized experiences
ABM requires engaging messaging and content that resonates with the specific challenges of each target account, which can result in more impactful customer experiences. By using personalization tactics, 85% of marketers agree that ABM can significantly benefit them in retaining and expanding their existing client relationships.
4. Improved ROI
The ABM process involves more resources and coordination than traditional marketing but can lead to higher conversion rates and a better return on investment over time. According to a study by MarketingProfs, companies employing ABM strategies have seen a 208% increase in revenue.
5. Targeted approach
ABM focuses on specific accounts or companies rather than targeting individual leads, which means precise targeting that is tailored to the unique needs and pain points of the customer.
6. Stronger customer relationships
By focusing on pinpoint messaging and content that speaks directly to the individual account, ABM can result in stronger customer relationships and higher user satisfaction.
7. Better data and insights
ABM requires a deep understanding of each account, which gives companies better data and insights that can be used to inform future marketing and sales strategies.
How to Build a Successful ABM Strategy in 10 Steps
From defining your ICP to scaling your marketing efforts, follow these ten steps to create a top ABM campaign:
1. Define your ideal customer profile (ICP).
Start by defining the characteristics of your ideal customer. What are the company size, industry, location, and needs that your company can solve?
2. Identify target accounts.
Once you've established your ICP, identify the specific accounts that match those characteristics. This may involve using data analytics tools to identify companies that fit your criteria.
3. Research and gather insights.
Research the specific companies you've identified to learn more about their goals and challenges. Use this information to create customized messaging and content.
4. Engage with decision-makers.
Once you've identified the key decision-makers at the target accounts, engage with them through personalized email, social media, or targeted advertising.
5. Create personalized content.
Create custom-made content that speaks directly to the specific pain points and challenges of the target account. This may include case studies, whitepapers, or webinars.
6. Leverage multiple channels.
Use a variety of channels such as email, social media, and direct mail to reach decision-makers at the business accounts. Invest in marketing automation to streamline your ABM processes.
7. Coordinate with sales.
Work closely with the sales team to ensure that your ABM tactics are aligned with the sales process. Share insights and feedback from your marketing efforts, and collaborate on account-specific strategies and tactics.
8. Measure and optimize.
Track your ABM progress and optimize your strategies based on this data. Use analytics tools to measure engagement and conversion rates, and adjust your messaging and content accordingly.
9. Nurture and retain.
Once you've converted a target account into a customer, continue to nurture and maintain these relationships with ongoing personable messaging and content.
10. Scale and iterate.
As you gain more experience with ABM, start to scale your outreach to target more ideal clients and refine your strategies based on what works best.
Account-Based Marketing Examples
Account-based marketing includes a variety of strategies that businesses can use to engage with specific accounts. Some examples of ABM tactics include:
Hosting targeted events, such as webinars, roundtables, or conferences, can be a smart way to engage directly with decision-makers at specific accounts and build relationships over time.
2. Direct mail
Sending personalized and customized direct mail packages to target account lists can be a powerful way to stand out from the competition and create a lasting impression.
3. Email campaigns
Creating highly targeted email campaigns that speak directly to the specific needs and challenges of each target account can be an optimal way to nurture leads and move them through the sales funnel.
4. Paid advertising
Running targeted paid advertising campaigns, such as LinkedIn-sponsored content or Google Ads, can help companies reach decision-makers at specific accounts and drive more engagement.
5. Web personalization
Creating web experiences for each targeted account, such as optimized landing pages or website content, can result in a more engaging and impactful experience for the customer.
These are just a few examples of the many ABM tactics that businesses can use to engage with their accounts more effectively. By tailoring messaging and utilizing multiple channels to reach those accounts, businesses can create a successful ABM campaign that drives results.
Leverage Your ABM Campaigns Today
Account-based marketing offers numerous advantages for businesses looking to drive growth and improve ROI. By focusing on specific accounts, creating personalized messaging and content, aligning marketing and sales teams, and delivering tailored-made customer experiences, companies can create more efficient sales processes that lead to higher conversion rates and sales over time.
While an account-based marketing campaign requires more resources and coordination than traditional marketing approaches, the long-term benefits make ABM a worthwhile investment for businesses looking to engage with their target accounts with superior results.