Account based marketing

What is Account Based Marketing (ABM)?

Account Based Marketing is the strategic approach used by B2B marketers to identify and target the accounts that value the most.  It’s a customer experience-centric approach that requires sales and marketing teams to collaborate on the best-fit account and engage specific buying groups inside target accounts with relevant experiences to generate more revenue faster and easier than before.

Rather than marketing to a wide audience, ABM strategy focuses their resources on a shared set of named accounts that they know are a good fit for the products and services they sell, and orchestrate a coordinated and personalized account-based experience for key stakeholders, or buying groups, within each account.

Account-based marketing, also known as key account marketing, is a strategic approach to business marketing based on account awareness in which an organization considers and communicates with individual prospect or customer accounts as markets of one.

Source: Wikipedia

Why ABM is the Best B2B Marketing Strategy?

B2B marketing is more competitive today than ever before. They’re crowded, commoditized, noisy, and everybody is trying to knock on the same doors. The customers are overwhelmed by this noise, and will immediately throw away anything uninteresting, hit ‘SPAM’ on emails that smell like sales, and ignore your ads, no matter how targeted they may be.

So B2B marketers need a new strategy to create harmony between their prospects or customers, here comes the strategic approach called Account-based marketing. This helps marketers to identify and target the accounts they value the most. ABM transforms marketers from lead-centric to account-centric marketing. ABM has seen a rapid increase in adoption and execution over the last two to three years and has become highly regarded as one of the most successful B2B marketing strategy. There is no doubt that ABM is the future of B2B marketing.

Trend of ABM over the last 10 years
Comparison between Demand Generation and ABM

Account-Based Marketing statistics:

  • Almost 67% of the brands leverage ABM. (Source: HubSpot)
  • In 2019, 40% of the average marketing team was dedicated to ABM ( Source: Engagio)
  • In 2019, 7% of marketers reported a decrease in dedicated headcount for ABM teams, showing that this strategy is going mainstream and being implemented within regular processes. (Forrester)
  • 80% of marketers say ABM improves customer lifetime values, while 86% say it improves win rates. (TOPO)
  • 87% of account-based marketers say that ABM initiatives outperform other marketing investments. (ITSMA)
  • Organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing teams experience 36% higher customer retention rates. (MarketingProfs)

Types of ABM:

One of the most important things about ABM is one style does not fit all. The different levels of ABM, is distinguished by the level of personalization and how we use technology to power our efforts.

There are three types of ABM or also known as tiers of ABM:

Strategic ABM – It is also known as one to one method that consist of a very limited number of high-value accounts which represent the most revenue potential to the company.

ABM lite – It is also known as scaled ABM or one to few strategy, it is applied for strategic accounts or second-tier named accounts.

Programmatic ABM – It is also known as one to many, that uses broad programs with light personalization and customization.

Getting started with Account Based Marketing

Account-based marketing is a life cycle marketing strategy. The accounts go through three distinct phases in the ABM, Acquisition, Acceleration and Expansion.

Although there are plenty of sophisticated models and charts that outline the various components of ABM. But there are generally four key areas that are critical to successful ABM implementation

  • Sales and marketing alignment
  • Target account selection
  • Marketing programs and
  • Measurement

Sales and Marketing Alignment:

The crucial and important step in ABM is alignment between sales and marketing. Because ABM is a team sport and it requires inputs and execution from every function of marketing and sales. Both teams must be involved in setting expectations, defining the goals, KPIs and determining the role of ABM will play at your organization.

In short, First, the sales and marketing identify and choose the target accounts. Then the marketing team attracts the contacts in the accounts to get the lead. Once leads come in, and then sales take over to convert them.

Target Account Selection:

The whole point of ABM is to focus on the marketing and sales effort on a relatively small number of high-value accounts that have the greatest revenue potential. The account selection process should be carried out with the help of marketing, sales and customer success teams. The best way to select the accounts is by preparing the ICP. And more importantly, keep business objectives in mind while choosing the target accounts.

ICP – An Ideal Customer Profile, is a detailed description of a prospective client that would benefit greatly for your product or service, and in turn, generate significant business value with you in exchange. The key to your ABM success is in creating a precise profile of the companies who are the best fit for your solution so the marketing and sales team can focus your resources. This is called your ideal customer profile, or ICP.

With the help of ICP, you can select the accounts which will bring more value to your company. Building the target account list is an iterative process that requires input from the whole organization.

Segmenting the target accounts:

The whole point of ABM is delivering tailored campaigns and providing a personalized buying experience for the accounts that value the most. So segmenting the target accounts helps to drive meaningful engagement. There are several ways while segmenting your list. But there are two types of segmentation which stand out to be the best. They are,

  1. Tier Based segmentation and
  2. Objective-Based Segmentation.

Marketing Programs

You want to attract and create engagement with the key contacts in the target accounts on your website, at events and digital campaigns. You want to make sure you attract the entire committee of individuals who responsible for making the purchasing decision. And you want to engage with the accounts throughout the entire buyer’s journey and not just at the bottom of the funnel.

The content may include emails, E-books, webinars, white papers, blog posts, videos, podcasts, social media posts, surveys, etc,. You can always use your existing content but which needs to be modified for the target accounts with specific to your segmentation.

Keeping the accounts engaged with your brand is a key to success, this will help your accounts to keep your brand at the top of their mind thus helpful in converting, expanding and making the accounts as brand advocates. You need to create relevant content in order to orchestrate marketing.

Measurement

In the traditional method, the leads will be constantly coming to your top of the funnel but in ABM the target accounts are static at least throughout the quarter depending upon your sales cycle. Because you are working with predefined target account lists. So when you use the traditional method of measuring, you may wrongly conclude the ABM program is ineffective. Account-Based Marketing focuses on key accounts, so it follows that its metrics must do the same.

There are three important metrics, which needs to be considered while measuring the ABM program.

  1. Engagement,
  2. Opportunities,
  3. and Return of investment.

Conclusion: ABM is a sound strategy for all kinds of B2B organizations but it doesn’t replace your traditional demand generation in your company. Starting ABM programs with targeting few accounts or a segment (example: Enterprise accounts for health care vertical) will help to make frequent course corrections as you gradually roll out your program to incorporate more and more accounts.

If you want to start learning ABM – Account Based Marketing Online Course

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