The Rise and Rise of Account Based Marketing
What kale was to the food industry in 2012, ABM or account-based marketing is to the world of marketing in 2017. Much like how kale has been around for centuries before becoming every celebrity, A-lister, and the Instagram populace’s food-to-swear-by, the now-talked-about ABM too has been around for a while, albeit on a structurally different plate and without being explicitly termed as ABM.
Corporate giants have been using account centric strategies for a while now, but of late, ABM is redefining the world of marketing on a massive scale, especially vis-à-vis companies engaged in enterprise-level sales, like B2B.
With 92% of marketers eager to act on adopting account-based marketing, it’s time for B2B marketing teams everywhere to gear up for the ABM wave.
But first, what is ABM?
Account-based marketing literally means marketing to a particular account, wherein organizations target an individual company – current customers or prospects – delineating them as a market in its own right.
Considering the paradigm shift engendered by marketing technology advancement, instead of acquisition marketing strategies, organizations are now gearing towards targeting companies as a ‘Market of One’ and conceptualizing campaigns to engage with both – the entity and stakeholder holding influence over purchase.
An ABM strategy has the added benefit of making sales and marketing teams work in tandem. This aligned model enables organizations to formulate tactical marketing campaigns based on assigned sales goals. Both teams need to constantly assess and reassess target accounts, audit individual information, and prioritize account(s) to focus on.
Combining sales and marketing insights with the right technology make ABM a winner in the B2B marketing domain.
But why has ABM suddenly become the buzzword?
ABM gives a company the power to choose high-potential accounts and personalized content for maximum engagement. Also, 86% of marketers claim that ABM also helps build stronger and sustainable customer relationships.
Advances in technology – from marketing and sales-force automation tools, customer intelligence management and profiling tools to superior analytics– all led to account-based marketing garnering so much attention.
This software-centric approach is attracting droves of new ABM adherents today because it enables marketers to automate some of the traditional ABM steps. Researching accounts and collecting customer insights has never been more easier, thanks to advanced software products for account identification, lead scoring, and qualification and also through tools for digital and social monitoring.
Programmatic delivery of targeted advertising has advanced to a point where marketers can use technologies like reverse-IP recognition to link individual lead nurturing programs to overall account progress through the funnel.
Not sure where to start? Here’s a handy ABM checklist
With all this technology at your disposal, implementing an account-based marketing strategy might sound challenging to those just starting off. This checklist should help you flesh out an effective ABM strategy relevant to your organization.
- Who will you market to?
This step is of paramount importance, as without thorough research of the target audience, you wouldn’t find the best account to market to. Therefore, a collaborative sales and marketing effort towards identifying, assessing, and zeroing in on priority accounts is the first step towards successful marketing.
Once you have chosen the potential account, do the homework – research the account. Unlike traditional marketing, ABM does not involve marketing to individuals. Hence, the idea is to draw up an organization-level and not an individual persona by recognizing the entire structure of the company and their influencers.
- What do you say to them?
Besides a solid understanding of whom you are speaking to, you also need to know the right things to say.
Superior, customized content devised to address not just the pain points of the individual stakeholders but the entire account as a whole will quickly move them through the funnel.
- How do you say this?
Which platform does your targeted audience mostly thrive on? Are they spending their maximum digital time on LinkedIn or do they rigorously check their Facebook profile? Ideally, you should look for this information when researching your account.
Unless you choose the right channel to launch your campaign, you might as well be speaking to a wall.
However, there’s a need to ensure that the message is consistent across channels, even if your focus is on a single channel. This would deter your target audience from getting any mixed signals and facilitate aligned receptivity of the intended information.
- What are the results?
Once you’ve researched your target audience, created tailor-made content, and launched the campaign, it’s time to see how you fare.
A majority of marketers get stuck at this step – they find that proving the ROI of their marketing efforts is difficult. Using conversions as a strict measurement of ROI is a parochial approach.
Therefore, besides revenue, marketers should look for changes in engagement with the key players, level of interaction, increase in readership within the account to use as a baseline to tweak the campaign along the way for increased ROI.
While this checklist gives you a framework to build an ABM strategy on, remember the success of this depends upon how well you follow each step.
Measuring each step to better understand how the efforts are panning out and what measures are to be taken to make it more effective. The extent of CRM/IT integration with evolving technology and multiple data streams will define how much value you can extract.
ABM is Poised to Transform B2B Marketing
Account-based marketing might be an overwhelming concept to deal with, considering it flips the traditional approach to demand creation, but it has the potential to revamp B2B marketing on a granular level. Among other benefits, the efficiency gain from bridging the gap between your own Sales & Marketing teams working together in an integrated manner are significant.
And companies attempting to stay on top of their game this year would likely reap the benefits from implementing ABM as a core strategy.