Increasing your visibility and sales by targeting the right accounts and engaging with key decision-makers. Sounds good, right? This guide will take you step-by-step on how to create and adhere to an ABM Marketing Strategy for your business.
When Rick Ross released the song Everyday I'm Hustlin', in 2006, I am pretty sure he wasn't talking about marketing.
For B2B marketers, though, it can definitely feel like every day is a hustle.
You might be struggling to find enough leads, sorting through stacks of them to find any that are high quality, and then, well, you've got to do the work to attract those prospects and convince them to buy.
Hustlin ain't easy— but it doesn't have to be quite so painful, either.
That is why I want to talk about account-based marketing strategy.
Note: Generate new high-value accounts, monitor target accounts, and build account lists based on buyer intent data using Leadfeeder. Sign up for Leadfeeder’s free 14-day free trial.
What is account-based marketing?
Account-based marketing is a strategy that targets specific companies with personalized campaigns, rather than targeting large groups as a whole.
It flips the traditional method of inbound marketing on its head.
Before I dive into the benefits and how to build an account-based marketing strategy, let's cover what, exactly, ABM is.
Is it just another digital marketing buzzword? Or is it something more?
An ABM strategy targets specific companies with personalized campaigns, rather than targeting large groups as a whole.
Rather than working to attract a large number of prospects, then developing niche content to move ideal prospects through a funnel, ABM starts at the other end of the funnel i.e. the bottom.
This means you start with your target accounts — then work backward to create content and campaigns targeted to specific people at those companies.
And it works; 40 percent of companies use the account-based marketing plan to grow their ABM efforts " a lot" in the coming years.
While strategies can vary based on company, ICP (Ideal Customer Profile) and target audience, in most cases ABM:
Is most effective for enterprise-level customers due to the amount of effort and time involved.
Requires marketing teams (ABM team) and sales teams to work in sync.
Leverages marketing automation to streamline steps in the process, such as lead generation automation or email follow-ups.
Builds a personal relationship with decision-makers
How is account-based marketing different from lead generation?
Let's say you run an enterprise SaaS company, and your target audience is financial institutions.
In traditional inbound marketing, you might develop content for financial companies as a whole and wait for them to come to you for more information.
You might even promote your content specifically to people who work at the big four banks in the United States.
This approach has several drawbacks— you don't know who might be responsible for making decisions and you have no way of knowing if your content or ads are useful to your prospects.
So, how does ABM work?
With ABM, instead of targeting people who work at financial institutions as a whole, you start by focusing on companies that are your ideal customer.
For example, you might track who visits your website or by researching prospects, and then develop content and marketing campaigns specifically targeted to that institution.
This is what makes ABM so different from other marketing strategies.
It might seem a bit backward. I get it. Let's break it down with an example.
In standard marketing, you'd write a blog post about how your SaaS tool helps companies prevent accounts payable fraud.
You would promote the piece by targeting people on Facebook or Linkedin who work at financial institutions.
That's how the cool kids have been doing it for years.
Does it still work? Sometimes.
But, there's a better way.
With ABM, you decide who you want to target, then research to find out what they are worried about.
If you find out they are really concerned about accounts payable fraud then you develop content that addresses that issue and pain point.
Imagine traditional inbound marketing as throwing a fishing net into the ocean; you catch whatever is in your path, right?
ABM is more like throwing a hook with a specific type of bait you know your ideal fish loves.
What are the benefits of account-based marketing?
According to research conducted by SiriusDecisions, nearly 92 percent of B2B companies said that ABM was "extremely" or "very" important to their marketing efforts.
Why are so many B2B companies focusing on this strategy?
Let's look at a few of the benefits.
Account-based marketing delivers a higher ROI for 87 percent of marketers.
ABM is more efficient because you target specific accounts rather than broad key terms
The majority of companies that use ABM have sales cyclesshorter than 90 days.
ABM builds trust with customers by showing prospects you actually understand what they need.
ABM is about the quality of leads over quantity - your sales reps get a higher average contract value and better deal sizes.
Investing in ABM builds trust in your brand, increases the retention of existing customers, and helps to boost the sales process.
Is account-based marketing only for enterprise customers?
No, ABM isn't just for enterprise customers. In fact, account-based marketing tactics can be used to target any B2B customer—it just takes some creativity to tailor your marketing approach.
Enterprise accounts often have a longer lifetime value than small businesses, which means they make great targets for ABM. However, there are other ways to use ABM techniques with small businesses: If you sell products that are highly customized or require multiple purchases over time, then you may be able to use ABM techniques successfully with smaller clients as well.
If you're not sure where to start or what ABM tools are available, keep reading.
How to start your account-based marketing strategy
Now you get what account-based marketing is and how it can help your company grow, let's dive into how to actually implement this process.
I've even thrown in a few case studies so you can understand how this might look for your specific company.
Step 1: Build the data by identifying companies you want to target
Before you begin to develop a strategy, your first step should be to Identify who your target companies are.
Start by using a visitor identifying tool to see who is visiting your website; this indicates a level of interest in your solution.
Then, look at tools you already use for marketing, such as your email list and CRM for possible prospects.
Next, try directories such as AngelList and good old Google to actively search for companies in your target market.
For example, if you are targeting enterprise pet stores, you might search "pet store chains," which will give you a good list of brands to start with.
Focus specifically on high-value companies; these are ideal for the ABM approach.
For example, CloudTalk, a company that provides brands with smart call center software, recently began implementing account-based marketing.
By using Leadfeeder, CloudTalk was able to identify and target 1000 new prospects a month who visited their site but didn't sign up for a trial.
Then, Cloud Talk sent out personalized ABM campaigns to the top 20 most active browsers on their site.
As a result, they were able to sign up 20 additional companies per month for their free trial.
Remember, these are enterprise clients, not one-off purchases from an e-commerce customer. These sign-ups could be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month.
Step 2: Tier the data
Now that you have a list of prospects, it is time to start tiering them. Use LinkedIn and the company website to locate contact points.
LinkedIn's Sales Navigator can be extremely useful here, but you don't need a fancy tool if you are willing to put in a bit of work.
Let's stick with the pet store example from above. If I search for PetSmart on LinkedIn, this is what I found:
The CEO might not be a great target, as they are likely busy, but the marketing manager or HR executive assistant might be perfect.
Gather the names, email addresses, and questions they have asked in online communities or on LinkedIn and toss all this info into a spreadsheet.
Step 3: Rank your prospects
Once you have a list of prospects, it is time to rank them.
It is sort of like the sales version of hot or not.
Which prospects have visited your site several times?
Which have asked questions in forums indicating they are looking for a solution similar to what you offer?
Within each company, which contact feels the most attainable?
For example, did a Senior VP share one of your blog posts on social media or ask a question in a LinkedIn Group?
These are hot leads that should be the focus of your first efforts.
Triuvare, an ICT company, considers customers who download their ICT Tendering Guide to be hot — they know people who download this guide are very close to buying, and it is their job to convince them that Triuvare is the best option.
Step 4: Create content for prospects
Once you know who your prospects are, it is time to woo them.
This is the true heart of ABM— creating personalized content. This content may be in the form of blog posts, emails, ads, white papers, and so forth.
The main purpose is to address struggles that a specific company faces or a specific block in its path to converting.
For example, ROI Amplified found that their detailed content, which they thought would drive interest by showing off their technical expertise, was attracting traffic from universities, likely students learning about marketing.
Step 5: Connect content + message to persona and account
Now that you have created awesome content and ABM content marketing strategy, it is time to get it into the right hands.
Start by creating tier and persona-specific campaigns, then personalize your approach for each marketing channel and tier.
You've created this content for a specific audience, right? So, it makes sense to personalize the outreach too.
Personalization, after all, is the heart of ABM.
The strategy you use to deliver the content might include Linkedin advertising, email marketing, direct mail, or carefully targeted PPC ads; it just depends on where your audience is.
LMCS, for example, used account-based marketing and visitor information from Leadfeeder to gather lists of relevant leads.
Then, their salespeople visited the lead's website to determine if the lead was a potential customer.
They gathered contact information from promising leads, then delivered content through targeted email campaigns.
They contacted a total of 75 companies, booked 14 appointments, and sent out 12 offers. That’s an ABM success.
Step 6: Watch the cash roll in
In all seriousness, ABM is an incredibly effective way to attract and target leads.
In fact, one study found that companies that use ABM generate 200 percent more revenue than those that do not.
Final thoughts on implementing account-based marketing
When it comes to account-based marketing strategy, one thing often gets lost in the conversation.
With so many tools and access to so much information, it can be easy to forget that you are still dealing with people.
Whether your target audience is a B2B employee or a consumer in a retail store, we’re all still people selling to other people.
Account-based marketing might be most effective for enterprise clients, but the goal is still to create a personal relationship with key stakeholders and the actual people who make decisions.
Don't let the humans get lost in the data.
As you move forward with your ABM program, remember that people are your ultimate targets, not companies and not metrics. Focus on the individuals who are influential in the purchase decision of your product or service in real-time. By connecting the dots and creating a holistic view of each person on your target accounts list, your relationship-building efforts will be more authentic and effective.
Note: Generate new key accounts, monitor target accounts, and build lead lists based on buyer intent data using Leadfeeder. Sign up for Leadfeeder’s free 14-day free trial.
Account-Based Marketing. Simplified.
Struggling to connect the dots between your ABM campaigns and revenue? Or maybe just trying to launch your first ABM program? It doesn’t have to be that difficult.
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