As a marketer, it’s highly likely you have heard of account-based marketing (ABM) as, over the past few years, it has grown in reverence.
However, as with all other marketing trends, it’s often difficult to establish whether or not these new developments are going to be right for your company—and whether or not they’re a “fad” that’ll die down as quickly as it started.
But according to the latest statistics, account-based marketing isn’t going anywhere.
In fact, 80% of marketers suggest that, when it comes to marketing investments, ABM outperforms all others in ROI. And when ABM has been in place for a year or more, users noted a rise in revenue of at least 10%.
So, how can you put ABM to good use in your company? Read on to discover exactly what it entails and how you can easily implement it for maximum results.
What is account-based marketing?
ABM forms a unique type of strategic marketing strategy where each individual account or customer is its own market. It’s the complete opposite of a one-size-fits-all approach.
Often, high-value customers are identified and key personnel in the business are targeted through tailored marketing campaigns that meet their unique needs and personas.
This is why ABM is the approach used for many B2B companies. It gives them the opportunity to focus on prospects who have the most potential to increase the organization’s bottom line.
Is it right for your company?
It might not be if you’re a small business with a limited number of employees, but if you have the resources and time to implement this strategy, it could offer you some great rewards.
However, before you get started, you should familiarize yourself with the steps involved in making ABM a resounding success.
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Getting started with account-based marketing: The 6 key steps
1. Define your target customers.
All marketing campaigns are reliant on finding and defining a target audience. However, for ABM, you’re dealing with an organization, not a person, so begin with creating personas like you perhaps would with B2C marketing campaigns.
Instead, look at which accounts are going to be worth your efforts, from both a sales and marketing point of view. Which ones bring in your biggest monthly revenue?
You’ll need to look at data like company size, annual revenue, projected profit margin, upsell opportunity, and so on.
Through market research, you should be able to pinpoint which companies offer you the most promise of high, long-term profits—but don’t be afraid to go on experience and intuition, too.
2. Do some investigating.
Now that you have your target audience, you need to develop a persona for them. But don’t forget this is a business-level persona, not an individual one. Nevertheless, you may find it’s beneficial to have in-depth information about your “ideal” business prospect.
Start learning who the important decision makers are, how the organization’s decisions are made, and the key steps involved in the company.
Understanding the company’s structure and who its key personnel is can really help you tailor your campaign to these specific targets.
You may find you have this information already within your organization’s customer relationship management (CRM), i.e. someone has been in touch with the stakeholder in the past but hasn’t gone any further with the lead.
Failing that, LinkedIn is always a great place to find this information.
3. Craft unique, personalized content.
After finding out exactly who you need to contact within each organization, it’s time to create personalized content for them. Now you should understand what the pain points of these stakeholders are (and the business as a whole) and how you can demonstrate the ways you can solve these for them.
Again, it’s important not to get bogged down with individual personas here, even if you are reaching out to a specific person. You’re trying to capture the entire business, so your content needs to focus on each deal you want to make with this specific company.
This will involve working with your sales and design team to create engaging content that delivers the heart of your message to these key people.
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4. Find the right channels.
All of this hard work will prove fruitless if you don’t use the right channels to communicate your message. You need to understand where you’ll be able to find these stakeholders online, knowing how they interact and react to various social platforms like LinkedIn and Facebook.
For example, if you’re trying to reach out to financial executives, you may find it beneficial to use display ads on the websites they’ll be visiting, e.g. Bloomberg. Or, for creative types, Pinterest may be where they spend the majority of their time.
Ultimately, ABM content can vary from a social post to a well-thought-out email. ABM is something you can use alongside inbound marketing as you can choose an approach that works for your company and meets your unique goals.
For example, if you are focusing quite heavily on an inbound strategy, you may find the content you’ve already got is your most reliable resource. Repurposing eBooks, webinars, infographics, and blog posts to target specific accounts is an efficient and simple way to communicate with even the most discerning of customers.
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Alternatively, if you have account-based insights you can use, you may already know how key accounts have been influenced in the past. And you can utilize these ABM techniques to follow up with stakeholders who you have transformed into a qualified lead through previous inbound efforts. For example, if you have a work address you could send the prospect a targeted mail package.
ABM and inbound marketing don’t need to be pitched against one another, they can be used in tandem—and we’ll explore this in more depth below.
5. Go ahead with your campaign.
After identifying your targets, doing some investigating, creating your content, and finding the right channels, it’s time to execute your campaign.
This next stage still requires the same attention to detail you’ve used in all of the previous steps. You need to make sure your message is coordinated across all of the channels you’re using. The last thing you want is for a key stakeholder to receive different messages.
Furthermore, you don’t want to bombard them with repeat messages across loads of different channels.
You’ll need to target the right accounts and ensure you’re not using conflicting or repetitive messages. Getting the correct balance is imperative to engaging, not turning off, your prospects.
6. Measure the results.
30 to 60 days after you start your campaign, it’s time to measure how effective it is.
However, a surprising number of marketers (67%) have difficulty demonstrating the ROI of their marketing efforts. But every marketing campaign, particularly when it’s new, needs measuring and analyzing properly.
You can start by asking some key questions, such as:
- Have we grown our list of known stakeholders within this target account?
- Are these brands engaging with us differently now?
- How has our content engaged them?
- Did any of the leads move further along the marketing funnel?
- How much revenue has come from these specific accounts?
- How can we improve in the future?
You will also want to look at the following metrics:
- Revenue Metrics: Anything that adds to your company’s performance or revenue
- Campaign Metrics: Click-through rates, open rates, shares, and so on
- Business Metrics: How your overall business goals are being met by marketing and sales
If these results aren’t what you were expecting, don’t be disheartened. The best thing about all types of marketing campaigns is you can measure the results and improve on them. You can see exactly what needs to change to help evolve your business.
ABM and inbound marketing
As we’ve already touched upon, there isn’t a question of ABM vs. inbound marketing—rather, it’s how you can make the two work together.
While ABM focuses on individual accounts or prospects and inbound marketing places emphasis on creating stellar content that brings those leads to you, they can, and do, complement each other.
As you can see, the above steps do incorporate principles that relate to inbound marketing. And that’s how you can use ABM to establish better relationships with your chosen accounts.
Today, customers don’t like the hard sell. That’s why, even when you’re using account-based marketing, you need to provide your targeted audience with value. You shouldn’t just push products on them.
All of your calls-to-action, websites, and emails need personalizing for each lead, particularly when you’re trying to introduce them to your brand.
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Hopefully, by reading the above you’ve seen that account-based marketing isn’t as overwhelming as perhaps you first thought. With the key steps we’ve highlighted, you should be able to find those targets and get to work converting them into those all-important sales.
And, as we’ve established, you can do this by using those inbound marketing techniques you’re already very familiar with.
Want more advice on inbound marketing? Then don’t miss our in-depth resource on creating the perfect inbound email marketing strategy.