About 46% of B2B marketers consider account-based marketing (ABM) to be the latest trend of 2021. However, it’s a strategy that has been around for years before it made the top of the marketing trends lists.
And, contrary to what many marketers think, ABM is a strategy that doesn’t need technology to work. Forget about investing in new, complicated tools.
On top of that, to set the record straight, ABM is just one piece in your overall marketing strategy, not the end-all-be-all of B2B marketing.
It’s worth looking into, though.
Let’s dive into ABM, how it can benefit your organization, and strategies that can help you increase your ROI.
What is account-based marketing?
Account-based marketing is a narrow-scope approach to B2B marketing that combines sales and marketing teams to create ultra-targeted campaigns. Together, both teams focus their efforts on high-value accounts.
Account-based marketing combines sales and marketing teams to create ultra-targeted marketing campaigns.
In a Salesforce report, 77% of businesses who used ABM saw a 10% or greater ROI. While 92% of B2B companies wanted to implement ABM, only 19% felt they had the knowledge and account-based marketing tools for a successful strategy. However, any business can use ABM, regardless of its size.
If you feel like you aren't prepared to start using ABM in your strategies, keep reading.
How does ABM work?
As previously mentioned, account-based marketing strategies focus on lead quality over quantity.
But what does that look like?
One study showed that while 74% of B2B marketers establish goals, only 3% reach them. Many of those strategies fail because marketers waste hours focusing on many leads that go nowhere. However, with ABM, your marketing and sales team invest more time in finding high-value, qualified leads, and then pour themselves into nurturing until they become loyal and profitable customers.
ABM is also expensive and time-consuming. For the greatest impact, your ideal customer profile should be large businesses with large deal sizes, typically over $20k.
What is an ABM strategy?
While the sales funnel is often depicted as an inverted triangle, picture account-based marketing as a pyramid—or inverted funnel if you prefer consistency—with three components.
Instead of a wide opening for many leads, the funnel starts with the smallest part. This is your targeted audience.
The second component is your marketing strategy. You’ll guide your selected accounts through a personalized buying experience based on their specific pain points and needs.
The last component is converting and retaining your leads. Your job doesn’t end once you make a sale. Instead, continue using ABM to maintain a network of loyal customers.
Why is account-based marketing important?
ABM unifies your sales and marketing teams, so they move as one unit towards a common goal instead of acting like estranged relatives. Rather, they work side-by-side as they market and convert leads from start to finish using highly targeted strategies.
Here are three additional benefits of using account-based marketing:
- Increase conversions of high-value accounts through consistent and relevant experiences
- Invest in deeper client relationships to retain more loyal customers.
- Maximize the impact of your time and resources by focusing on leads with the most significant ROI potential.
Common marketing challenges ABM can solve
The seamless sales and marketing interaction, investment in targeted leads, and deeper customer relationships solve many marketing challenges teams often face.
Here are a few of these challenges and how ABM solves them:
- Sales and Marketing Disconnect – Both teams work together throughout the process.
- Lost Leads – Leads are not passed between sales and marketing as sales qualified leads and marketing qualified leads. Therefore, fewer leads are lost or grow cold.
- Low Quality Leads – Your team selects only high-value leads before beginning the sales process.
- Wasted Time – Marketing wastes less time on leads that do not convert.
- Lost Customers – Fewer businesses leave due to a lack of personal connection or involvement.
- Wasted Data – More data is analyzed and used to identify and customize content for your targeted leads.
- Limited Marketing and Sales Budget – You are focusing all your resources on the most valuable leads instead of spreading them thinly over large numbers of leads.
The personal relationship developed with businesses over the ABM process opens the door to a longer relationship even after the initial sale.
What are the best practices for account-based marketing in B2B?
Here’s a closer look at some of the most effective account-based marketing tactics.
Track your leads
Gather data and analyze results from the start of your strategy all the way through conversion. The data you collect will help you personalize your process and adjust it along the way to meet your prospect’s most pressing needs.
Use technology to streamline the process
ABM does not have to rely on technology. If you use any tech tool for your ABM and assume it will magically “fix” your problems, you’ll be sorely disappointed. Rather, tools only enhance an ABM strategy that already includes a unified sales and marketing team, quality content, and a well-researched plan.
For example, a CRM dashboard provides a centralized location for all your data and customer interactions so you can create consistent quality branding between marketing channels and teams.
Target a specific person
Up until now, we've talked about targeting a specific account, but B2B account-based marketing goes one step further. You must identify the lead decision-maker within the business and target that person with your campaigns. Each individual has unique pain points that you should address to make your product or service more appealing.
Blend ABM with your other marketing strategies
One of the benefits of ABM we discussed earlier was how the strategy streamlines the marketing process for high-quality leads. In addition to implementing other marketing strategies like demand generation, you should still use ABM. They aren’t mutually exclusive.
The best B2B marketers use both at the same time.
You can (and should) run targeted demand gen programs for your ideal customer profile, even if you have ABM in place, too.
Nurture leads even if they aren't ready to buy
ABM works similarly to other marketing tactics regarding lead nurturing. However, your main focus with ABM should be on forging strong relationships – which takes time. You can invest in developing these relationships through meticulously tailored interactions, content, and events.
Continue to invest in your customers
Once a business purchases from you, you should continue providing the same experience. When you invest in retention, you increase your chances for follow-up purchasing, upselling, cross-selling, and subscription renewals.
You’ll also leave a positive impression, resulting in the customer recommending you to their business network.
How do you develop an ABM strategy with demand generation?
Account-based marketing is just one ingredient in demand generation. It isn’t a strategy on its own but works alongside others.
Here’s a closer look at demand generation in action and how an ABM strategy fits in the process.
Build brand awareness
Before you can launch a campaign for specific products and services, your leads have to know you exist. This is where building brand awareness comes into play. You can use ads, influencers, SEO, a strong social media presence, and guest posts on blogs your ideal customer frequents to get your brand’s name in front of your intended audience.
In this way, when you come to them with your sales pitch, you’ve already built a solid foundation.
Use inbound marketing strategies
Though there are important parts of demand generation that are not inbound marketing — sales enablement, customer referrals, or PR, for example — one steadily successful demand generation tactic, inbound lead generation, can help lay the foundation for a strong ABM strategy.
ABM builds off of inbound tactics by allowing for efficient, targeted resource allocation for high-value accounts.
This is where sales and marketing alignment really shines through. Together, marketing and sales use statistics, terminology, testimonials, feedback, and more to justify why customers need your product or service. Additionally, sharing facts and figures between sales and marketing also helps those teams build trust with leads as they move through the sales process.
As you generate leads and begin qualifying and educating them, you will identify those that are of high value. Remember, these are accounts that generate large deals, often over $20k. Those leads won’t follow the same sales process as your other leads. Instead, they should be targeted with an ABM approach.
At this point, you should look at your accounts and your resources then decide to what extent you want to implement ABM. You don’t have to go one-on-one for each account. You can also have a one-to-few approach to combine teams and resources if some of the accounts are similar.
How do you implement B2B account-based marketing?
Are you ready to get started with ABM?
Here are eight actionable steps you can use as an ABM strategy template:
- Create your ideal customer profile (ICP) by listing a required budget, industry, need, and location.
- Identify high-value businesses that align with your ICP through a lead qualification process.
- Research your quality leads to identify their needs, pain points, and position in the sales funnel.
- Create a demand for your products or services by positioning yourself ahead of competitors, fulfilling a current need, or educating the business on a need they did not know they had.
- Customize your marketing strategy to solve specific pain points for each target you choose.
- Identify the best channels for reaching your target accounts.
- Launch your campaign with the combined efforts of your sales and marketing teams.
- Analyze the engagement and ROI from the campaign and adjust your strategy as necessary.
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