Account Based Marketing (ABM) is more than just hype, B2B organizations are quickly adopting ABM programs. 92% B2B marketers consider ABM extremely important (source: SiriusDecisions).
So, how can you go about implementing ABM within your organization?
Identifying and targeting key accounts has always been of chief importance to marketing and sales. However, fragmented marketing technology, lack of access to customer data and sub-optimal marketing processes didn't allow organizations to engage only the right accounts. Now, what has changed is that that improved marketing technology allows organizations to execute ABM at scale. Which means that now marketers can focus on their efforts to reach right contacts in the right accounts at scale! The days of traditional demand generation marketing where you couldn't control the quality of leads are over. By focusing on accounts and not just lead volume, marketers can grow revenue from both existing customers and new sales.
With ABM you flip the funnel. When organizations consider how traditional lead generation methods work, they realize how flawed the model is - too may junk leads, sales following up on leads are not qualified and expensive programs with little to show for.
ABM can help organizations fix their pipeline problems. First, by focusing exclusively on sweet spot accounts that would be more valuable to your company, ABM emphasizes quality over quantity in lead generation and conversion. Secondly, instead of starting broad just to gridlock your qualified leads, ABM can help you start small and focused, with the possibility of growing from there.
Implementing ABM successfully within an organization usually requires a roadmap. Here are the essential steps of a successful account-based marketing strategy:
1. Identify target accounts: ABM starts with identifying accounts you want to engage with, based on your past sales data, and then strategically market to each contact on that account. You create an ideal customer profile (ICP) based on your current account contacts and then determine which connection in your identified accounts is the best fit to begin a conversation with. Since your ideal list of target accounts is the foundation for ABM, it is foremost to create a master list of these accounts. Here is how you can do that:
2. Encourage Collaboration Between Marketing and Sales Teams: One of the key best practices for ABM campaigns is to foster collaboration between marketing and sales teams. Both teams need to be aligned with one another on every part of the ABM implementation process, from selecting the accounts to separating them into tiers and estimating how much ROI is expected from each tier. They can also work together to strategize targeted marketing and sales approaches for each account or account segment.
The marketing team will work to identify possible targets based on their needs. The sales team will then work with the marketing team to understand these potential clients and their needs, and to brainstorm ideas to reach them. Once the ideas have been brainstormed, the baton passes back to the marketing team, which implements the targeted marketing programs and hopefully establishes contact with the target. Finally, the sales team works to build a relationship with the contact. A key aspect of ABM is to use social selling techniques, where sales works with marketing to engage prospects on social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Twitter. As you can see, the entire account-based marketing process involves back-and-forth that requires the talents of both sales and marketing team to be successful.
3. Use cross-channel campaign execution: You go to where the customer is and engage the customer seamlessly across channels. 94% of customers have discontinued communication with a company because of irrelevant messages (source: Blue Research). With ABM, marketers focus on getting the right message to the right account at the right time.
Your marketing technology must work in symphony to engage the customer. Create a Single View of the Customer (SVC) by integrating your marketing technology eco-system. SVC should capture cross channel insights and power campaigns across channels. Your CMS, Marketing Automation, CRM, Analytics, Social Media and AdTech should be integrated to allow you to capture cross channel insights, or you may chose technology such as tag management to allow you to capture data across siloed systems.
You must orchestrate campaigns across channels seamlessly. For example, you may start with targeting accounts with display media. When a prospect clicks on a targeted ad and visits your website, you may personalize the site for that target account. Targeted communication will convert the visitor into a lead. You can then execute a one to one email marketing campaign, where emails are sent on behalf of the account rep, co-ordinated with social media marketing to that account on LinkedIn. You measure how engaged the prospect is and then the sales rep asks for a meeting. You are connecting with the prospect wherever they are, with personalized one to one marketing.
Direct mail, email, display ads, website customization, in-person meetings, social media, events, and phone calls are essentials of a successful ABM implementation.
Before executing a campaign, you must ensure you identify the challenges or "pain points" of each organization or segment that your product or service could help solve? What can you learn about the company's history that sheds more light on their needs? Your campaigns must be targeted towards these pain points.
Once you have this information, you can use it to create marketing strategies that are tailored to a segment of target accounts or perhaps even an individual large account.
4. Track your metrics: You manage what you measure. Track key metrics, such as:
Some of these metrics can show you when your target accounts are nearing a purchase. Others track the overall effectiveness of your ABM campaign. All of them are beneficial in helping you to tweak your strategies and improve them for future targeted marketing efforts.
Implementing account-based marketing within your organization can be a daunting process—especially if you have always used the traditional demand generation tactics. Walk before you run - execute a pilot to prove value and create a roadmap. Also, ABM can seem expensive when you compare cost per lead with traditional tactics, however, when you measure cost per account acquired you will find that ABM is more effective as a strategy. Good luck with landing one of your targets!