Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategy in which the marketing team treats target accounts as if they were an entire market. It’s often used by business-to-business (B2B) companies to attract and nurture major-league customers and their entire buying teams, including researchers, influencers and decision makers. The purpose of ABM is to connect with the individual stakeholders at each buying phase with relevant and targeted information.
While ABM often means marketing to one buying team within an account, it can also be used to connect with, and influence, more than one set of buyers if the account has several divisions that have a need for your products or services. ABM tactics can include everything from custom-branded content to special offers to webinars to events and more, all tailored to the needs of a target account. Small and midsize companies will likely only employ ABM on one or two accounts at any given time.
How Does ABM Work?
1. It focuses marketing efforts on highly qualified leads
ABM marketing is only undertaken with companies that have a strong propensity to buy. You’re not going to do all that work of customizing your marketing for an unqualified lead. There is a bit of a gamble that the resources you’re putting towards turning that hot prospect into a customer is going to pay off, but at least you’re marketing to leads that have been properly vetted before they become ABM-worthy.
2. It reinforces relationships with existing key customers
A typical business loses 15% of its customers every year. And no business can afford to lose one of its key customers. When it costs 5X more to attract a new customer than to nurture an existing one, account-based marketing can really earn its keep. By reaching out to more people throughout the company with touches personalized for them, you’re building relationships that will last. So when it comes to renewing or expanding service contracts or installing new equipment or technology, you’ll be top of mind at all levels of the buying team.
3. It enables marketing to deliver greater personalization
Since account-based marketing connects with key people in the same organization, it has a better chance of individual knowledge needs being met. When 94% of B2B buyers are doing their own research before they even want to talk to your salespeople, ABM is there with personalized content.
The smartest marketers go a step beyond and use the customer’s branding in their ABM to further establish or reinforce the relationship – and not just with the buying team, but with users or the reps reselling the product. What sort of content can you personalize and custom brand? Think brochures that speak to that company’s pain points, a custom newsletter featuring their logo and photos of their employees using your product or service, a web portal made just for their sales reps and much more.
4. It provides demonstrable ROI
A big challenge that today’s marketers face is accurately attributing ROI to campaigns. Marketing ROI attribution is especially difficult when today’s prospects engage with your marketing content and programs multiple times and through many different channels. However, if you’re marketing to just one company in account-based marketing, you have a direct line to where the revenue came from.
5. It helps achieve and nurture revenue stability
As discussed, a part of ABM is nurturing an existing customer and even working to carve new business out of untapped divisions within the company. By spending a portion of your marketing budget on companies with a clear business value to you, you help create revenue stability, which can carry you through when there is seasonal decline or a dip in sales from your wider market. You’re feeding the golden goose, so to speak.
What to Know Before Starting an ABM Strategy
The key to ABM success is alignment between B2B sales and marketing. Yet only 22% of companies believe their sales and marketing teams are aligned. If sales and marketing work in partnership, they can nurture the buying team from top to bottom through the funnel and increase the chances of closing the sale. The more positive touches that sales and marketing have on the prospective buyers, researchers and influencers in a target company, the more successful they will be. When 60% of organizations believe that sales and marketing misalignment could damage the company’s financial performance, it’s important to get those teams working together, whether for ABM or for ongoing business within your wider marketplace.
Although account-based marketing is effective, it doesn’t mean that you can slow down on your broader marketing. ABM is for a few key customers. You still need to do your lead generation work to bring in and nurture other customers in your market to keep business growing. Marketing automation technology can help with all of this. It can serve up the appropriate next-stage content based on what an individual is reading or downloading. It can be a great help in managing the unwieldy job of both ABM content delivery and content delivery to your broader audience.
If you want to learn more about developing great content for ABM and for your overall marketing efforts, download our whitepaper, Drop Everything And Do Content Marketing.
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