According to a 2016 study by Sirius Decisions, more than 70% of B2B marketers are ramping up ABM specific programs, with staff designated specifically for account-based marketing.
That’s because marketers are beginning to recognize the ABM’s significant value in boosting ROI. In fact, almost 85% of marketers who measure ROI describe account-based marketing as delivering higher returns than any other marketing approach!
A common challenge for businesses today is being able to properly align sales, success, and marketing. Could ABM be the solution?
Before we can answer that, let’s first address the basics, namely what is account-based marketing, exactly?
Account-Based Marketing Defined
Wordstream describes ABM as “a strategic marketing strategy where key business accounts are marketed to directly, as units of one (compared to the typical one-to-many approach).” In other words:
“High-value accounts or prospects are identified, key stakeholders in these businesses are targeted, and then marketing strategies are implemented through various channels to appeal to their specific personas and needs. Account-based marketing is like personalized marketing on steroids.”
Still a little fuzzy on what ABM is? We like the way Elyse Flynn Meyer, president and founder of Prism Global Marketing Solutions, defines it, “Account-based marketing focuses on a few large and important accounts or those potential accounts that hold the greatest promise of adding to your bottom line.”
Meyer goes on to say, “That’s why it’s so critical to have a high-touch and highly targeted message to these individuals, because of their revenue potential and impact to sales and marketing.”
How Do You Know if You Should Implement Account-Based Marketing?
Studies show that ABM appears to be an effective way to increase ROI. Research conducted by the Altera group hints at this theory, showing that 97% of study participants believe ABM had a somewhat higher or much higher ROI than other marketing campaigns.
But how do you know if ABM is right for you? Account-based marketing may be a buzzworthy phrase, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best strategy for every business. Why?
ABM makes sense for businesses whose target customers are companies in a smaller sized market pool, but that also are higher in value, (typically medium to enterprise sized companies.) This typically means your target customers are companies in a very specific niche. For example, if your target customers are MSPs (Managed Service Providers), companies such as application service providers (ASPs), web hosting companies, internet service providers (ISP,) or a network service provider (NSPs), then ABM is likely right for you. This is because they fit into a very specific niche and are high value.
Intrigued by account-based marketing? It’s understandable! After all, ABM aims to jump start the sales process with higher-value opportunities earlier, not to mention gaining the highest ROI possible from marketing campaigns, and bringing together marketing, sales, and account management for long-term success.
While ABM takes some elbow grease to implement, once you’ve gotten the strategy down, the reward can be enormously valuable and definitely worth the effort invested.
How to Implement Account-Based Marketing in Six Steps
Learning account-based marketing is like learning a sport—the playing field changes, and it requires both strategy and a tactical approach to do it right.
Following the 6 steps below will ensure that you get off to a good start:
1. Determine Strategic Accounts
Marketers are no strangers to the strategy of defining personas. But with ABM, you market to a whole organization, not an individual.
Start by determining the organizations that bring in the largest monthly recurring revenue. These are the types of accounts you want to go after.
This will require some research, including collaborating with strategic leaders, as well as customer-facing employees in your sales and customer success teams to learn from their experiences—after all, who knows your clients better than they do
2. Refine Your Research
Once you’ve narrowed down some target organizations, learning more about how decisions are made by these target accounts and identifying who the decision makers are your next steps.
Knowledge is power when it comes to account-based marketing, so deepen your research and learn about the complexities of these organizations, and begin strategizing on how to influence the stakeholders at each one.
Your CRM and the people in your company who’ve worked with these organizations in the past can be very helpful tools in refining your research, as are social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn.
3. Personalize Content & Messaging
Use the knowledge you’ve gained to create content that speaks directly to these organizations and their respective stakeholders. Appeal to their specific pain points and address how you can solve them through your content.
Collaborate with your sales and design teams to make your content both visually textually engaging. The Seriously Comprehensive Guide to B2B Content Marketing offers some great examples of companies that are excelling at B2B content.
4. Narrow Down the Best Channels for Your Campaigns
“Your research and content will be useless if you’re not promoting your campaigns and creative in the right places,” says Wordstream. That’s why it’s so important to do your research—you need to understand where your targeted stakeholders spend their time online, and what’s on their mind.
If you’re targeting someone within a graphic design organization, for example, there’s a good chance that you discovered these individuals spend time on Pinterest from your initial research. On the other hand, targeting financial executives might lead you to sites such as Bloomberg, Market Watch, and Motely Fool.
Using Facebook and LinkedIn can be very powerful when trying to target stakeholders because you can run campaigns that appeal to specific organizations, as well as titles inside those organizations.
5. Implement Your Account-Based Campaigns
Because account-based marketing is so targeted, it’s imperative that you don’t overwhelm your prospects with too high of a frequency of your messages. Seek to strike a balance in the number of touch points across multiple channels.
You’ll also want to make sure your marketing channels aren’t going to speak only to one or two individuals in your target organizations. After all, you’re aiming to target an organization and the stakeholders within it rather than a single individual.
The key is to strike the right balance of attracting your audience’s attention while managing not to turn them off.
6. Measure Your Marketing Results
After 30 to 60 days of running your campaign, you’ll want to measure and evaluate its effectiveness. Ask some critical questions about your account-based marketing efforts. For example:
- Was your personalized content successful at engaging your target audience?
- Have you expanded the number of known stakeholders within your targeted organizations?
- Were you able to move any of your targeted leads down the sales funnel?
- Was any revenue generated from these campaigns?
- Going forward, what could you do better?
Don’t worry if your results aren’t as good as you hoped the first time around. One of the great things about online marketing is its measurability, which helps you recognize where you need to optimize and improve.
If you were to search for the term “account-based marketing” in Google Trends, you’d see that in the past four years it’s gone from non-existent to extremely popular.
But because there’s so much hype about the topic, you might be tempted to doubt its effectiveness.
As far back as 2014, and ITSMA survey discovered that nearly 85% of marketers who measured their ROI reported ABM initiatives that outperformed most of their other marketing investments, with 50% of them noting that the difference was significant.
Statistics like these demonstrate that ABM is a can’t-miss opportunity for both marketing and sales teams to significantly improve their numbers.