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Account-based Marketing

What is account-based marketing?

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategic marketing strategy focussing on a few large and important or potential accounts which hold a greater promise of adding to a business’s bottom line. The foremost idea here is to capture the most relevant audience for your business and to nurture the leads with a relevant, personalized, and contextual marketing strategy. 

Account-based marketing focuses on casting a stronger net instead of a  huge one.

 The question is: Is ABM right for you? Typically, ABM is a B2B marketing approach involving enterprise-level organizations/ the high-value accounts which need to be engaged and turned into customers. The onus to do so falls on the marketing and sales teams as they need to work together to put focussed efforts on these high-value /best-fit accounts and nurture them.

Benefits of account-based marketing

A successful ABM initiative can boost revenue, optimize your efforts, and provide in-depth metrics that would be otherwise inaccessible. Some of the benefits of implementing ABM are below:

  • Prioritize ROI: ABM helps to prioritize and show clear measures of ROI resulting in clear business outcomes. According to the 2014 ITSMA ABM Survey – “ABM delivers the highest return on investment of any B2B marketing strategy or tactic.”
  • Efficient use of time and resources: As ABM strategies involve investing time on promising, high-value accounts, they allow businesses to use their budgetary resources more efficiently on specifically optimized marketing programs for these targeted accounts.
  • Audience engagement: Since ABM is so personalized (content, product information, campaigns), targeted customers tend to be more likely to interact or engage with content. Since it’s geared specifically to them, their business, and their specific stage within the customer journey, buyers are more likely to interact. As a result,  ABM allows you to angle your business in a way that makes it the most relevant and ideal option for your target accounts.
  • Tracking goals & metrics: It is easier to analyze the campaign effectiveness since ABM measures a small set of targeted accounts across email, web, ads, and events. This also results in the collection of more detailed data and insights.
  • Better aligned marketing and sales teams: ABM is an efficient way to sync up the sales and marketing teams as it helps them develop the same mindset i.e. how to identify target accounts and bring a successful deal to the table.
  • Deliver consistent customer experiences: For the ABM strategy to be remarkable it is important to give a long-term sense of delight to each account. This can be managed by providing a consistent user/customer experience.

Examples of account-based marketing

As per a case study in Grow Digitally, DocuSign, the esignature transaction management solution provider, used ABM techniques to boost its sales pipeline by 22%.

Challenge: 

DocuSign wanted to achieve the below:

  • Drive more traffic
  • Increase click through rates (CTR)
  • Increase conversion percentage

Solution:

The ABM strategies undertaken to reach the above goal were:

  • Execution of display ad campaigns to 450+ enterprise accounts, each with a personalized message for companies in various buying stages.
  • Integrated content targeting – targeted industries were categorized under 6 types. Each type of industry was delivered with industry-specific messages including specific images, testimonials, and peer logos.
  • Captured detailed company info about visitors while asking fewer questions on the forms.
  • Leveraged web analytics to gain detailed visibility and adjust content offerings.

Results: 

  • % Increase in sales pipeline across the 6 target industries: 22%
  • Engagement rate: 59%
  • Boosted page views: over 300%
  • Decreased the bounce rate to 13.5% from an average of 39.25%

Best practices to implement ABM effectively:

As ABM targets specific organizations rather than individual demographics or personas, it requires a strategic as well as a tactical approach. The below steps can ensure that you are onto the right start:

  1. Define the strategic accounts: To formalize the account selection process, the marketing teams should define target company personas much like a buyer persona. Some of the data points that should be included are:
  • Type of industry, location, number of employees
  • Business objectives, values, motivations, decision patterns
  • Resources and technology engaged by the company
  • Development stage and maturity of the target account

The more quantified the target company personas, the more qualitative will be the marketing team identification of new high-value accounts.

Such information can often be gathered from various sources:

  • CRM software
  • Surveys from existing customers
  • Customer-facing employees
  • Partnering with strategic leaders
  • Heatmap tools

2. Start your investigation: Once you have identified the target organizations, it’s time to learn about the decision-making components of these companies. This helps in building strategies around influencing the stakeholders in the target organizations.

Here, coordination between the sales and marketing teams plays a vital role. This collaboration helps in building a sophisticated and personalized campaign across multiple platforms. 

3. Create personalized content: Now it’s time to put to work all the knowledge gained at the investigation step. Working along with the design team, create content that is personalized, visually engaging, and communicates the right message to the stakeholders involved.

4. Choose the best communication channels: Promoting your content and campaigns at the right places is the key to reaching the target stakeholders. To do so, it is important to understand which social media platforms they might be spending their time on. For example, a graphic designer may be more active on Pinterest or a financial executive may be targeted on Bloomberg, etc. Some of the below communication channels can be included:

  • Brand websites or landing pages
  • Social media networks – Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Pinterest 
  • Paid media campaigns
  • Segmented email campaigns
  • Sponsored events
  • eCommerce 

5. Measure and optimize results: Once the campaigns are up and running for 30 to 60 days, it’s time to evaluate the effectiveness. The results will help you decide areas of improvement and how campaigns can be evolved to get better results. To achieve this, the right kind of technology investments are vital. Some good to have features in software platforms and tools are:

  • Analytics
  • Prospecting tools
  • Engagement monitoring
  • Lead scoring
  • Marketing automation

Read this article to understand the changing landscape of B2B marketing.

Account-based marketing is being rapidly adopted as a strategic approach to growth in enterprises as also in small and medium businesses. Marketers love the idea of focusing on select target accounts that actually guarantee results rather than seeking conversions from a wider market. 

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