Buzz terms come and go in the marketing realm (anyone want to “ideate” some “snackable content” with us?) to the point that it’s easy to ignore the latest shouts from the proverbial marketing mountaintops. But there’s one term you shouldn’t tune out. And that’s Account Based Marketing, or ABM.
B2B marketing has relied on the casting net method of the traditional marketing funnel for far too long. The increasing tech-savviness of the decision-makers in the B2B industry, who are continually shaped by their own personal consumer experiences, is now influencing how they make their own business buying decisions.
74% of U.S. business buyers conduct more than half of their research online, yet 89.5% of purchases are still completed by a salesman.
And although the purchase journey is becoming increasingly digital, people still play an essential role in B2B marketing and selling. So how do we bridge the gap between online shopping and a salesman closing the deal?
That’s where account based marketing comes into play.
What is account based marketing (ABM)?
Account based marketing is considered an inversion or flip of the traditional marketing/sales funnel. Rather than casting a net to a broad spectrum audience hoping to draw in prospective buyers for the sales team, the ABM strategy instead focuses on a single account (or business) and develops marketing messaging and collateral specifically for that “audience of one”.
85% of marketers measuring ROI say that ABM outperforms other marketing investments and that it provides significant benefits to retain and expand existing client relationships.
Think about it this way: you have a list of prospects who could all benefit from your business, but you can probably group those prospects into smaller and more specific lists, such as industry or company. While this list may be much smaller than your overall prospect list (it may only be 10 prospects!), it is a highly targeted and specific audience. A new campaign is then created for each industry using industry-specific language and challenges that your potential buyers face.
Bearing in mind, of course, that rather than a single decision maker, most companies now rely on a core group of influencers to make purchasing decisions. So the targeted effort would be focused on those key influencers for that account.
Throughout the marketing campaign, the sales team is highly involved. Marketing and sales work in tandem to reach potential accounts through integrated digital ads, phone calls, email campaign, handwritten letters, and more.
B2B organizations with tightly aligned sales and marketing operations achieved 24% faster three-year revenue growth and 27% faster three-year profit growth.
Who can benefit the most from ABM marketing?
Historically, ABM campaigns were only executed for enterprise level organizations, but that has changed.
Today, ABM marketing can benefit any company who has specific accounts they want to win business from. Do you have an ideal and specific client in mind? ABM is the most successful strategy to help you win that client.
So what’s a benefit of using ABM tactics in B2B marketing?
One of the most immediate benefits of moving to an ABM approach in B2B marketing is your business is much more likely to stand out from the competition. Think about it–who else in your industry is using this approach? In the B2B realm, this is still considered an emerging or new trend. You know the saying “the early bird gets the worm”? Best to jump on it before your prospects are lured away by smart competitors.
You may still have doubts, so let’s dive into the nuts and bolts.
Here are 5 more reasons ABM tactics benefit B2B marketing:
1.) Measurable ROI
Marketers always feel the pressure to provide measurable return on investment, which can be incredibly hard to do in today’s omnichannel world. That email campaign to your general interest list may have had a low click through rate, but it could have prompted a phone call or offline transaction. If employees on the other side don’t ask, there’s no way of tracking that journey from email to sale.
97% of marketers surveyed said ABM had higher ROI than other marketing activities
Source: Alterra Group
When you narrow that focus to a key customer account or segmented market, the ability to measure success becomes more quantifiable. Now marketing efforts can be tied to engagement goals, deals closed, or simply new meetings set–and the metrics are being fed back to marketing from the sales team.
2.) Sales and marketing teams’ goals become aligned
Tied into the measurable ROI above, ABM strategy requires marketing and sales teams to brainstorm together to fully understand their targeted market segment or account. Does marketing truly have a grasp on the underlying value of the product for the account in question? What content is the sales team struggling to explain to prospects when they are able to engage?
Here too, marketing can stress the importance to the sales team in collecting the data needed to tie back to measuring success rates. Subtle prompts can be asked during calls and meetings to grab customer feedback on what they found most useful in their journey… from prospect to client.
3.) Personalized targeting qualifies & warms leads for your sales team
Remember the quote at the beginning of this article? “Personally-relevant content to a prospect increased the likelihood to purchase by almost 80%.” This cannot be stated enough–business buyers are personal consumers as well. As we become accustomed to companies creating personalized content to encourage us along the path to buying from X brand or Y brand, then this behavior will translate into the B2B journey as well. (And please note, by personalization, we are referring to using data about/from the target audience to create content specific to them.)
This is exactly the kind of marketing behavior you can dig into when focusing on a particular account. Where is this account on social media? Who do they follow? Put on that detective cap and determine what kind of content would most appeal to the decision-makers here. Remember, it’s about creating content that guides your prospect along a journey to best solve their pain point. Not hammering them with a BUY BUY BUY message.
Create and engage the target audience and the sales team should be pleasantly surprised at the ease of converting prospects to satisfied customers.
4.) Identify and action key accounts/markets quickly
Working in tandem with sales, new leads that surface from traditional marketing efforts or other means can be identified as likely to convert with some ABM love, and turned over to marketing to nurture.
5.) Increase in revenue
When you combine all of the above (measurable ROI, sales and marketing in alignment, targeted messaging), it boils down to a flexible marketing system that delivers.
Companies with ABM in place generate 208% more revenue for their marketing efforts.