Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategic approach that treats individual accounts as markets in their own right — Itsma.
For a B2B company, there is nothing better than a well-targeted cross-channel marketing campaign with a personalized content strategy set for each stage of the sales funnel offering a consistent brand image, and ensuring the highest return on investment — period.
You guessed it. I am going to tell you that account-based marketing (ABM) — or some variation of it — does all of the above things for your company.
In its Account-based Marketing Blueprint, Terminus, an account-based marketing platform, explains that ABM has a different approach to marketing and selling compared to the traditional sales funnel approach. With the traditional sales funnel, the aim is to attract as many leads as possible hoping to narrow the scope down in other stages until the purchase is done.
With ABM, this process of narrowing down (of the leads) is done right in the beginning.
A clumsy overview of the process is: first of all, the ideal customer profile (or accounts) is identified, then the touchpoints with the key decision-makers in the targeted companies (the accounts) are expanded, then the decision-makers in the companies are engaged with your offers with seamless and personalized cross-channel marketing and sales strategies, the deals are then closed, and finally the contribution to the revenue is measured.
Here is the model that terminus introduces; compare it with the traditional sales funnel:
I have come up with 7 strategic benefits of account-based marketing hoping to give you a nudge to at least consider a lite version of the approach in your marketing efforts.
1.ABM gives you a solid understanding of your customer value propositions (CVPs)
Customer value propositions are the values you offer to your customers to convince them to buy your products. According to a research done by Fournaise Marketing group, 83% of marketers neglect their customer value propositions, thinking that “form, style, and awareness” are more important than CVPs.
The reason that ABM gives a solid understanding of your CVPs is that in this approach you have to identify a specific account (say a company) first and then research their pain-points and needs to offer them a product they cannot reject.
When positioning your products for a broad range of prospects, chances are you won’t be able to propose a general CVP to account for the needs of all of them. As a result many of the leads you force into the sales funnel opt out when they find your solution irrelevant.
By researching and identifying the pain-points and needs of a select group of your prospects, and conducting marketing campaigns specifically for them, you can offer them a solid understanding of your CVPs.
Fernando Leon of Single Point of Contact was able to propose his company’s value propositions for some specific real estate management firms (accounts) by optimizing his LinkedIn profile. He provided case studies and IT related articles for real estate management firms, and thus proposed a solid proposition of his company’s values. The targeted firms (accounts) could not resist his offers.
2. ABM aligns your sales and marketing teams
In “2016 State of Marketing Productivity Report” , Docurated found out that although an average 25% of marketing budget is devoted to content, only 10% of the content produced by the marketing teams is used by the sales reps.
The problem is that some companies lose track of how and why their leads entered the sales funnel. It happens that the content provided by the marketing team is not relevant enough to help the sales team close the deal. Or that the content provided by the sales team proposes a different value from the one proposed by the marketing team to attract the lead. The customers would simply end up confused and leave the funnel.
A survey done by Bizible found that “marketers doing ABM are about 40% more likely to report alignment with their sales team compared to marketers not doing ABM.”
Now for doing an efficient account-based marketing, you need to align your marketing and sales teams to determine standards for identifying the fit accounts. There are no marketing qualified leads or sales accepted leads in ABM. There are “qualified accounts”.
According to Marketo’s The 3 Essential Components of an ABM Solution, the qualified accounts could be selected based on “high yield” (top money-makers), “product fit” (most needy of your products), “quick wins” (with fastest purchase decisions), “strategic importance” (conducive to your strategic goals), “competitors” (your competitors’ audience), and “Territory” (segmented based on the geographic area).
3. ABM is more productive:
What is the use of a marketing campaign if you cannot measure how it helps your company? Almost 85% of marketers who measure ROI describe account-based marketing as delivering higher returns than any other marketing approach, with half of those marketers citing significantly higher returns. Also companies with good smarketing practices (that is a good alignment between marketing and sales teams) in place generated 208% more revenue from marketing efforts.
With account-based marketing you’re not worried about some lead-related performance indicators such as average lead score or marketing qualified leads. That’s because you’ve already taken the pain to sift through your leads and see if they’re suitable accounts to focus on.
Plus focusing on a few accounts for your marketing campaigns gives you a better opportunity to monitor their behavior, and see if you have to adjust your efforts to their new conditions. With fewer accounts, it is easier to analyze your customers’ engagement with your campaigns.
A good way to track your marketing performance is tracking the account’s dedicated IP address. By tracking and monitoring some companies and their decision-makers as accounts, marketers can better find out their pain-points and preferences to assign a dedicated marketing campaign for them.
4. ABM maximizes engagement by delivering more personalized content
I’ve already mentioned that account-based marketing provides more engagement with your customers. It’s inevitable because the main goal of ABM is narrowing down the scope of the prospects to choose fit accounts, identifying the selected accounts’ pain-points and needs, and finally providing curated content to please and engage them.
Engagement reaches its highest level in ABM because the content strategy is specifically targeted at some accounts — right?
In a survey done by (accessed from Marketingprofs), 51% of the marketers said personalizing content is one of the most effective account-based marketing tactics. Identifying high-value existing accounts ranks as the next most effective tactic (45% of respondents cite as a valuable approach), followed by creating account-specific campaigns (42%).
5. ABM provides actionable insights for similar customers
Coming up with standards for choosing the fit accounts to focus on doesn’t mean you are limited to just one customer as an account per time. Itsma relieves the pain of having to strictly stick to one account by identifying three types of account-based marketing: strategic ABM, lite ABM, and programmatic ABM.
The strict one-to-one account-based marketing is called strategic ABM. In strategic ABM you have to create and execute highly-customized marketing plans for individual accounts.
The lite ABM is a strategy that targets a few (5-10 at a time) accounts with similar issue and needs.
The programmatic ABM uses marketing technologies to enable marketers to target hundreds or even thousands of accounts at the same time. According to Itsma “Programmatic ABM can and should be aligned with the company’s sales coverage model. Companies use Programmatic ABM to target specific segments (e.g., horizontal or vertical markets) or other groups of named accounts selected from across an overall market”.
6. ABM provides a consistent brand equity
The way your brand is conceived by your customers is of great importance.
Brand equity stands for three metrics: brand awareness (what people are reminded of cognitively and emotionally when hearing or seeing your brand name), brand preference (how people prefer your brand compared to your competitors), and financial metrics (your brand’s market share, price, revenue generation, and other financial factors).
When tailoring your marketing activities to specifically address individual customers as accounts, your products or solutions are always seen more relevant, as compared with the companies that target a set of diversified customer personas.
7. ABM is an Omni-channel marketing approach
Instead of targeting whatever people you can reach in a marketing channel (e.g. your blog, social media, Email, events . . . ) and forcing them into a sales funnel, in ABM you focus on the most valuable leads and then target them with seamless messages across various channels.
The point of doing an omin-channel marketing is not to be present in all the available channels but to be able to predict that “customers may start in one channel and move to another as they progress to a resolution”, in the words of John Bowden, Senior VP of Customer Care at Time Warner Cable.
To garner a seamless experience across different channels, you need to monitor and listen to your targeted accounts’ behavior, pain-points and needs in those channels. By identifying how your customers move across different channels, you can provide curated and personalized messages to help them “progress to a resolution”.