The challenge for B2B marketers today is to develop effective long-lasting connections with high-value accounts. With account based marketing (ABM), you might find yourself working with teams across your company to identify these potential high-value clients, develop tactics to connect and engage with them, and increase the likelihood of conversion.
ABM is a marketing strategy used to identify, engage, and grow a targeted set of high-value accounts. This involves coordinating personalized marketing experiences across channels to drive engagement and conversion for a select group of accounts. To achieve this, sales and marketing work together with other units in your company.
How is ABM different than traditional demand generation?
In ABM, marketing and sales first collaborate to identify a specific set of priority accounts the business would like to acquire as customers, then work to generate interest within those accounts through highly personalized outreach tailored to the specific needs of each targeted company. In evaluating which approach is best for your business, keep in mind it’s not necessarily an either/or decision. Research shows that a hybrid approach between ABM and traditional demand generation often delivers the best results.
The end-to-end process:
1. Align and Select Accounts
The power of ABM comes from taking a holistic look at your company’s target market and narrowing your focus to a select few accounts. This is done by identifying the ideal customer profile (ICP), which includes the characteristics of those accounts that are expected to become your company's most valuable customers.
Once these inputs are collected, create a profile. Within the profile, include information on your ideal customers such as:
• Organizational personality
After you define the target account list, determine how best to pursue the accounts. To be more efficient, divide accounts into groups with common characteristics and unique traits to target them more effectively. Typical campaign selections range from a couple dozen to a few hundred accounts. However, a narrower selection enables higher-performing and more relevant messages.
2. Set Goals and KPIs
Marketing and sales must align on goals to ensure that campaigns are established to report on specific metrics of success. You should consider making both revenue and non-revenue goals. For revenue goals, some ideas are marketing and sales qualified leads, closed/won accounts, and contract lifetime value. Some non-revenue goals include engagement, market penetration, and improved sales/marketing relationships.
3. Engagement Strategy
After establishing your account list and goals, the next step is to clearly define your overall engagement strategy. Your strategy should include what is to be accomplished, with whom, and what resources are available. This can also include the value proposition and offer that will drive the desired action. A good offer helps solve a potential challenge for your prospective customer and it should be personalized. To be successful, everyone involved must understand the strategy. It is vital to align marketing and sales.
Additionally, in developing your strategy, remember that the focus should be on account progression. The goal is to grow accounts from no relationship to initial engagement, to booking a meeting to creating a new opportunity, to closing a deal.
4. Deploy and Optimize
ABM campaigns are cross-channel and cross-functional programs that promote offers, drive engagement, and increase the speed and volume of deals in the sales cycle.
You engage with teams outside of your marketing organization, including sales and sales development, to provide valuable, personalized interactions with target accounts, that should ultimately drive sales and more revenue.
The next sections highlight specific tactics for your ABM campaigns. ABM uses marketing and sales tactics you may already be familiar with, but it deploys them in new ways. Most organizations already use some typical ABM tactics. Please note, the list below is not exhaustive but something we typically see in ABM deployments.
The top five based on usage are:
1. Sales development outreach
2. Digital advertising
3. Content syndication
4. Marketing emails
5. Virtual events
The key to executing a successful campaign is to coordinate multiple tactics rather than using them in silos.
5. Measure and Attribute
Determining ways to measure the success of your ABM tactics against your objectives and your ROI improves the chances of achieving your goals. As you create your ABM measurement approach, remember that measurement must be account centric. Success should be measured at the account-level rather than by individual leads. A predetermined account list allows more effective and predictive metrics for success.
The first step is to set your goals. After marketing and sales have aligned on goals, determine which metrics to use to track progress. Prior to deploying tactics, be sure your campaigns are established to report on your success metrics. Some key metrics to focus on are account engagement rate, opportunity rate, account win rate, and bookings or revenue.
ABM marketers are primarily measuring against account-focused outcomes such as total pipeline and opportunities, while marketers without an ABM program are focused on media or lead-specific metrics like marketing qualified leads (MQLs).
Now you’re ready to get started! Want to learn more on ABM? Check out our other B2B content here.