Account-based marketing is one of the most popular marketing strategies for B2B businesses. According to Hubspot’s State of Marketing Trends Report 2022, even 70% of companies report using ABM. It’s a popular marketing strategy for a good reason.
Imagine only having to market your products and services only to the top tier level accounts. Communicating directly with the decision makers to close the sale and acquire a new long-term partnership. That’s account-based marketing in a nutshell.
ABM takes creating your ideal customer profile and crafting tailored, personalized content for them to the next level. It’s a highly effective marketing strategy to utilize for all B2B marketers. So let’s discuss everything you need to know about ABM, best practices, and how to create your own ABM programs.
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a B2B marketing strategy that focuses on targeting high-value accounts with custom, personalized marketing campaigns. In other words, instead of creating a broad marketing strategy targeting a wider audience, a business identifies a few key players they want to turn into customers and tailors their marketing efforts to speak directly to them.
ABM strategy is a high-level marketing strategy that requires a business to do a lot of prep work, identifying the key accounts they want to focus on. And it also requires the sales and marketing teams to closely work together to create an effective customer experience.
Shorter sales cycle
One of the key things in ABM strategy is to identify the key accounts and the right people to approach. This speeds up the process of the sales cycle drastically because you are dealing with the decision-makers directly. With a well-crafted pitch and sales strategy, you can make a successful sale much faster.
More efficient budget-wise
With other marketing strategies, like inbound marketing or email marketing, the majority of your budget goes to capturing as many leads into your marketing funnel as possible. Then you focus on nurturing them and later turning them into paying customers.
It can be much more cost-effective for B2B marketers to switch to account-based marketing. Then you have the option to target only the key accounts and create personalized content for them only. This way, you can hone in on what their pain points are, what they are seeking, and how your product/service can help them.
97% of marketers utilizing the ABM strategy say that it delivers higher ROI than any other marketing strategy. ROI of account-based marketing efforts is also much clearer and more defined, which makes it easier to track and measure success. This allows you, as a business owner, to get a better sense of what’s working with your marketing efforts and where you can improve to get better results.
Now that we went over what ABM is and why it can be beneficial for a business, let’s dive into the step-by-step process of creating ABM programs for any business.
Step 1: Identify target accounts
The first step will be to create a list of targets you want to go after. The key here is to make a list of people to approach, and not only the companies. So, you’ll want to use online databases to find the right point of contact in a company. A few tools to help you find the right contacts:
You want to target the decision-makers in the companies. So, when compiling a list of contacts, consider who are those people in each company. Once you have the names and emails, create a Google Sheet or an Excel Sheet to have an organized place to keep all of the contacts. So you can easily access them when it’s time to utilize them.
Step 2: Learn their pain points
The next step will be to learn as much as you can about your key accounts. Do your research and figure out things like:
- What is their business mission and vision? And how does it align with yours?
- Are your key accounts engaging with your business already?
- What social media presence do they have?
- What are the pain points your product or service can help solve?
- What are your key account’s revenue model, company size, and growth trajectory?
Knowing as much about your ideal customer profile will help you tailor your elevator pitch to fit them and their needs the best. And that’s one of the key components of a successful ABM – personalization. So, go through your key account’s social media presence on various platforms to better understand who they are and what it is they’re looking for.
You might find helpful things from their social media communications and participation in business groups on Facebook, or other online forums. If you have a solution or an answer to one of their current problems or questions, then you can work on crafting the perfect sales pitch to them.
Step 3: Create a plan
It’s time to craft a solid plan on how you’ll approach your key accounts and pitch your product or service. This step will require you to have all of the information we mentioned above, and you’ll create an account plan for each contact you have on your list. Doing so will allow you to create the best-personalized content plan to yield the best results.
This is the step where the marketing and sales teams usually work together to map out the perfect roadmap to reaching and engaging your key accounts. And you can work on creating an account plan template which you can later personalize depending on each individual account.
When creating your plan, consider things like:
- Who is the decision maker/point of contact?
- What marketing channels will you use to reach and engage with them?
- What content do you need to create to close the sale with this point of contact?
Step 4: Run custom marketing campaigns
Once you have your individualized account plans, it’s time to start acting. Next, create content for each account, making sure you personalize it as much as possible to speak directly to them. It will yield the best results.
Next, you’ll want to run targeted marketing campaigns to reach your target accounts. You can attend in-person or online events where your target accounts are or utilize online resources to reach them. Consider ad placements in industry publications, newsletters, blogs, targeted Facebook ads, and LinkedIn.
As you run your targeted marketing campaigns to engage your key accounts, see which ones are bringing in the best results. It’s easy to want to be everywhere. But you should be solely focusing on places where your target accounts are most likely to see your messaging and take action.
Step 5: Make selling smooth
Lastly, you want to make sure that your marketing and sales teams have an effective process for closing the sale. While onboarding new customers is usually a sales team job, bringing in the marketing department to help create content to reinforce the message can be very helpful.
So, refine your sales process and make sure it’s also tailored to your key accounts and as personalized as possible.
Each company utilizing ABM to acquire new customers can choose from a wide array of tactics to find the ones that work best for them. So depending on the industry and even the people your business targets, you can mix and match different tactics:
Online and live events
For certain industries, in-person events where the industry’s decision-makers all gather to network and find new solutions for their businesses can be the best environment to pitch your product or service and close a deal. You can really personalize the experience by adding personalized swag, delivering your sales pitch in person, and then following up after the event.
Online events, like webinars, can also be an effective way to interact with key accounts. You can run personalized webinars for small cohorts of accounts to make sure the message is tailored to them.
Another effective way to reach your key accounts is through social media. Chances are people you are targeting are on platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and more, and they are engaging with their industry on some level.
LinkedIn can be one of the best places to reach your key accounts because it’s one of the most used and trusted ABM platforms across many industries. Utilize the platform by connecting with the decision makers, sending them personalized InMail messages with tailored pitches, and building relationships that way.
Personalized email campaign
Email marketing is another great ABM tactic that can work wonders when it comes to connecting with the right prospects. But you have to be extremely targeted and make sure you deliver the right message together with an effective CTA.
Consider tapping into your lead magnet ideas list to create personalized lead magnets that fit each key account. This will allow you to attract very specific accounts, which in turn will give you a better chance to turn them into customers.
Tailor each email communication to fit every single account. You want the emails to feel personal and address all the pain points your key accounts have, serving as an invitation for them to reach out.
Custom landing pages
To attract high-level accounts, consider building landing pages that are personalized to address issues, concerns, questions, and other needs of each account. This will increase your chances of closing the deal because a personalized web page can help them get familiar with your offer and see how it can help or benefit them.
To help you run your ABM campaigns easier, you can choose to use one of the many available account-based marketing software. These tools can help you run campaigns in one place and track the ROI and other metrics all in one place. It’s convenient and easy.
Software like RollWorks allows you to find and identify key accounts to target, run cross-channel campaigns and measure the success of your campaigns with their analytics.
LinkedIn is a very useful tool for account-based marketing campaigns. With their free version, you can utilize it to find the right accounts to target, connect with them and send them direct messages in a few clicks. However, they also have features like Company Targeting, which allows you to run ABM campaigns directly through the platform.
To help you better understand how effective account-based marketing can be, let’s go over a few examples from real-life businesses utilizing ABM.
Restaurant Furniture Plus
Restaurant Furniture Plus is a great example of how exchanging their regular marketing campaigns for ABM can make a huge difference for a business. In the past, furniture stores used to utilize Google to market their business and capture leads. Only a third of the leads clicking on their ads were their target audience.
By switching to ABM, the company was able to target the key accounts they wanted to turn into customers, making their marketing efforts much more budget-effective. Because they are targeting small growing restaurant chains, their business is also constantly growing as the repeat customers are coming back to buy furniture again as they open a new restaurant in a new location.
Adobe is another great example of account-based marketing through LinkedIn. Before using LinkedIn, they used to have to go through long contact lists that were sometimes out of date to find the key accounts to target and cold-call them to pitch their product.
By switching to LinkedIn to find their key accounts and the decision makers, Adobe was able to implement its ABM program much more effortlessly by connecting with the right people through the platform.
Their marketing and sales teams are able to work together to identify the right leads and then use the platform to figure out the right content to provide to those key accounts to turn them into paying customers without wasting time and money on cold-calling prospects.
Let’s answer some of the most frequently asked questions business owners have about ABM.
Why is account-based marketing important?
ABM is an important marketing strategy because it can help your business secure a strong long-term relationship with high-value accounts. It’s a highly personalized and tailored strategy, which allows you to make the customer experience as optimal as possible.
What are the advantages of ABM account-based marketing?
There are plenty of advantages that ABM programs have to offer:
- Clearer ROI: ABM has very measurable and easy-to-track ROIs, so it can be easier to see how successful you and your team are in your marketing efforts.
- Close the sale faster: because you are speaking directly with the decision makers of the key accounts you target with ABM, the sale cycle can be shorter.
- More budget-efficient: allocating your resources to target only a few high-value accounts can be much more budget-efficient.
- Personalized marketing approach: because ABM encourages you to target fewer accounts, you can customize and personalize the content and messages to the target audience, which makes your sales pitch much more effective.
What are the disadvantages of ABM account-based marketing?
One huge disadvantage of account-based marketing is that it’s mostly effective for B2B industries. To be effective, it requires sales and marketing teams to work together, which often means that companies using ABM in their strategy are enterprise-level businesses.
So, if you run a B2C business, or you have a small B2B business with fewer resources, you might want to opt for your go-to-market strategy to help you acquire new leads and turn them into paying customers.