What is Account-based marketing(ABM) in B2B organizations? Everything you need to know about it

Gone are the days when marketing was a passive means for businesses to gain customers. Modern-day marketing demands active engagement with leads at every step of the funnel for optimum conversions. Account-based marketing(ABM) serves as the ultimatum to achieve such goals, qualifying high-value prospects.

What is account-based marketing or ABM?

ABM is a targeted approach for B2B marketing in which marketing and sales professionals work hand in hand to identify and convert potential accounts. 

At a time when information is highly available over the internet, it’s not easy to get the attention of prospects now and then. Hence, the unparalleled significance to focus on targeted accounts led by their penetration, marketing penetration, and maintenance of logos.

In the digital age where everyone across the globe is connected via technology, new channels, tech platforms, and strategies allow marketers to connect with their leads on a very different level. On the other hand, multiple challenges have attacked the modern reality, whether it be increased buyer expectations or unparalleled competition among rivals. 

While account-based marketing isn’t a new concept, its approach has undergone a major transformation, owing to the advent of new technology and dynamic scenarios. Usually, B2B marketers target prospects in a generalized way for reaching out to more companies. Such an outlook doesn’t help fetch maximum ROI.

Tracing the past, ABM initiatives weren’t an easy and affordable means to boost the sales funnel due to a high level of personalization. Cut to the present, multifaceted development has facilitated the adoption of ABM in various organizations with greater control over prospects.

Reasons why should B2B businesses implement ABM

If you are in the B2B space, a broad marketing strategy might seem relevant to your business. But it can, unfortunately, bring down your ROI when compared to a targeted approach.

  • Maximizes ROI over the period: If you are facing problems with the unclear depiction of ROI, ABM can overcome such limitations by prioritization. According to ITSMA ABM Survey(2014), the tactic delivers the highest ROI in any B2B marketing strategy. 
  • Results in better time management and utilization of resources: Unlike traditional marketing which takes a lot of time, manpower, and capital, ABM follows a different approach. It makes optimum utilization of time and resources by deploying targeted strategies. The yield shows up in the best results. 
  • Leads to active engagement: Today, marketing is all about audience engagement at various levels. Since personalization lies at the bedrock of ABM, targeted customers are more likely to engage and interact with a brand. That said, ABM targets prospects concerning several factors like profiles, the field of business, needs, and the stage of the buyers’ journey.
  • Analyses effectiveness of campaigns: Monitoring goals and metrics of a business counts on complicated methods. Account-based marketing makes it easier to analyze the effectiveness of campaigns by solely pivoting on potential leads. As a result, the data collected from ads, emails, events, and web pages carry minute details and exclusive insights that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise.
  • Aligns marketing and sales team: Various challenges surface in a business due to a lack of coordination between marketing and sales teams. Such a gap can be bridged by ABM- similar to the sales process. It aligns sales and marketing teams with the same objective. Once the mindset is synced, the thought process goes hand in hand, from targeting leads to closing deals.

Benefits of implementing ABM 

  • Induces transparency and consistency in a business: When there is a dearth of communication and collaboration within an organization, it triggers various threats. ABM, however, paves way for cross-team participation and improved communication by channelizing the goals of marketing and sales teams in one direction, sticking to the decided budget, and perceiving the roles of internal stakeholders beforehand.

    This inculcates a consistent approach throughout. Regardless of how long an employee stays in a company, others can pick up from the point where he left without missing out on any opportunity. In short, the technique fosters a smooth and delightful customer experience over the period.
  • Maximizes business relevance among qualifying leads: Rooted in customization, ABM personalizes every bit of info ranging from content, product details, to campaign messages. Thus it increases a brand’s relevance among the potential accounts, helping them to grow better. That says, ABM positions brands in an ideal way to drive conversions.
  • Promises consistent customer experience: Being a long-term process, ABM mandates consistent customer experience within a business that serves as a typical success quotient. Either way, good relations with customers can help scale up ABM initiatives, thereby retaining leads over the period. 

    While consistency is considered one of the most crucial factors in marketing, ABM encourages executing such a parameter naturally. How? It facilitates a comprehensive understanding of individual leads.  
  • Measures ROI of a business: ABM helps measure the ROI of every lead within a business. If the ROI serves the predetermined goals, an organization can work on the bottom line too.
  • Streamlines the sales funnel: Customarily, the sales cycle caters to a particular structure:
    • Identify leads 
    • Connect to them 
    • Conduct background research 
    • Present offering 
    • Close leads 
    • Nurture them

Going by the ABM method, the sales model faces a revamp led by a more determined approach. It looks like:

  • Present product/service 
  • Recognize target prospects
  • Qualify them 
  • Gratify

Thus, it banks on efficiency rather than wasting time on unqualified leads.

  • Expands businesses by retention of customers: The quality of chosen leads always matters over quantity. Once you have gained trust from your prospects, they will be loyal to your brand in the long run. This will impact your bottom line as loyal customers act as top marketers, brand advocates, and business promoters. Meanwhile, getting new customers costs more than retaining them.

Retained accounts can help expand a business among peer groups and friend circles by reference, testimonials, word of mouth, etc.

Tactics that can predict success in ABM

It’s not just implementing ABM but also doing it right that decides on the business’ success factor.

  1. Resort to a strategic planning outline

Using an account planning template can help unify an ABM team via seamless partnership. To get started, you need to sketch the initiatives for each account with regard to:

  1. Area of operation
  2. Pivotal initiatives
  3. Relationship with customers
  4. Product and revenue of prospect company
  5. Analysis of competitors
  6. Point of buying and selling
  7. Relationship goals and deployed strategy
  8. Business opportunities, targets, and possible risks
  9. Plan of action

2. Align ABM strategy within the organization

If your ABM isn’t aligned within the organization, all efforts will go in vain. To avoid such risk, all internal stakeholders should come together on board working on the associated factors. For instance, the VP of sales and marketing must stay informed about:

  • Those involved in the deployed strategy
  • Members of the buying committee, other stakeholders
  • The difference in each account
  • Available budget and resources
  • ABM KPIs and goals

3. Build the ABM team

The VP of marketing and sales along with the managers of both the teams must identify at least one marketer and a sales rep to completely focus on the list of accounts. They will be responsible to write and publish content for leads, handle the accounts and qualify them with the buying committee. 

It’s also necessary to station customer success reps in the strategy. Thumb rule states a team shouldn’t have more than 10 sales reps and a marketer. 

4. Recognize and pick up potential leads

  • Create search alerts for potential profiles on LinkedIn.
  • Build a workflow to select qualified leads based on certain criteria such as industry, size of the company and tag them as targeted customers in CRM.
  • Recollect previously successful deals and incorporate those elements in your present strategy.
  • Select potential accounts as per industry or geographic location.
  • Find out companies and leads engaging with inbound content without any deal
  • Identify the reference accounts.
  • Distribute 10 accounts per sales rep.

5. Ask marketers and sales professionals to invest their joint efforts 

As ABM demands team spirit, businesses should ensure marketing and sales teams plan the accounts hand in hand. For that, they need to answer the following questions:

  • Who should be targeted for each account- stakeholders or buying committee
  • What type of content should be formulated to attract them
  • Which channels should be used to promote content and reach out to the potential leads 
  • How to support every stage of the strategy and sales process
  • How to ensure that both the teams stay aligned on the offering’s value proposition and point of difference
  • Personalize content and update them as and when needed for better targeting.
  • Write down your account plans for easy access and reference at any time.
  • Customize your budget and resources for each account.

6. Attract contacts from potential accounts

How to attract the buying committee or stakeholders of targeted accounts? You may or may not have contacts of specific leads depending on your experience and years of operation. Here the key would be to personalize content to those accounts that will help spread brand awareness and relevance among the target audience.

A handful of GDPR compliant recommendations can help fetch high-quality accounts:

  • Drive engagement on social media platforms where your leads are present. Join the groups they are active in, interact within it, come up with useful content.
  • Create a video series or podcast. Invite a leader from the account to participate as a special guest in the program.
  • Sponsor a stall at your lead’s event or conference
  • Send messages directly over social media platforms, mail, email/by post
  • Root your communication via LinkedIn InMail outreach.
  • Build customized landing pages tailored to the queries, problems, and needs of target accounts.
  • Present little incentives for engagement. It can be in the form of discounts, prizes, and others.
  • Share helpful content(articles, blogs, features) across the deployed channels(magazines, website, social media)
  • Create social ads, campaigns targeted towards various factors like skill, job position, and location of prospects
  • Ask connections, targets, and customers for referrals
  • Invite contacts and their colleagues to company events

7. Build evergreen relationships with the buying committee

Developing strong and long-lasting relationships with the buying committee can take even months or years. However, nurturing of leads shouldn’t stop.

  1. Educate leads about the value proposition of your business, products, and services. Personalize every experience of your prospects.
  2. Share personalized content(case studies) to project how your company can exceed leads’ expectations. 
  3. Arrange one-to-one meetings to make your prospects feel prioritized like anything.
  4. Conduct events with account members to familiarize your brand and team personally.
  5. Be organized and punctual when hosting meetings.
  6. Get your hands on email sequencing to boost communication with leads.
  7. Follow professionalism and stick to consistency. 

8. Measure and analyze ABM outcomes

After deploying the above-mentioned tactics, you should monitor the outcomes of the ABM strategy. This will help bridge the existing gaps with scope for further improvement. 

A couple of key performance indicators can come to the rescue:

  • Deal creation
  • Account penetration(number of fresh contacts added to an account)
  • Account engagement
  • How long does it take from making a deal to closing it
  • Net new revenue generation
  • Percent of closed deals

Key Takeaways:

  1. What does ABM mean?

ABM is a targeted approach for B2B marketing in which marketing and sales professionals work hand in hand to identify and convert potential accounts. 

2) How does ABM work?

ABM identifies accounts concerning potentiality and targets their decision-makers with personalized content, messages via marketing and ad campaigns.

3) What is the example of ABM?

Sending personalized emails to target accounts:

Suppose you have identified 20 contacts in one of your target accounts but your sales team couldn’t engage them effectively. Here a sound ABM strategy can shoot personalized emails based on their roles.

4) Why is ABM important?

ABM reduces the sales cycle by involving marketers for an extended period.

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