As we enter a new year, more and more B2B companies are turning their focus to account based marketing. And for good reason. ABM Leadership Alliance found that businesses discovered an average annual contract value increase of 171% using account based marketing (ABM).
Why is ABM such an effective approach to business growth?
When done well, account-based marketing delivers a high ROI because you’re targeting clients who are willing and able to invest more in their growth. Traditionally, marketers have cast a wide net, trying to attract as many buyers as they could. ABM takes focus off the quantity of accounts and places it on the quality.
In other words, intelligent account-based marketing ensures your resources go toward high-value accounts. You stop spending a huge chunk of your marketing budget trying to attract and keep a high volume of small accounts. Inevitably, your marketing ROI improves.
So how do you incorporate ABM into your marketing strategy?
It’s going to take some thought, research, and collaboration between departments . . . and none of that is easy. But it’s definitely worth it, and these guidelines should get you started.
Involve Your Sales Team in Account Based Marketing
In order for your ABM strategy to work, your sales and marketing teams must be on the same page.
Each of these departments has essential insights to contribute. Your sales team has real life, person-to-person interaction with potential buyers. They know the questions and concerns of your target clients. They can explain why some prospects have chosen not to work with your company, and they know why others are loyal.
The marketing team has the data. They possess the analytics for different customer segments. Marketers know your buyers’ online journey from prospect to lead to client. You can trust them to determine which channels are best for reaching a specific demographic. They also know how an account is most likely to engage with your brand, and they’ve got an eye on the competition.
Successful account-based marketing depends on your company’s ability to combine these insights into an action plan. You also need both departments to get on the same page in terms of messaging. More on that in a bit.
Identify Your Target Accounts
Once you have everybody on board, you need to decide which accounts to actively pursue. This should be an all-hands-on-deck effort. Invite your sales team to share which clients they’ve been working hard to land. Have marketing do what they do best: research.
Ask your marketers for data on your current high-performing accounts. How did they convert? Are there similar accounts you can pursue? Or should you set your sights even higher?
Start an open discussion within the entire team about what your ideal account looks like. Don’t fall into the trap of blindly pursuing any big-name business. Zero in on perfect fit accounts, where a business relationship is undeniably beneficial to both parties. Consider things like:
- The ideal size of your client company—big enough to be a step up for your team, but not so big that you cannot properly serve the customer
- Your ideal account’s industry
- The best geographic location for your target accounts
- The current strategic needs of your company. How are you hoping to grow or expand into new markets? What type of account would help you accomplish this?
It also doesn’t hurt to look for personal connections or shared values. And if you need a little help getting the wheels turning, choose one company that seems like a perfect fit and look them up on LinkedIn. You’ll see a list of similar companies on their account page.
Research Your Target Accounts
You’ve probably learned by now that targeted marketing is complicated when it comes to B2B marketing. In most cases, you’re not selling to an individual. You’re selling to buying teams—a group of individuals with varying values, interests, and professional goals.
The nice thing about account-based marketing is that you can target a specific buying team. You know the exact human beings you need to connect with.
But first, start with the big picture. Research each target account to find out:
- What their market is like, including their own company size, competitors, and challenges.
- The target client’s current revenue and history.
- The organizational structure of the company, including purchasing team and who reports to whom.
- The individuals who drive the team. That includes management team, buyers, and anyone in a position of influence.
You really want to identify key decision makers and understand their official role within the company. Get to know the challenges and concerns that influence their day-to-day decision-making. These details serve you well in the next step.
Create Relevant Content
For account-based marketing, personalization is key. After all, the entire idea behind ABM is to tailor your marketing towards a specific audience.
Based on the research you’ve done, determine:
- The best marketing channels for reaching your target audience
- The best type of content to share with them
Take some time to look back at old content that could be polished and shared in new ways. Then discuss new content ideas with your team. Ask the sales team for content suggestions and make sure your reps know which messages you choose to highlight in your marketing.
Remember that relevance is everything when you’re dealing with decision-makers at larger companies. These individuals are not frivolous with their time. They won’t click on articles or download ebooks that seem vaguely interesting.
But they will engage with content that speaks to their exact pain points and goals, even if they’ve never heard of the source of that content.
Content that typically performs very well with B2B clients include:
- Case studies
- White papers
- Research reports
- Email campaigns
However you approach content development, focus on addressing your target’s greatest business challenges. Show them you have the solution that will make their life easier and make them a rockstar at work.
Measure and Optimize Your Account Based Marketing
Like any good marketer would, we have to emphasize the importance of measuring your ABM efforts.
For every campaign, every website update, and every free download, keep an eye on your analytics. Look for opportunities to bank on what works and notice problem areas so you can switch course.
Also make sure you’re looking at the most meaningful metrics. Measuring account-based marketing performance is different from the way you’d analyze traditional marketing. When you cast a wider net, you look at larger customer segments and expect faster results. You examine the number of leads generated, click-through rates, conversion rates, and other quantity-based metrics.
For account-based marketing, the question isn’t, “How much traffic are we getting?” It’s “Are we successfully building a relationship, and once we secure the account, is it paying off?”
Analyze metrics such as:
- Awareness: Are your target buyers acknowledging your ads, talking about your brand online, or responding to your emails?
- Engagement: Are your target buyers sharing your content, downloading your case studies, or reaching out for a free consultation?
- Relationship: Have you been granted access to decision-makers? Is your sales team directly involved with any of your target accounts, thanks to marketing tactics?
- ROI: Once you’ve secured a target account, is it paying off? What was the sales cycle length? Deal size? How does your revenue from this account compare to revenue gained from non-ABM deals?
Account-based marketing requires a brand new round of research and a shift in your strategic thinking. But what you stand to gain in ROI makes the effort well worth it.
And if you could use the guidance of marketing experts, reach out to the team at LookinLA. We’re always here for you.