If you work in the sales or marketing department of a B2B company, you have probably heard about Account Based Marketing (ABM). Even if you haven’t heard about it, you might have done a bit of account-based marketing without even knowing.
Have your marketing and sales teams focused on a defined set of targeted accounts and tailored a personalized campaign to each account? Has your marketing team treated an individual client account as a market on its own?
If the answer is yes, you certainly have some familiarity with account-based marketing. But if you’re still guessing what it is, this blog will help.
Why the Buzz Around Account Based Marketing?
In a nutshell, account-based marketing is a marketing strategy that targets limited but high-value leads – rather than reaching out to a broad range of prospective customers – to improve sales efficiency and gain higher revenue with minimum resources.
ABM isn’t a completely new concept in the B2B marketing scenario. Over the last half decade or so, marketing as a service is being automated at scale with the introduction of marketing automation and digital channels. B2Bs are increasingly adapting to account-based marketing powered by marketing automation or Customer Service Relationship (CSR) platforms. B2B Marketers are not only looking for new strategies to target customers but also looking for opportunities to help their sales teams close deals.
How Does ABM Work?
Most of the companies that use ABM platform use digital targeting to track and target their prospects. Digital targeting such as cookies and IP addresses are used to identify specific accounts. There are many ABM platforms that can be integrated with your marketing automation tools or Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems to run campaigns to the targeted accounts.
This allows businesses to run campaigns targeting audiences on multi-channel platforms such as mobile, display, social media, and video. Meaning, businesses can engage their prospects on their own terms. Also, its real-time A/B testing feature allows businesses to understand which messages resonates the most with their target audience.
Why are B2Bs Using Account Based Marketing?
B2B companies, by nature, have a narrow list of prospects. This means they are more inclined to try strategies such as inbound marketing, content marketing, and account-based marketing to reach their potential customer. Account-based marketing, in particular, is used to sell very specific products/services to very specific customers.
The reason that B2Bs are increasingly attracted to ABM includes:
- It is a marketing strategy that targets a specific audience with personalized messages.
- It is easier for businesses to align their sales with marketing departments as both these departments focus on clients account and how to handle them.
- Since ABM is a targeted approach, it allows businesses to run their campaign efficiently.
- Compared to other marketing tactics, ABM has a higher Return on Investment. (Source)
- As there is a narrow list of accounts to track, it’s easier to track and measure the data.
How is ABM Different from Outbound Marketing?
From target audience to customer reach to team structure, these two marketing types have contrasting strategies and methods.
Outbound marketing targets a wide range of demographics with a common message. ABM, on the other hand, targets a specific audience and entails personalized messages.
Outbound marketing uses a mix of email, cold call, and social selling until they generate an opportunity with a particular account. Meanwhile, ABM uses retargeting, social data and even direct conversation to build a relationship with highly targeted leads.
In outbound marketing, marketing tactics like content marketing, social media, and paid advertisements are used to reach a wide audience. ABM prioritizes quality over quantity.
Sales and marketing roles and responsibilities are separate and clearly defined in outbound marketing. Marketing team doesn’t handle client account. In ABM, sales and marketing work hand-in-hand to create multiple touches to build a relationship.
In outbound marketing, once the new accounts are entered in the sales pipeline, they are not tracked when they are converted into customers. Meanwhile, ABM prioritizes in nurturing and building long-term relationships with clients.
In outbound marketing, funnel metrics such as qualified leads, conversion rates, and lead-to-customer ratio are tracked in order to measure the success of marketing campaign. Revenue is the most important factor in ABM, so indicators for revenue like engagement, velocity, and win rates are measured in ABM.
Pros and Cons of ABM
Lately, account-based marketing is getting a lot of attention. B2Bs of every kind have thought of applying it to their marketing strategy. A recent study by SiriusDecisions shows that more than 90% of businesses believe account-based marketing is essential to B2B marketing. In addition, over 80% of marketers that measure ROI say that ABM initiatives outperform other marketing investments.
Like any other marketing strategies, ABM has its pros and cons. It may work for B2B companies with a niche audience but may not work in a company with a bit larger audience. Here is a list that might help.
- Targeted approach: businesses can tailor marketing messages to only those audiences that are ideal for them.
- Real-time ad buying: highly targeted ad campaigns with real-time data
- Digital targeting: tracks IP and cookies to identify and target specific accounts.
- Automation: ABM is integrated with marketing automation or CRM platform, so the system is automated and the campaigns could be set in prior.
- Easier implementation: It is easier to integrate with marketing automation or CRM platform and it only requires some basic IP mapping.
- Limited IP networks: A lot of companies use a pooled IP lookup tool so the IPs might not be always accurate. Unless the IP are tracked, you can’t target the accounts.
- New technology: Since it is a relatively new technology, it can work for or against you.
- Needs a platform to integrate: It is a platform in itself so you need to but it to integrate it into your system.
- Needs time and resources: It takes significant time and resources to identify and target accounts, learn about their influencers, set up tracking and goals, and then tailor campaigns for each individual account.
Even though Account Based Marketing is somewhat at an early stage today, its potential can’t be ignored. With ABM, you can buy an ad impression in real-time, target it to specific prospects, and trigger actions based on the prospect’s response. As it can blend digital marketing techniques with the personalized approach, it is something that will be in the mind of B2Bs in the coming days.