It used to be so much easier. Create a good product, make a good offer, and write up the sale. In today’s incredibly competitive B2B sales environment, it’s hard enough just to get somebody’s attention. There are simply too many marketing messages competing with you and varying methods and mediums to get the message across.
Account-based marketing (ABM) flips the switch on traditional sales strategies. While in both cases, you identify prospects and market to them, in ABM you are not asking for the sale directly. Instead, you are using inbound marketing in a strategic approach to align your products & services as the solution to your potential customer’s goals, challenges, and problems.
Inbound marketing focuses on creating content that brings prospects to you. Account-based marketing emphasizes individual prospects and current accounts. Together, they can build stronger relationships with potential customers. Much like a high-interest savings account, you invest the right amount of time and energy into these accounts and the returns can be tremendous.
What is Account-Based Marketing (ABM)?
Account based marketing is a B2B strategy focusing sales and marketing efforts on high-value target accounts. Unlike a broad marketing campaign that reaches a mass audience hoping to make a connection, ABM identifies key targets and markets custom campaigns against a very narrow list.
ABM identifies high-value prospects at specific companies. An account based marketing strategy is customized to specific buyers. Marketing messages are targeted at prospects to drive them the various stage of the purchase funnel. These messages are value-based. In other words, they aren’t trying to push products, they provide valuable information for your target customers that can help them discover your brand. Email, websites, blogs, social media, guest posts, trade journals, and platforms are used to deliver that value.
When you understand how to identify your potential customer and then develop marketing resources to target them in other ways, you can change the game. This works well in B2B marketing strategies where the sales cycle is long, but sales can lead to high-priced tickets. ABM improves customer relationship before, during, and after the sales process.
Why ABM Works
ABM works because it presents marketing materials to B2B buyers in the way they want. Overt sales pitches only work when the buyer is ready to buy and the offer is great. However, waiting until the buyer is ready to spend is too late. The buying process starts much earlier and develops over time.
These three statistics show the importance of content marketing using ABM strategies:
- 68% of B2B buyers prefer to research online independently before making any contact with salespeople
- 80% of economic decision makers prefer to get company information from articles rather than advertisements
- 90% of B2B buyers report that online content has a moderate to major impact on their buying decisions
Overcoming Top Marketing Challenges
In a survey of more than 6,000 businesses, marketers identified generating traffic and leads and proving the ROI of marketing activities as their top challenges.
What are your company’s top marketing challenges?
SOURCE: State of Inbound
- 63% Generating traffic and lead
- 40% Proving the ROI of marketing activities
- 28% Securing enough budget
- 26% Identifying the right technologies for our needs
- 26% Managing our website
ABM is an effective way to attack the two biggest challenges marketers have. Effective account based marketing generates more targeted leads that convert than other forms of marketing. That’s because account based marketing tactics attract the right kind of leads.
97% of marketers surveyed agree that ABM has a higher ROI than other marketing activities. More than two-thirds of ABM marketers report their programs delivered improved sales and half of those say it made “significant improvements” in revenue. They also reported an increase in the amount of the deals they closed.
ABM nurtures customers over the life cycle of their journey which means it goes more than generate revenue. It also enhances reputation and relationships. This translates into trust, which is one of the key ingredients in sales. Sales simply don’t happen unless there is a trust.
ABM targets the right customer. Inbound marketing strategies helps these customers find you.
Highly Trackable Results
Aligning sales and marketing efforts on target accounts can yield big results. During the prospecting phase, potential customers are pre-qualified. This means they have both the need for the product or service you are selling and the means to pay for it.
Unlike many other advertising and marketing campaigns, the success of account based marketing tactics is easy to track. You know exactly who the prospects are, how they were targeted, and what generates a response.
Developing An ABM Framework
Developing your ABM framework means following a selection and marketing strategy.
- Select your target accounts and pre-qualify them
- Research your target accounts, including key account information, specific contacts, and key market trends
- Identify key objectives for each account, such as brand awareness, engagement, trust-building, or conversions
- Develop your account plan for each potential customer with a timeline for delivery and channel of delivery
- Create personalized content for targeted accounts
- Execute your campaigns
Finally, you need to measure your results against pre-defined goals. After all, any marketing strategy is only effective if it meets your goals.
B2B Marketing Automation
Marketing automation has changed account based marketing B2B sales approaches. In years past, it was an expensive and labor-intensive process. Much of it had to be done manually. Automation can handle much of the process and personalize marketing messages and schedule delivery. It can also be used for content marketing to reach a potential customer at various stages of their buyer journey.
Lead Prospecting When You Can’t Email Them
Evolving privacy rules have made traditional target marketing more complex. For markets that have limited email capability, such as Canada’s Anti-Spam Law (CASL), an account based marketing strategy can be an effective way to engage potential customers.
When you can’t use email as an approach, account based marketing B2B content can reach potential customers.
B2B Lead Generation
Marketing has always been about delivering the right message to the right person at the right time. ABM allows for all three of these things to happen on a regular schedule and deliver qualified leads. It helps nurture customers and build trust. It increases conversions and revenue. Companies using account based marketing report a 28% higher sales-win rate and a 36% higher customer retention rate. It also improves relationships and lifetime customer value.
Riverbed Marketing works with B2B companies that are driven to accelerate their growth. As inbound marketing specialists, we offer a free discovery call to learn about your business goals and show you how we can help. Schedule your free, no-obligation call today and let us demonstrate how inbound marketing and account based marketing strategies can grow your business.