In an age of digital transformation where everyone is online and connected, it’s a very exciting time for marketers. It’s brought to light innovations, new channels, and new strategies — but also new challenges.
Consumers are inundated with digital communication. The daily number of business emails received and sent in 2019 was 124.5 billion — yup, you read that right, billions! To cut through the noise and maximize communication with potential and current customers, brands have to be competitive.
This means providing their audience with a consistent, relevant, and memorable experience.
That’s no easy feat. But turning to a customer-first, account-focused strategy known as B2B account-based marketing (ABM) can help. There’s a reason why 92% of marketers believe that ABM is essential to B2B marketing.
What Is Account-Based Marketing (ABM)?
Account-based marketing isn’t some new technology sweeping the B2B world, but rather a reliable strategy that calls on collaboration between marketing and sales teams. Together, they create a customer experience-centric approach offering more targeted, personalized opportunities.
Instead of casting a wide net broadly over potential buyers, B2B marketers are focusing their valuable resources on specific accounts they have targeted as being a good fit for the services and products that they offer. ABM also involves identifying the key players in each account to ensure the message is being received by those who have the power to make the buying decisions.
Why? Because it works. Research from the Altera Group found that 97% of respondents reported a much higher ROI on their ABM campaigns, rather than waiting for ideal buyers to come to them.
How is ABM Different from Inbound Marketing?
While account-based marketing seeks to proactively identify businesses that would benefit most from your product or service, inbound content marketing seeks to bring interested companies directly to your sales team by developing content and resources tailored to their needs. They are not mutually exclusive and can certainly be executed together. We actually recommend you pair them together to get the best return on your investment.
When you do, it allows for highly-targeted and efficient resource allocation of high-value accounts, helping you attract a broader group of prospects than you would if you were implementing just one of the two methods. But for purposes of this guide, let’s learn a bit more about the benefits and tactics of ABM.
What are the Benefits of Account-Based Marketing?
There are several key benefits to implementing an account-based marketing strategy, starting with the list below that are specific to the B2B community.
Align Sales and Marketing
For a collaboration to be successful, everyone has to align on a common goal. Because ABM requires focusing on target accounts instead of individual leads, marketing teams end up speaking the same language as their sales counterparts, creating alignment between the two.
Why is this important? Research has found that organizations with tightly-aligned sales and marketing divisions had 36% higher customer retention rates and achieved 38% higher sales win rates. This helps ensure consistency through all communications, interactions, and content for those accounts — creating a better customer experience.
Create Personalized Customer Experiences
Speaking of a better customer experience, ABM isn’t blasting content to a broad, uninterested audience. Instead, ABM requires researching accounts and designing personalized campaigns to deliver a better customer experience. In the U.S., 88% of marketers reported seeing measurable improvements due to personalization. It makes sense when you look at what consumers want. Eighty-one percent of consumers want brands to get to know them and understand when to approach them and when to back off.
ABM is about long-term relationships that often last several months or even years. It’s about consistency. It’s about rapport. It’s about making every single account feel like they’re your only account, which will keep them engaged and excited for what’s next.
Improve Customer Relationships
When it comes to ABM, it’s cliche, but also true: “quality over quantity.” It’s better to focus on a carefully-chosen group of high-value accounts instead of throwing a wide net over less-qualified leads that might never close. Instead of finding more leads, you’re taking the time to find the right leads.
We promise, the approach really works. Eighty percent of marketers say ABM improves customer lifetime values, while 86% say it improves win rates. As a result, your company earns more customer loyalty, and those customers become spokespeople for your brand. This is especially important given that Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) has increased by 50% over the past five years. Even more, increasing customer retention by 5% can increase profits from 25-95%.
Effectively Measure Your Return on Investment
Everything you do as a B2B marketer is about results, which is why ABM is so effective — it allows you to clearly measure return on investment with the accounts you’ve been nurturing. As a result, you have a better picture as to whether or not certain accounts you’ve invested in are beneficial for your business.
And because data is at the root of all effective measures, it should be noted that one in five accounts targeted through ABM becomes considered a qualified sales opportunity. Not only that, but 87% of account-based marketers say that ABM initiatives outperform other marketing investments.
Best Practices: How to Implement an ABM Strategy
Account-based marketing isn’t complicated, but it does require a new way of thinking and a strategic approach to increase your chance of success. Below, we share three strategies to consider when implementing ABM.
Create an ABM Team
In 2019, 40% of the average marketing team was dedicated to ABM. The first step in implementing an ABM strategy is to get those key company players on board with the various factors related to your ABM strategy. Because ABM campaigns are multi-channel, this involves coordinating your campaign with the right people involved with those different channels.
This will look different for every organization but often involves identifying the head of ABM, project managers, field and digital marketers, and sales reps that will be dedicated to different accounts. At a minimum, your team should include one marketer and one sales rep who is solely dedicated to the accounts you work with. This makes it easier for your business to create consistent experiences for those different accounts and ensure your strategy is as efficient and streamlined as possible.
Define Your Strategic Accounts
Once you have your team in place, it’s time to define the key components of your target accounts such as industry, company size, location, annual revenue, upsell opportunity, and profit margin. This will involve a mix of qualitative and quantitative research from strategic leaders and customer-facing team members to determine key high-value accounts — and the data to back up those decisions.
There are many ways to do this, including:
- Using LinkedIn to set search alerts for your ideal strategic accounts.
- Looking deeper into the major companies and leads who have engaged with your content, but not yet become an account.
- Analyzing successful past accounts and defining those characteristics to identify similar customers you have yet to reach out to.
Develop Personalized Content and Messaging
Once you have your target audience, create content that speaks directly to them and addresses their specific pain points. It’s more than just a simple message, and to be effective, your team must work together to create a cohesive plan. This means that design and sales teams collaborate to ensure uniformity and consistency with messaging, all while making sure it’s visually engaging and also communicating the right (targeted) messaging.
Because the message is personalized to each specific account, it will speak specifically to them — increasing the chance of a conversion. This is key, given that “80% of consumers are more likely to purchase a brand that provides personalized experiences” and that companies using advanced personalization “report a $20 return for every $1 spent.”
Choose the Most Effective Channels
It does no good to identify high-value accounts and create effective messaging if you’re sending that messaging out into the void. You must understand where these key accounts spend their time online, and what their state of mind is when they’re on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Take some time to engage with them on social media and see where your efforts are yielding the best results.
From there, you can tailor each campaign to appeal to specific organizations, as well as titles within those organizations. Personalizing that content to reach those high-value accounts will help you to elevate brand awareness and maximize relevance among audience members.
The caveat is that you don’t want to bombard them with repeat messages across multiple channels. Instead, strike a balance and provide education about your business. Communicate one-on-one when possible so they know you’re taking the time to get to know them — and their pain points — instead of treating them like a number. Consider email sequencing to enhance all communication — marketers who used segmented campaigns noted as much as a 760% increase in revenue.
How to Measure and Optimize Your ABM Campaigns
A campaign is only as effective as the results that it yields, so it’s critical that you monitor success at first 30 and then 60 days to see what gaps exist so changes and adjustments can be made.
There are several different key performance indicators (KPIs) that can be used, and while they will vary depending on your industry and company, they may include:
- New contacts added to an account
- Account engagement rate
- Reach within an account
- Sales cycle length
- Net-new revenue
- Closed deals
- Customer retention
In addition to KPIs, take the time to ask your team a variety of questions, such as:
- Were targeted leads effectively moved down the sales funnel?
- Was the personalized messaging effectively received? If so, how did they engage?
- Are you increasing the number of contacts within these high-value accounts?
- How much revenue did you gain within each campaign?
- What adjustments need to be made going forward?
Once you have the answers to these questions and a solid set of data points from your KPIs, you are in a better position to make adjustments — if necessary — that can help you improve not only your conversion rate but your bottom line.
Create an ABM Solution with Beacon Digital
Are you ready to move forward with an ABM solution? At Beacon Digital Marketing, our typical engagements involve a strategy session from which we produce an implementation plan for your review and approval. Based on the specific components where we can assist you, we’ll craft a custom service package to meet the challenge. Even if you don’t know where to begin, we can help get you started.
We support and integrate with a variety of technological solutions, and are here to create a custom quote for your ABM campaign today!
Account Director at Beacon Digital, Dan Seitz generates massive leads – and ROI – for clients, combining art, science, and a healthy dose of charisma that makes his job look easier than it is. Dan previously served as Director of Strategy and Planning for Hawthorn Creative, and as a Digital Marketing Strategist with Geary LSF and Seacoast Media. Dan knows a strategy is only as good as it can be executed and measured, and he’s done almost every job in the book: email, digital display, marketing automation, social media, paid search, print, and subscription/download campaigns.