The Beginner’s Guide to Account-Based Marketing

The Beginner's Guide to Account-Based Marketing

If you are a B2B marketer, you probably spend a lot of time coming up with new ways to reach the right prospect, with the right message, at the right time. Account-based marketing, in essence, is a technique in marketing that was born out of necessity. Account-based marketing is generally used by B2B companies to maximize their marketing efforts with their existing customer base. Overall, it is a technique that has proven itself to be extremely effective time and time again.

Although ABM has been in use for many years now, it is seeing a renewed rise in interest lately. This can be directly correlated with the rise of new technologies in marketing like targeted display advertisements, marketing automation, and other digital tools that help make ABM much more effective.

ABM, however, is much more than just a technology that is more cost effective and simple to implement. It also requires in-depth strategic guidance and planning from a dedicated marketing team in order for it to be effective for your business.

There is no single one-size-fits-all ABM strategy that can be applied to all organizations and scenarios. What you do have, however, is a specific set of guidelines that you can follow in order to develop an ABM strategy that works for your company.

What is account based marketing?

The Information Technology Services Marketing Association or ITSMA has a reasonable claim to having coined the phrase “account-based marketing”. 

They define it as: Account-based marketing or ABM is a structured approach to implementing and developing a highly customized marketing and sales campaign for single prospects, partnerships, or accounts. You can deepen and broaden your relationships with individuals with important accounts by treating each of your clients as a market of one.

This ultimately increases the demand and awareness for your solutions and services as well as leads to generating greater revenue and more strategic sales. Experts agree that ABM can actually be considered “old-school.” 

As long as there have been companies and people trying to sell to them, there have been account-based marketing campaigns. However, they also claim that the reason it has reached a high level of popularity over the last few years or so is that fresh resources and new technology have allowed marketers to scale in entirely innovative ways.

Marketers are simply getting faster and smarter than they were just a few years ago. They have better marketing tools at their disposal which is why they have been able to make the best use of ABM

  • ABM is the hottest topic in marketing

There is a rapid rise in the searches for the term “account-based marketing” in the last year alone according to a quick search in Google trends which means that there are a lot of people talking about it.

In fact, there have been a lot of data providers and vendors that are now shoehorning the phase into their list of capabilities. You could probably even spend a week doing nothing but attending ABM webinars!

The Fundamentals of ABM

  • ABM treats all accounts as a market of one

Successful marketers that have used account-based marketing have embraced an end-to-end view across the entire journey of the buyer and across all channels. Some call this process of addressing each prospect account or company as a “market of one.”

Traditionally, automated campaigns for marketing are targeted to a large group of people who all share similar characteristics (like coming from the same department or having the same title) at a wide range of companies.

Doing it this way, you might find yourself sending one email to 500 directors of IT at 500 companies, hoping that your general IT-focused message is good enough to get some of them to reply.

  • ABM is personalized to each decision maker

You think about the needs of all the influencers in the company if you treat all accounts as a market of one. What does the CFO care about? What about the IT director? Does the Vice President of marketing have a say in the budget for IT? ABM looks at all the decision makers in a company, not just one general persona that is spread across many companies.

This approach makes it easy to truly understand each individual within an account. Because ABM focuses on providing value for their customers, it is worth taking the time to make your pitch relevant to a relatively small but highly valued group of key people. This is the way to go if you want to target prospect companies with the highest potential.

  • ABM is suited to the needs of your customers

75 percent of executives will read marketing materials, even unsolicited ones, that contain ideas that may be relevant to their business, according to ITSMA. It can be safe to assume, therefore, that the percentage of people that read unsolicited materials that are not relevant to your interests are at or around zero. You probably even know this already just looking at your own inbox.

ABM encourages the marketers that use them to do the hard work of making sure that they engage their clients in a hyper-personal way. It is highly likely that your email will not work if the subject line does not immediately address the needs of a decision maker. Smart marketers that use ABM do not just rely on targeting the titles. They would always personalize their message to a specific persona at a specific company.

Don’t just settle for something as general as promising your clients that you are going to drive more business for them, but rather, aim at how you can solve one specific problem a particular area or department may have.

  • ABM encourages an alignment in marketing

One group in your marketing department might be deciding what content should be used for paid lead-gen campaigns. Another separate group might be creating your e-books and blog posts.

Your field marketers are probably planning roadshows and events while your product marketers are creating solutions documents and product sheets. The PR team in your company may then be pitching stories to industry publications.

The point is, you should ask yourself: Are all of these efforts aligned around one recognizable, clear message? If they are not, then they should be.

  • ABM forces marketing and sales alignment

Account based marketers always try to transform disconnected audience behaviors into true account-level insights by making sure that their sales teams already know what questions they should ask. Aligning marketing with sales during planning your accounts is one of the most important ways to transition into ABM.

It also helps to align marketing with sales as you map your accounts in order to identify quality targets, and then focusing on the leads that align with those accounts with priority. Marketing and sales need to agree on the engagement strategy for accounts, meet daily to check on progress, and align with the metrics for success in order to make ABM work.

Traditionally, metrics that are lead-based like impressions, lead volume, and traffic present challenges in ABM. Since these figures do not necessarily correlate to revenue, many of the leads that have been generated are not targeted. ABM is not just about getting more leads, but rather focusing on the right ones.

A few of the best ways for a marketer to measure success in ABM can include the number of key relationships with contacts, acceleration of pipeline, reduction in the sales cycle, number of accounts identified, and ultimately, a reduction in the revenue cycle.

All of these require that marketing and sales work together and ultimately align.

Named accounts

  • What is a named account?

Traditional marketing and sales strategies focus their efforts on chasing leads. At first glance, this seems entirely logical. You need to generate leads in order to make a sale after all. But pursuing one lead at a time is probably not the most effective strategy to employ, which is why smart marketers focus on named accounts.

Named accounts refer to a single company account that is assigned to either a sales or marketing rep. That single account itself may contain several potential leads within the organization. Essentially, named accounts are the building blocks of a focused marketing effort.

Aside from making your operations more streamlined, named accounts also tend to be ready to buy and more engaged (or hotter, to put it in sales terms). You can be confident that the leads resulting from named accounts will be interested in what you have to offer once you identify the needs of your customers.

  • Named accounts for use in ABM

Named accounts require an even more careful approach when it is for the purpose of ABM. According to industry leaders, putting together a list of a hundred accounts and then throwing them against the wall is not truly ABM.

A list of named accounts for ABM needs to include more than just the contact information of the leads. You need to have an insight into those accounts in order to build a targeted value proposition. You also need to understand the issues regarding their business each account is facing on a specific level in order to show the decision makers how you can help them solve it.

Another thing to consider when you are doing ABM is that you are creating a marketing plan that is specific to an account and that you are integrating it with the sales plan. In other words, they are all integrated and the marketer becomes a part of the account team.

Focusing on named accounts can improve efficiency in two ways:

First, the vast majority of companies will have multiple decision makers in a modern B2B environment. Therefore, it is important for you to first identify all the relevant decision-makers and build your marketing and sales strategy accordingly instead of switching from one lead to another.

Secondly, it reduces the possibility of reps duplicating efforts and stepping on each other’s toes. There is no point in assigning two people to sell to the same company.

Employing Account-based marketing with Consensus

By now you should be asking yourself, “Why should I employ ABM?” This question can be answered with one statistic from Forrester Research: less than 1 percent of all leads can turn into customers that generate revenue.

More and more marketers today are going after the same target market using the same tactics. Traditional email marketing worked well until the spam filters and legally-required unsubscribe options started being enforced. It is even harder with more organizations bypassing email communication altogether by using internal messaging tools.

Content marketing also worked well until everybody started doing it. The days when you could own a particular phrase or word on the internet just by publishing good content about that term are gone. While inbound marketing still works for a lot of companies, it is just not bringing in the results it once did.

  • Companies who employ ABM tactics from Consensus see real ROI

Marketers who adopt account-based strategies from Consensus are more likely to be successful and competitive than their peers who market solely to individuals. According to ITSMA, 84 percent of B2B marketers say that ABM delivers a higher ROI than any other approach.

At Consensus, we work very hard each day to help our customers improve and achieve buying consensus. Both large and small companies have used our technologies to solve even the largest challenges in B2B sales. Not only that, we also specialize in other services that focus on sales automation and sales enablement.The one thing which we can all agree on is making technology the best it can possibly be for our customers. Click here to learn more about account-based marketing and other services Consensus offers so you can drive agreement and drive sales today!

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