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The Ultimate Guide to a Successful Account-Based Marketing Strategy

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Feb 28, 2022

In account-based marketing (ABM), you put your time and resources into a smaller number of high-quality accounts and prospects rather than targeting a whole market that may or may not be the right fit for your solution. This sets you up for taking a hyper-personalized approach that encourages higher engagement, higher quality sales opportunities, and, of course, more revenue. Ninety-seven percent of marketers say their account-based marketing efforts had a higher ROI than the rest of their marketing activities.

Let’s take a look at the 6 steps to building a successful ABM strategy so you can increase your marketing ROI and drive more closed/won sales deals.

6 Steps to Create an Account-Based Marketing Strategy

Step 1: Create Sales-Marketing Alignment

Alignment specifically between sales and marketing is a must in ABM, and that alignment starts at the top. The top leaders for both teams need to be on the same page about the vision and goals for ABM, and either they or the project managers they designate need to ensure that all of the moving parts are consistently in sync. Some of the ways they can do this include meeting on a set cadence with a clear agenda, nailing down strategy and tactics and then revisiting these on a regular basis, and keeping team members accountable for their individual tasks and goals. 

Aligned sales and marketing teams see 38% higher sales win rates from their ABM efforts. Sales and marketing leaders being in lockstep every day is the key to maintaining alignment in your organization and moving your ABM program forward. 


Step 2: Make an Ideal Customer Profile 

Once you’ve secured buy-in with leadership and created alignment within your organization, it’s time to build out your ideal customer profile (ICP). An ideal customer profile should detail specific industries, company sizes, and job titles that are the best fit for your solution, and vice versa. To start, your team will likely look at your current customers who have had the most success with your product or service and select target accounts with similar attributes.

An ICP could look something like this:

  • Company industry: B2B SaaS
  • Company annual revenue: $50M+
  • Job level: Manager+
  • Job area: Marketing that impacts revenue
  • Job title: CMO, VP Marketing, Director of Marketing, Demand Generation Manager, Digital Marketing Manager


Step 3: Segment Target Accounts Into Tiers

With your ICP in hand, you will now segment your target accounts into tiers. When determining which accounts will go into which tier, you’ll want to consider the intent, fit, and prior engagement with each account; for example, accounts with higher intent and engagement that are the best fit for your solution will be your top tier accounts. 

For each tier, marketing will customize its outreach accordingly, either with one-to-one outreach to a top-tiered account, or one-to-many outreach to lower-tiered accounts. Once you’ve broken out your accounts into various tiers, you’ll also want to identify key decision-makers within each account. These are the prospects that you will pursue once the ABM campaign is underway.

Step 4: Develop Buyer Personas

Once target accounts have been segmented into tiers, you’re ready to develop personas or fictional representations based on existing customer data of who the ideal buyer is. Personas include who the person is, their goals, challenges, needs, and influences as well as other defining qualities that will help your marketing and sales teams understand them better. Detailed personas help you think about the best ways to form compelling messaging and ultimately engage your key contacts.

A buyer persona could look something like this:

  • John Smith, VP Marketing, 15+ years of experience in SaaS marketing
  • Goals: Generate more marketing-driven pipeline
  • Challenges: Securing enough budget to hit targets, proving marketing program ROI
  • Needs: More accurate and automated measurement and attribution
  • Influences: CFO, the competition, case studies from trusted brands


Step 5: Craft Personalized Content

After you have built your ideal customer profile, segmented it into tiers of target accounts, and developed personas, it’s time to start crafting personalized content. At this point, your marketing team starts crafting bespoke cross-channel content (e.g. industry or job-specific case studies or webinars) for target accounts and their key contacts. This personalized content should speak to relevant needs and pain points that resonate with prospects and meet them where they’re at in the customer journey with you so they’ll continue moving down the funnel.

Step 6: Capture Data and Iterate Based on Results

The last step is for sales and marketing to work together to identify key performance indicators (KPIs) so you can capture the data needed to make ongoing iterations to your ABM efforts. Some common KPIs you might measure include engagement with your personalized content, leads and sales opportunities generated, conversion rates between sales stages, and closed/won sales deals. 

It’s important to note that this phase is ongoing once a campaign is underway and continues even after the campaign has ended — measuring data from one ABM initiative can help to inform the next.

Implementing Your Account-Based Marketing Strategy

Once you’ve completed the above steps to create your account-based marketing strategy, you’re ready to start reaching out to your target accounts and prospects. This means taking the personalized messaging you crafted in Step 5 and bringing it to life through your chosen channels.

 

Personalized content makes a prospect feel less like a cog in the wheel and more like a coveted part of your business. Consider website personalization, personalized direct mail, and personalized email. However, don’t just choose one or two ABM tactics and silo their use –– instead, consider referencing previous interactions in each message to help your contact connect the dots, so you can seamlessly guide the prospect from one touchpoint to the next and create an experience that resonates with them. Here are 3 channels you’ll want to consider:

Website Personalization

Website personalization is an essential part of your ABM efforts. The last thing you want is to spend time and money bringing prospects to your site only to turn them away because it doesn’t speak to their needs. Make your website a dynamic experience by personalizing headlines, CTAs, and social proof (e.g. case studies and testimonials) so that they resonate with your prospect’s industry, job title, and/or metrics they care about. You can also recognize return visitors by adding personalized messages like “Welcome back!” and providing a relevant CTA that allows them to easily pick up where they left off in their previous visit.

Direct Mail

Even with the rise of digital, direct mail has never gone out of style. Receiving and opening a tangible object leaves a lasting impression on prospects, which is why direct mail is such a popular ABM tactic. Direct mail to B2B recipients has a response rate of 4%, according to PostGrid.

Be sure to carefully consider the timing of any direct mail you send. For example, you’ll likely see more success sending something to a prospect who has just completed a demo versus someone who hasn’t had any meaningful engagement with your company yet. Further, consider using this tactic in tandem with outreach through another channel, like email, referencing back to your most recent engagement with the prospect (e.g. the direct mail you just sent them) and discussing next steps. This increases the chances that you will get noticed and that your prospect will respond.

Personalized Email

Highly personalized emails (and subject lines) that deliver value to your prospects are another ABM tactic that can help you move prospects along to the next stage of the buyer journey. You can leverage different levels of personalization in these emails, sending both one-to-one and one-to-many emails. With one-to-one emails, you’ll be speaking directly to a single prospect’s interests and pain points. With one-to-many emails, you’re still providing a personalized touch to your message, but it might speak to an entire account’s wants and needs rather than a single person at that account. 

Optimizing Your ABM Landing Pages for Continuous Conversion™

When starting your ABM strategy (or revisiting your current one!), remember that your website is and will continue to be a highly frequented resource to your prospects. Your target prospects will inevitably visit your website or landing page throughout their ABM journey and you want to make sure that your site addresses their needs, interests, and pain points. Intellimize can help you do just that.

Intellimize’s Continuous Conversion™ solution uses machine learning to automatically personalize your website for each unique visitor in the moment. As user behavior naturally changes over time, Intellimize automatically learns and adjusts to meet any new visitor preferences. With Continuous Conversion, Snowflake’s ABM team has achieved 60% more landing page conversions.

Request your demo today and see how Intellimize can help you optimize your ABM efforts.