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Account based marketing

Jan 05, 2023

What Is Account Based Marketing?

Account based marketing (ABM) is a B2B growth strategy marketing teams use to target specific customers. Through personalized campaigns that are tailored to individual targeted accounts, the ultimate goal of account based marketing is to maximize leads and revenue with a more personalized approach to outreach.

Account based marketing allows marketers to lean into their creativity and come up with intriguing ways to catch the eyes of their ideal customers. In developing ABM campaigns, marketers can experiment with custom messaging and other creative assets to draw in prospective customers, nurture them, and eventually convert them to customers. 

Another benefit of account based marketing is its measurability. Although ABM campaigns target a smaller subset of prospective customers, they typically result in a better ROI if the customer converts. 

Because ABM campaigns require a heavy lift in terms of cost and effort, they typically are reserved for targeting large revenue and often enterprise-level prospects.

How Account Based Marketing Differs From Demand Generation

Account based marketing and demand generation are two of the most commonly used marketing strategies to build awareness, nurture prospective customers, and ultimately bring in new customers through lead generation. However, there are some differences between the two, and each should be used judiciously.

With account based marketing, marketers are creating demand through new prospects and are hopefully generating qualified leads that result in sales. ABM is a long game and typically requires a lot of planning and effort before executing. With ABM, marketers engage their target customer’s “buyer” with personalized campaigns that speak directly to that buyer’s unique pain points and needs. The focus is on developing relationships with potential customers and fostering trust that may lead to future purchases.

Demand generation involves generating a lot of leads by casting a wider net while also creating demand with existing customers through retention efforts. These leads—also known as marketing-qualified leads (or MQLs)—transfer from the Marketing team to the Sales team once they become qualified. In this sense, these two teams are less aligned than they would be for an ABM campaign, for which they must be in sync.

Despite these differences, both account based marketing and demand generation can be used simultaneously to build lasting relationships with customers, retain existing customers, and generate even more leads. 

Benefits of Account Based Marketing

There are several benefits to an effective account based marketing strategy, including the following.

  1. Consistent messaging to potential customers. Once targeted accounts are identified, Marketing teams are tasked with developing messaging that speaks to these prospects’ pain points and teaches them why the service being sold is the best solution for their problems. When developing a strategy to target specific industries, Marketing teams can craft language that is tailored to these industries and can ensure this messaging is consistent across communications, which also helps during the analysis phase of the campaign. 
  1. Measurable ROI. At the end of a campaign, marketers can use sophisticated software to sift through comprehensive data that can help identify the impact the initial campaign had on revenue and inform future campaign strategies.
  1. A more streamlined sales cycle. With an ABM strategy in place, the Marketing and Sales teams can work hand in hand to develop a marketing machine that targets the right prospects with consistently updated messaging and a clear understanding of each other’s efforts to grow revenue.
  1. Business growth, relationship building. Not only does an effective ABM campaign have the potential to grow revenue, but it also allows an organization to build relationships that can extend beyond the current sales cycle.  

How To Get Started With an Account Based Marketing Strategy

There are three main ways an account based marketing strategy can be conducted as part of a great digital marketing campaign.

  1. One-to-one. In this instance, one member of the Marketing team works with the organization’s internal accounts team to outline a strategy. This is the preferred method for high-value accounts that require personalization and customization.
  1. One-to-few. One Marketing team member will work with anywhere from five to 15 accounts that are typically dealing with the same pain points and therefore can be targeted with similar strategies and messaging.
  1. One-to-many. One marketer works with multiple accounts that have been selected based on commonalities, as with the one-to-few approach. 

The Components of an Effective Account Based Marketing Strategy

To start building out an effective account based marketing strategy, follow the steps below.

  1. Align your Marketing and Sales teams. It is vital for these two teams to be in sync and informed for a successful account based marketing campaign to take place. Marketing and Sales team members should be transparent in identifying the key customer personas, customizing campaigns to reach these personas, and ensuring the accounts are moved successfully through the customer journey.
  1. Identify and qualify the accounts you want to go after. To build a list of accounts to target, you may want to either conduct extensive research into your target market or bring in an external agency to do this research for you. From these findings, you’ll develop a set of personas, each of which embodies your ideal customer’s responsibilities, struggles, goals, and tools they need to be successful at their job.
  1. Engage contacts from these accounts. Next, it’s time to identify the people you want to communicate with. This also may be known as the organization’s “buying committee.” These key players are the decision-makers in the organization you’re targeting and will be the ones to advocate for your service when requesting financial approval from their finance department. 
  1. Build your campaigns. Once your personas are identified, start crafting campaigns and creative strategies to create brand awareness and get your audience’s attention. One way to do this is by leaning into website personalization, which has been proven to improve conversion rates by taking the user’s experience with tailored content even further. 
  1. Measure and analyze results. The analysis of an account based marketing campaign is just as important as its launch. Make sure you have adequate data analytics capabilities to be able to sift through each campaign, not only individually but also as an aggregate collection of campaigns with the intention and ability to identify trends over time. 

Go-to-Market Approach: More Tips for Building a Successful Account Based Marketing Program

Building an effective account based marketing strategy requires conscious and careful planning and typically involves these additional steps. 

  1. Outline a messaging and content strategy. Once you’ve identified who you want to target, it’s time to build messaging and content that speaks to this audience’s specific pain points. Through a targeted email campaign, social media, or website personalization, marketers need to use precise messaging and keywords to attract the attention of future customers as well as the SEO capabilities of search engines.
  1. Keep messaging consistent. With a targeted campaign toward prospects of a specific industry, for example, marketers can rely on a consistent messaging strategy that is tailored to the needs of the customer but doesn’t sound like a one-size-fits-all sales pitch. 
  1. Identify the channels you want to use. To effectively target your ideal customer, you need to know where they’re looking for business. Once you know where they’re shopping, you can be sure you’re optimizing the right channels to get the message in front of them.
  1. Focus on building and nurturing relationships. The ultimate goal of an ABM campaign is to convert prospects to customers, but in the process, marketers should focus on the relationship-building piece of the strategy. Consumers tend to buy from people they trust, so providing consistent, personalized information to prospects is the surest way to help a prospect feel confident that you know what you’re talking about and that your service is the solution to all their problems. 

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