Isn’t every B2B marketer talking about account-based marketing these days? Maybe you’ve heard all about it, but you just don’t know how to make it happen, or maybe you just need a little more clarification on a missing piece in the puzzle.
It’s time to clear the air and break down why B2B companies should be implementing ABM, and then learn the five steps of how to put it into practice.
What are the Benefits of Account-Based Marketing?
So, you’re interested in account-based marketing? Great! Although the concept may seem daunting, the benefits can be very rewarding for your company.
Here’s what makes ABM valuable:
ABM allows you to create and implement a personalized digital marketing approach.
- Since you’re getting to hand pick the companies you’d like to do business with, it’s the perfect way to customize your approach based on your target company lists. You can use personalized content and visuals that speak directly to the needs of your audiences in the key decision-making roles through various ABM tactics.
Finally, you can achieve alignment in sales and marketing.Since ABM is focused precisely on the companies your sales team is targeting, marketing and sales work in tandem by choosing the right strategies to fit audience needs as you nurture them through the pipeline. The dream of shorter sales cycles can become a reality with ABM.
- Since ABM allows you to target and market directly to the most attractive accounts that are the best fit for your organization, you cut down on time prospecting and qualifying the wrong accounts. Plus, the hyper-targeted content will enable direct connections to decision makers within your target companies by identifying the right roles.
Increasing efficiency and effectiveness in the pipeline leads to increased ROI.
- ABM helps you cut down on lost time due to chasing poor-fitting accounts, which allows marketing and sales teams to focus on accounts with the highest potential and educate them on your company’s products and/or services. From there, you can expand trusted relationships rather than everything feeling like cold outreach.
Bottom line: if you’re in the B2B marketing space, account-based marketing is likely a good fit for you if you want to scale.
How Do I Start Account-Based Marketing?
We’re so glad you asked. Account-based marketing can be very complicated, so it’s important to break it down into manageable steps so that you can move forward effectively.
Let’s uncover 5 steps to make it happen:
1. Set Goals and KPIs in Advance
Always start from the end and work backwards. If you don’t know where you want to go, you’ll have no clear path to success.
Think about how much you’d like to scale and what you’re willing to put in to get there. Make sure you have the infrastructure to scale effectively in your teams and processes.
A great way to determine key performance indicators (KPIs) is to set SMART goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Are you looking to close 5 new accounts in the next year, or 50? Are you trying to increase revenue by a certain percentage?
Make sure you have your plan in writing and that your internal teams understand the necessary steps to accomplish your goals for marketing and sales alignment.
2. Identify High Value Accounts + Contact Roles
Here’s where the brainstorming and planning gets put into practice. Does your sales team have a wish list of companies they’ve been wanting to close for months or even years? That’s a pretty good place to start, but make sure you size them up and qualify them effectively before you add them to your official list.
How to create your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP):
An ICP meets all the requirements of an ideal client for your organization. This could include company size/revenue, number of employees, geography, industry, and more.
Just because a company seems to meet all of your ICP requirements doesn’t always mean they’re a good fit, but specifying those factors will be a huge step in navigating the waters. Make sure you do a check to qualify them early in the process once you narrow your list.
The number of accounts in your list can vary widely depending on your goals and capacity. Learn about the three types of ABM and which one is best for your company to help you decide.
After you create your ICP or target account list, you’ll need to identify what contacts are the decision makers for your product or service.
Your salespeople likely already know who they sell to, so make sure you’re aligning marketing and sales throughout this process. It might be someone in the C-Suite, but don’t forget to think about other titles that will be influential in the decision-making process. Big ticket deals are typically decided by committees, not individuals, even if one person is signing the final papers.
Make a list of all the potential buyer roles, as well as influencers or blockers who might be part of the process. You’ll want to include them in your strategy.
Once you know who they are, you need to get to know them. Ideally, you should have a buyer persona profile built around each of the main stakeholders and influencers to be effective in your marketing and sales processes.
3. Create Relevant Content Around Buyer Personas
This is where you really put on your strategy cap and map out the buyer journey. Since ABM campaigns are built specifically to target your ideal accounts, you have the perfect opportunity to cater all content to their needs, and eventually educate them on how your solutions are the best fit.
You can do that through a variety of mediums, including paid advertising, email marketing (automated and personalized), webinars, videos, blogs, personalized web and landing pages, and more.
Most importantly, you need to organize your content by funnels (top for awareness, middle for education, and bottom for decision making) so that you don’t overwhelm your target audience by asking too much too soon.
Be sure to stay on trend and focus on topics that matter to your target accounts. If you’re providing them with relevant, helpful information that will help them succeed with solutions that you offer, they’re going to trust you more in the sales process.
It’s easy for companies to get in a rut of using old, stale content. Perform an audit of what you have so that you can revitalize it or add new pieces that make it more relevant for your audience right now. You can also update it slightly based on each role you’re targeting in various ad copy, etc.
Be consistent. It’s tough when you don’t see results immediately, but with time and the right ABM strategies in place, you’ll see results.
4. Execute Your ABM Program
It’s easy to get caught up in a whirlwind while you’re running ABM campaigns because there are so many moving parts. That’s why you need to keep your campaigns close, but your KPIs closer!
Be sure you’re making the most of your time and resources by monitoring your spending and making sure that your budgets don’t get completely sucked up by the largest accounts. Hint: if the fish is just too big to catch, it might not be worth investing all of your resources right now. Start with what you can handle and grow as you go.
It’s imperative to have an effective ABM tech stack, including a marketing automation platform, customer relationship manager, and effective distribution channels to put it all into action.
5. Measure, Analyze, Optimize, Repeat
Account-based marketing is never about setting and forgetting. You have to stay on top of what’s happening in the process by measuring and analyzing campaign analytics. Then, you can recognize what’s working and what’s not to learn from shortcomings and optimize for success.
You should pull reports on a regular basis (typically weekly or more often if something just seems off), analyze what’s happening, and make decisions for next steps based upon your findings.
Check out a few ways to do this:
- Try A/B testing with one element at a time, like trying two different sets of copy for CTA buttons or changing a visual to personalize more to a specific role in the company
- Update your cadence in your emails or blogs
- Switch up how often the sales team reaches out with a personal message or call
Every campaign is different, and every account within it is different. The more you get to know the process and your targets, the more effective and personalized your ABM process will become.
All signs point to this: ABM is the wave of the future, and the benefits are worth the work! Just remember that there are amazing resources, platforms, and partners out there that can get you going if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Ready to get into the nitty-gritty of how ABM can solve business challenges?
Find out in our guide: 5 ABM Challenges You'll Face and How to Solution for Them