Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is getting popular in the B2B world. When compared to other marketing initiatives, recent surveys have found that “ABM delivered the highest Return on Investment of any B2B marketing strategy or tactic.” Armed with this information, you probably want to get your own ABM plan up and running ASAP – but don’t jump into ABM without developing a solid strategy. Where should you start when developing an effective ABM plan? What are the effective account-based marketing strategies?
Account-Based Marketing. What is it?
According to the Information Technology Services Marketing Association, ABM is defined as treating individual accounts as markets in their own right.
“A structured approach to developing and implementing highly-customized marketing campaigns to markets of one, i.e., accounts, partners, or prospects. This approach involves marketing and sales taking a close look at key business issues facing the target, mapping them to individuals, and tailoring campaigns to address those issues.”
Based on a survey by Zoominfo, ABM is very effective when it comes to increasing revenue and predictability, as 96% of the marketers surveyed attributed their marketing success to ABM. However, it’s a relatively new strategy, so it’s vulnerable to more than a few pitfalls.
The core idea is to create a completely aligned sales and marketing process that builds relationships with a very specific and very targeted set of accounts. There are many fundamentals to consider such as account planning and mapping, sales-and-marketing alignment, offers, and metrics. In this post, we want to explore effective tactics to use with your account based marketing strategy.
Planning on integrating Account-Based Marketing into your demand gen mix in 2019? 7 effective account-based marketing strategies in a B2B to consider:
1. Develop prospect-specific offers.
One key to account-based marketing is relevance and personalization. There are likely a small number of target accounts in a typical ABM program so campaigns and offers need to deliver high conversion rates. One idea is to personalize content marketing efforts by creating offers that are built specifically for a particular target account. For example, I once recommended to a social analytics company that they use their analytics to create 2-3 page social reports on their prospects. When reaching out to Walmart, they would send the “Walmart social media effectiveness report”. Most potential buyers feel compelled to open that report because it’s so personalized and valuable.
2. Identify the channels and tactics.
It is necessary to drive the target results. Again, a multi-channel, integrated approach is likely to be most effective. Possible channels for ABM include:
– Proactive, outbound email and direct mail as a “drip campaign” to the targeted list
– Programmatic display advertising, to reach ideal contacts at targeted accounts via ad networks, perhaps with an account- or industry-specific ad creative
– Paid social advertising on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, via “custom audiences”
– Paid search advertising on Google via the new “customer match” program
– Telemarketing outreach, either scheduled to coincide with campaign “touches” or triggered in response to campaign engagement
– Real-time Web personalization to deliver account-specific or industry-specific content on campaign-specific landing pages or on the advertiser’s main Website.
3. Measuring Your Efforts.
The results of your ABM strategy might take longer to come to fruition than other marketing strategies. However, you can identify small achievements by measuring your ABM campaign’s performance along the way.
If you’ve just started implementing ABM in your prospecting efforts, you can do a comparative analysis to discover which strategy performs better. This will help you identify strengths and areas for improvement. Measurement should take place at every stage of the ABM process, and measurement systems should be indicated in the marketing plan.
4. Aligning Sales and Marketing.
For the most part, marketing and sales teams tend to operate independently. Marketers focus on lead generation, so they care more about quantity, whereas salespeople focus on lead conversion, so they care more about quality.
Make sure that the objectives of each team are directed towards a common goal. If it requires alignment meetings every week to avoid confusion, then make it happen. Plan out your Service-Level Agreement (SLA) between the teams, so collaboration becomes an official business.
Based on a survey by SiriusDecisions, 24% faster revenue growth and 27% faster profit growth over a three-year period can be achieved by B2B organizations if they have a unified sales and marketing strategies.
5. Identifying Target Accounts.
After the solid foundation of your ABM plan has been set, it’s time to identify the key accounts you want to target. The best place to start is for sales and marketing to meet and discuss the characteristics of ideal customers for your business, with defining characteristics like industry, size, location, previous purchases, and annual revenue. In addition, identify the job titles for each potential buyer you’ll reach out to.
Once your targets have been outlined, use the criteria identified to pull lists of companies and contacts from your marketing automation platform, CRM, social networks and company websites.
When you plan the development of your ideal target account, be sure to gather input from both your sales and marketing teams so you have a more holistic view of your ideal customer from a range of different perspectives.
6. Thinking Too Big.
Keep in mind that there are some things account-based marketing can’t do. For example, it isn’t nearly as scalable as mass marketing because of the research and personalization requirements. If you think too big too soon and roll out ABM to hundreds of accounts at the same time, you’ll end up overwhelming your sales/marketing teams, and losing control over the process.
ABM works best when it’s rolled out slowly and implemented over time. Make your plan and start out with just a few accounts. Once you get used to the process and start seeing positive results. You can begin to extend ABM implementation to the rest of your accounts.
7. Create a One-To-One C-level Campaign.
Organizations can assign employees the responsibility for cultivating relationships with specific buyer personas at their target accounts. C-level to c-level outreach is an effective tactic for this. Assign the CEO to the CEO or another c-level executive to his/her peer at the target account. The campaign can start with an email from this person and could follow up with a phone call.
The outreach should be personal, real, and mention the business reason that these executives should connect. The organization should support all aspects of this campaign including writing the message. An inside salesperson can follow up via phone to the executive’s admin to try to set up the meeting.
After assigning the c-level executives, organizations can then assign VPs, inside sales reps, and marketing to prospects at target accounts. The goal is to try to match relevant employees with the prospect’s relevant employees.
Wrapping It Up
Account-based Marketing is a hot new trend. It shouldn’t be undertaken and invested in. But as part of an integrated, cohesive demand generation mix, one that blends both inbound and outbound tactics, ABM can play a key role in driving opportunities at high-value accounts.
These ABM challenges and issues can all be prevented, or at the very least reduced, by a thorough knowledge of your account-based marketing principles. If you have a comprehensive plan that takes into account the potential challenges you might face, you’ll be able to develop contingencies and even find opportunities to improve various aspects of your ABM process.
If you want to know more about account-based marketing strategies for pharma executives, click here.