So, you’ve heard of Account Based Marketing and want to know what all the fuss is about? Well, you’ve come to right place. In this article, we’re going to outline what Account Based Marketing is and how you can use it in your business.
Account Based Marketing was initially developed to solve the B2B problem of multiple decision makers being involved in a purchase. Rarely is there ever just one sole decision maker in a business deciding what product to buy – there can be anywhere up to a dozen decision makers in any one account.
Account Based Marketing can offer a lot to B2B enterprises looking to improve their ROI. According to research from the Altera Group, “97% [of B2B businesses] had a somewhat higher or much higher ROI than other marketing initiatives.”
Whereas traditional lead generation is akin to fishing with a net, ABM is the equivalent of fishing with a spear. Rather than general broadcasts, you are focused on winning over key accounts. Adjusting to the demands can be difficult at first, but ABM tends to have better results, especially for B2B marketers.
But, how do you know who to contact? How do you personalise interactions with each decision maker? Read on for a step-by-step method to unlocking complex B2B accounts!
HOW DOES ACCOUNT BASED MARKETING DIFFER FROM THE TRADITIONAL SALES PIPELINE APPROACH?
Account Based Marketing may seem a little alien to those used to employing a sales pipeline. Metrics such as the number of qualified leads, prospects and other such demarcations don’t easily fit the Account-Based Marketing model.
One of the biggest differences is that Account Based Marketing is about creating quality relationships with a few key influencers and decision makers, as opposed to playing a numbers game hoping to attract significant numbers of qualified leads. You will also find that, given the low volume of accounts, you will not be able to use traditional funnel metrics.
The longer sales cycles will impact what types of metrics you should focus on. Given your objective is to build stronger relationships over time, engagement becomes an increasingly important metric to use.
Account Based Marketing means that sales and marketing have to work closely together to generate real results. Demonstrating value then becomes increasingly important.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF ACCOUNT BASED MARKETING?
Account-Based Marketing doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch with your existing marketing. So long as your have your executive on board, have a good team of people and are able to align your sales and marketing, you will find that this type of marketing will slot in nicely with your existing marketing strategies.
Big businesses are run by individuals, if you can harness the power of scaled personalisation, you will find that you will be able to develop one-to-one communication quite easily.
Some of the benefits of employing Account Based Marketing is a higher Return On Investment (ROI), better relationships with existing clients, and better alignment between your sales and marketing departments.
STEP 1. FIND YOUR ACCOUNT
Create a list of target accounts and then organise them according to a tiered structure. Once you have your list, you want establish how much of a percentage of your time you wish to dedicate to each tier.
You may wish to have three tiers set up:
- The first tier contains those accounts that you believe are worth investing more time in researching, developing personalised touchpoint and investing in long-term. Tactics may include heavy targeting by sales and significant support. (20-50)
- The second tier might be accounts you see merit in, but are not willing to spend a significant amount time in pursuing. You may choose to use tactics that are less time intensive, such as direct mail and phone calls. (200-500)
- The third tier will be accounts that are in your general periphery but not your focus. General marketing automation and limited personalisation would apply to this group. (2000-5000)
Establishing your list of accounts is a fine balance between art and science. Use any data you have access to to establish the viability of prospects and whom you should priortise.
STEP 2. MAP OUT WHO THE DECISION MAKERS ARE
Once you have your list of accounts it’s time to get started building some generalised personas to represent different members of the teams. Yet again, prioritise these accounts according to key stakeholders, and lower influence team members.
Now comes the nitty-gritty of researching each target account and mapping out their staff individually. Attach your persona profiles to each contact and start building a comprehensive database. Tools for developing this could be LinkedIn, or even going through a data vendor.
STEP 3. RESEARCH THE ACCOUNT
Now comes the time to get research done on the accounts as whole. You will need to find out the following:
- Who their target market is?
- Their mission, vision and values?
- Their culture and agenda?
- The work dynamic within the organisation?
- Are there any existing connections to the account?
This research can come from conversations, surveys, stalking their website and social media or even just general market data.
STEP 4. CREATE RELEVANT CONTENT
Creating content that is going to resonate with your different accounts is the next step. We don’t suggest you create specific content for each account but have a wide range of content that varies in its level of personalisation depending on the importance of the account.
At the higher end of this spectrum is content specifically for one account, at the lower end is generic broad content and in between might be content targeted towards certain industries.
Changing the title, feature picture and headline may be all that is needed to personalise content. If you have the time and see value in a particular prospect, you may wish to spend time labouring over some more specific content.
STEP 5. DECIDE ON YOUR TACTICS FOR INTERACTION
This is where all your hard work and research can finally be put to use. Now you have your accounts, and you know who you are targeting within each account, you can begin to reach out to your prospects.
Account Based Marketing interactions are unique in that you are applying inbound two-way communication and sharing of relevant content to an outbound marketing strategy.
Some tactics you may wish to employ may include:
- Hosting Events – Create, or simply host, business networking events. These events allow your sales team to get direct access to those accounts they are targeting.
- Direct Mail – In a digital world, physical mail is more likely to cut through the clutter. Creating personalised direct mail campaigns to target priority accounts is a great way to open doors.
- Email Marketing – You may have general eNewsletters accounts can subscribe to, however, if you want to build two-way communication, consider avoiding smart looking templates and using more text-based personal emails.
- Digital Advertising – Use retargeting, personalised search and social media paid advertising to get to your audience. LinkedIn, for example, allows you to target your posts exclusively to certain demographics.
- Free Webinars – Host relevant and interesting webinars to get the attention of account-holders. By creating personalised invitations to events you are also able to make a good impression.
STEP 6. PROGRESS YOUR STRATEGY
Now the campaign is up and running, consider what your game plan is going to be. Rather than traditional tactics of broadcasting to a wide net and hoping some stick, you need to be very specific in your planning. Have a marketing flow chart prepared with the list of the different channels and tactics you plan to employ for each account.
There are two things you need to consider when building your strategy. The first is how long you plan to run your campaign for and how often you plan to post. The second is creating a strategy employing a diverse range of integrated channels.
If you are interested in ABM marketing and looking for assistance employing it for your B2B business, please contact The Lead Agency. Our speciality is in generating leads and prospects for your business and building strong, resilient ties with them.
For more information about the impact Account Based Marketing is having on B2B marketing, try reading this article on How Account Based Marketing Is Revolutionising B2B.