Table Of Contents
- What is Account-Based Marketing ?
- Key Benefits of Account-Based Marketing
- Is ABM Inbound or Outbound Marketing?
- Is Account-Based Marketing A Good Fit For Your Business?
- Is Your Business Account-Based Marketing Ready?
- 10 Steps to Running An Effective ABM Campaign
- Software & Tools For ABM Management & Automation
- 4 Key ABM Metrics to Measure For Success
[VIDEO] Why ABM is a game changer
Account-Based Marketing is one of the most effective marketing and sales strategies for lead generation, customer acquisition and client engagement for businesses who sell their products, services and solutions to other businesses.
ABM’s biggest benefit, when combined with an Inbound methodology, is that it gives businesses the greatest ROI (Return on Investment) on their marketing spend.
The power of ABM is centred around the inbound principles of being human, holistic and helpful to a buyer. The idea of aligning the efforts of sales, marketing, operations and service teams together around the same goals to connect, engage and nurture relationships with “best fit” target accounts.
What is Account-Based Marketing ?
Account-based Marketing is a focused growth strategy in which Marketing, Sales and Service collaborate to create personalized buying experiences for a mutually-identified set of high-value accounts.
It’s sole aim is to target specific business sectors or verticals, within a defined geographic area and identify a Target Account List of 'good fit' companies within that vertical - for example, a list of 200 Electrical Engineering companies within the United Kingdom. This list is your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).
The next step is to identify the key people or Buyer Personas within each of those companies. You’re looking for the decision makers and the circle of influence around them. - usually 4 or 5 people within each company. You then connect and engage with each of these people.
Every modern business that works to sell products or services to other businesses can identify who their best customers are, this can be financial i.e revenue based or it may simply be the customers who they best serve, these are classed as “good fit” companies for that business.
Make sure you check out our Free Account-based Marketing Resources to help you get started.
The ABM platform Terminus defines ABM as:
“A focused approach to B2B marketing in which marketing and sales teams work together to pursue best-fit accounts (i.e target accounts) and turn them into customers”
This is where ABM kicks in. ABM a laser-focused strategy through which your marketing and sales teams use highly targeted and personalised campaigns to connect and engage with individual target accounts, decision makers and individuals that have been identified, as opposed to campaigns that are meant to appeal to an entire market.
Your marketing team can then create digital insights, content, events and even entire campaigns based around specific people associated with that account, rather than the industry as a whole. So ABM helps you create a singular view and focus heavily on the people you want to specifically work with instead of a broad lead generation focus.
At DME, we call this approach “fishing with a spear not a net”, a human, holistic and helpful inbound approach to B2B marketing that pulls the right people into your business and allows you to naturally help them along their buyers journey, as their trusted authority with insightful, valuable content that positions you as the natural solution to their pains.
The Key Benefits of Account-Based Marketing
There are several benefits to using Account-Based Marketing alongside more traditional inbound marketing and sales approaches.
The 6 key benefits are:
Marketing & Sales Personalised To Your Individual Audience
In many B2B transactions, there are multiple decision makers and stakeholders involved, each with slightly different needs and questions to be answered. An ABM approach ensures that your marketing campaigns are designed to resonate with those specific people and for it to feel like each individual’s needs are being met.
Predictable & Transparent Return On Investment
As marketers, one of the biggest challenges is proving return on investment (ROI).
“67% of Chief Marketing Offices have trouble proving ROI from their marketing efforts.”
However, when you are marketing to companies you have already established a relationship with, it can be far easier to attribute revenue to marketing campaigns.
For example, you spent £1500 on an industry-level marketing campaign for three months, targeting businesses in London. At the end of that three month period the sales team closed eight new accounts each worth £3000, and two are companies based in London. You could claim that your £1500 marketing campaign had helped to generate £6000 in new business, but there is no way to know for sure.
With ABM, you know exactly where your marketing budget is going and the revenue you stand to generate from your campaign. It makes marketing much more transparent and encourages greater investment.
Focuses Time On High-Yield Marketing Campaigns
Account-based marketing not only gives you a more transparent ROI but it also ensures that you are not spending valuable resources and time on campaigns which are giving no clear business value.
Investing in ABM makes the marketing team more robust during slow periods or a seasonal slow down in engagement from a wider audience. It evens out peaks and troughs that broader campaigns can give to your marketing efforts.
“91% of businesses that use ABM have indicated a larger deal size, with 25% stating their deal size being over 50% larger”
Your marketing campaigns are continually being optimised, with a 'feedback loop' from Sales, Service and customers supporting an evolving marketing campaign that is engaging and shares relevant content with different personas, who have different pain points within the target accounts.
Reduces Sales Cycle Time
The biggest negative with non-ABM marketing is the focus on lead generation that, even with an Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) criteria in place, will be handing the sales team a number of leads that simply won’t close into customers.
The result is that the sales team need to spend time nurturing these leads or eliminating them from their pipeline if they don’t respond to their outreach. This is simply a waste of resources that could be better employed elsewhere.
With ABM, your sales team isn't forced to deal with this situation as often, as more qualified leads are generated because the target account is more likely to have people who want to hear from you.
This allows your sales team to cut back on the time they spend nurturing leads that won’t become customers - and spend more time on the ones that will. This in turn reduces the time between first connect call and closed sale.
Strengthens Your Relationship With Existing Customers
Customer retention is vital to your business growth. It’s therefore important to appreciate that good ABM is not just for lead generation or finding prospective new customers but also a superb approach to client engagement and customer nurturing.
Your customer service and support team are at the heart of customer retention, but effective ABM also pulls in your marketing and sales teams to contribute to strengthening the relationship with each individual client, at every contact.
Networking with more people across a client’s business, opens up opportunities to deliver additional solution content that is targeted to new challenges and needs. This nurtures relationships but also greatly increases the chances that the customer will renew their contract at the end of the term, or that they’ll refer other businesses to you.
Drives Natural Alignment Between Your Marketing, Sales and Service Teams
As discussed earlier, the relationship between your Marketing, Sales and Service teams is critical in aligning how your business markets and sells with how your modern business buyer researches and buys products or services.
Traditionally, Marketing, Sales and Service existed in their own ‘silos’, rarely talking to each other.
Marketing focused on the ‘top of the funnel’, raising awareness and interest with potential customers, driving lead generation.
Sales focused on ‘middle of the funnel’, closing these leads and customer acquisition to produce revenue.
Finally, Service and Support focused on the ‘bottom of the funnel’, responsible for customer retention and hopefully turning a few happy clients into advocates for your business.
Effective Account-Based Marketing naturally aligns all teams. Marketing knows exactly who they are marketing to and provide a volume and quality of leads to the sales team. Sales can feed back to marketing the questions and concerns they are hearing from prospects. And Service can send out surveys and provide feedback, customer testimonials, reviews and case studies from customers to support marketing and sales.
Is Account-Based Marketing Inbound or Outbound Marketing?
As discussed above, the traditional marketing and sales funnel focuses on you building awareness to multiple people in a market at the top of the funnel. Progress down the funnel thins this number, until only a few finally make a purchase.
The ABM approach flips this model on its head. First, you identify your ideal customer companies, then connect and build relationships with multiple people within those companies, engaging with each contact where they are most active with messages and content that they want. It’s then possible to leverage the customer relationships you nurture to create advocates for your brand to drive referrals and additional business.
ABM perfectly complements the Inbound philosophy of being a holistic, data-driven approach to marketing and sales, and that is built around attracting individuals to your business and converting them into lasting customers.
Modern business customers hate feeling like they are being sold to. It is therefore essential that your marketing provides value, answers buyer’s questions and does not simply push products and services down people’s throats.
ABM and Inbound Marketing strategy should be used together, with lists of target accounts being marketed to alongside inbound leads which supplement those accounts.
The inbound mentality of personalising the experience means that emails, websites, and calls-to-action have to be personalised for each target, especially when you’re trying to attract and connect them with your brand.
ABM and Inbound Marketing strategy should be used together, with lists of target accounts being marketed to alongside inbound leads which supplement those accounts.
Is Account-Based Marketing A Good Fit for Your Business ?
ABM is a good fit for the majority of B2B businesses, but not all. Does your business fit any or all of the following criteria?
In our experience the best fit businesses for Account-Based Marketing have:
• A Large Sales Team: Higher revenue B2B businesses with three or more sales people in their team benefit the most from an ABM approach.
• A Long Sales Cycle: Businesses with a product or service that has a long sales cycle i.e More than two months.
• A Considered Purchase: Businesses where it is a considered purchase, involving a complex buying decision with a number of decision makers in that process.
• A High Product/Service Value: Businesses with higher value products or services achieve higher ROI from ABM.
In summary, your product or service will have a higher price point (Average Contract Value) that requires sign-off and is not a simple purchase with a credit card.
We would also expect a high customer lifetime value (LTV) and the need to talk to a salesperson throughout the sales process.
Industries which benefit the most from an ABM approach include manufacturing, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, robotics, agricultural machinery, technology and software businesses.
Is Your Business Account-Based Marketing Ready ?
So, you’ve decided that ABM is the perfect strategy for your business. Let’s now spend some time looking at whether your business is ABM ready and, if not, what steps you need to take to be in a position to leverage ABM campaigns.
Answer the following questions to determine if you are ready for your first ABM campaign:
- Do you have a Target Account List created ?
- Can you create meaningful targeted content and insights ?
- Do you have Marketing and Sales Alignment in place to include sales enablement, to help sales close deals ?
- Do you have a documented sales process ?
- Do you have clear definitions of a lead MQL, SQL and Opportunity ?
- Do you have the technology, tools and automation in place including CRM, Marketing and Sales automation, social media, content distribution, analytics and data analytics tools ?
- Does your website clearly convey the value you bring to prospects and is it optimised for conversions ?
- Do you have the patience for investing in a long term ROI strategy ?
It is important that you can answer yes to these questions before moving on to your first ABM campaign.
You can also use external expertise to get you ready for ABM. Our marketing experts at DME can help you plan out your ABM Strategy and support you in it’s execution including campaign creation, content engagement, content offers, social media management and internal team coaching. So, get in touch here: firstname.lastname@example.org
10 Steps To Running An Effective ABM Campaign
You now know that ABM is a great fit for your business and have gone through the steps required to get ready for your first ABM campaign. Let’s now spend some time looking at the steps for executing a successful ABM campaign.
Account-Based Marketing consists of 10 essential steps:
1. Identify: Create your comprehensive Target Account List
The starting point for any ABM campaign is the creation of a ‘Target Account List’, ensuring that this is as comprehensive as possible. This is one of the biggest challenges we see with companies who may be a good fit for ABM but are not ABM ready. The time invested on your Target Account List ensures a more successful campaign.
DME Tip: A Target Account List is NOT simply listing every business or company in your target sector or vertical.
When we work with businesses, we start by identifying the Total Addressable Market (TAM) by vertical/sector.
We then define the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and use this to create a Target Account List from that vertical/sector, only selecting companies that are a good fit for our pre-determined criteria. To make this selection we assess companies using a ‘Good Fit Matrix Tool’ also identify those companies with the highest potential for return.
2. Research: Get insight & knowledge on your target accounts
Once we have our TAM and ICP identified, we need to identify the people within these companies who form the Decision Making Group (DMG), or the main people involved in the buying process.
Use LinkedIn company pages and personal profiles, visit their websites, use Companies House records and social media to get a feel for each of your target accounts and their key people, events and goals.
3. Understand: Create your 3 – 5 key Buyer Personas for each person in the DMG
Once identified, we create Buyer Personas for each of these people to segment your audience.
As marketers and business developers, we are looking to get into the mind of the buyers and understand the buying journey they are going on. The goal is to get the right message in front of the right buyer at the right time.
4. Connect: Choose the most effective channels to connect
Choosing the right channel to connect with potential buyers is key. In the modern connected world, this could involve connecting on multiple channels and platforms, including social media such as LinkedIn and Twitter, website, telephone, email and even visiting offline events such as networking or trade shows.
Remember to be human, holistic and helpful when you connect – do not sell!
5. Engage: Make every touch point remarkable
Create solution-based content that answers your buyers questions, fears and concerns at each stage of their buying journey. This helps you to build trust and authority and supports buyers as they move along their buyers journey to making an informed purchase decision.
Share your digital insights and content in line with where the prospect is on their buying journey - and also make your content relevant to their position in the company.
6. Explore: Focus on the buyer and their pain points and goals
Take the time to explore and help the buyer with their challenges, pain points, gaps and concerns. Always be helpful and offer valuable advice - you’re not selling your services or products but instead are helping them to make the right decision.
Understand their specific goals, timescales and financial impact as well as the personal impact on them in terms of their professional/career aspirations.
7. Advise: Help the buyer understand all the solutions available to them
Once you understand the buyers main challenges and goals, it is time to use content to help and advise them on the range of solutions available to meet their goals and overcome their challenges.
When you share valuable content you become the trusted resource and advisor. The buyer then returns to you again and again, to answer their questions and concerns and eventually to ask you how you can help them. By providing value and building trust you have naturally opened the door to talk about your solution.
8. Present: Introduce them to your solution and address any objections
The sales team now do what they know best, preparing a solutions presentation and proposal, but in the knowledge that the majority of the normal objections have already been addressed in the previous stages of the process.
At this point you can re-visit the goals and challenges, tailoring a solution to meet all the buyers needs.
9. Measure: Record your results
The key to any successful marketing campaign is the metrics you have identified to indicate success or failure.
Ensure you have set up analytics to measure a number of key areas:
Traffic Metrics: Is the campaign actually attracting more traffic to the right areas of the company website. If so, is this traffic people from your target account? And where is this traffic coming to you from? Organic search? Paid search? Social media?
Conversion Metrics: Are you converting these visitors into contacts in the CRM? What is your most successful conversion content and what is not working? What are the key lead sources that are working for your campaign?
Nurture Metrics: How many of your leads are in nurture workflows and moving towards conversion into customers.
Sales Metrics: What is the conversion rate from leads to customers?
Revenue Metrics: What is the average order value? Are existing customers buying more through upselling or cross-selling? How much revenue has been generated from the target accounts?
Service Metrics: What is the retention rate? What feedback and surveys are being completed? How many reviews have been left? How many referrals have been generated?
10. Optimise: Optimise every element of your campaign to increase effectiveness
The final part of the process is to analyse the data being generated at every stage of the campaign to identify what is working, what isn’t and what needs to be done to improve performance.
Leveraging Software & Tools For Successful ABM Management & Automation
The growth in digital tools and software has enabled businesses to leverage marketing and sales automation and measure the impact of every stage of their ABM campaigns.
So, take the time to look at your ‘Tech stack’ and add some of the following tools to increase the effectiveness of your ABM marketing campaigns.
Some of the software we recommend you invest in includes:
- Customer Relationship Managment (CRM) Database Platform: Personalising the user experience and tracking every conversation, touchpoint and engagement is vital to the success of ABM. We use HubSpot - https://www.hubspot.com/ - an all-in-one CRM, Marketing, Sales and Service platform specifically designed for growth.
- Content Management System (CMS): A powerful content management system for the managing of your website, your blog, calls-to-action, landing pages, content delivery as well as communication tools such as chat bots. The HubSpot CMS has been designed with all the above in mind.
- Social Media Tools: Social media is vital for connecting and engaging with the right people. The tools to manage Twitter and LinkedIn are therefore critical to your success. However don’t limit the use of these tools to organic posting of content on social media. You should also use them to manage paid campaigns and lead generation on the social media platforms. LinkedIn also offers valuable tools such as Sales Navigator, to allow deeper research into your target accounts.
- Video Marketing Tools: The power of effective ABM is the bespoke user experience it can provide to potential buyers. When used to connect and engage leads and prospects, video allows you to truly personalise the content that is being presented.
Video is not solely reserved for the prospecting and awareness stages of the buyer’s journey, however. It can be used at every stage, focusing on solutions at the consideration stage, making further appointments to move a prospect along the sales process and to share testimonials and case studies at the decision or selection stage.
We recommend software such as Vidyard - https://www.vidyard.com/ - or Wistia Soapbox - https://wistia.com/soapbox to use for simple videos that can also be embedded into emails or even LinkedIn messages.
- Reporting & Analytics Software: If you can’t measure it you can’t improve it! Having accurate analytics and tracking software is crucial to the measurement and optimisation of your ABM campaign, to identify what is working and what needs improving. Again, HubSpot has all of these analytics built into its platform.
4 Key Account-Based Marketing Metrics For Success
The availability of analytics tools and software means that every element and stage of your ABM campaign can be measured from end to end. So, where do you get started with ABM metrics and reporting on your ABM campaign success?
“86% of marketers rate measurement as critical to their success when transitioning to ABM metrics and strategies”
Research by TOPO
One of the biggest challenges to success for ABM campaigns is Marketing and Sales alignment around goals that are more revenue-focused and less lead focused. This is a difficult shift in thinking for many marketers who still feel lead generation is their main objective, with customer acquisition and revenue the responsibility of sales.
However, there are better metrics to measure that give the marketer more credit, and that focus on quality engagements over quantity of output.
The following metrics should be at the heart of your ABM campaigns, as you grow your own account-based practice and gain buy-in from across your business.
1. Engagement of Target Account List metrics
You should start your ABM campaign with a list of accounts that you know are a good fit and are ready, or will soon be ready, for a conversation. That means your first goal is to get those target accounts engaged with your business and sales team.
Tools such as HubSpot or Terminus let you accurately measure initial engagement i.e the number of targeted accounts that have visited your site.
DME Tip: Use the free Prospecting Tool in Hubspot: In the free HubSpot CRM, you can use the Prospect tool to track IP Addresses for target companies, even if they are not yet a contact in your data base. A great way to show that your campaign is hitting the right accounts.
However, this is only the start. With CRM, marketing and content analytics, you can go even deeper to measure the number of contacts within your target accounts that have made multiple engagements with your digital insights, content, website and social media - and you can lead score these contacts to identify the best opportunities.
Remember that all of this traffic is pre-qualified, as it is coming from the accounts you have already identified as good fit accounts.
2. Marketing influence on sales pipeline & revenue metrics
With most sales pipeline software, such as HubSpot, Pipedrive, Salesforce or Terminus, you can create a potential value for each deal within the pipeline, but also measure the influence of digital assets, marketing activity and influence from specific ABM activity i.e. which blog post, landing page, email or content offer drives the most leads that convert into revenue.
Focus on the marketing activities, content and digital assets that show up time and again in successful deals. At what stage of the sales process are they effective? How can you can use this information to get the right content introduced at the right time in future deals? By working in this way, you get a true comparative measure of how your marketing programs impact revenue.
3. Acceleration in Sales Cycle Velocity metrics
Shortening the sales cycle gives real competitive advantage in most sectors. It enables you to edge competitors out of the sales process, maintain momentum with buyers and close more valuable deals.
Shortened sales cycles require less resources. You’ll also discover new ways for sales and marketing to work together and as you work alongside your sales team in a sales enablement capacity, you’ll identify the content that is most likely to impact deals.
4. Existing customer marketing & cross-selling metrics
Measuring the increasing value of deals and the average contract size is an indication of how well your ABM campaign supported opportunities to introduce more value into the sales process, as well as how good a fit the account is for your highest-value products or services.
For example, you could double the value of a deal with an existing customer by uncovering an additional need. This is as good as acquiring a net new target account.
By setting up metrics to track Annual Contract Value (ACV) across different cohorts or marketing programs, you’ll be able to zero in on opportunities to use marketing content or other channels in a laser-targeted manner, ensuring every customer you serve has full-visibility of all of your solutions.
There you have it four key Account-Based Marketing metrics that will tell you how well you are doing. By focusing on these areas, you will uncover more opportunities for high-revenue-impact activities, and focus on what really matters to your business growth.
If you are struggling to identify the key metrics for your campaign, then let us help you to find the metrics that matter to your business.
Let's Get Started On Your ABM Strategy
As you can see, when broken down into predictable steps, Account-Based Marketing strategy is built around identifying those ‘good fit’ target accounts then using Inbound Marketing principles to attract, engage, convert and delight new and existing customers.
Simply focus on identifying those “good fit” target accounts, then use effective inbound marketing tactics to connect, engage and attract them to your business.
At DME we are experts in helping B2B business to grow better, through Inbound Marketing and Sales tactics that work.
We can help your business to plan and execute your next Account-Based Marketing campaigns to drive 20 – 30% year on year growth in traffic, leads, customers and revenue.
Simply get in touch and let’s talk about your business growth goals.
Let's talk about your business growth
If you own, run or work in a B2B business and are looking to grow your business leads, customers and revenue by 20 – 30% over the next 12 months, then let’s have a 15 minute chat about your goals, challenges, gaps and timescales. Unlock the true power of inbound marketing, sales and account-based marketing.