Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategy is the number one go-to strategy for business to business service or product providers in the world. Forget simple inbound marketing strategies which focus on building buyer personas. Then using targeted messaging to attract more of those types of business.
An account-based marketing strategy is far more defined and targeted. Choosing specific companies to target with mini business-specific digital marketing campaigns. Each company becomes a digital marketing campaign in its own right. Treating each business as an individual account maximises the opportunity to convert them.
This is achieved by learning as much about the company. Research it's C-suite and it’s problems as you can from the news, blogs and social media. So how do you get started?
How to identify your target companies
Treat each individual target company as a marketing campaign in its own right. Break down the target company into the target departments. Target each department selectively and identify the individuals within that department.
Research the company across blogs, news and LinkedIn. Assess the key issues facing that company and look for content you own or you have found to open lines of communication.
Use tools like Linkedin Sales Navigator to start following your target company employees in the news on LinkedIn. This enables you to respond with your own company blog posts or articles that you have found elsewhere that solves a pain point. You will also be there to congratulate them on the positive news that surrounds your target company.
How to begin your ABM strategy
To begin we suggest you practice this on your existing customer accounts by combining the efforts of your sales and marketing teams. Identifying the messaging and content that enables you to upsell your current clients can form the basis of your go-to-market ABM campaign strategy.
Remember, the aim of your team is to test their marketing efforts on current clients. So that when you target new accounts, there is less margin for error. Some of the things you need to consider are:
- Developing offers specifically designed for each individual target company
- Developing sales offers structured to get you a meeting or a trial demo
- Adopt a retargeting strategy on paid marketing spend
- Personalise the experience on your website for each unique company using smart content
- Ensure your sales team are aligned with your goals and ambitions, look at the location, language and time zones when defining the strategy
- Use social proof in your communications and social listening to advance your sales strategy
- Replying to their status updates, when you have something valuable to add
- Sharing their content and re-tweeting anything that’s also useful for your audience
- Joining groups or Twitter chats they’re involved in
- Sending a direct message to them through the platform—although usually, this step works best once you’ve begun to develop a relationship with the help of the other steps
- Build lists of key decision-makers within the target companies
- Assign individual sales reps to particular decision-makers with an ambition of cultivating personal relationships with gatekeepers and admin staff to ensure follow up meetings etc get booked and more relevant highly targeted content is distributed at the right time
- Find connections that aren’t within the sales teams - try using the team link feature on LinkedIn Sales Navigator
- Ensure maximum personalisation on all channels including email, chat and social
- Use target companies in your content if they are relevant, a good way to open lines of communication is to highlight target accounts in your content
- Send highly customised targeted gifts to open doors
- Invite them for lunch or to events you feel could be relevant
But wait there's more!
This list isn’t exhaustive but I have shared enough tips there for even the most strategically challenged to kick off. But is it enough to get your sales and marketing team focused on only targeting the business you want?
Account-based marketing facts
Sometimes we read great articles that seem to promise the ultimate results and champion reducing the standard inbound strategy from wide to narrow. However, this may not go down so well with your head of sales or marketing in practice. You may need to provide proof that your ABM strategy can work, so we found you some facts to back it up.
- 70% of B2B marketers are ramping up ABM specific programs, with having staff dedicated to account-based marketing. In 2015, only 20% of companies had AMB programs in place.
- And according to ITSMA, about 85% of marketers who measure ROI describe account-based marketing as delivering higher returns than any other marketing approach!
- Effective ABM drives clear business results. In fact, compared to other marketing initiatives, the 2014 ITSMA Account-Based Marketing Survey found that “ABM delivers the highest Return on Investment of any B2B marketing strategy or tactic.”
- In fact, research from the Altera Group found that 97% of respondents reported that ABM had a somewhat higher or much higher ROI than other marketing campaigns.
What are the facts?
So the facts speak for themselves, that is pretty obvious, but facts don’t prove success will happen for you. Therefore what else should you digest and relay to your senior management teams to get ABM adopted?
- Forget personas it's about companies, not individuals - well mostly
- Measure and share your results across your organisation
- Clear ROI
- Reduced resource waste
Because ABM is so targeted, it allows marketers to focus their resources efficiently and run marketing programs that are specifically optimised for target accounts.
- It’s personal and optimised
Account-based marketing tactics entail personalising your messaging and communications to specific accounts so that your campaigns resonate with these target audiences. Targeted customers are more likely to engage with content that is geared specifically to them, and is relevant to their business and stage in the buyer journey.
- Tracking goals & measurement is clear
When you’re analysing the effectiveness of campaigns, whether email, ads, web, or events, it’s easier to draw clear conclusions because you look at a smaller set of target accounts instead of a vast set of metrics.
- Sales Alignment is Easier
ABM is perhaps one of the most efficient ways to align sales and marketing. This is primarily due to the fact that the marketer running an ABM program operates with a mindset very similar to sales—thinking in terms of accounts and how to target them, bring them to the table, and generate revenue from them.
- 75% of customers say they prefer personalised offers - Research according to Aberdeen
- Record explainer videos and thought leadership videos - Vidyard
Further account-based marketing strategy
So far I have covered what you need to do, what you need to consider and how you prove the value of ABM strategies. But how do you apply it? How can you hyper personalise the messaging and offers for your target accounts? And what is the best technology to help deliver this?
Firstly you will need a prospecting document. An account-based marketing strategy needs to be well documented and have a team-focused approach. The last thing your business needs is a rogue salesperson trying to buck the trend with ad hoc activities that go against the new culture.
Marketing automation for ABM
So first things first. You will need a marketing automation platform. Choose Hubspot for its all-around capacity to monitor all of your digital channels. If you aren’t too focused on your blog posts performance and email is more your choice than either Pardot or Marketo.
Ideally, you will set up independent landing pages that contain sequential automated emails off of the back of highly personalised offers. Either that or you can use Drift. Drift is the leading b2b chat marketing and sales platform as noted on software review site G2 (formerly G2 crowd).
In addition to the marketing automation platforms, you will need paid advertising budget and this does not mean Google Adwords. You need to use Linkedin Paid ads.
Paid search advertising for account-based marketing campaigns
The core theme of any ABM marketing strategy is to hyper personalise the marketing and sales messages. By doing this you can personalise a number of different offers to each company increasing the opportunity to convert.
Firstly sign up for the campaign management tool. Choose your objective and then create your target audience. If you haven’t already defined your buyer personas, then download this free ebook.
Once you have defined the personas that you are targeting within the business, choose your ad format. Choose from sponsored content, sponsored InMail, text ads or dynamic ads. Then set your bid and budget, format your creative and enter your billing details.
Creating the best account-based marketing strategy ever
Now that I have given you a rundown of the tools how should you set the strategy up?
Firstly, you set up individual landing pages in Drift, one for each target company. You can also do this in Pardot or Marketo as they allow you to build landing pages. But for real success, you need to think beyond the landing page. As we know, landing pages convert between 2.5% and 5% on average so they are a bottleneck in your campaigns.
Using Drift and keeping the conversation going
If you know Drift or are already using the platform you are well aware of its capacity to manage on-page conversations and LiveChat. You may also know that you can create landing pages or put chatbots onto gated or landing pages with forms too.
But are you using the pdf pages to their full extent?
By adopting a position of keeping the conversation going you can keep intent high, drop your sales team into the conversation at the right time and close those new accounts.