What is ABM?
Account Based Marketing, or ABM, is a major trend in the marketing world, especially for B2B companies. The principle is simply this: when you know that a few key accounts would create a stable base for your company’s revenue through large contracts, you focus on those key accounts. You target marketing toward them, you get the sales teams to build deep relationships with them, and you refine your approach as you continue to establish greater and greater brand loyalty.
ABM is no flash in the pan: reports from the Information Technology Services Marketing Association already indicate that 84% of businesses trying ABM are achieving a greater ROI than they did with other forms of marketing. Read on to see why this method works, in spite of casting a “smaller net” than more traditional marketing approaches.
Why Would You Want to Practice ABM?
Practicing ABM is good for ROI, but it has other advantages as well. The first is that it allows both marketing and sales to devote serious time and personalization efforts to the high-value clients who could really impact your bottom line. Clients like to feel like they are more than just a number to you, but what is more important is that it sometimes takes serious work to simply find the right person who can truly make a switch for an entire company, bringing you an enormous purchase order.
Another reason to practice ABM is if you have long suspected that your sales and marketing teams are out of alignment and need to work together. ABM has core components that only work if your sales and marketing teams are in constant communication and share the insights they gain. In fact, according to Bizible, as many at 40% of companies that implement ABM attribute greater alignment between sales and marketing to the ABM switch.
Why ABM is Gaining Traction Now
As competition ramps up for SaaS companies as well as other B2B companies, there is a shift toward Account Based Marketing Strategy. In some ways, it is a return to a simpler time: with so many options available, the companies you want as clients are turning to whoever can offer them the best experience in the marketing and sales journey, as well as the most comprehensive support afterward as they decide on implementation strategies. Greater competition means that you really need those high-value clients to build your business over time. Nearly all the metrics available show that this strategy is bringing in better leads, reducing costs per conversion, and increasing ROI, but now is the time to get into it: there are enough successes to show the power, but only 20% of companies have had a full ABM program for more than a year.
There is also an ever-evolving understanding of what makes for a great buyer’s journey, and ABM allows marketing and sales to innovate together, learning what high-value clients care about by getting to know them well and soliciting honest feedback. If you want cutting-edge information about buyer preferences, you have to know your key accounts well.
Who Does ABM Benefit and How?
While nearly any company can find a way to implement ABM strategies, B2B companies in industries where they can provide their services to just a few high-value clients and thrive stand to benefit the most. This strategy doesn’t work as well if you rely on many, low-value clients because it becomes incredibly resource intensive quickly. However, small-scale aspects of the ABM process, especially where automation is concerned, can be helpful to any company in need of a reimagined marketing and sales strategy. With digital marketing help, ABM can be incorporated even when parts of the personalization process must be extensively automated.
How to Establish an ABM Strategy
The basic steps to a great ABM strategy include:
- Do Research to Find the Strongest Key Accounts Possible. ABM hinges on doing enough market research to identify the places where your service or product would be implemented on a broad scale, if they chose to switch to you. This also can include discovering whether those companies are happy with their current providers, don’t have a provider yet that truly meets their needs, or other key metrics about their work.
- Tailor Marketing Efforts, Through the Whole Funnel, to Those You Want to Reach. Especially for top-of-funnel lead generation, this can be the places where ABM feels the least similar to other marketing efforts. However, realizing that you can focus on the channels where you are most likely to find the key accounts is actually very liberating: rather than trying to market to everyone in a segment, you get to become incredibly specific in your efforts. If other sales come from these efforts, that’s great, but your focus is to get the information you need to reach key accounts.
- Pass all Information From Marketing to Sales. Marketing and Sales should, ideally, communicate no matter what your marketing strategy may be. However, with ABM, all those insights that marketing got in order to pinpoint the key accounts must be passed on to the Sales team in order to reap the benefits of these budding relationships. This way, sales people who get the right person on the phone to seriously discuss a purchase will already be well informed.
- Allow Salespeople the Time and Energy to Form Strong Relationships. Sales and Marketing representatives will still incorporate excellent personalization strategies, from chatbots to personalized email campaigns, but when someone reaches out to learn more, ABM dictates that you do whatever you can to delight the potential customer, to really deepen a lasting relationship with them. This means not disappearing once you make a sale as well; insight from after the sales process is just as important!
- Convene Marketing and Sales to Share Customer Feedback. ABM gives its best dividends after you have worked through the whole process a couple of times, because every time you land a high-value client, you know more about what makes those kinds of clients happy. Marketing and sales need to share information again at this point so that marketing can further refine their top-of-funnel efforts to get more of those types of high-value clients.