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Account Based Marketing (ABM): just another buzzword or the key to B2B marketing success?

05/07/2017

The world of B2B marketing is littered with buzzwords and ABM, or Account Based Marketing, is one of the latest ones. It’s a concept that involves marketing to one account with a focus on revenue instead of lead generation.  Is it just a fad or an essential method that is here to stay?

 

What is ABM?

ABM is an alternative B2B marketing strategy which focuses on one particular account and is closely aligned with sales objectives. ABM sees marketing and sales efforts concentrated on key prospect accounts with personalised campaigns created specifically for each account, focusing on the collective decision-making process characteristics of B2B buyers. Simply put, it is a one-to-one approach rather than a one-to-many.

With 90% of B2B marketers acknowledging that ABM is either important or very important (SiriusDecisions), it is something that you need to consider, now.

 

How is it different?

The key difference between ABM and other marketing strategies is the metric. Typically in B2B marketing our key metric is lead generation. We focus all our efforts on generating new leads for the sales team to pursue, but if these leads don’t convert, then it is a waste of resources.

With ABM, the key metric is revenue. Rather than creating opportunities for sales by generating leads, ABM sees marketing work with sales to focus on specific accounts and grow revenue from these existing accounts as well as new sales. With this fundamental change to focus on revenue, a shift in mindset is needed for both B2B marketers as well as other stakeholders throughout an organisation.

 

True customer engagement

ABM requires more account-level personalisation than traditional marketing, allowing you to engage with customers earlier in the sales process. By appealing directly to individuals in a long sales cycle, you will increase engagement and receive a better response from your customers. You can target them efficiently depending on their account and crucially, where they are in the customer and decision-making journey.

ABM requires you to specifically target the decision makers within a company allowing both marketing and sales tactics to come together, resulting in better conversion and customer relationships.

As B2B marketers, we need to take on a critical role in developing intelligence on key accounts.  Only by truly understanding an individual account’s business, customers, industry, challenges and opportunities can you implement ABM successfully, something we at BCM Agency can assist you with.

Using our extensive experience and research, we provide key insights into the market place and business of your target audiences, so that you can better develop your ABM approach. Experts at simplifying the complicated, we simplify the complexity of understanding not only your market, but that of your customers.

ABM is particularly suited to B2B marketing, as HubSpot's Corporate Marketing Manager explains "Part of its goal is to address the needs of an organisation by connecting with all of the stakeholders within it. That's one reason why it works so well in B2B – often at times you have to work with five or more stakeholders in a given sale."

We have all probably been using some aspect of Account Based Marketing without realising it, such as personalised emails and automated marketing, but now is the time to focus on it and incorporate it into your overall B2B marketing strategy and plan.

 

The benefits of ABM

Over the last year or so, ABM has grown into what many consider an essential B2B marketing strategy and more and more companies are producing very successful results from using it.

ABM’s unique focus requires marketers to concentrate their resources efficiently, running programs and strategies specific to an account and optimising results. There are many benefits to adopting an ABM approach, including:

  • Clear ROI – due to its focused approach, ROI is easier to measure and calculate using ABM. According to the Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) 84% of businesses said that ABM delivers higher ROI than any other type of marketing.

 

  • Efficient use of resources – due to the targeted nature of ABM, marketers will focus their resources efficiently. Rather than generating leads, your focus will be on the key accounts that will produce the most revenue. Once identified, you can ensure optimal use of resources to target and develop marketing content and initiatives specifically for these accounts. This increases the efficiency of your B2B resources as well as building clear communication channels for aligned sales and marketing tactics.

 

  • Bridging the marketing/sales gap - aligning sales and marketing is key to any successful marketing activity in a company to ensure growth. It is something that as marketers we strive for, but something that can still elude us. ABM is proving to be one of the most efficient ways to ensure this alignment with a survey from Bizible stating that marketers who use ABM are 40% more likely to report alignment with their sales teams compared to marketers not using ABM. This is due to ABM changing the marketing mindset to that of a sales mindset - thinking about specific accounts, how to target and communicate with them, bring them together and ultimately increase revenue from them. 

 

  • Knowing what works – whilst measuring ROI is critical, it is imperative that you know which individual tactics work and perform well. Adopting an ABM approach concentrates your efforts on analysing the effectiveness of each component and tactic of your marketing strategy, and many technology platforms ensure that you can clearly see this in real-time, adjusting your campaign elements as necessary. This will enable you to show that not only has marketing increased revenue but actually attribute a measurable contribution. 

 

  • True personalisation – ABM works to differentiate your marketing by creating focused messaging that is specific to individual accounts, ensuring that your messages are solely focused on areas that are of interest to these customers which leads to increased engagement. For a successful outcome, you must personalise messaging for the individual decision maker and help move them through the buying journey.

 

  • Retain and expand key accounts – an ABM approach can increase revenue with existing customers, and also enable you to retain and expand key accounts. 85% of marketers said in a Marketo survey, that ABM provided significant benefits to retain and expand existing client relationships. 

 

Is ABM the key to B2B marketing success?

Many seem to think so and, over the past year, there has been a 21% increase in the number of companies that have a full account based marketing program in place (SiriusDecisions), showing that it is an approach which is being widely adopted.

It clearly seems to be a proven way for B2B marketers to align with sales and build targeted campaigns to drive revenue within specific accounts, and it helps companies to be viewed as trusted partners.

However, it is important to remember that ABM is another B2B marketing strategy and marketing tools and tactics are still needed to support it. ABM, whilst valuable, cannot be a sole strategy and it is not intended to, and nor should it, replace your other marketing initiatives which generate brand awareness.

Do you have the right marketing strategy in place? Let’s talk ABM.