Inbound marketing has been the primary strategy of digital marketing lately. However, we are beginning to see an alternative gaining more respect and growing in the industry: account-based marketing solutions.
ABM is explicitly targeted at high-value companies and can apply some useful strategies to talk to those accounts in a personalized, engaging way.
ABM is essential to increase efficiency in marketing efforts. The primary outcome is the rise in sales and revenue numbers, but also other benefits that we’ll review further in this post.
What is account-based marketing?
ABM is a marketing strategy focused on a set of companies that form an account. Thus, it’s a way of creating very personalized content for those people addressing their pain points, questions, and presenting solutions along the way.
You start a direct conversation with organizations likely to become your long-time customers.
Remembers those companies that you have already campaigned for? You’ve convinced them about your solution by discussing their needs and pain points, right?
So, they just need a little push. That’s the kind of customer you go after with your ABM solution.
If your company goes in that direction, your team will also have to change your perspective. For instance, with account-based marketing solutions, you don’t say lead quality. Instead, you worry about account quality.
Consider those more prominent companies: they usually are targeted with a lot of marketing material, going from content marketing to even other traditional strategies.
But those are generally directed at only one person in the company and it’s not personalized enough. That’s why that kind of content doesn’t engage many of those businesses.
After all, a big company doesn’t make decisions the way small ones do. Each action and choice involves a lot of people who are the stakeholders.
There are a lot of interests, and they need to align them all before committing to a product/service. So, an effective campaign has to consider that scenario.
That’s ABM is primarily objective. With such a strategy, brands can talk to all of the decision-makers, one by one, instead of just addressing the needs of a single business leader or one C-Level.
By talking to all of them, you increase your chances of aligning them into a buying decision. You can get them on the same page, that is considering your solution.
But to do that, you have to be specific. ABM is about personalizing your content, limiting your vision to focus on some targets, and that means pointing directly at them.
Since you’re making a more significant effort to engage business, through all of their stakeholders, the sales cycle is way shorter than it usually is.
Then, you can produce interactive content, for example, to actively engage those businesses and get them to cross-sell or up-sell.
It can be an interactive e-book, with a visually attractive design and interactions that seem like a dialogue between you and prospective customers.
In terms of ABM, there are three different kinds: one-to-one, which is the brand going for a personal conversation with only one organization, one-to-few, which is campaigning to a broader audience, and also one-to-many, which considers more companies.
How is ABM different from inbound?
Since we’ve started talking about inbound marketing, let’s compare the two in the following paragraphs.
You are probably used to inbound solutions. They’ve been the main thing in the business since marketers discovered the potential of the digital world.
However, inbound has taught marketing professionals to think about volume and quantity, at least at first.
For example: when they begin with a campaign or a content strategy, the goal is to attract as many prospects as possible.
That’s not wrong, though: that’s how inbound funnel works. You get a lot of people at the top, then narrow the list down to a few that are interested in your product or service.
That implies there is a lot of effort to bring those prospects in, so they can be filtered afterward. At the bottom, only remains those who are a better fit.
Differently, ABM starts with a list of customers that are most likely to buy from you.
That means: instead of a wider audience, you talk to a small group since the very beginning. So, the filtering process happens before the strategy even begins, and that helps your company be even more effective and achieve marketing goals.
In other words, ABM focuses less on quantity and more on getting prospects whose needs match your solutions. You don’t need an awareness phase to be known by many people.
Instead, you go direct-messaging those who may be valuable to you.
Of course, one approach is not necessarily the opposite of the other and there’s not a better one. Both can be applied together.
You can use inbound stages to find names that matter to your business, and then you can talk to them using an ABM perspective.
What are the benefits of an account-based marketing solution?
Now it’s time to review some of the benefits of account-based marketing solutions.
Less resource waste
If you want to increase efficiency, ABM is the proper solution. With those strategies, your brand will reduce the waste of resources and ideas.
That is because the actions and approaches will be specifically directed towards names that represent a better fit.
It’s not like talking to a more extensive set and then hoping that some of them will respond. Instead, the teams use their energy to turn the best opportunities into actual customers.
A better strategy for a specific audience
As we mentioned before, ABM is about targeting accounts in a more personal way.
So, your personalization improves as you conduct more research on those companies you want to sell.
The marketing teams will have to reflect problems and pain points of all decision-makers and consider every critical aspect of the organization as a whole. So, your content will be ultra-specific.
Also, your team can create personal experiences that address the preferences of customers, avoiding frustrations as they go further in the journey toward the purchase.
Those strategies get them engaged and answer the questions they may have, thus building trust and loyalty.
Account-based marketing is also focused on building a long-term relationship between brand and customer. It’s a higher level of commitment and engagement.
Alignment of sales and marketing
Another good thing about ABM strategy is that it aligns sales and marketing teams. After all, one of the main problems with the communication between those two groups is the fact that they usually go after different goals.
While marketers focus on a broader audience, specifically on drawing them into the funnel, salespeople focus on leads that are a good fit.
But as you’ve already seen, the latter is the only objective when you have an account-based marketing approach going on.
So, both teams are on the same page, trying to achieve the same goals.
ROI becomes clearer
When your brand switches from a traditional, inbound approach to an ABM, or even when start working with the two together, you get more ROI.
But not only that: the return is also clearer because you can see your results better. Everything is limited and specific, which helps you focus on what matters.
The return rates are higher because you’re directing a message and creating a story to engage some companies that are already likely to buy.
You’ll also get more time to work on customer success and everything that comes after the purchase.
Another fact that is related to the previous topic is that ABM provides a better view for analysis. That happens because once you’ve narrowed your list of leads, you get just a few metrics and KPIs to analyze.
That helps your team be more precise in studying responses and reactions, as well as adjusting strategies to meet customers’ preferences better.
In other words, you have a limited vision. Thus, you can always prioritize personalization and develop approaches to keep your customers engaged.
What are some of the best examples of ABM resources?
So far, we’ve covered the definition of ABM, its benefits, and how it differs from inbound marketing. Now, let’s look at some examples of resources that can be used for that kind of strategy.
One of them is personalized invitations to events. Remember: we’re talking about a highly specific approach, so it makes perfect sense to send a special message to your customer asking them to attend a meeting, for instance.
By doing that, you make them feel special and show them you know their wants and needs. Therefore, the relationship is fortified.
Your company can also produce a webinar about a subject of interest to your accounts. With that strategy, you get to teach them a lot more about their pain points, educate them on your solution, and increase the chances of a successful purchase.
And remember: producing content for them is a solid effort that brings higher ROI.
You can also use e-mail campaigns. In this case, the brand can use automation to promote messages and send pieces that will engage the prospective customers and get them closer.
That’s a straightforward way of contacting them, and you have to make sure you’re doing it right. Otherwise, your company’s name will end up in the junk folder.
By the way, doing it right means writing good copy and using best practices, like not spamming. Also, it implies respecting the decision of the user and talking to them with their permission.
Another good tactic that is commonly applied to ABM solutions is to track visits on a website, identify who’s there, and try to personalize the message for them.
That means using the design, with specific images and colors for different industries, or just adjusting the copy to fit each company.
Remember the interactive content we mentioned at the beginning of the post? Well, it’s also perfect for ABM.
Here’s how it works: when you implement an interactive piece, people respond and answer questions. In other words, they give you valuable data on their problems, preferences, and perspective.
So, if you use that data as a way of knowing them better, your brand can adjust methods to improve personalization even more.
Then, your team is able to mix all those approaches and get your customers more involved.
What should you keep in mind before implementing it?
These are a few things you need to keep in mind before implementing an ABM solution.
Before it all begins, it’s crucial to identify possible statements that are a good fit. Your team can do that by getting data from the inbound strategy that’s already running in the company.
People that visited and became a lead, ultimately, will be great for account-based tactics.
Then, your team has to conduct a lot of research on them in order to know who they are, what their needs are, and how you can talk to them in a personalized way.
Another thing to remember: always measure everything. That’s how you will know how people are responding to your marketing, and how effective you are with your content.
Get your KPIs up and running from day one, as they are essential to evolve and improve.
Use the right channels
Also, try to use those channels your accounts prefer because that’s an important part of the personalization process.
The brand has to speak to them wherever they are, adjusting the message and the copy for each specific medium.
Create an ICP
Lastly, don’t forget your ICP, which stands for Ideal Customer Profile. It’s a persona for an ABM solution. You need to gather information about the company itself, the number of employees, location, segment, revenue per year, weaknesses, and so on.
But it’s essential to know the technologies they’ve used and those they are using now as well.
Since you’ve done your homework, the team will know the lifetime value of each account. Then, you can run a predictive analysis, that allows your brand to determine other companies that are a good fit as well by comparing them to those you’ve tracked already.
Account-based marketing solutions are critical right now and probably will be even more in the future. Personalization is necessary and defines how effective and successful a campaign or a content strategy will be. That’s why you need to keep an eye on those approaches.
Want to stay up to date on the latest trends of digital marketing to improve your results? Check other posts on our blog.