B2B Account-Based Marketing (ABM) programmes are still relatively new. But it doesn’t matter how recent they are—they are becoming ever more popular because they yield results.
Research carried out by the ABM Leadership Alliance in 2020 found that:
- 76% of marketers using ABM saw higher ROI than from any other marketing strategy
- 25% of marketers said they had generated significantly higher ROI
- 71% of companies using ABM felt their relationships with target accounts had improved
- 34% of companies felt their brand and revenue increased after adopting ABM
And these positive statistics are not only surveying experienced ABM marketers. They include companies that have only recently discovered ABM. Every company can use ABM to catch the big fish.
Why is ABM a good option for businesses?
In 1896, Vilfredo Pareto made observations about unequal distributions. He realised that in Italy as well as in other European countries, 80% of the land was owned by 20% of the people. He also noticed a similar pattern in economics—that 80% of consequences come from 20% of the causes.
Forward 130 years, the pattern is still true, and companies know it. The top 20% of their accounts provide 80% of their revenue—which is where ABM comes in.
Instead of visualising a traditional sales funnel, for which the focus is on generating ever-more leads, ABM advocates 'knowing where your bread is buttered’. Target the top 20% of your high-value prospects, nurture them, and watch your revenue grow.
Want to use 20% of the effort for 80% of the results? Here are some key considerations.
Five-step ABM plan to ensure growth
ABM is a highly targeted approach. To harness the power of ABM to your advantage, you should choose a path that best aligns with either the internal structure of targeted accounts or the projected monetary value of the targeted accounts.
Whichever you choose, you will need to develop an ABM plan to ensure growth. Here’s a five-step guide to ensure that you maximise revenue.
Align your marketing and sales teams
One of the benefits of ABM is getting sales and marketing to work together rather than as two separate teams. Making sure they are on the same page from the start is paramount.
When they start working together, ensure there are systems in place so that when your business combines ABM and inbound marketing you can immediately follow up on leads.
Identify your target customer
This can be done by your sales and marketing teams together—once they are aligned.
To target your efforts on the 20%, you have to know who they are—so write a list of your “ideal customers”. These can comprise companies with whom you already have a relationship or others that are a great fit for your business. Precision is key. Remember, the spirit of AMB is about quality over quantity, so it will pay dividends if you take the time to be sure about who you want to focus your efforts on.
Use the content you already have
ABM works best when combined with inbound marketing. You can share the content you have already created as part of your inbound campaign with target accounts. However, the caveat is that this content should be personalised.
Personalised content has a high impact on both client engagement and revenue generated. Creating great personalised content involves understanding clients’ pain points and problems and trying to provide them with answers. The content should be educational and solve problems to create trust.
Any content is valid—podcasts, blogs, eBooks, whitepapers, webinars—but make sure to research how your target audience prefers to consume the content. And if you identify any gaps, create new content to fill them.
Set SMART goals
SMART goals = specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound goals.
You must make sure you know how your ABM plan will be carried out. Don’t randomly target clients without being able to measure your marketing efforts. And don’t aim so high that you set yourself up for failure. Your target clients should be chosen because you have a high probability of success with them and your marketing budget will be well spent.
Establish what marketing technology you will use
There are many great marketing tools out there, and you should choose the one that best suits your budget and your company.
We recommend the HubSpot platform as it has a bevvy of useful features, including:
- Company score reporting
- Custom contact properties
- Social media ads
- URL tracking
- Dedicated ABM tools and dashboards
Even more advanced ABM features are available if you use HubSpot Marketing Enterprise including intelligent lead scoring.
Do a pilot
ABM is a long-term growth strategy - not a short sprint for revenue. It’s best to run a pilot to test assumptions, content, data and the buyer experience. Translate this into a minimum of 30, 60 and 90-day plans. Do your preparation well and understand what is happening before you scale ABM alongside inbound marketing.
Use ABM tactics for sales growth
Using 20% of the effort doesn’t mean being lazy. It means you need to carefully plan your tactics and create the content that will delight your target customers.
Also, don’t make the mistake of repeating the same tactics over and again or you will see diminishing returns. Your marketing strategy should evolve with your business. And variety is your friend—mix up your tactics to keep your customers engaged.
Here are five tried and tested tactics you can use:
The majority of buyers list LinkedIn as the most influential social media outlet during their buyer’s journey. A recent study by WeAreSocial found that 663.3 million people can be reached by adverts on LinkedIn.
Unlike other social platforms, LinkedIn is made for business, which is exactly why you should ensure your target accounts see your advertising campaigns. Paid promotions offer an even more targeted audience.
Use intent data
Intent data reveals an individual’s interest in a particular product, and, therefore, what they could buy. But only a quarter of businesses use it. Intent data is extremely useful to target the customers most likely to buy your product or service with ABM.
You can gather intent data from many different sources, but the most readily available for most businesses is accessing the data through the company website. Examples of intent data include:
- How many times a person has visited your website
- The exact pages they looked at
- How long they stayed on each page
- Create great content with brands that complement your business
Work with a brand that complements yours. Invite them to write a guest blog or to do an interview with you. It might seem counterintuitive, but you can significantly grow your audience. Working together may even provide you both with previously unforeseen benefits. Perhaps together you can offer a service that both of you were not able to offer individually.
Use personalized email campaigns
In the ‘warm’ days of inbound marketing, many people think ‘cold’ is dead. But the majority of business revenue still comes from good old-fashioned targeted and personalised emails. The key is being targeted and personalised. Spamming inboxes will not only be useless; it will also ruin future chances.
Personalisation means addressing those same problems and pain points you did when you created that great content. Show potential customers how you have a bespoke solution to solve their issue. Speak to them directly and delight them.
Promote any PR your business has
Potential customers who are at the top of the sales funnel may not be aware of your brand or what your company can offer. This type of customer can be nudged towards you if you promote the great PR your business has received—maybe you have won awards or been given recognitions.
Showing clients your great PR makes your business credible and trustworthy. It also creates a positive impression. Customers will feel more comfortable reaching out to you if they can see the positive associations your business has.
Account-based marketing has been around as a concept for years but recent advances in technology have made it easier to do and scale. It is time-consuming. It is multi-disciplined. It uses inbound and outbound outreach. It’s no quick-fix. However, it can yield very significant revenue growth when planned and executed well. Even though there were massive disruptions, three-quarters of businesses that used ABM during 2020 saw their ROI increase. Companies realise it works and continue to invest in it as a growth strategy.