Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a targeted approach to B2B marketing that concentrates marketing and sales resources on a set of ideal customers. Using highly personalised communications, it attracts, engages, and converts pre-identified key accounts to secure significant, transformative revenue growth.
Account-Based Marketing turns the traditional marketing funnel 180 degrees so the big fish or “qualified” leads can be identified and targeted rather than using nets to try and catch everything.
Inbound marketing is a marketing strategy that attempts to attract customers to products and services by creating valuable content for the prospect. Inbound is an umbrella term that can include branding, content marketing, social media marketing, and search engine optimization.
The goal is to build trust between your company and the customer by resolving their existing problems. When you have a relationship built on trust, you can then encourage the customer to make a purchase.
The ideal situation
The ideal situation is when you know precisely what companies to target and precisely what messages and information work best with them.
The ideal situation is made up of combining the two powerful strategies you have at your fingertips—inbound marketing and ABM. If you use them both to your advantage, you will use your resources more efficiently and increase revenue.
It’s a win-win.
What do ABM and inbound marketing have in common?
They are both about storytelling. Inbound marketing allows you to attract customers by providing them with valuable content. They can access important information organically. ABM also uses content but it can be highly personalised and designed specifically for (large) target accounts.
What do they have in common?
Both strategies require having an in-depth understanding of your ideal buyer(s) and personas. Why?
- To help you understand what type of content you need to create
- To help you understand how to deliver the content
- To help you optimise the experience
This increases the chances your target buyer will find and warmly relate to the content you have created for them.
Both strategies are built around growth. First comes creating great content, knowing how and where to publish it, and optimising it. This is inbound. You can then repurpose this same content, optimise it and publish it for ABM. You have already done the work—the next step is to personalise it for your very specific target account. That is ABM.
It’s best to think of ABM, as an extension of inbound. When employed together, they can provide a very powerful demand generation experience.
Why should you combine ABM and inbound marketing?
ABM and inbound marketing are often implemented separately by different teams that ‘see’ potential customers differently.
But why would you do that? If we all had this mentality, no one would have invented ice cream. You could have a glass of milk. And you could have a spoon of cream. But combine them, and you have ice cream. Combining ABM and inbound marketing is just like making ice cream.
And what are the benefits of ice cream?
You have two project funnels to attract customers
Inbound marketing can take time. Think of it like fishing with nets. Some prospects might not take notice because the message is not highly personalised to them. ABM is like fishing with a spear. Highly focused and highly personalised. Organisations who deploy ABM do so as an extension of their inbound programmes to fast-track conversions of larger ‘fish’.
Your funnels have double the power
By harnessing the potential power of both strategies, your inbound content may help attract one of your desired huge target accounts that is on your ABM list.
If you are successful, timing is key. You should always be aware of who is coming through the funnel in your inbound campaigns, so when that target account appears—immediate action is required. Highly personalised multi-channel communications are required to pursue, attract, engage and land big fish.
The 3 steps to develop an ABM and inbound marketing strategy
Before you start, brainstorm with your team and outline a clear picture of your customers and establish the best channels through which you reach them.
Step one: Identify your ideal clients
Who would you do anything for to turn them into a customer? Be specific.
Step two: Identify all businesses that fit that profile
Include specific companies and contacts.
Step three: Focus on your target audience
Detail all the characteristics, behaviours, and demographics of your targets.
Now you have three different lists. Your content team can write great content for each of the targets.
Analyzing your list of ideal clients will clearly reveal their unique needs and pain points. This will help content writers refine and target their outreach language, and tone. In turn, you will also be able to attract the attention of and generate leads from the specific companies you outlined.
Detailed information gathered from an ABM campaign can be invested straight back into inbound strategies.
You can read our guide to Account-Based Marketing Fundamentals which offers a step by step approach to transforming sales revenue.
There are benefits to using both inbound marketing and ABM as stand-alone strategies. But, just like milk and cream taste better when turned into ice cream, inbound and ABM work better together.
Any strategy you choose should be unique to the requirements of your business and customers, so there should never be a one-size-fits-all approach.
Do the fundamentals, and do them well. Create great content that reaches customers you have and ones you didn’t even know existed. And then personalise this content for your key (target) accounts.
Remember the winning formula:
ABM + inbound marketing = more revenue − wasted time and resources