5 min read

The B2B Guide to Account Based Marketing (ABM)

By Rylie Manross on Oct 26, 2020 9:21:48 AM

Account Based Marketing

Account-based marketing (ABM) is one of the strongest trends in the 21st-century B2B marketing industry. More than 85% of marketers believe that ABM has a higher ROI than any other B2B marketing tactic.

For many years, B2B marketers have been focusing on general marketing strategies, paying little attention to the personalization factor. Today, the success of ABM marketing is showing the immense profitability of a personalized approach.  

If you haven't implemented account-based marketing yet, it's time to consider integrating it into your inbound marketing strategy.

What is Account-Based Marketing?

Short answer: ABM uses marketing and sales resources to tailor a personalized campaign for each business account that has a high conversion potential.

ABM is a strategy that involves targeting key business accounts with personalized marketing tactics. Instead of creating a strategy aimed at numerous prospects, you choose the most promising account and focus all your marketing efforts on converting it.

You select accounts with the highest potential, identify the key stakeholders, and start targeting them across multiple channels to appeal to their specific needs. You direct all your marketing resources to engage selected accounts with the aim to receive the highest revenue in a short timeframe.

ABM involves marketing and sales departments working closely to identify the most appealing prospects and tailor a customized campaign to drive a sale.

The key benefits of using ABM include:

  • Strong alignment between sales and marketing departments
  • Highly optimized marketing and sales funnel
  • High ROI
  • Faster sales process
  • Less wasted effort and fewer risks
  • Simpler goal setting and analytics

When you have one clear target instead of hundreds of potential leads, it's possible to slow down and create a truly efficient, personalized campaign that yields excellent results.

ABM vs Traditional Marketing

The key difference between ABM and traditional inbound marketing efforts is the number of prospects you target. With ABM, you focus all efforts on one (or several) high-value accounts while with inbound marketing you target a wide range of prospects.

The ABM approach flips the traditional marketing funnel upside down. With inbound marketing, you go from attracting leads to nurturing them with various strategies to scoring. With ABM, you go from scoring accounts to engaging them to building a relationship.

The account-based tactic puts the content right in front of the prospects instead of waiting until they discover it through research. This is a perfect way to attract B2B decision-makers, who rarely have sufficient time to sift through large volumes of information.

Initially, B2B marketers practiced the ABM approach on one or two accounts. Today, technologies allow them to scale the effort to target several accounts simultaneously.

  • One-to-one (strategic) ABM — creating a highly customized campaign that revolves around one account.
  • One-to-few (lite) ABM — creating a campaign around account clusters with similar characteristics (industries, pain points, etc.)
  • One-to-many (programmatic) ABM — creating a campaign around a larger number of accounts, using martech (marketing technology) to maintain proper personalization levels.

Both inbound marketing and ABM efforts revolve around building valuable relationships with the goal of attracting and retaining a high-value customer.  

Key Components of ABM

Even if you haven't practiced ABM before, it's not an entirely new playing field. While the entire strategy seems flipped upside down, the key tactics remain the same. These main steps can help you understand where to start.

1. Identify High-Value Accounts

Search your existing customer database to see which accounts fit your ideal buyer persona. Such an account should be profitable, a strong fit for your company, and have a potential for the biggest lifetime value.

Look at the list of prospective accounts as well. Look for similarities between your best clients and top prospects. The high-value clients usually have an urgent need your company can address immediately.

2. Discover Individuals Behind the Account

The pillar of the ABM campaign is a personalized approach to decision-makers. Identify the key stakeholders to build a relationship with. Find out who makes final decisions so you can focus their efforts on converting them.

When you are making individual contacts, remember to do it in the context of the entire company. Your key goal when interacting with each stakeholder is to contribute to the consensus of a buying decision.

3. Develop and Execute Personalized Campaigns

Once you know whom you are targeting, you can proceed to use your marketing experience to design a highly efficient targeting campaign. That's where many traditional inbound marketing tactics come in handy.

Make sure to use multiple channels for targeting individual stakeholders while wielding the power of fruitful relationships as your guide.

Why ABM is Important to B2B Sales Enablement

ABM marketing must involve a structured sales and marketing tandem. The key to achieving it is making sure these departments are on the same page. Both teams should have the same success metrics. Otherwise, they could be interfering with each other instead of collaborating.

Since ABM usually involves implementing a technology stack, close collaboration is the key to getting the most out of the investment.

The right approach to B2B sales enablement is critical to the success of your ABM campaign. It helps drive faster conversions by providing the right content at the right time across multiple channels. It also creates high-quality analytics that drives live feedback from sales and customers so you can adjust the ABM campaign accordingly.

Can ABM Co-Exist with Inbound Marketing?

ABM and traditional inbound marketing tactics aren't mutually exclusive. By using these strategies together, you can boost your marketing ROI and increase the company's profitability.

Traditional inbound marketing allows you to attract a pool of customers with good conversion potential. Then ABM speeds up the conversion process while providing a valuable customer experience.

These two strategies give you two different methods of attracting top prospects. When combined, they cover all bases so none of the high-potential clients slip through the cracks. Why would you limit yourself to just one option when you can use two and succeed?

Implementing the Account-Based Marketing Strategy

Account-based marketing is a highly efficient B2B strategy with an impressive ROI. By adding highly specific targeting and personalization to your traditional marketing tactics, you can win over high-value clients without taking significant risks.

Even though ABM is effective, B2B companies are slow to implement it. Consider taking full advantage of it today to jump ahead of the competition.

Rylie Manross, Marketing Strategist at Sales BQ®

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Rylie Manross

Written by Rylie Manross