Account based marketing - ABM for short - has gained traction over the last few years in B2B marketing circles.
Now, a growing number of B2B marketers are embracing ABM as part of their overall marketing efforts. And with good reason: it’s a highly effective technique. It comes into its own during the long B2B sales cycles that are characteristic of enterprise sales.
ITSMA - the agency widely credited with pioneering ABM back in the noughties - reports that almost 85% of marketers who measure ROI describe ABM as delivering higher returns than any other marketing approach. This stunning metric goes to show just how revolutionary a well coordinated ABM strategy could be.
What is ABM?
ABM is a strategy which directs tailored market resources towards a specific set of target accounts. Essentially ABM is a highly targeted marketing strategy that nurtures leads through relevant content, building the strong relationships that improve your chances of closing larger deals.
By focusing on specific accounts, marketers are able to tailor their strategy to what will work best for a particular target.
ABM isn’t going to transform revenues overnight by winning quick sales. Rather, it’s one of the most effective ways of nurturing large, high-value B2B leads over the whole sales cycle.
Other methods of content marketing - such as inbound marketing - cast a wide net when generating leads. ABM is different because marketers first identify key prospects and then tailor customised content and messages to the buying team within specific accounts.
Why is ABM a great way to sell to enterprises?
An account based approach has been the go-to in large B2B sales for years, so it’s no surprise that it has also been successful in the marketing context. ABM’s effectiveness rests on the fact that buyers are more open to your outreach and less likely to ignore your content and communications if they are highly personalised and underscored by a strong relationship.
ABM enables companies to sell to higher value accounts at a time when buyers are beginning to demand a tailored outreach to their business.
Executing an account based marketing strategy for enterprises
Before formally targeting accounts, it’s essential to develop a cohesive ABM strategy so sales and marketing can work together effectively as part of a joint account team. Sales and marketing teams should agree on common goals, content and messaging, execution and success metrics.
Step 1: Identify appropriate accounts
ABM is most effective when used with profitable, long term customers who are an ideal fit for your business. This is because ABM is a more resource intensive marketing technique.
When it comes to enterprises, you’ll need to whittle down your potential clients to those who are most likely to respond well to an ABM strategy. This means you’ll avoid wasting resources on unresponsive clients.
Think about existing enterprise accounts that have shown openness to expanding their relationship with your company and new enterprise accounts that would satisfy your strategic criteria.
Step 2: Identify stakeholders
For any large B2B deal, your marketing and sales teams will need to drive consensus among key stakeholders. Your teams will need to identify those individuals who will have influence on the eventual deal. For example, a digital marketing agency like ourselves might include the CMO, digital marketing managers and the CFO in an ABM strategy.
When you know who you’re targeting, you can then begin to think about how you can drive consensus for a purchase decision.
Step 3: Create targeted campaigns
Strong relationships are central to a successful ABM program. We recommend that you develop valuable, informative content and map this to each account’s buying cycle.
You’ll need to align your messages and content with the interests, needs and challenges of each account, bearing in mind the stakeholders involved. You should aim to develop a unique value proposition alongside relevant content for each stakeholder.
Doing this effectively means doing your research. Firstly, understand the existing state of the conversation, so you can meet your target enterprise where they are. Then, make a strong case for your position and explain why you have the ability to deliver value.
Step 4: Pinpoint marketing channels
Targeting your stakeholders through the right channels is essential to carrying out an effective campaign. This may vary by role and industry, but LinkedIn has proven effective in the past. LinkedIn has a targeting capability feature that helps support ABM called LinkedIn Account Targeting.
This allows you to tailor sponsored content and InMail campaigns to a list of top priority accounts and then layer by job function or seniority to put your content in front of the right people in a particular organisation. Very helpful indeed.
Step 5: Execution
Marketing and sales need to engage with accounts on an individual level. You should aim to use a personalised strategy that makes sense for each contact. Campaigns can employ a wide range of tactics, from emails and ads to webinar events and whitepapers.
However you choose to execute, place the strengthening of relationships at the centre of your efforts.
Step 6: Measure and optimise
As with all marketing solutions, an ABM approach isn’t going to work perfectly the first time. Rather, it is something that will be refined over time. And the best way to identify points is effective measurements.
You need to effectively track how accounts are moving through the purchase process by tracking engagement, opportunities created, closed deals and their value. Give your teams the time and tools to measure their performance. This data will give you clarity about how well your ABM approach is performing and allow you to identify where it could be improved.
If you need some advice about how an ABM approach can help you close large deals with enterprises, get in touch with us. Even if you just want someone to see how your existing ABM process could be refined, we can help. We are a team of seasoned digital marketing professionals with the knowledge and tools to identify how an ABM strategy could help improve your sales cycle.