In simple terms, account based marketing (ABM) is an extremely focussed approach to B2B marketing, whereby specific organisations are selected for targeting, and are then marketed to directly, narrowly, and precisely.
It differs from traditional B2B marketing, which aims to cast the net wide and generate as many leads as possible from a large pool of potentials. Instead, account based marketing begins with the identification of best-fit accounts – i.e. organisations that have the biggest revenue potential for your business – and treating them as a market of one.
It also differs from inbound marketing, in the sense that with inbound, the focus is on creating and promoting quality content that draws anonymous traffic to your website, enters these visitors into an inbound marketing and sales funnel, and then gradually identifies and qualifies prospects from the masses, and, over time, moves them towards a sale.
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The ABM methodology, on the other hand, turns the funnel on its head. It begins with the identification of a high-quality prospect organisation and then uses technology to deliver personalised, targeted messages to engage key members on the organisation’s staff, and then continues this engagement even after a deal has been closed.
Where Inbound Marketing and Account Based Marketing Integrate
Although inbound marketing and account based marketing are quite different in theory, they nonetheless complement one another.
Both rely heavily on content – the difference being that while inbound marketing uses content to draw people in, educating large numbers of potential customers about how your solution can help them in a broad sense, account based marketing content is singularly focussed on the precise deals you’d like to make with each specific organisation.
In this sense, ABM content is much more personalised much earlier in the sales cycle – inbound marketing content does become personalised eventually, but usually only when a prospect has passed into the middle section of the sales funnel.
With both approaches, however, the ultimate purpose remains the same – to educate and nurture prospects with correspondence and content until they convert into new paying customers.
More and More B2B Organisations are Adopting Account Based Marketing
While traditional B2B marketing efforts are designed to cast the net wide with marketing campaigns which aim to appeal to as many companies as possible in a target market, account based marketing concentrates resources on a much smaller group of highly targeted accounts.
The benefits of this approach can be that marketing and sales teams don’t waste time and resources trying to appeal to audiences that are never going to convert no matter how much effort you put in. Forrester Research states that less than 1% of leads ever generate revenue for B2B companies, meaning that companies involved with traditional lead generation tactics waste 99% of their time, energy and money marketing to people who will never become customers.
Clearly this is in an inefficient approach to B2B marketing. ABM aims to minimise resources wasted on prospects who aren’t the right fit, and focus instead on engaging those who are most likely to buy – and it works.
What’s more, the SiriusDecision State of Account Based Marketing 2017 Study found that 91% of the organisations interviewed reported larger average deal sizes with ABM.
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As success with account based marketing gains an increasing amount of attention, more and more organisations are expanding their ABM efforts. 62% of B2B organisations now have a full ABM programme – up from 40% in SiriusDecision’s 2016 study. As such, the allocation of marketing budgets toward ABM is accelerating.
(Image source: intelligentgrowth.siriusdecisions.com)
The Benefits of Account Based Marketing for B2B Companies
1. Budgetary Efficiency – Better Leads, Less Waste
Since account based marketing takes such a targeted approach, it allows marketers to focus their resources efficiently and only run marketing programmes that are specifically optimised for specifically targeted accounts.
Traditional B2B marketing spends money acquiring as many leads as possible, only qualifying them after the fact – essentially ploughing resources into attracting many leads which will inevitably turn out to be a poor fit. ABM, on the other hand, takes the cost-effective approach of identifying the best-fit accounts from the outset, and focusses resources on engaging them, and only them.
2. Better Marketing and Sales Alignment
One of the first steps in an ABM programme is for sales and marketing to work together to agree upon key accounts to target. From here, both departments have the same goal – generating revenue from these specific accounts. This approach reinforces the importance of marketing’s role in the sales process, and better alignment of the two teams naturally ensues.
3. Shorter Sales Cycles
With resources focussed more tightly, the right messages can be put in front of the right decision-makers at target accounts in a timelier fashion, speeding up the sales cycle considerably.
4. Better Leads, More Conversions
Account based marketing generates better leads through the use of extreme personalisation, whereby messages are optimised to resonate with each target in particular. This means that by the time the sales team is in contact with targeted accounts, buyers will have already been exposed to key educational materials, leading to more successful conversations and higher conversion rates.
5. Better Customer Experience
Account based marketing allows you to actively communicate how you can help potential clients solve their very specific problems on a case-by-case basis. This improves the quality of the experience for your prospects and customers, and enables you to build trust-based relationships from the outset.
Over to You
Account based marketing is gaining huge traction as a means to complement traditional B2B marketing efforts. By charging sales and marketing teams with the task of targeting specific accounts, communications become much more personalised, resulting in a better customer experience, better leads, and, ultimately, more revenue. In 2017 and beyond, account based marketing is where more and more companies will be focussing their B2B marketing efforts, and so the time is now to make your move into this area.