I have written about ABM (Account Based Marketing) in a previous blog. In this blog, I am going to outline the steps involved in preparing for an ABM approach.
What is Account Based Marketing?
Account-Based Marketing is used by marketers to identify and target specific accounts that they would like to do business with. ABM solutions include account-based data (very specific) and technology to help companies attract, engage, convert and then measure progress against customers and prospects. ABM is NOT about marketing to individuals but rather to a specific company.
ABM is NOT taking a shotgun approach to marketing. It is a personalized approach with a narrow focus.
So in theory….
Sales and Marketing collaborate to Identify the companies
Then, Marketing creates content for ABM to create engagement
Finally, the results are measured – hoping for a high ROI
Wow! Sounds pretty easy.
The benefits of implementing ABM within your company:
- Aligns Sales and Marketing to work together instead of in a silo
- Focused Marketing and Sales Strategy
- Holistic Measurement
- Gather MQL’s and SAL’s (Marketing Qualified Leads & Sales Acceptable Leads)
- Positive Customer Experience
How do we start?
Identify – in preparation of ABM, sales and marketing are required to identify the targeted account base. The easiest place to start would be evaluating your current customers or partners, followed by potential prospects. Specific criteria has to be used to narrow the parameters – size (# of employees), revenue, industry, vertical or geographic location. During the evaluation stage, you might ask yourself a few questions:
- What are the strengths and weaknesses of our company?
- What vertical has our company perform well in – healthcare, manufacturing, retail?
- What do we consider to be our sweet spot — # of employees (250 to 1500)
If you are not sure, use qualitative or quantitative data to seek the results. Spend some time analyzing your current customers. You will see a pattern develop – win/loss. Stay away from lost opportunities — unless you can create “value” to the prospect.
Once your list is created, it’s time to build your marketing program to move your prospects through the sales funnel. As you develop each persona, you gather intelligent data specific to a person, rather than a target everyone within the organization. Many companies will have several stakeholders who are influential.
Focus your marketing efforts on display advertising campaigns and other top of the funnel campaigns. Abandon generic campaigns – one size fits all. Create content that address a specific issue that relates to the company, industry, and/or pain point. Pay close attention to accounts that trigger an action that requires an immediate response to an engagement.
As the prospect passes through the sales cycle, it is critical that during each phase of the selling process, that ABM is constantly be iterated – content and outbound. Metrics and analytic tools are required to determine the success of each campaign.
As a marketer you should be measuring customer engagement – are they engaging with the content? As you follow the engagement process, continue to follow the data trail by keeping an eye on website traffic, bounce rates, conversion rates, and engagement.
The time you take in determining the “ideal” customer will pay off in the long run. Once a prospect is engaged in the sales cycle, feeling like you are a trusted advisor, the greater chance you will have in closing larger deals and more opportunities, in addition to, getting more logo’s, case studies, and white papers on your website.
ABM is resources intensive and requires plenty of time to be successful.
Keep in mind, ABM is not a cure all, one size fits all. ABM is all about personalization, providing content that is relevant to your prospect. If you read your prospects annual report and determine they will be expanding their manufacturing plant, create content that resonates with the problems of expansion or the benefits of using product XYZ. Create case studies and white papers that demonstrates your knowledge, experience, and possible ROI. Ensure your drip campaign provides CTA’s and opt-in’s. Don’t forget to create landing pages relevant to your campaign with minimal distractions.
I was working with a client who wanted to implement ABM. They were convinced ABM will be the save all, after all, it is the latest buzz word. After several days of consulting on ABM, they had their blueprint outlined. They selected 2,000 companies from a sales and marketing intelligence subscription with over 25,000 contacts. The marketing department consisted of two people and two people in sales. White papers and case studies lacked professionalism and substance, but they said, “use what we have”. They indicated that their sales team would write new case studies, articles, and white papers — what a mistake. The designated landing page was their HOME page — another mistake.
I walked away from this client knowing they did not understand the dedication that an ABM approach required. They kept saying, we need to acquire new business as fast as possible, our burn rate was XYZ. I think what they really had in mind was a “spray and pray” approach. Time was not on their side. They lacked the dedication required to pull of an ABM approached. Talent pool was on the thin side.
Don’t make these mistakes.