Here’s a term B2B marketers have all heard: Account-Based Marketing.
But how many of us know exactly what account-based marketing means, where it came from, and how it can help? Thought you did, but now not so sure? Rest easy, dear readers. By the end of this blog post, all hands will be raised.
First, let’s define account-based marketing.
As you probably have surmised, account-based marketing focuses on marketing at the account level rather than the lead level. The traditional sales funnel starts by looking at all channels on which potential customers are active, then attempts to target them from there. ABM, on the other hand, flips the funnel on its head.
Instead of starting with channels, the strategy begins with identifying and targeting key customer accounts. Only then do you reach out with advertising via the channels your buyers are actively using – such as mobile, social, display, and video.
How many stakeholders are typically involved in a B2B purchasing decision?
The answer isn’t just one. In fact, KnowledgeTree reports that the average B2B buying process involves 7 to 20 individuals. And the sales cycle is growing longer as more decision-makers become involved, which is why single-lead marketing is no longer the most effective or fastest method to close a deal. Instead, more and more B2B companies are turning to ABM to place marketing messages in front of all decision-makers within an account.
Now, let’s see where ABM started.
Account-based marketing has roots in the 1990s when B2C and B2B companies began to realize the need for more personalized marketing.
If you’re up on your reading, you may remember when Don Peppers and Martha Rogers published The One to One Future in 1993, forecasting the movement from mass marketing to the personalized marketing of today. As consumers began to crave more individualized buying experiences, many marketers turned to ABM to meet those needs.
The actual phrase “account-based marketing” was coined in 2004 by ITSMA, though many companies had already been implementing the strategies in one capacity or another for years. It wasn’t until recently, though, that ABM began to catch on due to the B2B marketing industry’s emphasis on demand generation and inbound marketing — and the increasing number of vendors offering more robust ABM solutions.
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So, how does account-based marketing work?
Effective account-based marketing involves a multichannel approach and requires close alignment between an organization’s sales, marketing, and customer success teams. There are dozens of excellent ABM tools — over 35 of which are part of the Terminus Account-Based Marketing Cloud. I recommend exploring the cloud to learn more about the different account-based technology on the market.
For the purpose of this post, however, let’s focus on one very important aspect of ABM: digital advertising.
Account-based advertising uses digital targeting to reach specific companies — called target accounts — that fit your organization’s ideal customer profile, or ICP.
ABM platforms can be integrated with a CRM or marketing automation tool to run campaigns targeting your target accounts. What makes account-based marketing technology truly remarkable is that it allows you to reach not just contacts you have in your database
That provides an ability to run multi-channel campaigns by choosing the ads to show a target audience across mobile, social, display, and video — then engaging them on their terms. As a result, you can understand which message resonates the most – and get the data to back it up – with A/B testing on creative in near real-time.
Account-based technologies have seen great success because they engage customers on their terms using digital channels other than email and phone calls. Because these marketing activities engage not only the lead but the entire account means ABM can be done at scale.
Today’s technologies allow marketing across personas, sales stages, campaigns, or statuses in a CRM, and instant moves from single-channel marketing to multi-channel nurturing. And as the one-size-fits-all approach goes out of style, ABM has become a must-try strategy to personalize the buying experience with highly-targeted messaging.
Lastly, let’s see how account-based marketing helps.
The major benefits of ABM can be boiled down to a more focused sales and marketing strategy, a better customer experience, an improved sales-marketing relationship, and — of course — more revenue.
A Focused Sales and Marketing Strategy
An ABM strategy starts by identifying a set of target accounts your sales team would like to penetrate, and developing personalized messaging and creative to reach them. Instead of starting with a list of channels – which may or may not reach its targets — this strategy allows for focus on precise accounts. Hyper-targeting increases the effectiveness of your marketing messages without increasing resources needed to run more campaigns.
A More Tightly Aligned Sales and Marketing Team
Before targeting begins, a conversation needs to occur between sales and marketing to properly identify those targets. This allows marketing a better understanding of the sales team’s goals and reinforces marketing’s position as an important part of the selling process. When marketing is running programs on the account level, sales sees its delivery on target accounts. This can help ease tensions the teams may have experienced over lead quality, while simultaneously bolstering marketing and sales effectiveness.
A Better Customer Experience
At its core, ABM is all about the customer. Buyers crave a personalized selling experience which has prompted ABM’s rise as a way to improve the relevance of sales and marketing messages. Buyers are no longer looking for a sales call or a marketing email to begin their research. What they do want is relevant personalized outreach – which is exactly what ABM offers. Marketers can unobtrusively reach buyers on the channels buyers are using, so buyers can choose to engage with messaging on their terms.
By using account-based marketing and advertising, marketing is setting sales up for more successful conversations with buyers down the line. By the time sales reaches out to target accounts, the buyers have already been exposed to messaging, speeding up the sales process and setting the stage for a more personalized buying experience – which increasing the likelihood a lead will become a closed deal. Additionally, ABM ensures you’re focusing on the right accounts from the start, so time and money aren’t wasted chasing down dead-end leads.
Ready to learn more about account-based marketing?
If you’d like to know more about ABM, download The Beginner’s Blueprint to Account-Based Marketing now. It’s full of tips for marketers who want to dip their toes in (or dive right into) the world of account-based marketing.