Account-Based Marketing – How It Works and Is It a Good Fit for You?

Account-Based Marketing – How It Works and Is It a Good Fit for You?

The world of business is infinitely nuanced, but every company strives towards the same thing – making more money. To achieve that, most companies use some form of marketing, making it a very heterogeneous industry with a variety of outbound as well as inbound tactics.

A few years ago, a new player – account-based marketing – took the industry by storm. As is often the case, opinions have been divided with some saying it is the greatest thing since sliced bread and others claiming it is nothing but another marketing fad. The reality, however, is not that simple.

Let’s break down the basics of account-based marketing along with some tips to implement it (and whether you need to do it at all).

The basics of account-based marketing

Account-based marketing (ABM for short) is a B2B marketing tactic that is used to attract a small number of clients through exclusive targeting and advanced personalization.

A company that starts employing account-based marketing focuses on a small number of targeted accounts – personas – and starts marketing exclusively to them with highly relevant messaging.

This might take many forms, from content marketing to direct outreach (which is more of an account-based selling tactic), all for the common goal of acquiring these targeted accounts and growing your revenue.

These are the key elements of the account-based marketing approach.

  • Sales and marketing alignment. ABM requires close collaboration between the two teams in identifying and engaging with key decision-makers within the target accounts.
  • Laser-focused personalization. ABM tactics focus on customized campaigns for each account, considering their specific needs, challenges, and goals.
  • Specific goals and metrics. A data-driven strategy, account-based marketing requires measuring and analyzing your campaign performance to optimize the outcomes.
  • Heavy use of technology. ABM tactics employ many tools to personalize messaging, track engagement, measure results across various channels, etc.

While there are different account-based marketing tactics (more on that later), there’s one thing they all have in common. Their main aim is to build solid, long-term relationships with high-value accounts through personalized, tailored experiences, which will ultimately result in higher revenue and customer retention.

Getting Started With Account-Based Sales – a Practical Guide

Let’s face the truth: The “spray and pray” approach no longer works in sales. Today, the ability to reach the right audience at the right time with the right message is crucial to close high-ticket opportunities.

This guide will help you build an effective account-based sales strategy to get sustainable pipeline growth, and as a result, more won deals.

7 common account-based marketing tactics 

As mentioned above, there are quite a few tactics used in account-based marketing that can be combined or used separately.

  1. Content marketing. You can create and share content (whitepapers, blog posts, etc.) tailored to the specific interests of the target accounts. Other than that, enabling your sales team with customized content (sales decks, one-pagers, or case studies) to engage with decision-makers within the target accounts would help a lot.
  2. Account-based prospecting. This involves identifying, finding, and getting in touch with the prospects at your best-fit accounts to engage them across various channels. Also referred to as cold outreach or sales engagement, it can be effective with laser-focused lists and personalized messaging. 
  3. Retargeting ads. Tailored advertising campaigns aimed at decision-makers within the target accounts might include display ads, social media ads, and paid search ads. It can be used as a standalone marketing tactic or to amplify your current efforts with content marketing or prospecting.
  4. Social selling. As one of the channels for ABM, you can use social media platforms like LinkedIn to connect and build relationships with decision-makers within the target accounts, share valuable content, and engage in conversations directly.
  5. Email marketing. Another tactic is to run personalized email campaigns aimed at inbound leads within the target accounts, especially the ones using dynamic content and advanced personalization (aside from highly-relevant content) based on the recipient’s interests and previous behavior.
  6. Event marketing. You can host relevant events – webinars or longer events, whether virtual or in-person – specifically focusing on the interests and pain points of your target accounts. You can also team up with other noncompeting companies in the same field to expand your reach.
  7. Direct mail. Often considered the last resort, sending personalized handwritten notes or gifts to top-tier decision-makers within the target accounts could be a way to stand out and complement the rest of the listed tactics.

Why does account-based marketing work?

Although it might be hard to execute such laser-focused campaigns, those companies that decide to implement any of the listed tactics tend to achieve some decent results. From up to 50% shorter sales time to a 208% increase in revenue, the benefits of the ABM approach are many.

But what makes account-based marketing so effective?

For one, ABM acknowledges the fact that in large corporations, the buying decisions are made by several different decision-makers that have to come to a consensus. Unlike small businesses where the CEO is the only one making the decision, ABM-targeted accounts feature a multitude of decision-makers, and reaching out to all of them with specifically tailored marketing goes a long way.

Furthermore, the focused nature of account-based marketing ensures that all of the content created for a certain campaign truly hits the spot. When you know the person you’re targeting, it is far more likely that you will come up with content that will resonate with them. Personalization is the name of the game in ABM and this is something that we at Reply know how to appreciate.

Finally, account-based marketing is still not that common and people have not grown jaded. In the modern world of business, this is a rarity that can easily set you apart from the competition and help you break through the noise.

Is ABM a good fit for your business?

When determining whether account-based marketing is a good fit for you, the first thing to understand is that it makes sense for only a certain type of companies.

First of all, unless you are a B2B, ABM will simply not be something you should consider at all. No B2C company can live off of a single customer or a even few of them – this is not how B2C works.

Even for most B2B companies, the ABM approach will not make much sense. For the majority of B2B companies, their livelihood still depends on attracting as many customers and accounts as possible. 

That said, ABM can be effective for businesses that meet the following criteria:

  • High target account size, average deal size, or customer lifetime value
  • Longer, more complex sales cycle (including a big number of decision-makers)
  • Significant resources and budget to implement ABM tactics

This is why ABM works best for enterprise-level companies in a B2B space or businesses targeting government organizations (B2G). Speaking of the latter, the case in point is Northrop Grumman’s ABM odyssey started in 2003 to convince the Commonwealth of Virginia that they were the best choice for their new project. 

Widely known as a defense contractor, famous for manufacturing the B-2 strategic bomber, among other things, the organization executed extensive research, a comprehensive repositioning of a part of their brand, and direct account-based marketing which eventually helped them land the $2 billion contract after two years of hard work.

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Getting started with ABM

If you think this is the right strategy for your business and you’re ready to start your ABM adventure, it’s important to have a clear action plan. With the stakes so high (considering the resources and effort a good ABM strategy requires), you can’t afford to make a mistake.

  • Develop clear ICPs to know who exactly you should be targeting. Analyze your customer testimonials and reviews, current user base, or your pipeline to source the necessary insights about your key accounts.
  • Identify proper engagement channels depending on the target audience and the tactic you want to pursue. You can focus on just one channel at first or go with the multichannel approach.
  • Adopt advanced personalization based on your ICPs and considering the specifics of every channel you employ. Some types of personalization might be easier to implement while others will require more tools and creativity.
  • Get creative with your account-based tactics, but be sure to test and analyze different approaches before you go all in. You can come up with different assumptions and run smaller campaigns to see how they work.
  • Build a tech stack for ABM. There are dozens of account-based selling tools you can use to implement the tactics of your choice. Just make sure they play nicely with the rest of your toolset.

Closing word

Account-based marketing is not for everyone. However, if you do run a B2B company that is chasing a few truly huge accounts, it might just be what the doctor ordered.

Remember that ABM is much more than just saying you want to do it. It takes commitment and it takes time. Be patient and adapt as you go.

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