“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.” – John Wanamaker
With a recent survey revealing that marketers believe they waste over one quarter of their budget on ineffective strategies and channels each year, it’s clear that there’s a real need within the industry for a solution that delivers both results and return on investment – and this is where account based marketing comes in.
Known more commonly as ABM, the underlying concept implies that the law of large numbers doesn’t work in B2B marketing – and never did. The focus instead is on engaging with only those prospects who are truly interested in your business and using sophisticated targeting tools to reach a select group of people, register their interactions and send content that fits with the stage of the buying journey they’re in.
To use a relatively creative metaphor, let’s compare account based marketing to fishing. If you are only interested in catching one type of fish, then why are you spending money and time on a fishing net which serves to catch anything swimming past, regardless of whether it’s the fish you want? Swap the net for a spear, however, and the results instantly become more targeted and meaningful.
A common misconception is that integrating ABM into existing marketing plans is time consuming, expensive and involves a number of tedious manual tasks. Thanks to modern technologies, the process has become much easier, although – as with any effective marketing campaign – there is still the need for careful planning.
Read on to find our main considerations that will set a stable ground for a successful ABM strategy.
1. Collect high quality data, and take care of it
Without a solid base of data that’s shared across a unique business platform with advanced tracking systems, understanding, and targeting, the right decision makers and influencers can become a gargantuan effort. As such, any ABM campaign needs to start with up-to-date, organised data. This foundation data, which can be gathered by merging in-house and third-party data, is the only tool that allows marketers to make informed decisions when it comes to choosing where to focus resources and how.
Simply collecting it isn’t enough, however. The data needs to be structured consistently, to ensure a correct analysis and insight generation. Organised data also enables sales and marketing teams to create effective action plans and optimise all interactions with key customers and prospects, including content distribution.
2. Get your sales and marketing team to fall in love with each other
Once the data is connected across a unique system, the sales and marketing teams need to work together to identify the best operating model for each specific account. Effective ABM campaigns rely on weekly discussions between the two teams to identify the most engaged clients and prospects. Key questions to ask during these meetings should include: “Who is showing the most interest and on which topic?” and “How can we best reach them at this stage of the buying journey?”
With a very practical example, sales and marketing alignment means sharing timely information about a key prospect downloading a whitepaper or letting marketing know that a client has communicated that they’re interested in a new product, so the relevant person can follow up in a way that adds real value to the customer.
3. Content: agile, relevant, timely
Meaningful content that adds value and catches the attention of the target audience has a big role to play in ABM. For example, you could be targeting the procurement and marketing departments of the same business, however if you try to engage with them using the same key messages and language, you often run the risk of losing the attention of at least one of them, if not both. This doesn’t imply that companies need endless banks of content; instead, using templates and messaging maps to create agile content that can be easily tailored to be as relevant as possible ensures a timely and relevant approach.
Historically, this had to be done manually, meaning higher budgets and longer lead times between different interaction points, but nowadays it is possible to tailor your social and display adverts, emails, landing pages, white papers, and even direct mail not only at account level, but also at job title level within the account.
Account based marketing is revolutionising the way B2B businesses approach their marketing efforts. Not intended to replace brand awareness campaigns, ABM is instead a clever way for B2B marketers to target high value prospects with a highly personalised, authentic experience. By combining the forces of both sales and marketing teams in such an effective way, businesses can drive results with maximum return on investment.
Want to learn more about ABM and the benefits it could bring your business? Be sure to download our guide to sales and marketing alignment today.