Traditionally, B2B marketing revolves around capturing the largest possible number of leads and pursuing them past the awareness phase. It’s a long and strenuous battle, where observing in frustration as seemingly hot leads lose interest is simply a part of the process.
However, all of this is changing as account-based marketing (ABM) becomes an increasingly prominent strategy among savvy businesses.
Rather than casting a wide net to generate as many leads as possible, ABM takes an entirely different approach, striving instead to attract the inherently smaller pool of high-quality clients.
In the most basic terms, ABM is a marketing strategy that focuses on identifying high-priority companies (accounts) that match your ideal client profile, then targeting those companies with personalized marketing messages.
In other words, it’s about quality over quantity – the general idea is that you’ll get better results by focusing on the few “big” clients than pursuing a wide range of leads with varying degrees of quality.
In this article, we’ll explore how ABM works and how it can benefit your B2B enterprise.
How does ABM work?
When a business opts for an account-based marketing strategy, they’ll first shift their efforts to identifying the companies they want to target and determining whether each specific account is worth pursuing.
This is why it’s especially important to develop an ideal client profile that’s unique to your business, which will serve as a set of values to guide the selection process. This is the account assessment stage, so it will be best to create assessments that are specific to your line of work to identify valuable clients and how well your offer aligns with their needs.
To identify which accounts are worth the marketing effort, you’ll need to consider factors such as their money-making potential and how well they conform to the ideal client profile.
Along with these, you’ll also need to factor in the types of problems that potential clients encounter in their business and whether you can offer a cost-effective solution.
With creating a list of accounts, the information you gather on potential clients is also necessary to help marketers create personalized messages for each account.
This means that you’ll also need to gain insight into which type of content a given company can derive value from, so that you’ll be able to approach their key-decision makers with a personalized pitch.
As your marketing messages will be sent out through different channels, you’ll also need to consider the nuances of each given channel to help you tailor your approach accordingly. For example, you won’t approach executives with the exact same pitch through LinkedIn as you would through a direct call.
A seamless transition into sales
Unlike traditional marketing, ABM requires the marketing and sales teams to be completely synchronised and work together very closely.
That’s because ABM is entirely geared towards cultivating long-term customer relationships and continuously extracting valuable opportunities from existing partnerships.
Marketing and sales transition seamlessly into one another in this strategy, helping strengthen lead nurturing efforts and encouraging long-term customer success.
Now, this is where smaller B2B enterprises are actually at an advantage. Since they operate with a smaller staff, aligning teams and strategies is significantly easier than in bigger companies. In fact, the sales people will often be the ones doing at least a portion of the marketing already (or vice versa). This kind of set-up makes it all the easier to implement ABM successfully.
Despite this fact, ABM has for a long time been reserved only for corporations and businesses with a big marketing budget, as it was more costly and labor-intensive than traditional inbound marketing methods.
This has changed with the introduction of affordable software solutions such as customer relationship management systems and sales force automation. ABM is now a viable strategy for small businesses as well, and we’re expecting to see its more widespread use in the future.
The Benefits of ABM for a small business
The rising popularity of account-based marketing in the B2B sector points to a range of well-established benefits.
Let’s look at the most important ones for a small B2B company.
Successful B2B marketing inherently entails personalization, and companies have been striving to personalize their client journeys long before this became a goal in B2C marketing as well. Now that we have access to sophisticated systems for collecting and organizing customer data, the stakes are much higher. The companies bound for success are the ones that manage to craft highly personalized content for their clients.
And the thing with ABM is that it’s centered on personalization as a vital part of marketing, sales, and customer relationship management.
It is data-centric in nature, encouraging businesses to leverage all available customer information to craft personalized messages and offer specifically tailored solutions. This is achievable not only because of the tools and data at your disposal, but also because you’re working with a smaller number of clients by default.
As we’ve mentioned, ABM requires the marketing and sales team to work in sync, and this approach is one of its discerning characteristics. With your marketing and sales efforts aligned, you’ll be able to unveil numerous opportunities for cross-selling and upselling, as well as to craft referral programs and encourage brand advocacy.
Along with the personalization factor we’ve talked about and the fact that you’re dealing with fewer clients, ABM is designed to eliminate friction points in the customer journey and improve customer relationship management.
Easier tracking and monitoring
ABM is a cost-effective strategy for a number of reasons. Because it focuses on precision targeting, it enables small businesses to keep costs down and use their marketing/sales resources more efficiently.
Furthermore, a smaller client base means it’s much easier to monitor campaigns, keep track of what works and what doesn’t, and measure customer satisfaction. Instead of dealing with a massive amount of all kinds of unrelated metrics, you’ll be dealing with a limited amount of specific account data which will help you draw invaluable conclusions and inform your strategy.
In a survey from 2014, account-based marketing was shown to have the highest ROI of all B2B marketing strategies. This comes as no surprise, considering that ABM focuses all efforts on converting high-value targets and maximizing the sales potential of each account.
No matter the size of a business, it’s more lucrative to cultivate long-term relationships with dependable clients and encourage brand advocacy, than to cast a wide net and wait out what happens with a mass of leads that each have lower sales potential.
There’s no doubt that utilizing AMB can help spur incredible growth, but implementing it successfully requires careful examination and strategizing. Make sure to first evaluate your business needs and the resources you have at hand (both in terms of finances and staff). Define your objectives (for example, they may be to maximize the sales potential of existing clients or to generate new leads), and use them to determine your ABM strategy.
ABM is shaping the future of B2B marketing, and simultaneously being shaped by new trends and technologies as an evolving practice. Small businesses are right at the center of this paradigm shift as they search for a cost-effective strategy that yields the best results.
About the author: Daniel Bishop started off as a content consultant for small SEO and web design companies. Online consulting was perfect for him as he is very social and loves to travel. Settling down, for the time being, he finally found his place as a junior editor for ReallySimpleSystems. Always searching for new opportunities, he loves sharing ideas with other professionals in the digital community.