TLDR: Account-based marketing (ABM) can help your business land lucrative deals, but does your marketing leadership know how to make an ABM strategy successful?
Account-based marketing (ABM) took the B2B world by storm several years ago and with tight economic times ahead, it’s being called the breakout star of 2023 by Adweek.
ABM gained recognition for its potential to land deals with high ROI. That’s a naturally exciting prospect for any business, but ABM gets results by execution, not magic.
In this Tough Talks Made Easy, we’ll help you talk to your marketing leadership about ABM. You’ll learn to explain how it really works, the circumstances in which it succeeds, and the preparation ABM takes to pull it off.
What is ABM?
ABM is a strategy for producing marketing campaigns that target particular accounts.
In doing so, ABM flips the traditional marketing funnel on its head. Rather than distributing your content and messaging far and wide to attract as many leads as possible, your first step is to narrow down a subset of customers and prospects to focus on with personalized campaigns.
The rationale is that dedication to specific accounts with specific personalization will yield more highly qualified leads and lucrative deals. If your broad-based marketing efforts are resulting in limited growth, ABM offers a fresh alternative with a trade-off: it takes work to choose the best accounts to target and find the most effective methods of engaging them.
Various models exist for targeting accounts and personas with just one universal truth to the process: marketing and sales need to integrate deeply together.
A more traditional campaign might see marketing and sales work as separate islands. With ABM, the focus on specific accounts demands joint strategic input. Although each sales rep would love marketing to increase their personal list of existing and new business, your team doesn’t have the bandwidth to support everyone with targeted campaigns.
Therefore, ABM begins with a conversation between your marketing and sales leaders. Your VP needs to sit with their sales counterpart and agree on a set of accounts to prioritize. A strong mutual directive is the first spark of life for any ABM campaign. From there, both teams should work together on more in-depth targeting.
Unlock the power of ABM
In planning the finer details of an ABM campaign, the idea is to replicate past successes with a fresh twist. To do this, marketing needs to determine how existing personas, content, and tactics can apply to each chosen account.
As with choosing accounts, the types of people you target in each account should share characteristics (e.g., job role, region, vertical) with stakeholders who responded positively to past campaigns and brought in business.
You’ll need data from sales and marketing to identify:
- the decision makers at each account
- any individuals who’ve previously interacted with your brand, and
- the campaigns that got similar personas to sign on the dotted line.
This data is your guiding light for the best tactics to try.
Whether it’s a personalized web experience or a custom event invite, knowing what worked for comparable personas puts you in a good position to engage your chosen stakeholders. Your past campaigns provide a good basis to repurpose content, but the real task is to customize pieces to show an understanding of each individual’s interests and pain points.
In our post ‘The Principles of a Successful ABM Strategy,’ we highlight the platform considerations you’ll need to make as well.
The key to success here is commitment, data maturity, and inter-team communication.
For ABM to really work, marketing and sales need to collaborate closely on various campaign pieces, invest time and effort to research and develop your audience, and share insights about past account success.
Here’s what your team needs to execute ABM:
- sufficient time resourced to do the work within their bandwidth
- clear synchronicity with sales, and
- a wealth of historical data available to cite points of success with similar companies.
Consider your business ready to try ABM once these elements are in place.
One thing ABM has in common with more traditional campaigns is you want to go the distance. For all your calculated targeting efforts, doing ABM for the first time is still an experiment.
It’s important to remember the results are unlikely to be instant, but instead a product of gradual discoveries and tweaks based on feedback from your campaign performance.
For that reason, frame your first outing with ABM as proof of concept. Your personas, tactics, content, and criteria for targeting accounts are all elements to refine as reports come in from your activity. For continuous success, everyone involved in your ABM campaign—from sales to your marketing VP—must share and respond proactively to feedback and make strategic changes to chase opportunities.
Both your marketing and sales leaders want growth. If the results from your traditional campaigns are tapering off, ABM can help you net those “white whale” accounts, but your leadership should facilitate the things ABM needs. Those needs include joint investment from sales and marketing, accessible historical data, and the will to keep refining it until you strike gold.
For any guidance you need with ABM, Revenue Pulse is here to help.