Introduction to Account-Based Marketing
January 09, 2017
Account-Based Marketing (ABM) has become a popular buzzword in the world of marketing. A strategy that used to be exclusive to organizations targeting Fortune 500 and other high-profile accounts, is gaining popularity among smaller-scale B2B businesses. There was a 21 percent increase in companies implementing account-based marketing programs in 2016, therefore ABM deserves the hype. B2B companies are increasingly looking at ABM as an alternative to inbound marketing, based on the belief that it delivers higher-quality leads and improves the alignment between marketing and sales.
Here’s an introduction to account-based marketing from our South Florida ad agency:
Account-Based Marketing Defined
Account-based marketing is a form of strategic business marketing used by B2B companies to target specific accounts or companies. These targeted accounts are treated like their own markets, or markets of one. ABM is marketing based on and customized for a given account, and for the key players and contacts within that account. This strategy’s main goal is to assist sales by using content to engage with targeted accounts, which ideally will turn into clients. ABM’s more targeted approach is what differentiates it from inbound marketing.
Account-Based vs. Inbound Marketing
ABM and inbound marketing differ in many ways, but in the end, inbound principles are still used when implementing an ABM strategy. Below are key differences between ABM and inbound marketing.
- Scale of Customer Targeting - Inbound marketing casts a wide net in order to attract and convert new leads. Organizations then have to sort through the potential leads to isolate the ones that are most likely to convert. ABM starts off by targeting a limited list of customers. Account-based marketers must know the specific clients in detail they want to target before designing their campaigns.
- Type of Customer - Inbound marketing aims to appeal to certain customers, usually people using buyer personas. On the other hand, ABM aims to attract existing accounts (companies not people) based on data specific to those firms. These existing accounts are specific sales’ targets. Sometimes ABM does target people, but they are key players within the account, therefore the overall interests of the account are what dictate the ABM campaign.
- Content Strategy - Inbound marketing creates content that is designed to build the biggest audience possible. The content remains wide-reaching enough to spread awareness of the brand to a broader range of potential leads, taking a more quantitative than qualitative approach. ABM content, on the other hand, is heavily customized and personalized for each targeted account. It focuses on quality to drive individual engagement which will facilitate sales.
Steps to Implement Account-Based Marketing
- Identify Target Accounts - Build a targeted list of companies you want to be your customers. The building of this list should be a collaborative effort between the marketing and sales departments. This step will require data from both, such as firmographic data (industry, company size, location, annual revenue, etc.) and strategic factors (market influence, likelihood of repeat purchase, expected profit margin, etc.). This list can also include critical decision makers and influencers within an account. These key players can serve as more concrete, organization-level personas that represent your ideal business customers.
- Create Content - The content you create, whether it is an email, a blog, or a social media post, should speak to key movers and shakers at a targeted company, while appealing to the interests of the company as a whole. Your content should focus on single deals you want to make with those targeted accounts. This is where principles of inbound marketing come in. Despite the differences between the two strategies, the inbound principle of creating compelling content should be used in ABM campaigns because customers dislike feeling like they are being pushed a product.
- Run Campaign - Finally you can run your campaign. When running an ABM campaign, you want to avoid sending conflicting signals to the same person within a targeted account. It is critical the messages you convey in your content to a specific account are not ambivalent or repetitive but remain consistent.
Account-based marketing is experiencing a surge in popularity. If you are considering implementing an ABM program, find out if it fits with your organization’s characteristics and goals. You must also realize that adopting an ABM strategy does not mean you have to abandon inbound marketing entirely. Both strategies can be used to complement each other and create a marketing strategy that is right for you.
Our South Florida ad agency keeps up-to-date with the always evolving world of marketing. If you want to find out how we can improve your digital marketing strategy, give us a call.