B2B sales teams have always taken an account-based approach to converting new clients and generating revenue. But as for B2B marketers and their teams? In HubSpot’s 2021 “State of Marketing” report, 70 percent of surveyed marketers said they had adopted an ABM strategy, up from only 15 percent the year before.
Despite there being a surge of adoption of account-based marketing (ABM) efforts around the globe, some might argue that there has been a slower uptake of ABM for B2B marketers (our theory is this argument comes from the Sales team, obviously).
However, there’s no denying that B2B marketing departments are starting to realise that, if done correctly, ABM can get them where they’re going much faster when integrated into a larger B2B marketing strategy. There’s data to back up this realisation: according to one survey of marketing professionals, 97 percent of respondents generated a higher ROI from ABM than any other marketing strategy.
However, “if done correctly” is the key phrase here.
For all of the promise ABM can offer your B2B marketing efforts, this potential can only be fulfilled when your ABM strategy is being guided by experts who know what they’re doing - and in many instances, they do not. Too often ABM responsibilities are handed to marketeers who lack the specialised knowledge required to create, develop, implement and optimise campaigns for the best results. Many marketing departments understand that ABM is vital to the pipeline, but don’t fully grasp how to ensure the activity is integrated properly with their marketing efforts.
Don’t let your own business fall into this trap. Take a few minutes to understand the basics of account-based marketing and the value of working with an experienced ABM agency.
What is ABM?
Account-based marketing is a tactical B2B marketing strategy that delivers personalised marketing communications to individual accounts. This typically includes corporate buyers and other key decision-makers.
Target accounts are identified in collaboration with your sales team. The goal of this approach is simple: by limiting marketing efforts to a select list of prospects, ABM allows your marketing department to focus its best efforts and resources on only the highest-value accounts.
When executed properly, ABM prioritises quality over quantity. Instead of spreading your labour and resources thin across a broad slate of prospects, your marketing team can concentrate on delivering the best personalised experience possible to clients that represent the best fit and value for your business.
It’s easy to explain, but not so easy to do yourself. Building a successful, sustainable ABM strategy takes a lot of time and effort. Sales and marketing must work together to share data and other insights, and to coordinate their efforts so that prospect engagement efforts don’t overlap or conflict with one another.
Even when narrowing your focus to a select list of prospects, marketing and sales must still work together to align on which accounts need to be a priority.
Our approach to ABM
A successful ABM strategy starts with proper planning. At Squaredot, we’ve seen what it takes to build a successful ABM program for a B2B organisation. We also know the pitfalls that can cause account-based marketing to fall short of its goals.
When we work with a client to launch an ABM strategy, we start with the following steps:
- Assessing what you already have—and what you still need—to enable an ABM program. We want to see your accounts and contact lists, as well as your brand positioning, buyer journey map, persona research, brand guidelines, and other information and assets. If you don’t have all of this information, we can help you fill in the gaps and lay a foundation for ABM success.
- Aligning on KPIs. It’s important that our clients understand the difference between ABM and lead generation. ABM is designed to enable greater sales success while improving your brand’s reputation with the prospective account.
- Securing buy-in from the sales department. Sales data and sales team support are essential to any account-based marketing program. We understand how best to highlight the direction your marketing team efforts are going to in order for the sales department to be on board with the ABM programme, which is critical to the success (or failure) of the pilot programme
- Identifying high-priority accounts. We help you identify the best-fit accounts to prioritise in the first stages of your ABM strategy.
- Creating ABM content. Once your target accounts are identified, we create or adapt ABM content to feature messaging and personalisation that will maximise engagement.
- Launch, analyse, optimise. No matter how thoroughly you plan out your ABM strategy, there’s always a learning curve. By starting your ABM efforts with a small list of accounts, we give your ABM program the time it needs to monitor early results and identify improvements to improve your performance over time.
That’s not to say that running an ABM pilot programme is all roses….there can be pitfalls and many of them. In our experience the biggest roadblock to a successful ABM pilot launch is securing buy-in from the sales department. If your sales team isn’t willing to assist in this strategy, you will be fighting an uphill battle the entire time and it will be a waste of time and money.
Integrating ABM into your marketing strategy
Account-based marketing isn’t a replacement for your existing marketing strategy, instead B2B marketing leaders are thinking about the best way to blend ABM into their larger marketing program.
This integration can take on many different forms, from pilot programs to more permanent ABM strategies. Depending on your resource availability and your ABM investment, your organisation may also have preferences between a One-to-One ABM approach—which creates and delivers custom content for individual accounts—or a One-to-Few program, which creates content that is relevant to a handful of B2B targets.
An agency that specialises in ABM, like Squaredot, can help you weigh the pros and cons of these options to determine the best fit for your department. Regardless of the path you choose, the most important step is making sure you’re developing this campaign with the support and insight of an experienced ABM partner.
Did we miss any crucial ABM information? Let us know in the comments or if you are interested in seeing what ABM can do for your B2B marketing efforts, get in touch to discuss next steps.