Marketing trends come and go, but one of the most notable shifts in recent years is the move toward account-based marketing (ABM). With 92% of B2B companies saying ABM is “extremely important” or “important” to their overall marketing strategy, ABM has now proven itself to be more than a trend and instead a leader in B2B marketing.
Harnessing the power of account-based marketing
ABM focuses on moving high-quality accounts through the funnel, not just generating as many leads as possible and passing them off to your sales team. The proof is in the pudding that this strategy has real results. According to TOPO, a traditional funnel may close just 0.25% to 1.5% leads targeted, but an account-based funnel helps companies close around 11% of accounts targeted.
That’s because the account-based funnel only includes the designated target accounts that are being actively worked, or owned, by your sales team — not every potential buyer in the market.
Instead of creating generic demand gen programs to try and appeal to everyone, you create programs focused on target accounts that are the best fit for your product or service. Of course, this requires your marketing and sales teams take a more collaborative approach to closing deals to make sure you can the most out of your ABM tactics.
5 ABM Tactics to Try
While traditional demand gen strategies focus on appealing to the masses, ABM tactics enable you to home in on accounts most likely to close. Once you have that data-backed target account list, you can kick off campaigns alongside your sales team to help move them through this more focused funnel.
However, if you’re new to ABM, it can feel a bit challenging to know where to start. Anyone can get started with ABM and scale it over time if they keep their eyes on the right things. This blog post will look at five tactics you can try if you’re ready to get started.
1. Identify and prioritize your target accounts
Before you can make any real headway with ABM, you need to identify and understand your target accounts. Since you’ll be allocating your budget and resources toward a set list, you want to be certain you’ve done your homework.
Chances are you have more data at your fingertips than you thought, and if you pull your closed-won customers from your CRM you can begin to identify trends in your best customers. This is the beginning of developing an ideal customer profile (ICP), which defines the attributes of accounts that would be good fits for your account list.
Once you isolate some top firmographic and technographic attributes like industry, revenue, company size, tech stack, etc, you can begin to build a list that matches. List size varies for each unique company, but it should be calculated based on the size of your sales team and the revenue you’re looking to generate.
From there, you’ll tier and score your accounts to determine which accounts deserve most of your program attention. With advancements in account-based technology, you can opt to harness the power of machine learning and predictive scoring models to let you know which accounts should be prioritized. These accounts will receive more of your resources and budget, while other accounts may simply be given ‘always-on’ marketing tactics.
2. Take the “M” out of ABM and focus on aligning with sales
While the acronym “ABM” may be trendy, we all know that to see results, you need a coordinated approach across your company — not just your marketing department.
That’s why we talk about more than just “ABM” and, instead, make sure you understand that this is account-based. Success doesn’t just hinge on the marketing department — it’s a combined strategy with sales (and often spans product, customer success, etc.).
A good first step for those getting started with account-based programs is to set up a core ABM team that involves stakeholders from relevant departments, especially marketing and sales. You should be meeting to approve target account lists and establish goals for ABM tactics and campaigns.
Your teams may need different bits of data to run their plays, so be mindful of how you’re orchestrating multi-touch campaigns. Your marketing team may be able to run ads against a company domain, but does your SDR team need contacts and emails to spark conversations? Settle these questions early on so that everyone is primed to do their best work.
3. Run personalized, funnel stage-specific ad campaigns
Once you’ve identified your target accounts, you can run segmented, personalized ad campaigns targeting the right buying committees. One key tenant of ABM is to use the information you have wisely to send the right message at the right time. For example if you’re segmenting your lists based on vertical, your ad creative and CTA should be different for healthcare versus tech.
The more you can speak to the pain points of the various buyers involved in the decision-making process, the more successfully you’ll be able to penetrate the account and help sales close deals faster.
On average, there will be seven decision-makers involved in each purchasing decision. So make sure you specify your ads to the various roles within a team, so you’re speaking to the needs of each person.
Beyond that, make sure your account-based ads are speaking to buyers as they progress through established sales stages. The message needed during awareness is different from that of proposal stages. Work closely with your sales team to map out the messages you’ll need throughout the entire journey.
4. Find the right buyers to ensure right time, right touch campaigns with sales
Reaching the right accounts through digital channels is one of the best ways to get in front of known and unknown contacts, but that’s just one element of a surround sound ABM campaign. If you map out your prospect’s experience, how are your marketing and sales touches aligned?
You should be running coordinated plays that enable your sales team to move conversations along with prospects, but that requires information on buyers that ads may not uncover. Instead, you’ll need to help them build a list of buyers within their target accounts so they can begin contacting them in tandem.
The best way to start is by mapping out your buyers (similar to what you’ll have to do for kicking of ad campaigns), and then likely work with a data provider to build a quality list of contacts. From there, your sales team can begin automating emails and getting in touch over the phone to create a well-orchestrated ABM machine. This will make a huge difference in moving the needle on marketing and sales alignment.
5. Start moving past campaign metrics and toward ABM influence
We’re moving into a world where more and more marketers are being measured against their ability to prove influence on opportunities and revenue; lead volume simply doesn't cut it anymore.
Moving toward these bottom-line metrics can feel daunting, but making the transition doesn’t have to happen overnight. Plus, seeing the impact on opportunity or revenue is a longer process, so you can still keep tabs on campaign metrics as a health check for your investment/divestment decisions.
Even if you start to meet with your marketing and sales leaders more often to dig into a few 'highlight reels’ of how a deal was closed and mapping it back to ABM touches, this will be a great step toward proving the value of ABM tactics. Over time, you’ll want to look for an account-based specific dashboard that reflects how your campaigns are improving over time and how you’ve influenced opportunities and revenue.
Ultimately, if you’re moving high-quality accounts not just any lead through the funnel, you will begin to see higher ROI and further validation for building your account-based programs.
Hopefully after reading this, you have a clearer focus on what you can do to kickstart your ABM for 2020. While it may seem challenging, companies of all sizes and industries have been paving the way toward ABM one step at a time. If you commit to ABM, the results will be worth the effort.
If you need help getting started, RollWorks can help you identify your accounts, engage them across channels, and ultimately prove the ROI of account-based programs.
Ready to learn more? Download our latest guide to help build a winning ABM program.