Account-Based Marketing (ABM) has been growing in popularity recently and it’s easy to see why. It puts the spotlight on marketing’s ability to land the big “Sales Whales”–those key target accounts that Sales is dying to land. By focusing marketing efforts on the accounts most likely to generate revenue or meet other strategic goals, ABM helps marketers to scale growth and revenue by generating marketing-sourced deals.
Landing a new valuable account takes a lot of time, work and cooperation within a company. However, when these efforts unite to hone in on these target accounts, the results are huge. ABM is not only useful for landing new accounts but 84% of marketers also find that ABM provides significant benefits for retaining and expanding existing client relationships (Alterra Group).
To start your own Account-Based Marketing Program, there are 5 essential steps:
Step 1: Discover & Define Your High-Value Accounts
Right now you can probably name your highest performing accounts and some of the dream accounts that both you and Sales have your eye on. But it’s imperative that you dig further into your data to discover exactly which attributes should determine your target accounts. Identify what makes up your ideal prospects, whether they are large health organizations from the East Coast or software companies searching for SaaS financial solutions.
Key attributes to evaluate include:
- Firmographic data: Map the target industries, sizes and locations of your ideal target accounts.
- Sales Named Accounts: Many of your sales reps have lists of target accounts allocated to them. Use these lists as a starting point. If needed, review sales history in terms of average deal size and sales cycle length to identify additional prospects. Also get feedback as to the big fish your Sales Teams are trying to land.
- Digital Behavior: Learn and understand the customer journey, product interests and target personas of your ideal prospects. One thing to note, 60% of marketers say personalized messaging based on digital behavior is their top challenge (MarketingProfs). It’s so imperative to your ABM success that you find a real-time solution for this barrier.
- Strategic needs: Account-based Marketing can help your company achieve strategic goals as well. Is your company looking to grow into new markets and/or territories? Identify accounts from these target markets to support your company’s strategic goals.
Step 2: Define Personalized & Effective Messaging
Once you have determined your “Dream Accounts”, you must then step back and analyze what content you already have and how it has performed so far. Don’t settle for only measuring click-throughs, impressions and social performance, but also incorporate advanced segmentation to enrich your asset audit. By mapping your content to your target accounts, you can clearly assess which content pieces will be most effective at each stage of the customer journey and which accounts are responding to your assets.
Personalization is so important for ABM that 75% of executives will read unsolicited marketing materials that contain ideas that might be relevant to their business such as success stories, research reports and webinar invitations (ITSMA). So, when constructing your messaging, offer your prospects value based on their personas, customer journey and account type. This will unlock the personalized engagements that count—much better than just plugging in keywords here and there to hopefully offer appeal.
Step 3: Determine Optimal Channels
Just as the same content doesn’t work with each prospect, you also need to discover and setup the optimized touch points for your lead nurture plan. Each persona you are targeting will respond differently according to the channels you choose, but regardless, you must keep consistent messaging across all channels.
Also, don’t be afraid of reaching out via more traditional formats such as magazines, offline events or even snail mail campaigns that are really out of the box. These touch points intelligently incorporated with website, social, PPC, blogs, referrals and email engagements will create a complete engagement map.
Step 4: Execute Targeted Campaigns
Effective campaigns in ABM have two main facets–speed and relevancy. Again, your content can be awesome, but if the right eyes don’t’ discover it, the brilliance is in vain. This isn’t just my opinion, studies show that 82% of prospects value content targeted to their specific industry and 67% find content targeted to their job function valuable (Marketing Sherpa)
You’ve already discovered your most effective content, now it’s all about timing, and the time is now. Once you have the attention of your “Sales Whales” you are targeting with ABM, you have to engage effectively in that small window of time they have allotted you. Present the right content in real-time to nudge them further down the sales funnel.
It’s also crucial that your Sales Team is in the loop during this step. They must be prepared for quick responses and to provide their valuable feedback to your campaigns. You should also work with Sales to align messaging (from sales emails to scripts) for these accounts you are targeting. This is a very important, yet sometimes overlooked aspect of full-funnel personalization.
Step 5: Measure, Learn and Optimize
One of the best things about ABM is that measuring, learning and optimizing is much easier because you’re focused on a smaller group of accounts that offer a much larger potential value. Be sure to track the entire sales and marketing funnel when calculating these results. Are you able to appeal to your targeted accounts? Are they engaging with you and going to the places you want them to go? Is this all integrated into your sales process? Measure all of these aspects and the feedback you get from Sales about account traction that you generate.
When measuring conversion metrics, keep in mind:
- Increase in revenue (this will take a few months)
- Reduction in Sales Cycle
- Customer Loyalty
For the short-term you can rest assured that the accounts you are targeting will generate revenue once they are converted. By evaluating your content and personas in a new way, you will consistently deliver the right content to the right accounts. Plus, I know there is always so much talk about Sales and Marketing alignment, but how many of us actually accomplish this important feat? Account-Based Marketing organically connects Sales and Marketing by focusing on common goals and accounts.
In the long-term, you will lower your cost per lead because of the very fine-grained targeting you have mastered. It will also spill over to your website’s metrics because of your focus on targeted and personalized onsite content. This is a huge plus.
A successful ABM program will of course grow your revenue, but maybe the most encouraging aspect is it’s perfect ability to quantify marketing’s contribution. You help target and land these big accounts and your contribution is obvious throughout the entire process.
Want to learn more about Account Based Marketing? Register for our webinar The New Marketing Champ: 5 Steps to Real-Time Account-Based Marketing on Wednesday, August 28th!