Back in the ancient digital past of the early 2000s, most marketers’ strategy was to gather as many leads as possible. It made some sense on paper as increased website traffic implied more sales down the line. They began generating content in large quantities, covering all sorts of topics aimed at anyone who would be remotely interested.
More akin to a carpet bombing-style approach, this technique managed to generate tons of leads. But those leads were not necessarily what businesses were anticipating. In more recent years, however, a new style of marketing evolved, one that replaced carpet bombing with precision striking. It is known as Account-Based Marketing (ABM).
What Is Account-Based Marketing (ABM)?
Also known as Key account marketing, account-based marketing is a strategy that uses personalized and highly-targeted campaigns to win over particular accounts. In other words, ABM looks to treat individual accounts as markets in their own right, as opposed to appealing to entire sectors or industries.
ABM also differs from other marketing strategies since it doesn’t target specific individuals that meet certain criteria. It focuses its attention on individual prospects within specified accounts. It’s essential to keep in mind that within the average enterprise, there are roughly 17 decision-makers, not one. For SMBs, that number is closer to six. In any case, ABM will take into account all of them, acknowledging all of their differing viewpoints and opinions.
Within the organization that uses this marketing strategy, ABM looks to align the marketing and sales departments to enhance customer experience, retention, acquisition, and penetration. It allows companies to build stronger relationships with their accounts by using tailor-made messaging throughout the sales cycle.
According to The State of Account Based Marketing report from 2018 conducted by Engagio, “23.9% of companies reported having ABM programs that were well underway or advanced.” Furthermore, 44.9% of B2Bs just started using it, while 23.92% are making plans to do so in the immediate future. The survey also highlighted a 45% ABM budget increase from 2017 to 2018.
In a separate survey by ITSMA and ABM Leadership Alliance, 77% of B2B companies using ABM saw a 10% higher ROI than traditional marketing initiatives, while 45% said that their ROI more than doubled. Also, 67% said that their ABM accounts achieved greater customer success, while 66% said that these accounts are more likely to provide positive references than other accounts.
The Essentials of an Account-Based Marketing Strategy
ABM takes the opposite approach to inbound marketing. Instead of filtering through all the inferior leads and ending up with a target company, ABM starts with that company and ends up with lasting relationships and new opportunities.
Essential components of an ABM strategy include:
- Identifying prospective and existing accounts that are most profitable
- Aligning marketing and sales teams
- Compiling account intelligence for marketing and sales customization
- Targeted messaging for the holistic needs of the account
- Cross-selling and opportunity identification
In terms of tech tools needed, we have CRM systems, unified communications platforms, as well as marketing and sales analytics platforms. It will help account-driven teams to deliver streamlined, comprehensive, and personalized data to account representatives
Tracking ABM: ROI success requires three types of metrics:
- Coverage – number of contacts in an account, missing contacts in an account, connections with personas, etc.
- Engagement – conversation length between sales and target account, number of web visits from the target account, time spent on the site, number of meetings with the target account, etc.
- Results – number of total deals, deal types, deal sizes, relationship improvements, sales funnel velocity, etc.
Activity-Based Marketing – The Other ABM
Companies that don’t have the resources to manage or execute an account-based marketing strategy can benefit from the other ABM (activity-based management). Activity-based marketing works by tracking company activity. Examples of company activities being tracked include content consumption on third party websites, press releases, funding announcements, and job boards, to name a few events. Content consumption tracking works by using tools like Bombora. Their cookie can identify the company consuming content related to over 5500 business topics on over 5000 third-party websites. By using reverse IP address lookup, Bombora can locate the companies consuming content related to your products and services. It helps you focus your marketing efforts by targeting relevant personas at those companies. Bombora can’t tell you who at that company is consuming that content, but the chances are you can make a good guess. For example, if you see a company consuming content related to company relocation services, that content is most likely being consumed by someone in Human Resources since their job function includes hiring and relocating employees. Perhaps you include some purchasing or procurement titles in your marketing efforts. Regardless of the content consumption limitations, doesn’t it make sense to market to companies consuming content related to your products and services first?
We understand that some people hate the idea of sending a spam message, but the reality is most prospects don’t mind receiving an unsolicited email as long as the content is relevant and provides value. If you know someone at that company is consuming a higher than average amount of content related to your products and services, chances are your email will be relevant.
The same goes for sending a connection request to someone on LinkedIn. So if a company IP address is tracked consuming a large amount of content related to your product or services chances are the prospects at that company are more likely to respond or accept your connection request on LinkedIn.
Sales Lead Automation recently launched an A/B test to see if activity-based marketing would help a global relocation and commercial shipping company generate leads. They tested a targeted generic list of ideal customer profiles against the same profiles at companies that have been tracked consuming large amounts of content related to shipping and relocation topics. The activity-based marketing campaign had a 219% better open rate, 46% and 13% response rate (1200% improvement) over the generic campaign.
Activity-based marketing can also apply for companies who recently announced a new round of funding or have a large number of job openings for a particular role.
These company activities provide insights into a company’s intent, which is the strategy around activity-based marketing. Nothing beats a timely and relevant campaign when it comes to lead generation.