In a survey of 120 marketers, Forrester found that “73% agreed that [Account Based Marketing] is a term that lacks specific meaning and is used inconsistently today.”
That finding is unsurprising because Account Based Marketing (ABM) as it currently stands has many different definitions. Marketo defines ABM as a “strategy that concentrates sales and marketing resources on a clearly defined set of target accounts and employs personalized campaigns.” Engagio says ABM “creates hyper-personalized interactions . . . that enable sales and marketing teams to land more accounts.”
While these definitions are certainly true of ABM, the discipline encompasses many more concepts, practices, and processes than meets the eye.
ABM is an approach that incorporates a wide variety of marketing and sales ideas to focus efforts on a carefully selected list of target accounts. Account Based Marketing isn’t a single component of Sales or Marketing, but rather a strategy that integrates with every effort in both areas.
What Account Based Marketing Means for Marketers
Traditionally, marketers are concerned with casting a wide net to try to catch as many leads as possible. However, ABM deliberately narrows the scope of Marketing’s efforts to hone in on a specific target. All of the tools and tricks in Marketing’s playbooks still apply when it comes to ABM, they just need to be calibrated for success when deployed on an account-based level.
Account-Level Demand Creation
Marketers are used to trying to engage as many people as possible. Their campaigns are measured on a wide scale, judging their effectiveness on how many web visits are generated or how many times a piece of content is downloaded, for example.
Using these measurements Marketing can effectively employ lead scoring to better qualify prospects. When a prospect has performed enough quality activities they are then ready to be handed off to Sales.
But, what happens when the leads are already identified and being routinely targeted?
In Account Based Marketing situations, Marketing is looking to engage specific stakeholders in an account that have been previously identified and are well-known. This is a coordinated effort with Sales, who are also regularly engaging with decision-makers.
Measuring engagement is just as critical – if not more – as it is for lead gen marketing. However, instead of measuring the success of campaigns, the analytics in ABM are more granular. Studying account-level engagement will reveal important insights into what efforts are resonating with key decision-makers. Taking a magnifying glass to Marketing engagements allows for more informed decision making, and better crafted touches.
Digital Marketing & Account Based Marketing
Account Based Marketing at its core is an attempt to provide focused, individualized attention on buyers. When it comes to the efforts Marketing is making to engage with these accounts, the approach again needs to be specifically tailored.
Digital marketing outreaches are often, by necessity, generic to a certain degree. Some aspects may be personalized – such as including a first name in an email blast – but seasoned, high-level professionals (exactly the people Account Based Marketing is attempting to reach) will see right through those techniques.
Marketing then needs to provide unique and genuine engagements for decision-makers. Using common marketing techniques in new ways creates these coveted Account Based Marketing opportunities.
Digital advertising has evolved to accommodate capabilities that fit hand-in-hand with ABM. Retargeting campaigns allow Marketing to leverage insight about a buyer’s interests and serve them ads on other areas of the web. Creating ads that specifically speak to a target’s stage in the Buyer’s Journey is an effective way to increase awareness and engagement.
Personalized web experiences also offer a chance to serve up content that is contextually relevant and more engaging than generic content meant for users who are less informed, or in different stages of the Buyer’s Journey. Users are more receptive to content that is relevant to their needs. Janrain found that 74% of online users become frustrated when content does not relate to them. Providing content that deeply resonates with an intended target is key to Account Based Marketing.
Personalized Content to Bolster Sales
When pursuing an Account Based Marketing strategy, Marketing’s role when it comes to content undergoes an important shift. Instead of being an inbound function attempting to source new leads, Marketing creates content that serves as support for outbound Sales efforts.
When Sales is engaging their targets within an account it is imperative that they are able to provide those key contacts with content that is relevant to their situation. Marketing should be creating content that directly supplements those conversations and speaks specifically to the intended audience.
Examples of the kind of personalized content Marketing can deliver to Sales to aide in their outreach efforts include:
- Case studies that focus on scenarios that are highly relevant and similar to the target account.
- Presentations customized for the targeted account that highlight specific products and solutions that solve problems unique to the account.
- eBooks composed of concepts, ideas, and thought leadership about topics that specifically resonate with targeted decision-makers.
Customized content begins to break down a barrier that many high-level decision-makers erect. They are more likely to be receptive to content that clearly speaks to issues they face day-to-day. ITSMA found that 75% of executive will “read unsolicited marketing materials that contain ideas that might be relevant to [their] business.”
Account Based Marketing incorporates hyper-personalization techniques that create more meaningful engagements from Marketing. This provides Sales with inroads and forms the basis for stronger relationships with an account. ABM is a powerful strategy for creating a true symbiotic relationship between Marketing and Sales.