Account-Based Marketing (ABM): What, Why and How [B2B]

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Account Based Marketing ABM

Account-Based Marketing ensures that you focus on your most potential customers…

Are you wasting too many resources on accounts that don’t end up becoming customers?

What if you could market directly to your most potential accounts in a relevant and effective way.

I’m going to show you how to do that by explaining:

  • What Account-Based Marketing is
  • Why you should use it
  • And how to get started with Account-Based Marketing

Without wasting time, let’s get started:

What is Account-Based Marketing?

Account-Based Marketing ensures a good collaboration between marketing and sales by focusing on a few specific accounts and the needs of those specific accounts.

Account-Based Marketing was invented by the American company ITSMA in 2004, but the strategy had long been adopted by marketers in need of a more personal and effective approach.

The biggest challenge for B2B marketers is generating high-quality leads, according to Forrester only 0.75% of generated leads result in a final deal.

The Decision-Making Unit plays a huge role in the B2B decision-making process, Account-Based Marketing plays into this tremendously well.

Why is ABM so hot right now? Bev Burgess explains:

Inbound Marketing vs Account-Based Marketing

Inbound marketing focuses on generating as many leads as possible…

Account-Based Marketing does it the other way around:

Inbound Marketing vs Account Based Marketing
Inbound Marketing vs Account Based Marketing

In brief, the differences are:

Inbound Marketing vs Account Based Marketing Table
Table Comparison

Account-Based Marketing Advantages

Account-Based Marketing has many advantages:

  1. Sales and Marketing Alignment: sales and marketing have 1 common goal, to bring in a target account. This is the end of discussions about quantity and quality of leads.
  2. Shorter Sales Cycle: ABM always takes into account all prospects within the DMU, by providing them with the right information, decisions can be made faster.
  3. Clear Return on Investment (ROI): ROI can be better understood with ABM than with traditional marketing.
  4. Fewer Wasted Resources: ABM focuses on the most potential accounts so that hardly any resources are wasted on prospects and leads that ultimately will not convert.
  5. Better Customer Experience: instead of going broad with content that appeals to a few people, you can go in-depth with content that seamlessly connects to your target accounts. This ensures a higher relevance that contributes to an improved customer experience.

I have also listed a number of facts & figures:

Facts & Figures

  • After two years, 89% of marketers report a higher ROI from ABM than from traditional marketing.
  • Companies that deploy Account-Based Marketing generate 208% more revenue from their marketing.
  • 91% of marketers who deploy Account-Based Marketing see a larger deal-size, with increases of more than 50%.
  • DMU members report being 40% more willing to buy from a vendor who personalizes content based on their personal needs.
  • ABM reduces time spent on non-qualitative leads by 50%.
  • 86% of B2B organizations say ABM creates higher win-rates.
  • 84% of B2B marketers say ABM provides a significantly higher benefit in retaining and expanding existing customer relationships.
  • ABM improves Customer Lifetime Value according to 80% of B2B organizations.

There are 3 types of Account-Based Marketing:


How to get started with Account-Based Marketing?

How to start with Account-Based Marketing?

  1. Ensure approval

    Make sure stakeholders approve the deploying of an Account-Based Marketing strategy and that they know roughly what you will do.

  2. Assemble your team

    Get people with the right disciplines and build your team.

  3. Find your Ideal Customer Profile

    Formulate a description of your ideal customer so that you will focus all your resources on this type of customer.

  4. Choose your target accounts

    Once you know what your Ideal Customer Profile looks like you can start looking for accounts that fall within this.

  5. Choose your content and channels

    If you have a list of target accounts, know what the Decision-Making Unit looks like then you can start creating content for these contacts and find channels in which you will distribute this content.

  6. Run your sequence and measure the results

    Once you have established a sequence/funnel, you can start executing it and measure the results.

  7. Optimize, repeat and/or scale up

    Once you’ve gotten started implementing your Account-Based Marketing strategy, you can start optimizing, repeating and/or scaling your flow.

1. Get approval

Of course, it’s not desirable that you go about your business like a cowboy, implementing a strategy and not letting anyone know what you’re going to do…

Make sure you have approval from key stakeholders and that they are aware of what you are going to do and how you are going to do it.

2. Assemble your team

Make sure you have a number of people with the right disciplines available for your team.

3. Find your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is a description of the type of company that would benefit most from your solution…

Characteristics you might include:

  • Industry/Sector
  • Number of Employees
  • Annual revenue
  • Budget
  • Geography
  • Technology
  • Number of customers
  • Technology maturity

A good tool for this could be the TAM SAM SOM Model.

How to find your ICP?

According to iab, there are 2 main ways to find out your ICP:

  • Closed-Won Analysis: often throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks might work. By trying to sell to a broader market first, you can get a good look at what types of businesses end up becoming customers. The segment of customers that actually convert could be your ICP.
  • Closed-Loss Analysis: look at the same points as the Closed-Won Analysis, but examine which prospects do not convert to customers.

Doing both analysis could give you a good idea of your ICP.

4. Choose your target accounts

Look for accounts that match the description of your Ideal Customer Profile…

Once you have a list of target accounts you can start filling out the Decision-Making Unit Canvas:

Next, you will conduct research to match members of the Decision-Making Unit with contacts within the organization you will be targeting.

You could prioritize your target accounts based on the FIRE principle:

  1. Fit: how well is the account a match for your product or service?
  2. Intent: how inclined is the account to make a purchase (from you)?
  3. Recency: how recently has the account shown interest?
  4. Engagement: in what way has an account interacted with you?

5. Choose your content and channels

Depending on the type of ABM approach you’re going to take, your tactics and channels will differ…

For example:

  • Account specific content
  • In-person event
  • Direct mail
  • Paid social media
  • E-mail marketing
  • Paid search
  • Webinars

Account-Based Marketing with Educational Marketing

Personally, I think it’s strong to apply educational marketing within Account-Based Marketing, it ensures:

  • That your prospect starts to trust you.
  • Demand is created, because your prospect will understand his problem.
  • And the prospect starts to understand the added value of your solution so that he can better convince others to choose your solution.

It is important to experiment a lot with the value propositions and the content you serve to your prospects to see what converts well.

6. Run your sequence and measure the results

If all goes well, you’ve assembled your team, chosen an ICP, selected target accounts, drafted your content, and chosen your channels…

Then it’s time to start executing your strategy, building relationships with your contacts and measuring the results.

What KPIs are there?

KPIs you could measure:

  • Deal creation
  • Account penetration (new number of contacts added to an account)
  • Account engagement
  • Deal-to-close time
  • Net new revenue
  • Percentage of deals closed

When creating your funnel/sequence, I recommend following the Pirate Funnel (AARRR Framework).

Tips for Follow-ups

Some tips from Fingerspitz to keep your follow-ups from coming across as tedious:

  • Keep it short, 2-3 sentences max.
  • Avoid automatic messages, so make it personal.
  • Use social proof, name relevant accounts that have already done the same action.
  • Experiment with your text and call-to-actions.
  • Stop with I’m-I’m and name what it brings to the account (What’s In It For Me?).

Account-Based Marketing Tools

There is a lot of technology available for implementing your sequence, but perhaps the map below can help you:

7. Optimize, repeat and/or scale up

Next, you’re going to repeat and optimize your flow to ensure that:

  • As much personalization as possible is applied
  • Order value is increased
  • The customer relationship is extended
  • There is more engagement from the contacts
  • Conversion rates are maximized
  • More repeat purchases or up-sells are made

Next, you can start scaling or transforming your team to a more inbound marketing focused approach.

Measure how mature you are in dealing with Account-Based Marketing

Reflect on the ABM Competency Model to check where you stand with your ABM strategy:

Common mistakes

There are a number of mistakes that do occur in practice:

1. Working in silos

Account-Based Marketing requires collaboration between marketing and sales…

These two departments must work together toward one common goal:

  • Closing deals with selected accounts.

Make sure it’s clear to both teams what success looks like.

2. 100% focus on digital

Offline should certainly not be forgotten in the ABM strategy.

Networking at an event or during face-to-face contact is still very valuable and ensures a good relationship with the (potential) client.

3. Creating content for the sake of creating content

You may be familiar with the saying:

Content is king, but context is god

The content you create must connect to your target account, so it must be relevant.

4. Inadequate consideration of the DMU

Understanding the members of the Decision-Making Unit is hugely important.

If you don’t get key attributes of your target accounts right, such as:

  • The budget
  • Number of employees
  • Decision-makers

You can quickly appear irrelevant or cause confusion.

5. Make too many assumptions

Don’t make too many assumptions…

And if you do make assumptions make sure you validate them. The Customer Discovery process can help you do that.

How are you bringing in your B2B customers?

Being relevant… This is and will be increasingly important.

Have you already started Account-Based Marketing or how are you bringing in your B2B customers?

Let us know in a comment.

P.S. if you want help let, me know at [email protected]

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an MQL?

A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is a prospect or potential customer who has shown interest in your company/product/service, whose contact information is known to your company, and one or more of whose criteria match your ideal customer.

What is an SQL?

A Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) is a lead that has shown quite a bit of interest in your company/product/service. As a Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL), the SQL has been researched from the marketing department and labeled as a Sales Qualified Lead to pass on to the sales department.

What is Account-Based Marketing?

Account-Based Marketing ensures that marketing and sales work well together by focusing on a few specific accounts and the needs of those specific accounts.

What is the difference between Account-Based Marketing and Inbound Marketing?

Inbound Marketing focuses on generating as many leads as possible and bringing in new customers while Account-Based Marketing focuses on getting new customers and increasing current customer value by effectively and efficiently targeting the most potential accounts.

What are the 3 types of Account-Based Marketing?

Strategic ABM also called One-to-One, 2. ABM Lite also called One-to-Few en 3. Programmatic ABM also called One-to-Many.

Gust de Backer
Gust de Backer

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