Last month, we introduced you to account-based marketing (ABM) –what it is and how to get started with it. This laser-focused approach enables you to penetrate the thinking of your most desired customers and influence their buying decisions like never before. In this month’s article, we’ll explore what makes it so effective.
ABM: The power tool for today’s marketing
To understand why account-based marketing is so efficient and effective, we need to take a closer look at the ways in which customers buy today. A growing body of research agrees that customers want to do their own research and education; they don’t want to talk to a salesperson until much later in the buying process.
But there’s another factor that doesn’t get as much attention: According to ITSMA’s How Customers Choose research, buyers are naturally inclined to reduce the number of solution providers they consider. Industry knowledge is one criterion they use to cull the weakest prospects. If it’s obvious that you really don’t understand their business, you won’t make the cut.
How does ABM solve this problem? It forces your marketers and salespeople to zero in on their highest opportunity, highest-value prospects – and then to go deep in understanding the specific needs of each member of their buying team. In other words, ABM is not a B2B exercise; it’s a person-to-person, one-to-one mindset.
Instead of flooding the market with content and messaging, your marketing and sales teams can take a more thoughtful, personalized approach to each person at your target accounts. You can coordinate your efforts to efficiently engage, influence and convert them. As a result, ABM can speed up the sales process, enabling your marketing and sales teams to achieve better close rates and close bigger deals – faster.
Another ABM approach expands the target beyond individual high-value accounts to focus on small clusters of key accounts with similar needs. Here’s how it could work for a small manufacturer of biofilms for wastewater treatment that seeks to expand into a new market:
- The company creates a landing page that contains a group of 3-5 pieces of content focused on industrial applications of its technology. Because the manufacturer is trying to build trust and credibility with this market, these resources are not gated (they don’t require the prospect to trade their name and email to view them).
- The company identifies 10-20 production plants in its target industries and geographical area who can benefit the most from its new solution. It identifies decision-makers and influencers within these firms to create a targeted email list.
- It creates targeted messaging focused on their common needs and sends it to this small list.
Wasn’t this always possible? Yes, but not at scale. What’s different today is that we have a wealth of real customer data – not just impersonal lists we’ve purchased from a third party – that can help us determine:
- Which companies are in the market for solutions like those you offer,
- Where they’re at in their buying journey,
- Who the members of the buying committee are, and
- Their roles and relevance in the buying process.
That’s the power of today’s ABM.
Not just for enterprises anymore
In its early stages, ABM was mainly used by large enterprises to target high-value accounts. That’s because it took a significant investment of time to precisely target these A-list prospects. Only enterprises could muster the required manpower and resources.
But in the last few years, marketing automation tools have improved to the point where small to medium-sized businesses can benefit from ABM. Here’s one example, from a recent article on the Business 2 Community website:
“Snowflake, a cloud-based data-warehousing company, leveraged its in-house expertise to develop a robust library of high-quality content, which they use to create individualized experiences for target accounts. At any given time, the Snowflake team is running 500 concurrent individualized account-based campaigns, and each of these 1-to-1 campaigns is developed in tandem with their sales reps (who know their accounts inside and out) to create personalized messaging and content experiences.
“Each campaign can be launched quickly and starts with digital advertising as a means to distribute the experience to the right account, depending on where they are in their lifecycle. You can run the same or similar campaigns by leveraging a platform like Uberflip in tandem with your advertising and marketing automation platforms.”
Uberflip enables salespeople to create customized collections of content from their organization’s content repository, social media channels and other sources. It can then message them to their target prospects and measure their engagement with these assets. LinkedIn Sales Navigator does the same thing with its PointDrive tool.
The data from these laser-targeted campaigns yield important insights, including the topics that resonate the most with your prospects and where they are in their buying process.
Next month: Does ABM make sense for my company?