Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is an alternative B2B strategy that converges enterprise sales and marketing resources on a clearly defined set of customers (and prospects) within the select target market(s) and employs personalized campaigns designed to resonate with each customer and prospect.
ABM is a robust and proactive marketing strategy where strategic customers and prospects are marketed to directly, as ‘Markets of One’ (as compared to the typical ‘One-to-Many’ approach). Within this approach: high-value customers and prospects identified; critical stakeholders in the customer and prospect companies targeted, and personalized marketing strategies are crafted and deployed through the various corporate channels to appeal to specific target personas and needs.
“Marketing aims to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.”
ABM Market Research
84% of B2B marketers say that ABM delivers a higher ROI than any other approach.
81% of ABM marketers believe that the ROI of ABM is higher than that of other marketing initiatives.
ABM & Strategic Customer Accounts
Strategic customers and prospects are generally viewed by ‘best-in-class’ companies as mission-critical to long-term financial success and viability as a competitive and positive industry force and represent ideal candidates for inclusion within an account-based management approach.
Not all customers meet the standard rigid ABM selection criteria for designation as strategic accounts. Marketing and sales executives need to be careful about which companies to focus on for their ABM efforts or risk losing valuable customers who were not selected. When identifying strategic customers and prospects, organizations should evaluate account history, including orders, margins, and profitability, and product and services requirements and all levels of past interactions.
There are also some obvious red flags that need to be quickly recognized, specifically with customers identified as strategic, as the news may reveal potential and time-sensitive customer departure situation and an opportunity to turn any account problem into an opportunity. Red flags include:
- The decrease in the percent of customer ‘wallet’ spend on product and service
- Lack of positive ROI outcomes, from the relationship, for company and customer.
- Incapable of achieving mutual partnering goals.
- Unresolved disputes.
ABM and Inbound Marketing
Inbound Marketing focuses on attracting customers with creative online content that feels valuable and intuitive to prospects. The primary inbound marketing channels used are email, web sites, blogs, search engines, and social media. However, inbound marketing does not control who ultimately engages and responds positively to individual sales campaigns. Market research supports that inbound leads generated from sales campaigns may not always represent the ideal customers for profitable long-term relationships!
Today, B2B buyer data is widely available in the market, and companies construct supporting data sets to effectively identify high-value prospective companies with a recognized propensity to engage in long-term relationships.
In the current high-competitive marketplace, companies cannot afford to wait for leads to be generated only from marketing activities. In this regard, ABM can successfully work in harmony with broad-based inbound marketing activities to increase the quality and quantity of leads.
Organizations can directly target and select customers and prospects and treat them differently as part of an overall ABM strategy while also conducting regular marketing activities and campaigns to acquire and grow customers in non-strategic accounts.
“If you’re competitor-focused, you have to wait until there is a competitor doing something. Being customer-focused allows you to be more pioneering.”
ABM Corporate Uses
The ABM approach is becoming more broadly adopted, as companies in a variety of industries are highlighting success with the strategy. Many businesses, particularly those pursuing specific high-value customers, find that they are the traditional broad-reaching approach to their sales and marketing activities.
Since ABM demands more account-level personalization than established marketing models, it has proven historically more expensive to implement. However, advances in marketing technology have enabled marketers to employ ABM for much less than previously possible and at a much grander scale.
The key benefits of account-based marketing are as follows:
- Align marketing activity with account sales strategies.
- Engage earlier and at a higher-level with presales.
- Identify specific contacts at specific prospect companies within the target market.
- Increase account relationship relevance.
- Motivate customers with compelling content.
- Obtain better value from marketing.
- An opportunity to get personal.
- Shorten presales cycles.
- Encourage trust-based customer relationships.
ABM Framework Set-up
The ABM Framework can be successfully set-up as follows:
- Customer Account Identification & Selection
- Opportunity sizing & propensity modeling.
- Planning and Insights
- Customer account research and profiling.
- Messaging and Propositions
- Customer account vision and propositions.
- Content and Communication
- Content and digital media.
- Execution and Engagement
- Campaigns, events, and seminars.