Account Based Marketing (ABM): The Art of Talking Directly to Your Audience
According to a recent study, 84% of B2B marketers say account based marketing delivers a higher ROI than any other type of marketing.
That’s quite a claim, but is it accurate? As a B2B marketer, you understand how valuable a single quality lead can be. But casting a wide net and finding them can be, well, tricky. Using a solid inbound marketing strategy will generate leads—sure, there’s no denying that. But it can require an investment up front and it will take some time before you see your leads start to roll in.
Account based marketing (ABM) on the other hand is a hyper-personalized approach to sourcing and nurturing high-quality leads by flipping the traditional sales funnel as you’ve come to know (and love) on its head.
In this blog, we’re looking at how you can benefit from ABM, a few examples in practice, and how it can complement your existing inbound marketing strategy. Let’s get into it.
What is Account Based Marketing?
ABM is about personalization, understanding, and developing genuine connections. Think of it like sending a personalized letter instead of a generic, one-size-fits-all email.
Let’s say you walk into a crowded party (yikes!), and in the midst of all the noise, you meet someone who shares your exact interests, your sense of humor, and your passion for pickleball. Well, that’s pretty much what ABM is—translated into the world of business.
Instead of casting a broad net to capture anything and everything, ABM helps you identify your dream catch. It’s all about focusing your marketing efforts on a select group of high-potential prospects and treating them like the VIPs they are.
Your job is to create a unique experience that makes them feel heard, valued, and understood.
The Benefits of Account Based Marketing for B2B Organizations
Account based marketing is a powerful tool for B2B organizations that want to build strong, meaningful relationships with their most valuable prospects. Here are a few reasons why you should add this strategy to your marketing approach:
- A Personal Touch: With ABM, you're not sending generic messages into the void. Instead, you're crafting personalized content and experiences tailored to the unique needs and challenges of your target accounts. This personal touch can lead to deeper connections and higher engagement.
- Alignment of Sales and Marketing: ABM encourages close collaboration between the sales and marketing teams. When they work together to target the same accounts, you create a unique chemistry that can lead to increased efficiency and better results.
- Shortened Sales Cycles: When your marketing is closely aligned with the needs of your target accounts, the sales process becomes smoother and more streamlined. You're not just selling—you're addressing the specific pain points of your precise target audience.
- Increased Customer Loyalty: ABM isn't just about acquiring new customers; it's about nurturing existing relationships. By showing that you understand and care about them, they're more likely to turn into loyal advocates for your brand.
- Measurable Results: With ABM, it's easier to measure the impact of your efforts. You can track the progress of your target accounts and see how your strategies are driving results, making it easier to refine and optimize your approach.
By concentrating your resources on these high-valued accounts, it’s very likely you’ll see a much higher ROI. Think of it as investing in quality over quantity.
So that’s what you stand to gain with account based marketing. Now let’s look at the nuts and bolts of how it works.
The Philosophy of ABM
Traditional inbound marketing often follows a linear funnel approach. You cast a wide net, hoping to catch as many leads as possible. It's simply a numbers game.
However, ABM dares to be different. It says, "Let's put quality over quantity." It's all about personalization, where you craft your message as if you're writing a letter to a close friend—not shouting from a megaphone to a crowd of people.
Let’s think about the traditional marketing funnel for a minute… It prioritizes leads as they trickle down the stages—top, middle, and bottom. It's lead-centric. ABM, however, is account-centric. It focuses on entire accounts and treats them as the hero of your marketing story. These accounts, not individual leads, become the stars of the show.
In a traditional funnel, sales and marketing are often in separate lanes. Sales get the leads, and marketing gets the clicks. But with ABM, these two departments are brought together. Players on each team collaborate closely to target the same accounts they’ve come to learn much about.
The philosophy of ABM is about talking directly to your audience in a way that resonates with them on a personal level. It's about turning the traditional marketing funnel upside down and shifting the spotlight from leads to accounts. With ABM, it's not just about selling; it's about building lasting relationships with the people and companies that matter most to your business.
ABM Strategy Examples
Now that we’ve taken a look at the philosophy behind ABM, let’s put that theory into practice. These hypothetical examples aim to showcase how this strategy of speaking directly to your target audience can yield impressive results.
The Scenario: A software company looking to target enterprise-level clients.
The ABM Approach: They identify a handful of high-value accounts within their target market. Instead of sending generic emails and content, they create personalized content tailored to the specific challenges and needs of each account. This includes custom webinars, in-depth case studies, and one-on-one consultation offers.
The Result: They saw a significant increase in engagement from these accounts, and some turned into loyal customers. The personal touch made these prospects feel like they were a top priority, increasing conversion rates and ROI.
The Scenario: A cybersecurity company wanting to reach financial institutions.
The ABM Approach: They decide to host a series of invite-only webinars and roundtable discussions focusing on cybersecurity challenges in the financial sector. They invite key decision-makers from targeted banks, tailoring the content to address their specific concerns.
The Result: The events were a hit, and not only did they gain new customers, but the personalized discussions helped build trust and long-term relationships. The financial institutions felt valued, and the company solidified its reputation as an industry leader.
The Scenario: A marketing automation platform sets its sights on targeting digital marketing managers at e-commerce companies.
The ABM Approach: They launch a podcast series titled "Unleashing Your E-Commerce Super Powers.” Each episode features in-depth interviews with influential e-commerce professionals. They send personalized invitations to these managers to participate in the podcast or suggest topics. The podcast also includes subtle mentions of how their platform can help solve common e-commerce challenges.
The Result: The podcast not only piques the interest of their target audience but also positions the platform as an industry thought leader. This leads to a surge in inquiries and demo requests from the e-commerce sector.
These hypothetical ABM strategy examples highlight the versatility and effectiveness of this approach across various industries. The key takeaway?
ABM is not a one-size-fits-all strategy.
It's about understanding your audience, crafting personalized experiences, and creating lasting connections that can elevate your business to new heights.
How ABM Complements Inbound Marketing
As we’ve previously covered, inbound marketing is all about casting a wide net to attract a broad audience. While inbound marketing is effective, it’s not always the best solution depending on your situation. You could end up spending time and resources on leads who aren’t exactly the right fit for your business. This is where ABM steps in.
ABM helps you identify your dream clients and focus your efforts on them. But when combined with inbound marketing, you get the best of both worlds:
- Data-Driven Decisions: Both ABM and inbound marketing rely on data to inform their strategies. Inbound collects data on a wide range of leads, while ABM focuses on in-depth data for high-value accounts. Both strategies can share valuable insights, helping you make better data-driven decisions.
- Smarter Lead Generation: While inbound marketing attracts a wide array of leads, ABM helps you filter and prioritize them based on their potential value. You can then nurture these leads with content that is specific to their needs and preferences.
- Multi-Touch Approach: Inbound provides the initial touch by casting a wide net and capturing the attention of a broad audience. ABM follows up with personalized touches that nurture high-value accounts. This multi-touch approach ensures that you're reaching your audience at various stages of their buying journey.
- Personalized Engagement: ABM enables you to engage with your target accounts on a one-to-one basis, offering them a more personalized experience. Inbound marketing lays the groundwork by attracting potential customers, and ABM takes it to the next level.
- Continuous Feedback Loop: Feedback from the sales team can inform inbound marketing efforts, helping to fine-tune content and targeting to attract similar high-value prospects in the future for ABM campaigns.
As you can see, ABM and inbound marketing complement each other in a strategic way. Think of it as inbound acting as that broad stroke that gets the attention of a wide audience, while ABM is the fine brush that adds intricate details. Together, they create a marketing strategy that is not only more efficient, but is also more effective.