This guide is here to help you make it happen. Let’s dive in.
Account-based Marketing (ABM) is a focused growth strategy in which Marketing and Sales collaborate to create personalized buying experiences for a mutually-identified set of high-value accounts.
Account-based marketing allows you to weed out less-valuable companies early on and ensure Marketing and Sales are in complete alignment — in return, your team can leap into the critical processes of engaging and delighting those accounts much faster.
ABM helps your business work and communicate with high-value accounts as if they’re individual markets. By doing this — along with personalizing the buyer’s journey and tailoring all communications, content, and campaigns to those specific accounts — you’ll see greater ROI and a boost in customer loyalty.
Before we take a look at additional benefits of account-based marketing and specific tactics you can implement at your company, let’s review its relationship with another important strategy: inbound marketing.
Often, these strategies are thought of as entirely different entities. However, they can be quite complementary.
Batman and Robin. LeBron and D-Wade. Peanut butter and jelly. Arguably some of the strongest partnerships ever to exist 💪. These dynamic duos are forces to be reckoned with when they work together.
Similarly, when paired, account-based marketing and inbound marketing have the power to make waves (the good ones) for your business.
You might be wondering, “How exactly does this partnership work?”
Well, we just reviewed the definition of account-based marketing — as you learned, ABM is a highly-targeted strategy.
Meanwhile, inbound marketing is more foundational — the methodology and growth strategy allows you to attract customers through the creation of valuable content, SEO, and a delightful customer experience.
Rather than interrupting your target audience and customers (as you would with outbound marketing), inbound marketing allows you to more organically provide your audience with the information they want when they want it. Inbound lays the foundation for a strong ABM strategy by allowing for highly-targeted and efficient resource allocation of high-value accounts.
Here are a few more reasons to implement both ABM and inbound marketing:
🧡TLDR: Combine ABM and inbound marketing to grow better.
Next, we’ll take a look at some of the definable benefits of account-based marketing.
There are a number of benefits associated with account-based marketing. We’ve compiled the following list of commonly-noted results that positively impact (all types of) businesses.
Cross-team collaboration and improved communication across any organization are beneficial to growth. In terms of account-based marketing, this transparency and alignment will ensure your marketing and sales teams are focused on the same goals, stick to the mutually-agreed-upon budget, and understand the specific roles of each internal stakeholder.
This alignment helps ensure all communications, interactions, and content (and more) are consistent for the accounts you work with. Meaning, no matter how long an account works with your company, your team members can pick up where others left off at any point in time without question — this creates a seamless and delightful customer experience.
🧡The easiest way to maintain internal account-based marketing alignment is with the help of software, like HubSpot, which makes connecting your marketing and sales teams exceptionally easy.
Account-based marketing requires you to personalize everything (e.g. content, product information, communications, and campaigns) for each account you invest your resources in. Through this personalization and customization, your relevance among these accounts is maximized.
That’s because your content and interactions are tailored in a way that shows them how your specific products, services, offerings, and team are what they need to solve their challenges and to grow better. Meaning, ABM allows you to angle your business in a way that makes it the most-relevant and ideal option for your target accounts.
As mentioned, account-based marketing requires you to deliver consistent experiences for your accounts — this plays a major role in your success. A large part of the reason for this is because ABM is a long process that often lasts several months or years.
So, for your ABM efforts to be remarkable, you must maintain a long-term sense of delight among your accounts. This is how you’ll make each account feel as though they’re your business’s market of one — and why would they ever want to stop doing business with you if that’s their experience?
Delivering these long-term, consistent experiences may seem a bit daunting. Although this is understandable, the good news is that ABM is a process that naturally encourages you to do so.
Think about it this way: We already discussed the way ABM requires Marketing and Sales to be aligned on all things related to each account (e.g. their goals, budget, unique needs, members of their team and buying committee).
When there’s a universal understanding of these factors within your organization, Marketing and Sales (and anyone else involved) will be able to effectively and naturally deliver that feeling of consistency through everything they communicate and share with each account (e.g. personalized content, targeted campaigns, pricing and product information, and more).
With account-based marketing, you can easily measure return on investment (ROI) for each account you invest your resources and time into. This is beneficial because you can confirm whether certain accounts you invested in were ideal for your business.
Then, you can nurture and delight those accounts long term as well as identify and target similar accounts in the future. If your ROI proves your ABM tactics worked, use those results as a motivator to drive your strategy forward as well as one you can count on to continually improve your bottom line.
Depending on your business, industry, and resources, the sales cycle typically looks something like this:
1) Prospect → 2) Connect → 3) Research → 4) Present → 5) Close → 6) Delight
With account-based marketing, this cycle is streamlined — by focusing your efforts on specific high-value target accounts, you save time and resources, and spend more time on the stages of the cycle that positively impact your bottom line:
1) Identify Target Accounts → 2) Present to Target Accounts → 3) Close Target Accounts → 4) Delight Accounts
ABM streamlines your sales cycle by helping you stay efficient. Rather than experimenting with different tactics to prospect and qualify a large pool of leads, ABM ensures your target accounts are ideal for your business so you can quickly dive into building relationships.
The sales cycle stage of closing is also streamlined through ABM. That’s because your chances of converting accounts and retaining them long term increase thanks to marketing and sales alignment, consistent customer experiences, and personalization.
The saying “quality over quantity” applies to account-based marketing. The process requires you to invest significant time and resources in engaging and delighting a group of carefully-chosen, high-value accounts, versus trying to quickly close deals with less-qualified leads who may not be the best fit for your company in the long run.
By taking the time to build these trusting relationships with accounts, you’ll expand business by retaining those valuable customers longer. And considering it costs more to obtain customers than retain them, this will positively impact your bottom line.
Additionally, as a result of personalized, thoughtful, and consistent customer experiences, accounts will become loyal to your business over time — and loyal customers become your best marketers, promoters, and brand advocates.
In other words, your accounts will help you expand your business among their networks (e.g. partners, customers) through referrals, word-of-mouth marketing, testimonials, and more.
Now let’s cover some account-based marketing tactics you can apply to your strategy to improve the likelihood of success.
ABM tactics are the building blocks of your strategy — so, work through the following list to ensure your ABM efforts and investment are successful.
One of the most important account-based marketing tactics is arguably one of the most straightforward: Secure organizational ABM alignment.
This means getting all internal stakeholders on board with the various factors related to your account-based marketing strategy. In doing so, it’ll be easier for your business to create consistent experiences for accounts and make sure your strategy is as efficient and streamlined as possible.
For example, your VP of Marketing and VP of Sales should secure organizational alignment and spread awareness regarding:
Similar to the first tactic we reviewed above, VPs of Marketing and Sales will also likely be leaders in the discussion regarding how you’ll build your ABM team.
They, along with managers on their respective teams, will need to identify a minimum of one marketer and one sales rep who will be completely dedicated to the accounts you work with.
These people will create and publish content for accounts as well as work to manage and close business deals with each account’s buying committee. (As a rule of thumb, try to limit your team size to no more than ten sales reps and one marketer.)
In addition to the marketer(s) and sales rep(s), don’t forget to identify any other internal key players — such as customer success reps — who should be aware of and aligned on your ABM strategy.
Identify and pick your ideal set of high-value target accounts to invest your time and resources in.
Here are some recommendations on how you can do this:
Throughout this guide, you’ve probably picked up on the fact account-based marketing is a team effort. That’s why ensuring appropriate marketing and sales team members are involved in account planning is so important.
Make sure Marketing and Sales ask the following questions while they work on account plans:
Here are a few other tips Marketing and Sales can use to make your account plans successful:
Next, you’ll want to attract the buying committee members and stakeholders of your target accounts. Depending on how long you’ve been in business and any previous ABM work you’ve done, you may or may not already have contacts for specific accounts.
The key to successfully attracting high-quality accounts is to personalize content to those accounts — this will help you elevate brand awareness and maximize relevance among audience members.
Here are some GDPR-compliant recommendations for attracting high-quality accounts:
Once you’ve attracted high-value accounts, it’s time to forge strong relationships with their buying committees. This is something your team will likely work on over an extended period of time — in fact, it often takes months and even years to develop these bonds. Think of this tactic as one tied to delighting your accounts — you never stop the process of delight.
Here are some thoughts on how you can forge strong, long-lasting relationships with an account’s buying committee.
While working through and upon completion of the tactics above, it’s crucial you monitor your success. By reviewing and analyzing your ABM results, you’ll identify any gaps or parts of your strategy that need to be changed. This will allow you to make your strategy more effective for your business, marketing and sales teams, and accounts.
Here are some examples of common account-based marketing KPIs that provide insight into how you’re doing:
🧡If you’d like some support with your analysis, enlist the help of HubSpot’s library of 12+ ABM reports to gain valuable insight into how to modify your ABM strategy for greater success.
Account-based marketing doesn’t have to be overwhelming. By working through the tactics we’ve listed above and implementing software — such as HubSpot’s ABM software — for your marketing and sales team to use together, you’ll identify valuable accounts more efficiently, reduce any friction impacting your flywheel, and grow better.
Originally published Apr 17, 2020 12:45:00 PM, updated April 17 2020