Account-Based Marketing: Back To Basics
Worried that your advertising isn't working or that your website is weak? Then it's time to start using account-based marketing, advises columnist Peter Isaacson. He lays out three key components to get you started with ABM.
One cool thing about my job is that I get the chance to talk to really smart marketing leaders all the time. And I’m always struck by the fact that despite the massive investment in marketing tech over the past few years and the huge amount of innovation we’ve seen, I still hear the same three core problems:
- My advertising doesn’t work
- My website sucks
- My sales guys don’t follow up on my leads
If you found yourself nodding your head for any of these, then you probably know that your current marketing strategy isn’t up to snuff. Ready to change that?
For a lot of B2B marketers looking for solutions to their marketing challenges, the answer is Account-Based Marketing, or ABM.
Now, some readers may have experience with ABM. The concept has actually been around for 10 or 15 years. But back in the day, ABM typically meant a field marketing team sitting down with their sales counterparts, identifying 25 or maybe 50 accounts to target, and then developing some analog marketing programs for those accounts — things like VITO (very important top officers) letters, high value direct mailers or account overviews.
It’s All About Scale
What’s changed in the past couple of years is that B2B marketers now have digital technology solutions that allow them to scale those efforts. So instead of targeting 50 accounts, you can now target 500 or even 5,000 accounts. And with that type of scale, marketers can begin to make a significant impact on revenue!
One of the real advantages of ABM is that it helps get marketing and sales teams on the same page. By focusing on the same accounts, sales and marketing teams begin to share the same goals and the same metrics for measuring progress.
Gone are the days when Marketing celebrates making an MQL (Marketing Qualified Lead) goal while the sales team sends hate mail because they’ve missed their quota three quarters in a row.
More advanced ABM marketers can employ some pretty sophisticated strategies and programs. But getting started is actually relatively easy. And you can grow into those sophisticated strategies over time.
In order to implement it, there are three key components to keep in mind.
Identify Your Target Accounts: Aligning Sales And Marketing Targets
It’s no secret that there’s often friction between sales and marketing teams. More often than not, that friction is a result of misaligned priorities between the two teams. And let’s face it, arguing with your sales counterparts all day kind of sucks.
But with an account-based approach, we start by having sales and marketing work together and focus on accounts that really matter.
We often come across companies that think ABM won’t work for them because they don’t have target accounts. But identifying target accounts doesn’t have to be a mind-numbing two-year process.
Does your sales team have named accounts? Are you already targeting a few vertical industries? Does your company have a sacred list of strategic accounts?
Then use those to build your account list. But remember, don’t do it in a vacuum. Partner with your sales team to build and finalize the list.
Market To Your Target Accounts: Building A Better Digital (And Analog) Experience
Marketers who are considering switching to an account-based approach sometimes make the assumption that they’ll have to start from scratch with a whole new set of “tailored” marketing assets. In a recent Sirius Decisions survey about the state of ABM, 47 percent of respondents said they believe their team doesn’t have the skills they need to get started with ABM campaigns.
But you don’t have to start deleting your marketing collateral just yet. The beauty of ABM is that it provides the tools and strategies your marketing team needs to supercharge your existing marketing campaigns.
No two visitors to your site are exactly the same, so why would you serve them the same Web experience? Studies have shown that personalized CTAs convert up to 42 percent more site visitors than untargeted ones.
Because ABM focuses on identifying your site visitors by account, it allows you to tailor their Web experiences. Those improved interactions don’t have to begin and end online. You can take the ABM approach offline, too, by targeting those accounts at field events and trade shows.
Here’s an example: You’ve got a great whitepaper that you want to market to prospective customers across several distinct industries. With Account-Based Marketing, you can serve a customized message to each account on your conversion page; all your financial services visitors will see a message tailored to their industry, while everyone in the legal sector will see a CTA that aligns with their pain points.
To put it simply, ABM lets you scale your advertising materials effectively, without having to ramp up production of custom marketing collateral.
Measure Progress Against Target Accounts: Finding The Right Ways To Measure Success
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the right KPIs (key performance indicators) can make a huge difference in understanding if your marketing is resonating with the right audience. Too often, marketers simply measure themselves against the wrong metrics.
It’s OK to track CTRs, CPMs, Inquiries and other proxy measures. But those do NOT tell you the impact you are making.
And if you are bragging about your click-through rates to a salesperson, that glazed look in their eyes should be a sign that there is trouble in paradise.
To measure the impact, you have to get closer to the business metrics — things like pipeline contribution, close rates, funnel velocity and actual opportunities with your target accounts. Sit down with a sales leader and start talking about those metrics and how marketing is contributing to them, and you will have a friend for life.
Why It’s Time to Start Taking Account-Based Marketing Seriously
We’re experiencing some really exciting changes in the marketing sector right now. Advertising tech has finally caught up with the Account-Based Marketing techniques that marketers have been using to a lesser extent for years, allowing marketers to scale ABM to meet their needs.
Marketing leaders who have already embraced ABM are seeing just how effective it can be.
This isn’t just lip service to a nice idea. At Demandbase, we’re already seeing fantastic results! In fact, 75 percent of our sales pipeline is fed by our own targeted account list.
So if you’re not sure if your advertising is working, if your website sucks, or if you can’t get your sales team follow up on your leads, it’s time to take action and start using ABM to get the results you really want.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.