Traditional marketing was time-consuming because it required an approach to TV and radio stations, billboard firms, mailing services, publications and journals, potential affiliates, and organizing events. To put it mildly, it was pretty labor-intensive.
Plus, traditional marketing was also an irrevocable marketing technique that could not be improved after being implemented. There is no turning back and correcting an error or altering a letter on the billboard/postcard once it has been released.
Here's when account-based marketing started emerging as a strategic way for marketers to discover, engage, and nurture decision-makers at specific accounts. Because this method repeatedly proved to be incredibly effective, it is finding its way into B2B marketing programmes worldwide.
With that being said, let's jump into the article and discuss account-based marketing in depth. As a B2B marketer, it is essential to have enough knowledge before starting the account-based marketing journey. Hence, we are here to help you with a vivid explanation for all the nuances of account-based marketing.
What is Account-Based Marketing?
Account-based marketing utilizes sales and marketing resources on engaging and nurture a select group of target accounts and the key decision-makers within those accounts.
Account-based marketing can be focused on either safeguarding and developing existing accounts or gaining new business from specified target accounts — or on a combination of the two.
The Account-based marketing method is focused on efficiency and effectiveness. It decreases the amount of time and resources marketers spend connecting with less valuable audiences, allowing them to focus on target-specific, verified accounts.
It is a company marketing technique that focuses resources on a specific set of target accounts within a market. It employs individualized campaigns to engage each account, tailoring the marketing message to its unique characteristics and demands.
Account-Based Marketing also takes a broader view of marketing than just lead generation. One of the strategies to generate the most value from your largest accounts is to market to existing client accounts to drive up-selling and cross-selling.
In summary, Account-Based Marketing not only 'flips the funnel,' but it also flips the schedule because it is no longer about generating leads but about specifically targeting and nurturing specific accounts and connections.
Marketing teams collaborate closely with sales in an Account-Based Marketing approach to:
- Identify significant prospect accounts or current key customer accounts
- Determine the important decision-makers, influencers, and stakeholders in each account
- Customize marketing campaigns, content, and messaging for these contacts
- Account-based marketing can be thought of as a one-to-one method rather than a one-to-many strategy. Account-based marketing is commonly utilized in enterprise-level organizations with over 1,000 workers to assist teams with the following
- Engage with higher-value opportunities earlier in the sales process.
- Align sales and account management strategies with strategic marketing initiatives.
- Increase the value and ROI of marketing campaigns.
Marketers have always used strategies and approaches to generate quality leads and revenues. They would then follow up with those leads to earn more revenue. However, for an account-based marketing strategy to succeed, marketers and sales must stop operating in silos with specific initiatives and join forces with a single purpose. Marketing and sales should first brainstorm to develop concepts and outline goals, objectives, and critical success measures.
According to a SiriusDecisions report, 92 per cent of businesses acknowledge the advantages of Account-Based Marketing, even going so far as to name it a B2B marketing must-have. On the other hand, Account-Based Marketing is only a clever strategy when done well – with the necessary targeting, data, and tools in place to manage and grow outcomes.
Why is Account-Based Marketing a much-needed strategy for B2B brands?
Before breaking it down for you, here are a few statistics to help you get a picture in your head.
- According to 84 per cent of marketers, Account-Based Marketing has a significant impact on maintaining and extending existing client relationships (SiriusDecisions).
- According to the 2018 Account-Based Marketing Benchmark Study done by ITSMA and Demandbase, Account-Based Marketing programmes now account for one-quarter of marketing budgets.
If you understood the numbers briefly, it is a given that Account-Based Marketing works when done correctly.
It strengthens your customer relationships and reputation. This boosts goodwill. As a result, revenue, profits, and dividends all rise. In B2B enterprises, Account-Based Marketing is repositioning marketing.
Let's take a broad look at the explanation below before delving into the specific benefits of Account-Based Marketing in the following section.
#1 Account-Based Marketing helps understand your clientele better
Extensive but targeted research is required for a successful Account-Based Marketing strategy. You're not reaching out to a broad target audience but rather to specific business organizations that may become clients. When you have such a limited focus, you better understand what will pique someone's interest.
Let's utilize an illustration. You'll be on the other side of the equation — you'll be representing a food service.
Say you found an apartment with 70% studio apartment residents as students/young working professionals who live alone and depend on food services. They are a potential client for your food services. To attain them as clients, you will conduct as much research on this opportunity as feasible. You'll be surprised at how many people learn.
You'll learn how many learners and classes it hosts daily, as well as their values. If they advocate for a healthy meal plan, you will provide services that reflect their beliefs.
Especially if you look at this example from the pandemic point of view, it explains how much of a benefit the foodservice owner can achieve with just a little communication and persuasion.
You have the opportunity to communicate with the specific prospect to develop an even better offer for them. If you pique their attention when you contact them, the potential lead will most likely have questions. They may ask you to change something in your offer, which you may readily do.
If, for example, they advise you to have better packaging or include a particular type of diet, you will try and enhance your services that suit your customers. You can afford to adjust the strategy for a single demand because you create individualized offers that work for the client.
Account-based marketing strategies should not terminate once the first transaction with a new client is closed. Instead, sales and marketing teams should concentrate on growing client loyalty, participation, and lifetime value.
In a nutshell, a fundamental aspect of an Account-Based Marketing strategy is gaining insights into your target audience. Account-based marketers rely on data analytics to help them identify accounts and optimize campaigns.
Use your existing projects and the data you get from continuous contacts to maintain a strong relationship, account-specific content strategy, and a fantastic customer experience. You should use methods such as reducing churn and laying the groundwork for future sales/customer advocacy.
#2 Personalized communications
Prospects and customers are more likely to engage with personalized marketing methods. In email introductions, for example, everyone prefers to be addressed by name rather than the generic and slightly off-putting, "Dear customer."
Account-based marketing elevates personalized marketing to a new level by creating information that key decision-makers want and require to progress through the buyer's journey.
Such fine-tuned material necessitates study, which important decision-makers should notice right away. It also necessitates the collaboration of marketing and sales to efficiently and effectively target these relationships in a way that will be most meaningful to them.
It offers a common goal: personalization. Marketers are focused on researching and understanding their target audience's wants. They're seeking a means to contact them. The sales team's priority is to understand the leads and create personalized material that prompts purchasing decisions. Account-Based Marketing is the meeting point for these two groups.
Content marketing drives the tailored approach, which is communicated through individualized sales pitches. When a firm employs Account-Based Marketing strategies, the marketing and sales teams must interact and meet as often as possible.
How to implement Account-Based Marketing?
Account-based marketing is not a novel concept, but it has recently seen a comeback as a result of increasing technology and shifting terrain. An Account-Based Marketing strategy can assist enhance marketing ROI, drive attributed revenue, generate more conversions and quality leads, and link sales and marketing.
B2B marketers target leads more broadly to appeal to as many firms as possible, but this does not produce the highest ROI. Because of the high level of personalization required, scaling Account-Based Marketing programmes was previously difficult and costly.
With today's new and growing technology, scaling Account-Based Marketing to a range of enterprises is now more accessible and inexpensive. Marketers across the board are using an Account-Based Marketing approach inside their team to generate higher value outcomes.
Account-based marketing boosts the stakes by focusing on one account and targeting the decision-makers with coordinated and high-touch sales and marketing methods. Account-Based Marketing, in this way, uses mass marketing and tailors it to a single market for that specific message.
But it is not as complicated or intimidating as it sounds. This strategy can still be automated if you have the correct data on these individuals and ways to collectively convey that between sales and marketing. However, engaging with the proper people at these accounts is not the same as old mass marketing tactics.
Account-based marketing focuses on a few significant and critical accounts, as well as those potential accounts that hold the most promise of increasing your bottom line. Sending a high-touch, highly targeted message to these folks is vital. Why? Simply because of their income potential and impact on sales and marketing.
Account-Based Marketing is best suited for businesses in the following situations:
- Accounts having a potential account contract value of $500K or more. This is due to the fact that the resource/time cost of acquiring and retaining these accounts is worthwhile. Furthermore, clients with a high average lifetime customer value tend to expect a higher level of customer experience and customization with Account-Based Marketing Accounts. With these accounts, account expansion and retention are critical.
- The addressable market is small. There is no need or ability to churn through many leads to fulfil sales targets when organizations with a small addressable market. "In order to fulfil business goals, you must win a considerable share of the market."
- Strategic accounts are essential. If you consider your accounts to be critical, Account-Based Marketing is a must. Don't let them slip through your fingers by focusing on the number over quality.
Tactics to build a practical Account-Based Marketing approach
Account-Based Marketing can be challenging to comprehend at first. When developing an Account-Based Marketing campaign, marketers must take several critical actions.
People have learned to expect customized and value-driven encounters. Account-based marketers must pay attention and step up their game. This is why incorporating inbound methods within any great ABM strategy is critical.
Following are some tactics that may explain the implementation part better:
#1 Get your database Account-Based Marketing-ready
The most critical stage in any Account-Based Marketing attempt is identifying the top leads you'll be pursuing. To accomplish this, you must first prepare and improve your database. Marketers can then use data to determine the most valuable prospects and target them with customized marketing.
Begin by purging internal data. Verify leads and information you have about them so that you can function with reliable data. The process of enhancing CRM and marketing automation tools is critical to the success of Account-Based Marketing campaigns. Gather and organize data about potential customers from all available channels, including email, social media, and surveys.
Accurate data is also essential for machine learning, which may construct customer profiles in the next phase. Only after you have the most up-to-date data can you choose the top accounts on which to focus your efforts. Based on statistics such as firm size, revenue, and industry, determine which leads are most likely to convert into paying clients. Following the preparation of a shortlist, the following step is to prioritize to ensure that the most promising leads are prioritized first.
#2 Establish optimal client profiles for accounts and individuals
Similar to B2C marketing, knowing who you're talking to is critical in B2B Account-Based Marketing initiatives. That is the only way to ensure that you speak things that take the prospect down the conversion funnel. To accomplish this, create models of the ideal customer for the entire account and key individuals inside it.
Creating an ideal customer profile (ICP) is an excellent technique to standardize lead (ICP) knowledge. This is a model of the ideal consumer, complete with their demands, characteristics, and behaviour. It would be best to create an ICP for the entire account, which includes the prospect company.
However, for Account-Based Marketing campaigns, such profiles must also be created for individual leads within the account. These are the stakeholders with whom you are in contact.
Data for the ICPs should be gathered through strong demographics, information from the sales staff, brand advocates, and basic research. Predictive analytics can also aid with this task. Using machine learning technologies, you can gain insights on leads' prospective actions based on previous online behavior. Remember that predictive analytics requires an up-to-date and enhanced database to produce valuable findings.
#3 Find In-Market Buyers Using Intent Data
Currently, just 25% of B2B companies use intent data to narrow their lead list to those most likely to buy. In its most basic form, intent data are the signifiers and behaviours that indicate a particular person's interest in a specific product. The breadth of the information acquired impacts how close (or distant) that person is to making a purchase. Whatever level of intent data you have, it is invaluable in limiting a lead list to individuals who can be effectively targeted with account-based marketing.
There are numerous sources of high-quality intent data. Your website traffic is the most easily accessible.
The number of times a specific user visits your site, the pages they browse, and the length of time they stay are all solid indicators of interest that you can employ. Additional sources include search engine terms, content interaction, and even a person's digital footprints on many websites.
#4 Content should be co-created with complementary brands
Collaboration on content with businesses that complement yours is another way to broaden your reach and effectively execute a targeted, account-based marketing strategy. The reasoning is that their audience—which, in some situations, may be more extensive than yours—becomes yours, and vice versa. Guest posting authoritative, intelligent, and beneficial thought leadership pieces on one another's blogs is a popular way for this to happen—especially with the executives of both firms.
Collaboration in content creation also benefits each brand's audience by providing more options for solutions and relevant items to pick from. You may, for example, fill gaps in a more significant service demand that your co-brand does not. It's a win-win situation as long as the collaboration rules are fair and carefully drafted to ensure that both parties receive as much exposure as possible from their work.
#5 Utilize Intent-Based Advertising
One of the benefits of intent data is that it allows you to better adapt your advertising efforts to suit your account-based marketing initiatives. For starters, you can target the relevant people using built-in capabilities such as Google's Custom Intent Audiences.
Another essential element is that you may tailor the content of your adverts to address the issues that prompted your target audience to look for answers in the first place.
#6 Showcase Separate Customer Testimonials
Similarly, there are numerous opportunities to personalize client testimonials so that the information feels relevant for a specific account.
Begin by developing five keystone testimonials that address some of your product's most prevalent use cases and maybe widely shared. Then, for specific market sectors or critical accounts, write customized customer stories.
You can't afford to perform high-production video shoots for all of your customer testimonials. So why not have some of them record their films so you can still provide dynamic video content to supplement your textual tale without spending a bomb?
Create a collection of these micro-testimonials from which your sales staff can provide real-world instances of your account-based marketing methods.
#7 Develop Customized Content
Personalization of content has a strong influence on ROI for 68 per cent of marketers, while it has a high impact on engagement for 74%.
Why are just 19% of marketers using these two most enticing indicators to B2B brands?
It all comes down to knowing what personalization entails. It's not that you should address every potential buyer by name in every piece of content—simply, that's impractical.
Instead, it is about knowing your potential consumers' inner requirements and the internal questions they are likely asking and seeking solutions to. It is then necessary to provide such replies clearly and explicitly.
This goes beyond traditional marketing and sales rhetoric and pitches and instead provides real answers for your prospective customers to base their decisions on. This can range from a whitepaper to a well-researched piece, as well as webinars, videos, and even email campaigns.
What are the Benefits of Account-Based Marketing?
According to the 2018 Account-Based Marketing benchmark survey, 99 per cent of marketers said their Account-Based Marketing programme generates more ROI than any other sort of marketing.
Apart from the staggering data that the stats reveal, Account-Based Marketing encourages a well-planned and well-considered approach between the marketing and sales teams, a winning combination. The teams will respond more informed and effectively by pooling resources, insights, and efforts.
Buyers are increasingly focused on personalization, and merging efforts entails a more thought-out, slowed-down, highly-detailed approach to creating content and communications that clients cannot ignore.
If your advertising isn't producing results, or sales are constantly grumbling about a lack of alignment with marketing, it's time to try something new. Account-Based Marketing can assist you in effectively measuring marketing ROI, improving marketing-to-sales alignment, and reducing or maintaining the size of your sales team.
Let's dive into details of the brief points that we mentioned above:
#1 An established return on investment
A marketing plan must be measurable to be effective. This is also true of Account-Based Marketing. As per (ITSMA), 84 per cent of organizations polled believe account-based marketing outperforms other marketing methods in terms of ROI.
Measuring the return on investment (ROI) of any marketing project is crucial, and it is now effortless, thanks to the numerous automation and software tools available.
You can evaluate the return on investment for an Account-Based Marketing campaign and apparent areas for development based on how contacts respond to your content through Account-Based Marketing.
They invest in this promotional strategy to recoup their expenditure and generate a large amount of revenue.
How is this aim being met:
- Because the marketing and sales teams share the same goal through Account-Based Marketing, they concentrate on a consistent campaign. This prevents them from incurring high costs, allowing them to spend less on marketing while still achieving results.
- This method promotes sales. That's all there is to it. There is no reason why a firm should not accept a bespoke offer tailored to its specific needs. This is a customer-focused strategy, and that is where it adds the most value.
- While measuring Account-Based Marketing success, the team identifies and reinforces the most effective techniques. It is simple to quantify insights when you have a highly focused and narrow campaign. You can quickly figure out which of the content strategies are effective and which are not.
- Account-Based Marketing marketing does not take long to produce tangible benefits. The team will not waste time researching the market and identifying organizations that could become clients. Compared to internet branding that serves a big audience, it is a speedier technique. Once the businesses have been identified, an account-based strategy will provide precisely what the firm requires. If the marketers work hard enough, the offer will be accepted quickly.
#2 Account-Based Marketing fosters collaboration between sales and marketing
In theory, an organization's Sales and Marketing divisions should always collaborate. Is this usually the case? If you observe circumstances in your own life, you may see that these two teams share a shared goal but operate separately to achieve it.
According to Content Marketing Institute and LinkedIn research, 81 per cent of marketers at highly aligned firms are more likely to closely work with their sales team on how they use content, compared to only 25 per cent of marketers in low-aligned companies.
The most intriguing finding in this analysis was that Account-Based Marketing was regarded as a sure alignment marker. This concept had been applied to the marketing activities of 57 per cent of strongly aligned organizations. Because it must be directed to specific accounts, account-based marketing is inextricably linked to the use of high-quality content.
Marketing is constantly being pulled in a variety of directions. Account-Based Marketing assists you in focusing your marketing efforts and resources on your essential accounts to generate the most significant income. Account-based marketing activities optimize your most precious resources: staff time and money with such a limited focus.
You may direct your marketing staff to work directly with sales to target and generate content for these critical accounts by combining your sales and marketing activities. This will increase the efficiency of your B2B marketing resources and aid in the development of a communication channel with sales, resulting in a sales and marketing organization that is aligned.
#3 Enhanced tracking
ROI is crucial when assessing your bottom line. However, it is also vital to report on techniques that do not contribute to that ROI. Whether it's an email campaign, a special event, or a webinar, you must evaluate the effectiveness of each technique. Knowing the efficiency of each component of your Account-Based Marketing approach will allow you to create more effective campaigns in the future. "Account-Based Marketing's capacity to produce revenue creates benefits for the marketing organization," according to the Account-Based Marketing Adoption Report. The ultimate purpose of a marketing organization is not simply to impact revenue, but to contribute to revenue demonstrably."
Furthermore, with the software platforms available today, tracking is nearly real-time, allowing you to make changes to your campaign on an ongoing basis. Tracking these indicators daily will save you both time and money.
#4 Shorter Sales Cycles
Multiple stakeholders are part of the essential buying decision process. This often slows down the sales process because it begins at a lower level in the business and works its way up to the principal decision-maker. The length of the sales cycle is reduced with account-based marketing because all prospects are nurtured at the same time.
#5 There is less waste and risk
All of this means that unnecessary waste – and risk – are considerably reduced. B2B marketers can achieve more with less by scaling Account-Based Marketing marketing tactics. A clever Account-Based Marketing technology stack enables the same number of account managers to target, market to, convert, and upsell to a significantly higher number of contacts at each account before hiring another account manager.
That means there's a lot less risk involved. You are not required to hire and fire talent depending on the performance of an account. When Account-Based Marketing is appropriately configured, accounts become revolving doors—even if one contact leaves, another will walk straight in.
According to the 2021 Demand Generation Benchmark Study, 61% of respondents believe Account-Based Marketing will receive increasing budget prioritization in 2021, closely followed by content marketing at 60%. Thus, Account-Based Marketing is not meant to replace mass marketing campaigns aimed at increasing awareness and traffic.
In fact, Account-Based Marketing is a tried-and-true method for B2B marketing to connect more strategically with sales and create customized programmes aimed at individual clients to boost revenue.
The aim of reaching as many people as possible should be abandoned. With all of these techniques and technologies at your disposal, there's no better time than now to begin experimenting with Account-Based Marketing and witness for yourself the remarkable improvement that this strategy will bring to your B2B marketing efforts.
However, keep in mind that it is still your obligation to build new, tailored marketing efforts to reach optimum efficacy.
To sum it up, Account-Based Marketing is the next level of B2B marketing that may assist firms in achieving clear ROI and measurable sales results through marketing campaigns and integration with sales operations.