The Complete Guide to Account Based Marketing – Part 1

By Kirsten Oelrich 4 min read

A growing number of B2B marketers are bidding goodbye to traditional practices and embracing Account Based Marketing (ABM) to achieve their business goals. The trend is recent, but it’s spreading fast. A quick analysis on Google Trends reveals how ABM went from being relatively unknown to very popular in the past three years. Companies are allocating bigger portions of their marketing budgets to ABM and according to SiriusDecisions, in 2016, 33% of companies allocated at least 30% of their marketing budgets to ABM, while in 2017 that number increased up to 52% — a 57% year over year increase.

What makes ABM so popular with modern day marketers?

Traditional marketers relied heavily on a one-size-fits-all marketing approach that would typically involve carpet-bombing prospects in the hopes of pulling in as many leads as possible. Personalization was non-existent, data-driven marketing was an alien concept, and every campaign was meant for anyone and everyone. As far as marketers were concerned, the more traffic they could send to their sites, the better.

Over the years, marketing evolved, giving rise to a new approach based on data, personalization, and one-to-one communication. Marketers readily adopted this new model and continue to swear by its proven effectiveness. According to ITSMA, about 85% of marketers who measure ROI describe Account Based Marketing as delivering higher returns than any other marketing approach.

Companies using ABM generate 200% more revenue for their marketing efforts compared to those that don’t.

Experts attribute the rapid success and widespread adoption of ABM to multiple reasons. Companies seeking to acquire specific high-value customers find more value in a targeted ABM approach rather than a broad sales and marketing effort. Cost effectiveness is another big factor. Advances in marketing technology have enabled marketers to employ ABM cost-effectively and scale as needed. Overall, ABM is a focused strategy that concentrates sales and marketing resources on a clearly defined set of target accounts and employs personalized campaigns for each account.

What is Account Based Marketing?

ABM can simply be defined as personalized marketing that’s targeted at a pre-defined set of accounts. In practice, Account Based Marketing is an approach that directs marketing resources to engaging a specific set of target accounts.

Rather than employing a non-targeted, one-size-fits-all messaging approach aimed at all prospects, marketers using ABM work closely with sales to identify key prospects and then design customized programs and for the target accounts. Personalized campaigns are designed to individually engage every account, in view of the specific attributes and needs of the account. Marketing to existing customer accounts to encourage upselling and cross-selling is one of the keys to getting the most value from your largest accounts.

The Benefits of Account Based Marketing

Account Based Marketing offers many benefits for companies marketing to large accounts with long sales cycles and large deal sizes. Some of these benefits include:

1-to-1 Personalization

ABM follows a personalization-driven approach that targets individual accounts with customized 1-to-1 messaging based on customer data. Instead of a generic approach, marketers create personalized messages for target accounts, taking what they know about their customer and tailor the creative assets of their campaign to customers’ specific attributes.

91% of those with an ABM program in place said they were ‘tightly’ or ‘somewhat or moderately’ aligned with sales (Sirius Decisions in eMarketer)

Clear and Discernable ROI

Account Based Marketing provides a clear and undiluted picture of the returns on investments. Statistics reveal that ABM provides the highest ROI among all B2B marketing tactics. As per a study by ITSMA, 85% of marketers who measure ROI describe Account Based Marketing as delivering higher returns than any other marketing approach.

Shorter Sales Cycles

Big decisions involve multiple stakeholders. The bureaucracy of seeking and granting approvals typically slows down the sales process, as it involves a chain of hierarchy starting at a lower level in the organization and moving slowly towards the primary decision maker. In ABM, the length of the cycle is shortened as all prospects are nurtured simultaneously.

Sales and Marketing Alignment

Account Based Marketing encourages marketing and sale organizations to work together, identifying target accounts, crafting customized campaigns for them, and working together to move accounts through the pipeline, both before and after lead conversion.

Resource Optimization

Account Based Marketing is founded on the principle of targeting a limited set of accounts and channeling all available resources to the specified accounts. As a result, time and resources are narrowly focused on a small number of accounts that are most likely to close sales. This frees up resources that would previously have been squandered.

30% of marketers that worked in an account-based manner reported greater than 100% engagement increase with their C-level targets.

Common barriers to ABM success

It’s common for businesses to run into hurdles when implementing an ABM approach. It’s even more common for businesses to fail to get started in their ABM journey. Here are some common barriers that organizations encounter when launching an ABM program:

Lack of clear understanding

Marketing teams expecting an overnight transformation and complete turnaround in their buying cycles and revenues from their ABM program are bound to be disappointed. It’s important that marketers understand the big picture and set realistic goals based on a clear understanding of the background. Also, the visible changes transpire only after the ABM program is up and running for a substantial period of time. As long as you maintain an upward trajectory, you’re on the right track.

Lack of accurate and shared data

A common source of source of data is critical to accurately identify the right target accounts. According to a survey by InsideView, 43% marketers ranked lack of accurate and shared data on target accounts as the top hurdle to building sales and marketing alignment. When marketing is turning to its marketing automation system of record and sales is turning to CRM to pinpoint target accounts, the two groups are out of sync.

Lack of alignment on the right target accounts

No Account Based Marketing program can be launched and sustained unless marketing and sales are completely aligned on the target accounts. Every ABM program is made possible by the combined efforts of marketing and sales towards accounts with the highest potential. Failure to get in line on this foundational element will result in the ABM initiative failing to take off.

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Kirsten Oelrich

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Kirsten Oelrich