Have you always wanted to create a focused B2B strategy but feel like the ‘standard’ formats don’t do it for you? Account-based marketing helps you create a growth strategy focusing only on those accounts that are valuable to your organization and solving the questions of every unique stakeholder in the B2B sales process. With ABM, you are no longer wasting time on leads that turn out to be a not-so-great match with your organization, so you focus more time and energy on those that are. This makes it the perfect strategy for the B2B! Let’s dive right in!
In this blog, you’ll discover:
- What account-based marketing is
- The power couple: inbound and account-based marketing
- The benefits of account-based marketing
- How you can get started with creating your own ABM strategy
What Is Account-Based Marketing?
Account-based marketing is a focused B2B growth strategy, where marketing and sales work together to bring in pre-defined, valuable accounts. With ABM, you focus on the unique questions and needs of every person involved in the B2B sales process instead of focusing on a broad target audience or a segment of it.
You can look at ABM the same as professional fishers look at fish. Where amateur fishers will fish all day long and catch fish at random, account-based marketing is the professional that decides beforehand which fish they want to catch and where they can find these. So with ABM, you determine which accounts you want to bring in, and based on that, you set your strategy.
Account-based marketing is perfect for B2B because it focuses on bringing in specific accounts instead of leads and keeps an eye on the different stakeholders that influence the sales process. Start with account-based marketing if you recognize yourself in the following points:
- The product or service you sell is a higher investment
- You have a small selection of prospects and customers
- You sell to an account where multiple people are involved in the sales process
Inbound & ABM
Does this mean that you need to say your goodbyes to your inbound strategy? Most certainly not! ABM and inbound marketing are a match made in heaven. Inbound taught you to create relevant content for every step of the experience journey, instead of interrupting it as you would do with outbound marketing. With inbound marketing, you already offer the content your target audience is looking for; that’s how inbound lays the foundation of your account-based marketing strategy.
This is why you should use the power couple of inbound and ABM:
- Inbound helps you to attract valuable accounts, and ABM brings this to the next level by offering a unique customer experience for every stakeholder within an account
- Using both strategies brings more interesting leads and nurtures them better than when you would use only one of these strategies. Besides, you will find more opportunities that you might have missed when using only one.
- You can create hyper-personalized content that you can share with a valuable account and place on your website and vice versa. That’s how you serve both your high-value accounts and interested website visitors.
Below we’ll show you what the benefits of account-based marketing are.
Benefits Of Account-Based Marketing
We can name several benefits of account-based marketing:
A marketing and sales collaboration is beneficial for the entire organization. ABM lets your teams work together to work towards the same goal, communicate in the same way, and identify each stakeholder and their role in the sales process.
You can achieve this by defining your target accounts together. Just like you would create a persona with inbound, ABM lets you focus on defining the ideal customer profile. In other words, you’re creating a profile of the accounts you want to bring in and turn into customers.
You can create the ideal customer profile by looking at the following points:
- Which high-value accounts are you already attracting through your inbound channels?
- Which open deals do you want to move faster? In other words, which sales cycles do you want to shorten?
- Which are your ten biggest deals that you have recently closed? Can you add more value to these?
- Which characteristics do your most successful customers have in common? Can you find more companies with the same characteristics?
Based on this data, you can divide your current customers and prospects into groups that are or aren’t target accounts. Next, your focus shifts from all accounts to only those accounts that are valuable to you.
Personalization For Every Stakeholder
With ABM, you focus on specific accounts instead of leads. So it’s essential to know who is involved in the sales process within each account. These so-called stakeholders each have a role that either helps or counters you when selling your products or services. Identifying these roles is crucial when you want to get started with personalization. Remember: you can only begin personalizing your communication when you know with whom you’re communicating.
To identify these stakeholders and show them in a clear overview, you can use the Decision-Making Unit of Philip Kotler. This model allows you to put every individual person or group of people having a searching, influencing, or deciding role in the decision-making process in one clear overview.
The roles you can show within the DMU-model are:
- End-users: The people that will eventually use your product or service. They mainly focus on specifications and ease of use.
- Influencers: Every influencer has their own conditions the product or service should meet. You can find influencers in every layer of an organization.
- Buyers: The buyer is essentially the one that places the order and negotiates the conditions. Buyers take on one of the most critical roles.
- Initiators: The initiator is the person who initiated the sales process and is looking for a solution for their problem. The initiator is the most important person within the DMU.
- Decider: The decider is the one that makes the final decision and, therefore, takes a vital role within the DMU.
- Gatekeepers: The gatekeepers are the ones that decide which information goes to which person within the organization. This way, they can affect the decision-making process massively.
When you communicate with an organization that is working in the B2B manufacturing industry, your DMU-model will look something like this:
By assigning specific roles to each contact in an account, you can personalize content based on what each buying role is looking for. That’s how you make your organization relevant for everyone within the account, so they will see you as the best option for solving their problem.
Getting started with personalizing your B2B platform? You can read all about it in our blog
Measure Your Return On Investment
Because your target audience is super specific, you can measure the return on investment for every account even better. But that’s not all: ABM also allows you to discover if each account is an actual match with your ideal customer profile. Now you can use your time more efficiently, find out which activities work and which don’t, and you can keep using these tactics to maintain a long-term relationship.
Close Deals Faster And Build Long-Term Relationships
When implementing ABM, you no longer need to attract as many leads as possible and turn them into customers. Instead, you decide which accounts you want to bring in beforehand. Through this quality over quantity approach, you no longer waste your time on leads that turn out to be a not-so-great match and spend more time on accounts that are. With this approach, you know better what each account is looking for and how you can use this to be relevant for every stakeholder. This is how a personalized ABM strategy allows you to close deals faster and give your customers the attention they deserve.
By offering your customers unique and personalized customer experiences, you can turn them into loyal customers. And loyal customers are the best marketers you could wish for! Through word of mouth, they will turn other people into fans of your brand, turning into new customers. And that’s how you create momentum and make sure that the flywheel keeps spinning and your organization growing.
Get Started With ABM
After all that theory, we understand you want to get started with ABM yourself. That’s why we’ve written out essential steps for you, so you can make sure your ABM strategy turns out to be a success!
1. Marketing & Sales Alignment
First, you need to make sure your marketing and sales teams are perfectly aligned. Let them create an ideal customer profile and define goals, budgets, propositions, and communication channels. Let them frequently meet, so everyone knows exactly what is going on within the ABM strategy, where the process stagnates, and which activities work.
2. Create A Dedicated ABM Team
To align your marketing and sales teams even better, you can think of creating a dedicated ABM team. A few marketers and salespeople will work together within this team, specifically focusing on creating, maintaining, and optimizing the ABM strategy. They will keep a close eye on the goals and ensure that each target account will receive a unique customer experience.
Besides your marketing and salespeople, you can add other crucial members too. Add someone from your customer success team, for example. This person will maintain contact with your customers and make sure that any questions are answered fast, and problems are solved immediately.
3. Identify And Pick Target Accounts
When you have defined which people within your organization are making your ABM strategy a success, it’s time for the next step: identifying your target accounts. Earlier in this blog, we showed you how to identify your target accounts. Next, you’ll need to find target accounts. Below, we’ll show you some tips on how to pick the organizations that fit your ideal customer profile:
- If you’re using a CRM, you can create a workflow that automatically turns existing companies into target accounts. Based on, for example, company size, industry, locations, or expected revenue, they automatically get a tag.
- Look at which organizations are currently engaging with your inbound content but aren’t having a deal yet.
- Use LinkedIn’s job alerts, so you get notified when organizations are looking for your expertise. Suppose you’re an organization offering HR management software. In that case, companies that are looking for an HR manager might be interesting for you. If you work at HubSpot, then organizations looking to hire marketing or sales professionals might be interested in what you have to offer.
- Use search alerts in LinkedIn. This works somewhat the same as the tool mentioned above. Instead, you search for people with a specific job in a particular company, industry, or country.
- Look at your competitors and their customers (and their competitors). They’ll be looking at the same thing you have to offer them. The only thing left to do is convincing them of the power of your organization. And that’s precisely what ABM can help you with ;-)
4. Decide How You Want To Attract Target Accounts
Your dedicated ABM team or marketing and sales teams need to decide which channels and tone of voice they're going to use to attract new target accounts. To make this decision, they need to know who they need to contact within each account, which questions and challenges they're facing, and how you can help them.
After deciding on the how, you can use familiar (or new) tactics to bring in new target accounts: ads in Google or LinkedIn based on specific audiences, creating blogs, e-books, videos, or podcasts that are relevant to the questions of each unique stakeholders, create personalized landing pages for each role, or sending relevant content to interesting prospects through email or LinkedIn.
5. Convince The Stakeholders
After introducing your organization to potential customers, you want to take them to the next step and eventually turn them into actual customers. You do this by offering each stakeholder personalized content relevant to their questions and showing them how your product or service can help them. Convince them by offering knowledge articles that show them you’re an expert or sending case studies that show them the experience your current customers have with you. Ensure that your communication is consistent, so every stakeholder feels like they’re your number one priority.
When you’ve convinced each stakeholder and turned the organization into a customer, it’s a good idea to analyze which tactics were successful and which weren’t. Keep a close eye on which deals were created, how many deals were closed, how much time it took to close a deal, how much engagement it brought, and the net revenue. Only if you keep track of the results can you make your ABM strategy successful.