May 24, 2019

How to Make Account Based Marketing Work for B2B

Lee Steely

What is Account Based Marketing (ABM)?

Account Based Marketing, or ABM, uses all of the traditional methods of a sophisticated CRM-driven digital marketing strategy to target ideal, specific accounts as valuable potential clients. It’s an attractive solution for B2B-focused companies who may have struggled with making lead nurture email campaigns, SEM campaigns, and cross-platform retargeting work in a way that supports their actual sales cycle. These types of campaigns may require more upfront work and team collaboration than your team may be used to, but the investment is likely to result in higher ROI for B2B.

So what are the steps to starting your first ABM campaign?

Get Your Sales Team Onboard

For an ABM strategy to work smoothly, your sales and marketing teams can’t keep to separate silos. The information you’ll need to create your list of account targets should come directly from your sales and operations teams. Sit down for a meeting of the minds and ask yourselves, what are the highest value accounts out of your current customers? You can use these accounts as a model to create a profile of an ideal target account. Determine what industries, company sizes, and budgets you’re looking for, and generate a list of known prospect accounts that fit your criteria with your sales team. Chances are they’ll already have a few white whales they’d like to suggest. Aim for a list of 10 to start.

From there, it’s the job of the marketing team to identify pain points specific to each of the account targets and develop content designed to be useful to them. B2B sales cycles tend to be longer and involve more touch points than B2C, which means that building trust and reputation with valuable content is useful for lead nurture campaigns that keep your company top of mind when the account is in a position to hire.

Stakeholders and Decision-Makers

Next, you’ll need to define what positions at each company to target with your content. What roles are most likely to be involved in making a recommendation to consider your product or services? Who is likely to get the final say? In some cases, depending on your ability to research the specific companies on your list, you might even narrow this down to names at each target company. This can really help to dial in what kind of content might be seen as most relevant to the stakeholders you want to reach.

B2B Personalization

Develop your content and marketing campaigns to address the pain points and day-to-day concerns most relevant to your target’s industry and role. From here, developing an account based marketing campaign is virtually identical to an inbound marketing strategy, except that here you’re targeting a company as a whole instead of a single customer on a buyer’s journey. A display ad campaign aimed at the prospect account’s C-suite employees can be part of the same marketing strategy that’s deploying educational emails to the inboxes of lower-level stakeholders with the power to recommend your product to upper management. How-to blogs may be optimized for easy onboarding with any prospect account’s implementation team, and from there you may look at customer engagement campaigns for continued success. Consider which platforms will work best to reach each stakeholder in your target market and let that drive your ad placement choices.

Scale Coordinated Digital Campaigns

Because ABM strategy focuses in so tightly on covering specific accounts from multiple angles, you’re probably going to want to make sure you have a robust CRM or other marketing automation software suite to support your efforts. These can best help you build and easily automate complex, personalized campaigns with timely actions and predictable workflow with cross-team visibility. Your marketing campaigns should be supporting your sales team each time they reach out to a target account, and sales should have visibility into the most engaged accounts from a marketing perspective. This can quickly become tough to manage without some automation of tasks, so make sure you’re setting your team up for success with the right tools.

You’ll also need to make sure your team is prepared to implement digital advertising that works across multiple platforms and meets targets at multiple points along the sales cycle. Does your team have the ability to execute complex digital advertising across multiple channels in-house? Who will be responsible for tracking conversions and reporting campaign analytics? These are the types of considerations you’ll want to address before you launch an ABM lead generation strategy.

This new way to target B2B accounts does require cross-team buy-in and more collaboration than some teams may be used to. It may take longer to develop an ABM strategy that both works and is workable for your team, but the long-term benefits of putting most of your marketing power behind these white whale accounts can prove to be a B2B game-changer. Want to implement ACM strategies for your business but don’t know where to start? Contact us and we can help you get started.