Account-based marketing (ABM) is the latest trend in business-to-business marketing.
But, as with most trends, trying to sort out what’s real and what’s hype is difficult.
This post takes a look at how an account-based marketing strategy can help your organization connect with – and sell to – relevant businesses.
What is account-based marketing
Account-based marketing is a business-to-business marketing strategy which treats individuals within key accounts as “markets of one”.
That means that, rather than focus on filling the of the funnel or generating generic awareness campaigns, account-based marketing focuses in on marketing to individual people within key accounts.
Think of it this way: More “traditional” marketing strategies, such as content marketing, are like fishing with a net – you have the potential to catch a lot of fish, but you aren’t going to be very precise with what you catch. Instead the idea is to go for volume and then see what you catch.
Account-based marketing is more like fishing with a spear. You may not be able to catch the same number of fish, but you will be able to ensure you’re catching the right ones.
Marketing, whatever its form, is all about getting to know your audience.
For B2B marketers, ABM takes this to a whole new level.
How is account-based marketing different
If this sounds similar to other business-to-business marketing strategies, that’s probably because it is.
B2B marketers have for years focused in on how they can reach particular accounts.
The difference with ABM is that it takes this level of focus to a whole new level: The individual.
When ABM talks about marketing to an audience of one, it means it. That means learning as much as you can about the companies you are trying to market to, as well as the people within those companies.
For example: Companies write blog posts all the time.
With traditional content marketing strategies, these posts are considered to be directed at people within the target market, but not much more specifically than that.
An ABM version of this strategy would involve writing a blog post that demonstrates in detail your company’s expertise in a very specific area for a target account.
In some cases, it can even involve mentioning the target account in the blog post.
There is, of course, a disrespectful and a respectful way of doing this.
But the respectful way is a sure-fire bet for engaging a target account.
What is account-based marketing used for
ABM is the ideal B2B strategy when focusing in on particular companies is drive the most revenue.
If you are working in a B2B environment where a few specific, high-revenue companies are going to be more valuable than several less specific accounts, then ABM is likely right for you.
ABM is also ideal for aligning sales and marketing efforts within an organization.
ABM means marketers are working in a similar manner to sales: identifying and then reaching out to target accounts.
Three ABM tactics to get you started
Identify your target accounts (and people)
You don’t want to waste your time on marketing to low-value accounts.
That’s one of the reasons why identifying your target accounts is the most essential step in any ABM strategy.
But it’s more than that.
ABM requires more personalization than other B2B marketing strategies. That’s why, historically, ABM has cost more to implement.
But it doesn’t just stop with finding the right accounts.
You also need to ensure you identify the right people within those accounts.
If you’re going to invest the time into an ABM strategy, you want to make sure it will be for customers that will make it worthwhile.
Develop the right content
ABM is all about personalization.
You don’t want to just take a bunch of generic content you’ve already produced and spam your targets with it.
Instead, you should ensure you’re creating the sort of ABM content that’s personalized to your target accounts.
To do that, you need to do your research.
What sorts of problems do your targets face?
What are their goals?
Who are the key people on the account?
With these questions in mind, you can begin crafting ABM content that will connect.
Find the right channels
One of the strengths of ABM is that it allows you to customize your plan based on who you’re trying to reach.
That means you need to adopt a different channel depending on who your audience is.
For some, email will be key.
For others, LinkedIn ads might be best.
The good news is that, if you do your research, you’ll be able to find a tactical mix that works best for you.
Looking to jumpstart your B2B marketing?
ABM could go a long way to forming a deeper connection with your audience and driving more revenue with key accounts.
Mark Brownlee is a digital marketing strategist in Ottawa, Canada.