In B2B companies, account-based marketing (ABM) represents a major shift away from pure lead generation across all companies to lead generation and ongoing nurturing specifically targeted to a named set of accounts that the sales department is also targeting.
Strategic marketing relies heavily on account-based marketing because this allows marketers to identify who the people within a company are so they can provide them with high-quality content and opportunities for appropriate interactions based on where they are in their customer journey.
It is not enough just to know the names and titles of buyers in an account to serve them effectively. To do this, marketing and sales need to create persona-based buyer’s journey maps and plan their actions accordingly, according to the buyer’s journey.
Without insight into the buyer’s journey, ABM becomes nothing more than lead generation, which reduces the ability of marketing to support sales.
What is ABM?
With ABM, you target specific accounts and their stakeholders through a highly targeted marketing and sales approach. ABM is meant to address long B2B sales cycles, which average more than three months for mid-market companies and can be much longer for enterprises. The ABM team develops a complete marketing strategy for each account so that companies can land higher-value, multi-decision-maker accounts.
Most often, high-value content is discussed in the context of inbound marketing, but it has a key role to play in account-based marketing as well. ABM focuses on nurturing pre-targeted leads and addressing their biggest concerns throughout the sales process, rather than attracting prospects over time via inbound marketing.
The purpose of account-based marketing is to identify the prospects most likely to become customers. By using less time on prospects with little value and low conversion potential, you can spend less time on your most valuable prospects.
Furthermore, your sales and marketing teams can align their time and work on the accounts and prospects that are more likely to yield an ROI.
Account Based Marketing Tactics
ABM strategies appeal to specific buyer personas and engage them throughout their journeys to generate quality leads and move them further down the funnel to the sales team, where they will convert. If done well, it’s an efficient partnership that provides a high return on investment.
ABM strategies that focus on identifying and moving buyers through their journey are the most effective. Data-backed answers to these questions are key to understanding your buyers.
- Who are your customers?
- How can they best connect with your content or experiences?
- When is the best time to engage them?
- How should you engage them?
- What does success look like to you?
The Buying Journey of a Customer
As every marketer knows, segmentation is a powerful way to target the right buyer for a campaign. In addition to demographics, segmentation has other dimensions. The foundation is to know your buyers – their demographics and their firmographics.
You have to entice your target accounts into your funnel once you’ve identified them. Knowing that many buyers conduct extensive research before they contact a business indicates that you have done your research – and you have.
An ABM strategy that drives engagement is characterized by the use of personalization because it is persona-driven. You need to deliver a delightful and customized digital experience to capture and keep your buyer’s attention after they do their research and are ready for a touchpoint with your company’s digital channels.
The entire point of ABM is to align sales and marketing teams around a unified conversion goal. To complete a buyer’s journey, a marketing team must provide sales with relevant information about prospects. To move the buyer through the buyer’s journey from awareness to consideration, the marketing team will have used tactics like segmentation and predictive analytics, attraction and personalization, to move the buyer to the point where they are ready to engage with sales.
It is a fast-paced and competitive world for marketers and sellers. In terms of revenue, your program’s ROI needs to be demonstrated quickly. In other words, you need to set measurable and realistic goals so that you can see quickly what’s working and what’s not and adjust your tactics as necessary.
To be successful, ABM initiatives require alignment between marketing and sales teams on who the target audience is, how they buy, and how/when each team engages with buyers. Making this happen requires the development of buyer journey maps.
As marketing refocuses its efforts on accounts rather than individuals and collaborates with sales to create buyer journey maps, it ensures alignment on account audiences and its level of interactions with leads at each stage of the buyer’s journey.