Your Account Based Marketing Strategy - 4 Reasons It's Essential in 2019

An Account-Based Marketing Strategy – 4 Reasons It’s Essential in 2019

In years gone by, using marketing automation to generate leads was simple. Contacts enter the pipeline, automated emails generate leads for you and they then turn into revenue. However, that just isn’t cutting it anymore so you need to think about making a change to the way you’re doing things. And that’s why you should definitely consider an account-based marketing strategy.

 

There are a number reasons for the downfall of traditional lead generation; more stakeholders are involved in purchasing decisions, prospects are less inclined to fill out forms for gated content, they’re sick of getting automated emails and quite frankly, I don’t blame them. Companies are finding it increasingly hard to build a pipeline with marketing automation tools alone, so what can you do instead?

Personalisation is now the key, prospects are more likely to respond to a warmer outreach than a cold call, and the more personal the touch, the better. So don’t get left behind and switch to an account-based marketing approach.

What Does an Account-Based Marketing Strategy Involve?

An account-based marketing strategy takes the traditional sales funnel and flips it on its head. Traditional marketing targets as many prospects as possible, as focused on brand awareness as creating sales opportunities. However, account-based marketing lets your marketing team lock onto specific targeted accounts; quality over quantity, if you will. Think of it as moving from casting a net to spear fishing.

Firstly you identify a select number of target accounts based on the approach you’re taking. You might decide to use a 1:1 ABM strategy, this could mean targeting as few as 5 key accounts. Or perhaps you’re employing a either a one-to-few, or one-to-many approach – reaching out to between 10 and 40 accounts, or 40 to 150 accounts respectively.

Whichever tactic you use, your account-based marketing strategy should involve identifying your key target accounts and allocating the right marketing resources to each of those accounts based on their potential value to your business. Then you should find all of the decision makers and influencers that would be involved in a buying decision at each account, and reach out to them using a variety of channels with messaging and personalisations bespoke to each account and contact.

But the question is why should you do the above? How does it benefit you and your business? Our 4 reasons why an an account-based marketing strategy should be on your radar are below.

1. Ensure Your Message Doesn’t Get Lost in the Crowd

One of the problems with using traditional marketing automation for lead generation was standing out amongst the noise. ABM is a great method for putting some personality into your messaging. Regardless of industry, there’s always competition; prospects are bombarded with products and services, so yours needs to stand out! Prospects can get hundreds of emails a day, so they’re hardly going to pay attention to an automated one, but a personalised video that speaks directly to them? That’s a different story.

Reach out to your prospect in personalised ways: emails, videos messages, hand-written postcards for example. Intelligent Demand found that 40% of prospects who considered content to be tailored to them would be more likely buy from that company. By using personalisation, you show your prospects that they matter to you, that you’ve learnt about their company, and that you’re worth doing business with.

2. Bring Your Sales and Marketing Teams Closer Together

It’s imperative that you align your marketing and sales teams if you want account-based marketing to succeed. If they’re on the same page, you increase productivity, as the opportunities marketing are generating are all relevant to sales, because they fit the ICP. According to Hubspot, misalignment between sales and marketing wastes $1 trillion worth of marketing spend each year. Less time spent with the wrong prospects, means a better ROI on your marketing investment. Companies generate 208% more revenue from their marketing spend when their sales and marketing teams work closely together (HG Data).

3. Strengthen Your Existing and Future Client Relationships

So how does ABM affect prospects and customers? 84% of marketers said ABM had a significant impact on retaining and expanding existing client relationships. In taking a more personal approach, not only are you more likely to reach your prospects, but you’re more likely to create a business relationship with them. Furthermore, if you approach existing customers with the same care and attention as prospects, this will lead to stronger relationships and they’ll become advocates. Advocacy is the stage of ABM where your customers become fans of your company. Through the use of testimonials and customer stories, you can use your current customers to help gain other customers.

4. Stay Ahead of Your Competitors

Marketing is evolving, your competitors are adapting and you need to adapt too, in order to survive.

72% of companies plan to increase what they spend on ABM and in 2017, funding for ABM increased by 23.5%. Your competitors are likely to be part of the 72%, but may well also fall into the 23.5% – if they do, then they’re leaving you behind. If a prospect is contacted by both your company and a competitor of yours who has implemented an ABM strategy, more often than not you’re going to lose out, as companies using ABM campaigns for their marketing achieve 10% higher win rates.

ABM requires a commitment, but the benefits of implementing it are clear to see. After a year of using ABM, 60% of people reported a 10% revenue increase, 19% saw a rise of 30% and up and 43% of people using ABM for 3+ years reported that it was impacting their entire funnel. So don’t hang about, get brainstorming your account based marketing strategy, so you can start saving time and improving your marketing ROI!

A great way to start with ABM is by aligning your sales and marketing teams more closely. You can read more on how to do that by checking out our other blog, ‘Smarketing: Solving Your Sales and Marketing Divide’.


If you have any questions about where to start with an account-based marketing strategy, feel free to get in touch! For further reading on ABM check out our blog, What is ABM?!

 

THREE TYPES OF ABM.
WHICH IS RIGHT FOR YOU?

One-to-one, one-to-few, one-to-many, programmatic, lite…it’s understandable why account-based marketing can seem daunting at first! But regardless of the ABM terminology being used, the basic principles are the same. Putting more resources into fewer target accounts who are more likely to convert, and provide a greater ROI. Which kind of ABM approach you should adopt depends on a number of factors. In this blog you’ll find out what the 3 types of ABM are, and which is right for your business.

the three types of ABM

So you’ve decided that adopting an ABM strategy is right for your business and that’s definitely a wise choice.

 

It’s understandable that you might have some concerns, running an ABM programme requires a shift of mind-set. It takes sizeable marketing ‘balls’ to shift resources from more typical marketing strategies to account-based marketing.

 

But that’s exactly what organisations are doing – the number of companies with an advanced ABM programme doubled from 2017 to 2018. And why?

 

Simple – because in a recent study, 97% of marketers reported a higher ROI from ABM than other marketing campaigns. Any successful ABM campaign is one that balances these three measures –

 

  • The likelihood of a given target account buying
  • The resources required to acquire them as a customer
  • The potential ROI to your business if they convert

The differences between the 3 types of ABM are driven by a need to align these factors, so let’s look at exactly what each approach involves and what factors should inform your ABM strategy.

One-to-one ABM

The original and probably best known of the 3 types of ABM, and the approach you’re most likely already familiar with.

One-to-one ABM is a strategic approach that treats your most valuable target accounts as their own individual markets. This means engaging with each of them in a specific and bespoke way.

 

A typical one-to-one campaign would involve targeting 5-10 key target accounts, the ones whose business would make your year or even change the direction of your company.

The resources required to engage with each account in a one-to-one ABM campaign are significant. With that in mind, it’s vital that you have deep insight into how likely the target account is to buy. Intent data is a great way to choose your target accounts based on whether they’re starting a buying journey.

 

By focusing on 10 accounts that you know are likely to buy, you can allocate more resources to engaging with each, knowing that they are more likely to convert and provide you with a great ROI.

You should consider one-to-one ABM as your strategy of choice if –

 

  • You can research the accounts in detail and gather detailed insights on how likely they are to buy
  • Your products and solutions are high-value and high-consideration
  • You’re selling into a mature or even saturated market
  • Your opportunity to close rate is high
  • You have clear and genuine points of differentiation from your competitors
  • Each account has a large number of key stakeholders from whom you need buy-in
  • You have the resources available to create content bespoke to each account
  • You have the available people resources to engage and nurture each target account

One-to-few ABM

One-to-few ABM, or ABM Lite as it’s also known, is a way of using the one-to-one ABM principles and applying them at scale to a greater number of target accounts.

For example, you might be dedicating 40 days per month to your top 5 accounts in a one-to-one strategy.

 

If you then wanted to reach out to your top 30 accounts, you most likely wouldn’t be able to scale up the same approach unless you have 240 days worth of resources available to do this. So what’s the answer?

 

Your best strategy would be to focus on small groups of target accounts, rather than individual accounts. These groups can then be treated as their own individual markets, in the same way as individual accounts were with one-to-one ABM.

 

The most common way to organise accounts into groups of 5-10 is by sub-sector. If you’re targeting the retail sector, your sub-sectors might be fashion, groceries, DIY and homeware.

You can then build specific content that will resonate with that sub-sector, identifying trends and solving their challenges.

Consider one-to-few ABM as your strategy of choice if –

 

  • You have a small addressable market of target accounts
  • You’re selling high-value, high consideration solutions or products
  • You have to get buy-in from 3-4 key stakeholders at each account
  • You’re able to gather insights into the challenges facing each target sector
  • You have the resources available to create sector specific content
  • You have the available people resources to engage and nurture each target account
  • Your product or solution has clear points of differentiation from its competition

One-to-many ABM

One-to-many ABM takes the ABM approach and scales it so the principles can be applied to a larger number of target accounts.

 

How many? That’s up to you, as there are no hard and fast rules as to where one-to-few ends and where one-to-many begins.

 

Similarly, you might be wondering where to draw the line between one-to-many ABM and just ‘marketing’? Well you’re not alone, there’s not a clear agreement even among leading practitioners of ABM.

 

It depends on the lifetime value of those accounts to your business, the greater the value, the fewer you should go for.

 

The average number of accounts for a one-to many campaign according to the ITSMA sits at around 100. However you may choose to go for more than this and dedicate fewer resources to each, or use an approach closer to the one-to-few model, and dedicate more resources to engaging with each account.

You should consider one-to-many ABM as a strategy if –

 

  • You want to increase brand awareness whilst also creating engagement at key accounts
  • Your solution is new to market, or the market need educating on its potential
  • There is one or a couple of key stakeholders at each target account
  • You have the available people resources to engage and nurture each target account
  • Your pipeline to close rate is low and could be improved
  • You don’t have access to information on which accounts are starting a buying journey
  • You need some accounts to convert more quickly in order to see ROI sooner

FIVE TIPS FOR ACCOUNT SELECTION

In these times of uncertainty, making the most out of your marketing budget is more important than ever. In Account-Based Marketing you reduce the number of accounts you target significantly and then increase the amount of resources you spend on them. This makes the actual account selection process very important because you can’t afford for an account that receives significant resource to just fall by the wayside. So with that in mind, here a five tips for best practice account selection.

Have you thought about targeting different industries?

People are getting scared and more cautious about taking meetings and calls. So, who is engaging?

 

Some industries are booming at the moment such as:

 

  • Video conferencing technology
  • Project management tools
  • E-learning
  • Ecommerce
  • Gaming

With an influx in demand, they might just be looking for your solution. But for industries heavily effected, you need to rethink your GTM strategy to be as humane as possible; if your solution is something that would be deemed essential to these businesses – keep helping. If it’s more of a luxury, consider targeting different industries where an influx of demand means they might be on the lookout for your solution.

Sales and Marketing, Name a Better Duo

We always talk about the importance of sales and marketing alignment, but it comes into play with regards to account selection as well. A common mistake is allowing one department to select all of the target accounts for a campaign.

 

If the sales team are solely responsible then you run the risk of them giving you all of the ‘problem’ accounts that they have yet to achieve any traction with. As Jamie Hardin, Senior Marketing Manager of ON24 explains “ABM should be viewed as augmenting the current strategy, not a ‘Hail Mary’ initiative on an inactive account.” Similarly, it would be foolish for marketing to be solely responsible without using the information that sales already have on the accounts that they’ve been engaging with.

This could be information on which accounts are reaching a contract renewal date, previous positive conversations with the clients, or even contacts that could have used your services in a previous role at another company.

By combining the information marketing has alongside insights from sales, your account selection can lay the foundation for a successful campaign.

Are you intent on this?

Utilising intent data is the best way to select accounts. This helps you understand which companies are in a buying window based on the websites they’re visiting and the content they’re consuming. However, platforms such as Bombora and Nexus aren’t at everyone’s disposal, which is why a combination of the above tactics gives the next best chance of selecting accounts that are most likely to convert.

 

Account selection is perhaps the biggest factor in the success of an Account-Based Marketing campaign. Good accounts, that fit your ICP and are showing intent are bound to be successful, whereas accounts that aren’t selected on insight and reasoning are likely to fail. There’s never a sure fire way to pick accounts that are destined to convert, but by following these tips you’ll have a solid foundation for your ABM programme.

Do it early!

One of the most consistent mistakes we come across with account selection is doing it too late in the ABM journey. After first defining your ideal customer profile or ICP (link to other blog) and selecting your sector, you should be looking to choose your accounts. Prioritising selection early on in the process will give you ample time to gather insight into them, allowing you to really personalise your message that will resonate with the target DMU.

Make Sure They Fit Your ICP

Using an ICP to frame your account selection ensures that your target accounts are most likely to be a good fit for your business. It also ensures that you don’t fall for those ‘dream’ accounts that you may have put on the list because you want the logo on your website, or you’ve always dreamed of working with. If they aren’t right for the programme, you shouldn’t be targeting them. It’s not about if you want them, as much as it’s about if they want you.

So, you’re thinking about adopting Account-Based Marketing…

Fantastic! But there are three different types of ABM; one-to-many, one-to-few, and one-to-one. So, which one is right for you? Luckily, we have a handy little calculator that will tell you exactly that.