A recent study from SiriusDecisions revealed that more than 70% of B2B companies are committed to using Account Based Marketing, or ABM. Peter Isaacson, Chief Marketing Officer of DemandBase, describes the popularity of ABM as a “meteoric rise” of what has become the “growth strategy of choice because it drives the outcomes that really matter to businesses: increased pipeline and revenue.”
So what exactly is this growth strategy that’s transforming the way we sell? Why has it blasted off into such popularity? And how does one jump onto the ABM bandwagon?
ABM is gaining speed, and it’s definitely not just a fad. It’s a highly strategic method that invites prospects to engage with content rather than interrupting prospects with your content. As with most things, one size does not fit all, but there are steps you can take to develop an ABM strategy that works best for you and your company.
What is it?
According to Forbes, ABM is “all about shifting your focus from lots of leads to highly targeted accounts that are very specific organizations and companies that are the best possible fit for your product or service.”
In short, the two primary components of ABM are:
- Targeting only the most relevant organizations and accounts
- Treating those accounts like their own markets
These phases consist of a variety of subsets, but that’s all you need to know to understand ABM in a broad stroke.
Identify Your Targets
Since ABM begins with targeting your most relevant organizations and accounts, the first step in ABM strategy is to identify those relevant accounts. There are many different ways this can be accomplished, often depending on your current client base.
Mike Rose of Mojo Media Labs suggests that in order to identify your targets, you should develop the ideal customer profile. It may seem unnecessary to create a profile when you’re actually trying to narrow the scope of your client base, but a good customer profile will give you one level of evaluation to decide which accounts are the most relevant.
You can also use a variety of segmenting strategies to reveal which customers to focus on. Segmenting will help you identify those common characteristics of your highest grossing clients, and may even reveal a relevant, promising account that isn’t being marketed to at its full potential.
Do Your Research
Once you’ve identified the most relevant clients, research them. Note that this does not yet mean narrowing it all down to specific contacts at those companies. Your goal is to treat those companies like personas in and of themselves.
This goes beyond basic firmographic data into trigger events, internal data, and even predictive analytics, if you’re feeling fancy.
Create Personalized Content
When you’ve thoroughly researched your target companies, you can then create personalized content specifically for those businesses. This is the point where ABM and Inbound marketing will seem eerily similar. Rest assured that though they work together well, the two are not the same.
Amanda Zantal-Wiener reminds Hubspot that when it comes to ABM, “content should be focused on the single deals you’d like to make with each specific organization.” She adds that in this process, make sure your reps are communicating clearly so that there aren’t multiple people in the same organization receiving “mixed signals.”
Select Relevant Channels
Just like ABM chooses to target only the most relevant companies, another aspect of ABM is to only focus on the most relevant marketing challenges. Even though you’re painting with a broad brush treating a company as its own persona, you’ll still need to use detail to decide which channels are relevant to which clients.
And Don’t Forget to Evaluate
As with any method, you should always take the time to step back and evaluate your ABM marketing process. Targeting specific markets doesn’t mean limited growth. Continue to nurture leads that fit that aforementioned Ideal Customer Profile.
Take note of how those companies choose to engage with your content, because the odds are that it will change over time. You may have to tweak your strategy from time to time, and since ABM strategy relies on those relevant customer profiles, you will have to occasionally reassess the process at its roots.
ABM, once it’s broken down into steps, isn’t quite as intimidating as it sounds. The mention of accounts can make us squirm, but the essence of Account Based Marketing is nothing to fear.