Interest in Account-Based Marketing only continues to grow as marketers seek to drive higher ROI and see better results.
80% of marketers have seen higher deal sizes when adopting an Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategy in comparison to previous efforts, according to our recent Account-Based Marketing Research Report.
Focusing on senior marketing professionals in our Insights for Professionals (IFP) Marketing community, these findings indicate how the vast majority of marketers believe ABM to be well worth their investment.
However, while we’ve seen How to Run ABM in 2020, a new B2B marketing horizon is upon us. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic we need to consider how the landscape is changing and how to ensure ABM strategies are evolving at the same pace.
To see the tangible benefits for yourself, join us as we take a look at what lies ahead for marketers along with some popular tried and tested approaches to carry you through the rest of 2021.
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What is Account-Based Marketing?
This may seem like a basic question but it’s important to remind ourselves what ABM is and why it’s a B2B marketing strategy worth deploying.
ABM is by its very nature a more targeted approach which focuses resources on a set of specific accounts in order to achieve a greater percentage of wins. It can help your campaigns, and therefore sales, to perform better.
Through analyzing the specific needs and attributes of existing customers, campaigns can be tailored and personalized to meet their needs in incomparable ways; this is what ABM is all about. Everyone loves personalized content and offers so if an email doesn’t look relevant to them at first glance, they’ll likely to not open it.
ABM effectively leads to a boost in upselling and cross-selling with minimal resource and outlay, and a far quicker end-to-end sales process. The main thing to remember is that personalized content is absolutely key to ABM success.
What can ABM bring to the table? Here are 4 stand out benefits
- Reduced waste
The primary appeal of ABM is that it reduces waste while helping to generate greater revenue. It eliminates the need to launch huge volumes of emails or create copious white papers for lead generation. It instead allows marketers to create specific, targeted messages to attract key decision makers – resulting in greater engagement all round.
- Increased ROI and collaboration
ABM drives ROI by focusing on specific accounts and building campaigns to attract high-quality leads, providing greater wins, higher conversions, and consequently far better value. This approach also ensures that everyone involved better understands the customer base through mapping, analyzing and recognizing how decisions flow.
- Sustainable growth
Marketing to a set of key accounts helps businesses develop sustainable growth strategies through building trust and strong working relationships with key marketing decision-makers. They can position themselves as an expert in the industry, which 49% of marketers use personalization technologies to achieve, allowing them to go far beyond just lead generation.
The need for ABM in helping to target effectively and deliver the right content to the right people is one which is only on the rise, especially as competitors become more savvy in the process.
- Effectively target the right accounts
88% of marketers agree that utilizing ABM has seen improvements in their conversion rates, making it their go-to strategy. To target effectively, a Target Account List (TAL) needs to be created based on the types of company which best fit your business model, and likewise those who you can be confident your service will meet the needs of.
Searching through existing lists to identify segments within your CRM allows you to select the right target characteristics and align the right clients to meet your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Predictive software and ABM lookalike strategies also allow you to find similar and highly suitable accounts; crucial for keeping account lists fresh and relevant. Lookalike marketing is in fact used by 83% of marketers for finding new audiences and expanding their target account lists (TAL).
Specialists in intent data can also assist in building out your lookalike strategy through providing visibility into the types of content your target accounts are engaging with, as well as ways to reach other suitable companies with similar content consumption preferences. A key aspect of this method is tracking digital touchpoints on specific content topics, so ensuring you choose one relevant to your brand is an important point to consider.
ABM does pose a challenge when a marketing team isn’t up to speed with this form of strategy. A recent ITSMA report concerning ABM leaders reveals their top challenge to be “personalizing and tailoring our marketing to the key contacts at each account.” Our handy ABM FAQs infographic also shows how 47% of marketers find the biggest challenge to be delivering relevant content to target audiences, whilst 39% find that not knowing which accounts are the right ones to target is a key frustration.
The three branches of ABM strategy – which one is right for you?
When considering your ABM strategy there are three main types or tiers to know about, allowing organizations to prioritize and structure their efforts for maximum success. Let’s take a look..
One-to-one: this strategy targets specific individual accounts and uses personalized messaging. Only 14% of marketers actually use this approach, which treats the most valuable accounts as individual markets. A typical one-to-one campaign might target between 5 to 10 of your key accounts and is ideal if you appeal to a fixed range of businesses or operate in a local market.
One-to-few: this approach focuses on small groups, rather than individuals accounts, using a specialized target account list built on predictive analytics or industry knowledge. 35% of marketers adopt this more popular method for its ability to scale when campaigns are aimed at a larger number of accounts.
One-to-many: 16% of marketers use this approach, which is purposed for very large numbers of accounts. It works by identifying a total addressable market based on firmographic data, to determine the likelihood of conversion.
Selecting the right and most effective strategy is highly important for effective results. Some groundwork in identifying and analyzing the types of existing accounts you have in order to determine the best-fit approach, is a vital step in the process. However, one size does not always fit all; it’s worth noting that 35% of businesses actually apply more than one of these methods so that their top accounts receive the best possible personalization, whilst a broader campaign is enough to satisfy and still be effective for the others.
Take the next step beyond standard personalization
72% of consumers only engage with personalized messages, while 80% are more likely to make ecommerce purchases from a business effectively personalizing content. When done right, conventional personalization can generate desired leads and drive ROI. Go one step further, and you enter the world of hyper-personalization and all the extra benefits this has to offer.
Going forward, B2B marketers need to look beyond the account-level approach to ABM and instead adopt a hyper-personalized strategy which treats marketers as individual people. The COVID-19 pandemic has created many challenges alongside plentiful opportunities for businesses to thrive in the new B2B landscape – this being one of them.
Hyper-personalization harnesses AI efforts, behavioral indicators and real-time data to accomplish maximum relevance in content suggestions and product recommendations. It is more relevant and responsive in real-time than standard personalization, providing an in-depth understanding of the individual, their unique preferences and behavioral habits.
As such, a business can send personalized messages at the most appropriate times – matching when each individual is likely to engage. They can also send in their preferred communication channel and with offers specific to their known preferences.
How has COVID-19 advanced the ABM approach?
Since the coronavirus pandemic began, the UK government, for instance, have maintained that employees should work from home wherever possible. With the home and office boundary now somewhat blurred as a result, it prompted the new reality in which key business decision-makers are in fact customers and prospects with lives outside of work to now consider too. They might be switching between working, home-schooling, putting on some washing, walking the dog, back to work and so on, meaning that reaching key stakeholders is now quite different to how it was in the pre-Covid world.
With this in mind, taking a hyper-personalized approach to ABM by considering the person for who they are and placing them at the centre of your strategy, is how to gain competitive advantage in this new post-Covid era.
Beware: Personalization can become creepy!
Individuals clearly want to feel as though they are being addressed uniquely and thus tailoring content is vital. However, it can sometimes become a bit too much. Of 2,500 people surveyed by Gartner, 38% said they would stop doing business with an organization if personalization became too creepy. While over half revealed they would unsubscribe from communication efforts altogether if this were the case. Our recent blog B2B Personalization; Marketing Perfection or Just Plain Creepy? discusses everything you need to be aware of to avoid crossing the fine line.
ABM really took hold in 2020, yet 2021 will see it reach the next level and beyond thereafter. Hyper-personalization enables deeper connections and truly personalized experiences, which marketing professionals are already starting to realize and benefit from.
Take a look at our step-by-step workbook Your ABM strategy in 7 simple steps to help you plan, structure and put together your very own ABM strategy.
The aim is to get the most value from existing clients and build long-lasting, meaningful relationships to become the trusted partner of many.