For B2B marketers, the hot new acronym is ABM (account-based marketing). In just a short time, it’s suddenly the Holy Grail that will solve everything.
However, the reality is account-based marketing is neither new nor the Holy Grail. It’s an approach that has been around for decades and is being revived by the modern technologies supporting it. And, just like any other technology, they alone can’t create success. But with the right approach, ABM can strategically be an excellent option.
In a two-part blog series last year, we covered the ins and outs of ABM and summed up what makes ABM different.
The opposite of traditional demand generation, ABM focuses both marketing and sales resources on a specific set of accounts to deliver strategic, targeted campaigns that are highly personalized. Think of it like this: traditional marketing is like fishing with a net; ABM is like fishing with a spear.
Now that you know what we’re dealing with, how do you know if ABM should be part of your marketing mix? To start, you need to honestly answer the five questions below to understand if you are ready to dive on in. If you can’t answer yes to most or all of these questions, then this approach is probably not right for you yet. Let’s find out.
If the gap between your sales and marketing team is a schism larger than the Grand Canyon, then your goal for a successful ABM program is going to flop. Yes, the nice thing is that ABM can help give greater alignment between these two teams, but if your starting point is without a bridge between the two, there is work to be done before you are ready for ABM. Sales and marketing will need to agree on the processes, goals, and targets to create an effective program. Clear and consistent communication between the two will be key.
ABM requires a different focus when it comes to audience. Marketing traditionally zeroes in on personas or a data-driven representation of your ideal customer; however, ABM requires focusing on the actual business itself and the people in those organizations.
ABM works best when you’re able to create a narrow list of businesses to pursue, as well as knowing who to pursue within those companies that will influence the decision and make the decision. ABM is not about casting the net wide and hoping to snag a few new leads.
It must remain laser focused on the target, which requires consistency and sometimes an unwavering patience.
According to Experian’s The 2017 Global Data Management Benchmark Report more than half (56%) of organizations globally do not trust their data to make important business decisions. Whether information is missing, outdated, or inaccurate, your CRM’s data is where the best-laid plans of ABM often go awry. You will need current, correct, and a consistent flow of data.
Additionally, you should be able to use your reporting to fully understand your buyers’ actions, track each step in their journey, and interpret their intent. Accurate firmographic intel will guide which companies you can best target with ABM, and complete lead demographics should reveal what content is best to serve up to the decision makers and influencers.
Your ABM program can only be as good as the data that guides it.
You are only reaching out to a small number of organizations and you have a few white papers to support your efforts, so you’re all set, right?
Not so fast.
ABM is laser-focused, and your content needs to be as well. It should be personalized and able to connect and engage. Remember these people may not necessarily be looking for your solution at the time, so cutting through all the other marketing noise is necessary for success.
Additionally, you need to think of how the content will impact the recipient. Are you reaching an influencer who needs to be turned into a brand advocate or are you reaching a decision maker who needs to be convinced of the need, benefit, and ROI of your product/service?
The key to ABM success is that your content and your marketing messages must be impactful. If not, you chance either getting lost in all the other marketing noise or, even worse, irritating a high-value prospect who may not give you a second shot.
While the principles of ABM are nothing new, many of the technologies that now make it more accessible, deployable, and scalable are. Whether it is utilizing predictive analytics, creating targeted lists, personalizing the website and content experiences, tracking IP addresses, or simply executing your campaign and measuring its success, technology plays an important role in this process.
As with any marketing plan, the first step in the process is to set goals and define how your ABM program will define success. Working from that point, you would then of course define the methods and approaches that you will utilize to reach those goals. Once this has been established, it is only then should you identify the tools that will help you achieve them.
A platform alone will not make you successful, but having a full understanding of each tool’s value will help supplement and propel your organization toward your set goals.
So, is ABM the right fit for your organization?
The simple answer is that ABM can be a powerful addition to any organization’s B2B marketing program, but to truly be successful, often an organization must first complete a little work. Once an organization has built a strong marketing and sales alignment, identified its key accounts, compiled robust data around those accounts, produced content aligned with the program, and deployed the needed technologies, a successful ABM program should be ready for launch.
ABM is complicated, for sure, which is why many companies are shy of giving it a try. For those who do pursue a targeted strategy like ABM, the payoff can be well worth it.
Wondering how you can breathe some life back into your inbound marketing program? Download our guide on 10 Greatest Lead Generation Tips, Tricks & Ideas.