What is Account-Based Marketing?
It's no surprise that personalization is a key part of marketing. But now more than ever people want a buying experience that caters directly to their unique feelings, needs, and pain points. In other words, people simply want to be seen as people and not dollar signs.
This is where account-based marketing (ABM) can help you to target specific, high-quality accounts and in turn create marketing messages tailored to the needs of those account holders.
Salesforce has implemented an account-based marketing strategy to target key accounts and engage decision-makers with personalized messaging and campaigns. One of their most notable account-based marketing campaigns is their "Dreamforce" event, which is held annually and is one of the largest tech conferences in the world.
At Dreamforce, Salesforce invites key decision-makers from target accounts to attend the conference for free, providing them with exclusive access to speakers, networking opportunities, and demonstrations of the latest Salesforce products and services. The event is designed to provide a personalized experience for attendees, with content tailored to their specific interests and needs.
Targeting key decision-makers and providing them with a personalized and memorable experience, Salesforce has been able to build deeper relationships with these accounts and increase their likelihood of converting them into customers. The Dreamforce event has become a key component of Salesforce's account-based marketing strategy, helping to drive significant revenue growth for the company.
The Basic Principles of ABM
ABM can be a little tricky to understand at first but understanding some of the basic principles makes it much easier to visualize the process. Here is a bird’s-eye view of account-based marketing:
Direct marketing allows you to communicate directly with your customers, or potential customers, rather than through generalized advertising.
If your customer base consists of several repeat customers, such as, say, ten or fifteen corporate companies, you would identify some or all of these clients as priority clients. If your customer base, on the other hand, is very generalized and consists of hundreds of thousands of people, you might need to look at different techniques.
ABM only works if you have clear information about your identified clients. You need to know as much as possible about them, such as financial information – what kind of turnover they have, how they bill their clients, etc; demographic information—who their customers are, where they are located, what kind of industry they are in, what’s happening in their specific industry; people information—how many staff they employ, etc.
Targeted, Tailored Content
For effective ABM, you need to create content that speaks to that specific client. It’s not enough to create content that speaks to generalized pain points, market needs and so on – you need to address specific needs that each client has, and prove that the content you have generated is tailored for them.
Client engagement hinges on getting them interested in what you have to say. It isn’t all about the hard sell, either – ABM is a long-term, ongoing customer maintenance plan and trying the hard sell every time you communicate will only irritate them.
Speaking of nurturing, gone are the days where every client communication had to end in a sale. Nowadays, sales and marketing are more about building solid, long-term customer relationships that lead to loyalty and ongoing business, than about selling fast and selling often.
What are the benefits of ABM?
ABM is a fantastic strategy for scalable growth and there seems to be an overabundance of information about ABM floating around. So much information, in fact, that marketers aren’t able to fully digest the principles and benefits of an account-based marketing strategy. To help cut through the noise, we’ve compiled a few key benefits of account-based marketing.
- Increased revenue: By focusing on a smaller set of high-value accounts, ABM can result in higher conversion rates and increased revenue. ABM helps to identify the accounts that are most likely to generate significant revenue and creates personalized campaigns to engage decision-makers at those accounts. This tailored approach can lead to higher levels of engagement and ultimately more closed deals. According to a study by the Alterra Group, companies that implement ABM see an average 171% increase in annual contract value from their target accounts.
- Higher ROI: ABM can be more cost-effective than traditional marketing methods because it is highly targeted. By focusing on a smaller set of high-value accounts, marketers can allocate their resources more efficiently and see a higher return on investment. Additionally, because ABM campaigns are highly personalized, they tend to have higher conversion rates than more general campaigns. According to the ABM Leadership Alliance, 87% of marketers report that ABM delivers a higher ROI than other marketing activities.
- Improved customer experience: ABM helps to create a better customer experience by providing highly personalized and relevant content to decision-makers at target accounts. This personalized approach can help to build deeper relationships with key accounts, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty. A study by ITSMA found that 85% of marketers who measure ROI describe account-based marketing as delivering higher returns than any other marketing approach.
- Alignment with sales: ABM requires close collaboration between marketing and sales teams to identify target accounts and develop personalized campaigns. This alignment can lead to improved communication and a more efficient sales process. By focusing on high-value accounts and engaging decision-makers in a more targeted way, ABM can help to improve the overall efficiency of the sales process.
- Better use of resources: Because ABM is highly targeted, marketers can focus their resources on the accounts and channels that are most likely to generate results. This can lead to better use of resources and a more efficient marketing program overall.
Things to watch out for when implementing ABM
When a company implements an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy, there are several key factors to watch to ensure success. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Account selection: The success of an ABM program hinges on selecting the right target accounts. It's important to choose accounts that align with the company's business goals and have the potential to generate significant revenue. When selecting accounts, consider factors such as their size, industry, revenue, and growth potential.
- Alignment with sales: ABM requires close alignment between marketing and sales teams. Ensure that the sales team is on board with the ABM strategy and that there is clear communication between the two teams. This will help ensure that the ABM program is focused on the right accounts and that sales reps are following up on leads generated by the program.
- Personalization: Personalization is a key element of ABM. Ensure that the messaging and content delivered to target accounts is highly personalized and relevant. This will help to build relationships with decision-makers at those accounts and improve the chances of closing deals.
- Measuring success: It's important to establish clear goals and KPIs for the ABM program and to track progress against those goals. Consider metrics such as engagement rates, conversion rates, and revenue generated from target accounts. This will help to identify areas where the program can be optimized and demonstrate the ROI of the program.
- Ongoing optimization: ABM is an iterative process. Continually monitor the program to identify areas where it can be optimized, whether that's by refining messaging or adjusting targeting criteria. This will help to ensure that the program continues to generate results over time.
In conclusion, account-based marketing (ABM) has emerged as a highly effective strategy for companies looking to target high-value accounts and drive revenue growth. By focusing on a select group of accounts and delivering highly personalized messaging and campaigns, companies can increase the chances of closing deals and building strong relationships with their most valuable customers. The benefits of ABM are clear, including increased revenue, higher ROI, and improved customer satisfaction. However, to achieve these benefits, companies must carefully select target accounts, align sales and marketing teams, personalize messaging, measure success, and continually optimize their approach. By doing so, companies can reap the rewards of an effective ABM program that delivers long-term value and growth.
- Alterra Group: How to build a scalable account-based marketing program: https://www.alterragroup.com/build-scalable-account-based-marketing-program/
- ABM Leadership Alliance: Account-Based Marketing: A Practical Guide: https://www.abmleadershipalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/ABM-Leadership-Alliance-Practical-Guide.pdf
- ITSMA: 2018 Account-Based Marketing Benchmarking Study: https://www.itsma.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/ITSMA-ABM-Benchmark-Study-2018.pdf