Beginner’s Guide to Account-Based Marketing

Achieving marketing and sales alignment is tough. Sales reps are on the hunt for better leads, while marketers seek more effective ways for evaluating their impact. Instead, imagine a unified approach, where marketing and sales teams work hand-in-hand to pinpoint the most qualified prospects, and market to them accordingly.

According to MarketingProfs, by aligning sales and marketing teams, companies experience 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher sales win rates. End the sales and marketing tug of war, send your ROI soaring, and reach your revenue goals with Account-Based Marketing (ABM).

We’re diving into the ABCs of ABM: what it’s all about, the benefits you can’t ignore, and a crash course on creating a winning campaign.

Why Account-Based Marketing?

Account-Based Marketing is a strategic sales and marketing approach that uses highly targeted and personalized communication to win new business from a specific company or account.

To put it simply, ABM takes the traditional marketing funnel and flips is on its head. Rather than launching a broad campaign targeted to many to nurture and close a few, ABM targets a specific company by engaging key decision-makers within that company to foster new sales opportunities.

At its very foundation, Account-Based Marketing is all about landing (getting your foot in the door at a particular company) and expanding (prospecting the right accounts with the right approach). It’s a win, win: marketers know exactly who they’re reaching out to and can better personalize their marketing efforts, and sales targets the leads they hope for – ultimately maximizing marketing efforts, shortening the sales cycle, and fortifying deeper relationships.

In addition, ABM helps marketers and sales spend less time, money, and resources on campaigns that fail to yield new business, by instead, focusing on hyper-personalized campaigns designed to resonate with the most high-value prospects. What’s more? ABM delivers substantially higher return on investment (ROI) than traditional marketing. In fact, an ITSMA study found 45% of marketers using an ABM strategy saw double the ROI compared to traditional marketing methods.

Want to raise the game with ABM but don’t know where to begin? Follow our step-by-step guide to getting started with Account-Based Marketing.

Getting Started With ABM

Step 1: Identify Your Targets

First things first, define your target accounts. Rather than developing wide-reaching personas, your ABM audience focuses on high-value companies and individuals within the organizations.

Coordinate your marketing and sales teams to identify ideal key accounts, leveraging data from both areas. Consider factors such as: industry, company size, location, and annual revenue, in addition to market influence, likelihood of repeat conversion, competition, and expected profit margin.

Step 2: Do Your Research

It’s time to dig deeper – knowledge really is power. Familiarize yourself with the prospect’s company structure, evaluating key stakeholders, buying processes, motivating factors, existing pain points, and more.

The more thorough the research, the better you’ll understand how decisions are made and who makes them. Do your homework on the target’s critical decision-makers by appraising their title, responsibilities, location, and interests. Use helpful tools, such as your CRM and LinkedIn, to uncover more insights.

Step 3: Create Compelling Content

Next, put your knowledge to good use! Keep in mind, Account-Based Marketing is centered around personalization. The more personal and relevant your content, the more likely your target buyer will engage with you.

In this step, determine what content speaks directly to the organization’s business needs and stakeholders’ particular challenges. Leverage a diverse collection of highly tailored content, such as blog posts, whitepapers, reports, video, surveys, digital advertising, social media, and so on.

Start by assessing any existing content of value, then generate new content customized to their unique pain points. Different individuals in the company should get different content – for example, their sales person will have different pain points and goals than marketing or IT. Make sure your marketing collateral moves your target accounts through the sales cycle.

Step 4: Time to Execute

Don’t let your killer content go to waste. Identify where your stakeholder spend time online, how they consume content on each platform, and in what ways they interact. Adapt and focus your campaign strategy to map to each stage of the buyer’s journey across the appropriate channels.

Now it’s time to (finally) roll out your campaign! Make certain you’re not sending different or conflicting messages to the same decision-maker within a target account. Thoughtfully coordinate your messaging across touchpoints, while guaranteeing your outreach isn’t too repetitive.

Step 5: Measure Success

The grand finale: gauging your campaign’s performance and results. To measure the success of your ABM efforts, ask yourself critical questions such as:

  • Are these accounts becoming more engaged with your brand and did your personalized content prove to be valuable?
  • Did you generate any meetings, or even better, revenue from the campaign? What was the average sales cycle length and deal size?
  • Are you expanding the number of known stakeholders within the target account and did any of them progress down the funnel?
  • What could you do better going forward and how should you adjust your initiatives accordingly?

Remember that the goal of ABM is to build and deepen relationships with a target account, nurturing them from one stage to the next. Because closing a deal can take months (or longer), analyze broader metrics throughout the process, such as awareness and engagement to evaluate response and return-on-investment (ROI). For instance:

  • To measure awareness: consider website visits, social media mentions, social shares, and/or email responses
  • To measure engagement: assess website behavior like page visits, number of return visits, time spent on site, content downloads, product demos, and email sign-ups
  • To measure relationships: calculate the number of decision-makers reached, meetings set, proposals submitted, trial sign-ups, and more

Up Your Game With ABM

When sales and marketing teams work together to unify the buyer’s journey, the potential ROI is proven. According to a recent TOPO study, an Account-Based Marketing strategy improves customer lifetime value by 80% and increases win rates by 86%, over a traditional go-to-market approach.

Marketers, sales reps, even executive teams: are you ready to shift your thinking towards acquiring, retaining, and growing? Implement an ABM strategy so you can market smarter (not harder), accelerate the sales cycle, amplify sales opportunities, and win over high-value accounts that are the best fit for your products or services.