Account Based Marketing (ABM) is the execution of targeted marketing actions, specifically on pre-selected accounts.
Characteristic of Account Based Marketing is the targeted use of marketing techniques on DMU members of companies in order to generate leads. In the most extreme variant of Account Based Marketing, individual companies are seen as a market in itself, for which a campaign is devised. Within these campaigns, the marketer distinguishes between the different roles and they are provided with their own marketing messages.
Account Based Marketing in B2B
ABM is nothing new. This way of Marketing has been commonplace in . for more than 15 years Business-to-Business. B2B Marketers are used to working with segments and (mini) verticals. This also applies to working with DMUs.
Marketers have long distinguished between one-to-many, one-to-few and one-to-one marketing. The choice for this depends on the objective, target group and available resources. If there is a large target group for which no detailed information is known and the brand awareness is low, you can opt for a branding campaign in which your resources are chosen that give weight to brand awareness.
If you want to generate concrete leads in a specific market segment, you could opt for direct marketing techniques and marketing based on one-to-few or one-to-one communication. Account Based Marketing can provide good support with this.
Account Based Marketing is a commonly used technique, especially at companies that focus on larger accounts, because the benefits clearly outweigh the costs. Then we also talk about named accounts. The ABM also lends itself to creative marketing efforts with a relatively high budget per account.
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The benefits of Account Based Marketing
- Harnessing the power of personal attention
By applying ABM you are consciously personalizing the communication towards a DMU. This brings you customization. So you have a better chance that the message and tone-of-voice matches the prospect.
- The ROI of ABM is crystal clear
Because you bet on a specific company or mini-segment, you can measure the result of your campaign excellently. The ROI or cost/benefit analysis is relatively easy to gain insight into. By combining the costs of an ABM approach with those of Sales, you can paint a clear picture of the acquisition costs of a process.
- Hundred percent well-qualified leads
Because you determine in advance which accounts qualify for the approach based on a pre-qualification, a success is always a success with ABM. Which means; every lead that the approach delivers is right on target. So no resources are wasted on prospects that are not relevant or fit in the BANT.
Sangram Vajre, CMO and founder of the ABM platform Terminu explains how sales and marketing can work together to set up better sales processes and achieve faster results.
The Disadvantages of Account Based Marketing
There are multiple ways and contact strategies to target small audiences and individual prospects. Account Based Marketing is a method that is very effective for specific goals and target groups.
There are also disadvantages to Account Based Marketing:
- Intensive method
The method can be very labor intensive and require a high investment, converted per account. A lot of time and energy is spent in both devising and designing and implementing.
- Risk of disappointing result
It can also pose an increased risk when it comes to the return on investment. It may be that the investment in the customer group and individual case ultimately does not pay off because something goes wrong, a key figure leaves the DMU or the possible purchase of a product/service is on hold. Then a lot of energy and time is lost. Because you focus on small numbers, this kind of situation can be felt quickly. For campaigns with large numbers, you divide the opportunities over multiple accounts.
That is why it is also important for Account Based Marketing to bet on multiple horses, to use alternative scenarios or to do very good research before deploying the campaign. For example, you can choose to approach a number of different customer groups/individual customers with different ABM campaigns. In this way you create risk diversification but you are still working with ABM, i.e. promising, targeted marketing companies with minimal waste.
Example of an Account Based Marketing campaign
There are already many companies that use ABM techniques to reach large customers or very select customer groups.
An example of ABM from a software company:
A software company with ERP software for the top of the SME with in particular wholesalers as a customer segment is looking for a number of great customers to expand the customer group. There are a number of customers in the industry that are an excellent fit for the software and the software company. Three of these customers are roughly similar in company size and operations. If one of these companies becomes a customer, the software company can move forward for a long time, so a campaign is set up in collaboration with Marketing and Sales.
Step 1 – 360 degree customer view per company
This example of ABM includes a very important first step that is almost always necessary at ABM: the intensive mapping of the companies and contact persons.
For each company, the entire DMU described at a detailed level and the correct data of all these contacts is enriched in the CRM system. Where information is still missing, it has been made obsolete via telemarketing and LinkedIn.
Step 2 – Devise and produce a campaign
A campaign plan is devised to approach these 3 customers. The idea is a more fronts approach where each member of the DMU will receive a different message.
The campaign consists of a personal video, aimed at the company in question. A demo set-up is also made per tooling company, in which a hand scanner for scanning stocks is central.
Several videos are recorded in which the processes of the companies are zoomed in extensively and DMU members are personally addressed. The ABM campaign consists of video, online resources and offline resources.
Step 3 – roll out campaign
The campaign is being rolled out and the three companies all receive a mailing with a kind of teaser. A while later, it is also followed up online and the DMU members are confronted with the video message. As a third step within the campaign, the Account Manager visits the companies. He takes a demo set-up with him consisting of a hand scanner and a tablet with an app and a demo set-up of the software specifically designed for the company.
Step 4 – follow up on marketing campaign
The fourth step is that the action is followed up by the Account Manager to discuss the case of the company by means of an introductory meeting and to explain the possibilities of the tooling.
The ABM campaign has ended and leads to a Sales Qualified Lead with a concrete sales conversation and a concrete sales opportunity.
This is an example of Account Based Marketing as it can be applied in practice. All kinds of variations on this are possible.
ABM success factors (and pitfalls!)
How do you arrive at a successful ABM approach? This requires putting a number of key factors in order. Here we discuss a number of these so-called success factors:
1. Incredibly good knowledge of the accounts!
A good ABM tactic requires very good information from the prospect or customer. By properly mapping the companies and the DMU, a good proposition can be determined that is relevant for this specific company and the contact persons available within the DMU. The mix of resources and timing can then also be optimally coordinated. You don't want to be at the door of a company with a nice package that is intended for a contact person who no longer works at the company in question.
2. A strong message
At least as important as target group knowledge is determining a relevant, sharp customized message! Make sure you incorporate the challenges and possible profit factors of the specific company/DMU member into the message. The message must be super relevant to make the right impact and generate sufficient return from the ABM campaign.
3. Don't forget creativity!
Another aspect that should not be underestimated is the use of creativity. Both in determining the message, the offer and in determining the contact strategy and resources commitment. A creative interpretation of an ABM campaign can have a nice effect on the target group. If the DMU members are touched, impressed or know very well what the possible benefits are for their situation, the goal has been achieved. To get there, a creative interpretation can mean a lot.
Account Based Marketing Software and Tools
As a marketing technique grows in popularity, tools are also available to help marketers apply this new technique. That is no different for Account Based Marketing. There are a number of tools that can be used for multiple activities and also support ABM tactics. There are also specialized tools, specially developed for setting up specific account-oriented actions. We discuss some of them.
- CRM software
A well filled CRM system having a complete customer view of accounts is almost in all cases a must for successful Account Based Marketing. The correct information about the company and the DMU members is stored in CRM systems. By supplementing this data as completely as possible, targeted campaigns can be set up for specific accounts. The ultimate successes of the ABM campaigns can also be tracked in the CRM system in the form of sales opportunities. Some examples of CRM software:
2. Specific AMB software
A new product category that is emerging is that of the specific ABM software. This type of tools is specially designed to support this form of marketing from the joint efforts of Marketing and Sales. You could see this software as an addition to CRM systems and marketing software and support the mapping of accounts in the different phases of the Customer Lifecycle. Here you can look at industry, company size, but also how contact has been made with the company.
Subsequently, promising accounts can be spotted and subsequently set up cross-channel sales and marketing campaigns. All interactions are recorded and used for next steps and different team members are aware of the interactions with their own accounts. The tool also provides the necessary reporting options. An example of this tool is:
3. Website visitor identification software
One type of software that we see more and more in the world of marketing is that of website visitor identification software. These tools use IP information (and other data) to identify and match website visitors to a database. This makes it possible to create complete customer profiles of website visitors and their online interactions. By supplementing this data with CRM data and data from marketing software, a complete picture can be created on the basis of which specific ABM campaigns can be set up. Examples of this type of software are:
Articles about ABM:
- Account based marketing and social selling: align marketing and sales
- How website personalization fits into an account based marketing approach
- Account Based Marketing and the Top 100
- Account Based Marketing Guru: Christopher Engman: “It's All About Closing Mega-Deals”
- Sales Triggers form the basis of Account Based Marketing and Sales
- Ultimate List of 18 Account Based Marketing Tactics
- Account Based Marketing: The Reverse Sales Funnel
- Account Based Marketing or Demand Generation, how do you determine the ideal approach?