Outbound marketing. Inbound marketing. Viral marketing. Content marketing. Email marketing. Drip marketing. Niche marketing. It’s easy to come under the spell of what most of us eventually come to recognize as flavor-of-the-month marketing. And now seemingly it’s Account Based Marketing (ABM).
While every marketing tactic has a place, the hyperbole so often associated with new techniques soon inures us to all marketing hype. But wait…
Before you toss the baby out with the bathwater, you need to take a closer look at Account Based Marketing. Because when we get behind the buzz and look beyond the hype, we discover that ABM offers more than a flavor-of-the-month tactic. In fact, it’s a strategy that belongs in virtually every B2B marketing toolkit.
ABM Is Time-Tested Marketing at Scale
As a marketer who has long been passionate about branding, strategic planning, storytelling and understanding the customer journey, Account Based Marketing is music to my ears. Especially as I delve into this large and complex ecosystem of sales and marketing technology and technographic data here at HG Insights.
For starters, Account Based Marketing is not a new concept. As many others have noted, in many ways ABM is revitalizing the time-tested strategy of understanding the customer. With a few new twists (er, tactics) we’re now able to scale what traditionally was a mostly one-on-one process. And that’s key. Marketing automation, new tech tools and big data enable us to take the traditional approach to highly focused and targeted sales and marketing and extrapolate out to the universe of prospects that match our ideal customer profile (ICP).
It’s one-to-many sales and marketing with greater efficiency than one-on-one whale hunting and with much greater precision and sophistication than spray and pray.
ABM Delivers ROI
Account Based Marketing’s potential for greater return on investment should be music to everyone’s ears. According to the 2016 report, State of Pipeline Marketing, 67% of B2B marketers are doing “some form of account-based marketing.”
More important, they’re getting results. Marketers surveyed for the SiriusDecisions 2016 State of Account-Based Marketing Study attribute “better marketing, sales and product alignment” to their ability to outperform their peers. They report 19 percent greater revenue growth and 15 percent higher profitability. In fact, 87% of those surveyed describe ABM as “extremely” or “very” important to their marketing efforts.
Across the board, companies using an ABM strategy consistently achieve higher close rates and larger contract values for enterprise and mid-market accounts, attract more new customers matching their ICP, and significantly improve relationships with their existing clients by offering them more relevant solutions.
And ABM brings value throughout the funnel and customer lifecycle, whether you’re focused on growing net new customers, building recurring business, retaining existing customers or increasing share of wallet.
Getting Started Is Easier Than You Think
For all the discussion of marketing automation, personalization and high-tech marketing tools, Account Based Marketing isn’t a new strategy. Remember those trusty old sales reps that always brought in the big accounts? We called them whale hunters because they spent months, even years in pursuit of the big fish—working a handful of accounts, building relationships and getting to know the people and what they needed to succeed.
But back in the day, whale hunting was an exhaustive, time-consuming, manual process of one-on-one sales and marketing. While it ultimately paid off, companies couldn’t afford to have all their reps take this approach. They mixed it up—big sales, small sales, recurring sales, one-time sales, and so on.
It’s a hybrid approach that we still rely on today, and digital sales and marketing is adding to our options—demand generation, inbound and outbound marketing, e-commerce, inside sales, telemarketing…and Account Based Marketing.
Here’s the bottom line. Every business is different, but if you build relationships with key accounts by better understanding them, targeting your sales and marketing messages to their needs and identifying your ICP, you’re on the road to developing an ABM strategy. If you’re just beginning on your ABM journey:
- Start small, if necessary. Use the tools you have to focus on key accounts. Even a manual, one-on-one approach works.
- Develop a process that works for you (that’s key) and automate that process as you have the budget and expertise.
- And think integration. Reserve ABM for your big fish while continuing with inbound, awareness building and lower-touch tactics for the rest of the lake.
Remember, ABM is a strategy…not THE strategy.
Align Sales and Marketing with Business Strategies
As someone who has long focused on building brands and developing marketing strategy, I now find myself straddling the worlds of sales and marketing and working to align our marketing and sales efforts. ABM encourages sales and marketing to align their approach and messaging based on a deeper understanding of the customer and a commitment to the customer’s success.
That alignment should actually extend beyond sales and marketing: “ABM needs to start at the top. Before sales and marketing alignment, you need to align the business on its strategy for high-value growth, sales productivity and business goals.”
In other words, in addition to bringing coordinated communication and collaboration to customer outreach, developing your ICP needs to reflect the objectives of the business as a whole. It’s a matter of looking beyond the sales funnel and considering product development, length of the sales cycle and optimal customer lifecycle.
Having the Right Data is Key
Given the benefits of ABM and the relative ease of getting started, you probably should be integrating ABM into your current B2B marketing strategy. But I want to leave you with one more consideration—something that is often overlooked. That’s third-party tech install data — what we call technographics.
Once you have your ICP, you need to proactively identify the universe of prospects most likely to purchase. That means locating key accounts outside your current funnel. An effective approach to finding the most relevant accounts, is to use third-party tech install data to identify companies that use products that complement or compete with your solutions. In fact, in its recent survey, SiriusDecisions found that 62% of respondents are now using some combination of custom and non-custom third-party account and contact profiling.
If your ICP includes a company’s technology stack, HG Insights can provide a clear competitive edge with actionable technographic insights into both current and historical installs. Knowing the combination of hardware products or software tools your prospects or customers use is powerful information you can use to select the right accounts to target, tailor your message to address customer pain points, and feed your predictive analytics engine to learn which accounts you should be pursuing next.
To learn more about technographics and how you can use them to precisely target the right accounts, visit our technographics page.