Unlocking B2B Growth: An Introduction to Account-Based Marketing

June 12, 2024

Introduction to Account-Based Marketing

There’s a new buzzword being bandied about in marketing and sales circles: account-based marketing (ABM). Have you heard of it? If you haven’t, maybe it’s time to do so because ABM is rapidly transforming the B2B marketing and sales landscape.

By focusing on a small number of high-value accounts rather than casting a wide net, ABM aligns sales and marketing efforts to maximize impact and return on investment (ROI). In this way, ABM empowers marketing teams to target and engage their most valuable prospects with precision and personalized strategies. In fact, according to Momentum ITSMA, 87% of account-based marketers claim their efforts outperform other marketing investments.

What Is Account-Based Marketing?

While ABM can be summarized quite quickly (see above), there are a few essential components that set the foundation for a successful ABM strategy:

  • Targeted Customer Identification: Developing an ideal customer profile (ICP) is the first step in any ABM strategy. Identifying the characteristics of accounts that are most likely to benefit from your product or service and that offer the highest value in return will set the stage for your ABM efforts. Creating ICPs is not unlike B2B customer personas; however, we grade and create a hierarchy of your ideal customers based on opportunity.
  • Personalized Marketing Efforts: Once target accounts are identified, personalized marketing efforts come into play. And when we say personalized, the more custom, the better—for example, crafting tailored content and highly personalized messages and choosing the right channels to reach each account effectively. The aim is to create highly relevant interactions that resonate with the unique needs of each account.
  • Integrated Sales and Marketing Tactics: ABM requires a collaborative approach through which sales and marketing teams work closely together. By aligning their strategies and efforts, they can ensure a seamless and cohesive customer journey from initial contact to deal closure.

Key Benefits of Account-Based Marketing

Moving from a mass-audience, shotgun approach to more of a surgical form of targeting takes more upfront work than you would think, but it can pay off big-time in the long run.

One of the primary benefits of ABM is improved customer engagement and relationships. By providing hyper-tailored experiences, ABM fosters deeper and more meaningful engagements with target accounts. Personalized interactions will always resonate more with key decision-makers, leading to higher levels of engagement and trust. As a result, our clients that use ABM develop stronger, longer-lasting relationships with their most valuable customers and clients, which ultimately enhances customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Another significant advantage of ABM is the higher ROI it can offer for marketing and sales efforts. Focusing resources on high-value accounts ensures that marketing and sales activities yield better returns.

According to Demand Metric, 60% of companies report at least a 10% increase in revenue in year one of their ABM programs. That’s huge! This targeted approach minimizes wasted efforts on low-potential leads, allowing businesses to allocate their budgets more efficiently and achieve greater financial outcomes.

If you’ve ever experienced any gaps or inefficiencies between sales and marketing, then you will love how ABM can promote better alignment between sales and marketing teams. In fact, the collaborative nature of ABM requires these teams to work closely together, fostering improved communication and coordination.

ABM typically leads to shorter sales cycles and faster deal closures too. The targeted approach of ABM allows businesses to focus on prospects who are more likely to convert, providing them with highly relevant and timely information. This accelerates the decision-making process and reduces the time taken to close deals. By addressing the specific needs and pain points of each account, businesses can move prospects through the sales funnel more quickly and efficiently.

Finally, ABM increases customer lifetime value and advocacy. Personalized experiences not only improve customer satisfaction but also lead to higher lifetime value. We see time and time again that satisfied customers are more likely to make repeat purchases and engage in upselling or cross-selling opportunities. These highly engaged customers are more inclined to become advocates for the brand, referring new clients and providing positive testimonials.

Implementing Account-Based Marketing: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you’re still reading at this point, you probably want to know how you can implement ABM in your marketing and sales organizations. The best way to do so is to contact COHN for a proposal, but at a very high level, ABM can be broken down into clear, actionable steps:

  1. Select the Right Accounts: Begin by selecting accounts based on their potential value and fit with your ICP. This ensures that resources are allocated to the most promising prospects.
  2. Conduct In-Depth Research: Understand the needs, pain points, and preferences of your target accounts through thorough research. This knowledge is crucial for crafting messages that will resonate.
  3. Craft Personalized Messages and Content: Develop customized content and messages for each account. Personalization should reflect the specific challenges and goals of the target accounts.
  4. Choose Appropriate Channels for Outreach: Identify the most effective channels for reaching each account, whether through email, social media, direct mail, or events. The choice of channels should align with where the target accounts are most active and responsive.
  5. Leverage ABM Tools and Technologies: Utilize ABM tools to streamline and scale your efforts. These tools can assist with account identification, data enrichment, personalization, and analytics.

This all may sound easy, but as you probably suspect, ABM is more difficult to set up than it might seem on the surface.

Account-Based Marketing vs. Other Strategies

First, let us just say that ABM can absolutely coexist with any other strategies you have. We see layering ABM onto your existing mass marketing approach as an effective hybrid model. But it’s worth noting that comparing ABM with other B2B marketing approaches, such as inbound and traditional outbound marketing, reveals distinct differences.

Most obviously, while inbound marketing attracts a broad audience through content and SEO, ABM targets specific high-value accounts. Again, these two strategies can work together by filling the funnel and identifying your top targets from there.

Outbound marketing casts a wide net through tactics like cold calling and mass emails, whereas ABM focuses on personalized, account-specific strategies. ABM is particularly effective in scenarios in which businesses need to engage high-stakes, high-value accounts.

Ethical Considerations

In any conversation about ABM, it’s important to discuss its ethics. Data privacy and personalization are critical ethical concerns in ABM. Businesses must ensure transparency, obtain consent, and respect customer preferences to build trust and avoid potential pitfalls.

We say this because, let’s be honest, ABM can be a little creepy at times if you aren’t careful. Whereas strategies that use more of a wide-net approach are clearly appealing to everybody, ABM is extremely personalized by design. This can, if not carefully considered, make the ICP feel hyper-targeted in a weird way.

Don’t be the ABM team that makes your target customers feel like you stalked them. This will not—shocker, we know—result in more sales for your team.

Metrics and ROI

Like any other marketing strategy, ABM metrics should be tracked.

Account engagement is crucial—website visits, content downloads, email opens, etc. Monitoring these leading indicators can provide insights into how effectively your content is resonating with target accounts and can indicate the level of interest and engagement from potential customers.

Another important metric is pipeline velocity, which measures the time taken to move deals through the sales funnel. This metric is essential for understanding the efficiency of your sales operations and the impact of ABM strategies on shortening sales cycles.

Ultimately, evaluating the size of deals and the revenue generated from target accounts is probably the most important key performance indicator for you to track. This involves analyzing the financial outcomes of ABM efforts, assessing the average deal size, and calculating the total revenue attributed to ABM-targeted accounts. These financial metrics provide a clear picture of the monetary benefits derived from ABM initiatives and help justify the investment in such strategies.

We believe that ABM creates more loyal customers as well, so measuring customer lifetime value (CLTV) is another significant metric, assessing the long-term value of acquired customers. By understanding CLTV, businesses can gauge the overall profitability of their customer relationships and the impact of ABM on customer retention and loyalty.

Finally, ROI is always a touchy subject in marketing communications, as typically, you will have multiple marketing tactics running at once. In ABM, calculating ROI involves comparing the financial gains you can directly attribute from ABM campaigns to the costs incurred in executing those campaigns.

COHN Is Your ABM Partner

Our team at COHN specializes in developing and implementing tailored ABM strategies. With a proven track record of success, COHN offers customized solutions that meet the specific needs of each client. Our collaborative approach ensures that we work closely with clients throughout the ABM process, leveraging our deep industry knowledge to drive results.

ABM is a powerful strategy for B2B growth, offering targeted, personalized approaches to engage high-value accounts. By implementing ABM effectively, businesses can achieve higher ROI, better alignment between sales and marketing, and improved customer relationships.

For tailored ABM strategies that deliver results, contact COHN for a personalized consultation.

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