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What is Account Based Marketing? - Part 2

Account based marketing (ABM) is a marketing approach that focuses on high-quality accounts. The traditional marketing funnel is turned upside down, so to speak. The approach is particularly popular with customers in the B2B sector, where the purchase decision depends on several people. The accounts (= the companies) are seen as a separate market. Your company tries to convince the accounts of its own offers with campaigns tailored to them.

In the first part of this series of articles you can read about the principles of account based marketing and what advantages you have with this marketing approach.
This part is about how account based marketing works. For this we dive into the different steps of ABM:

How does Account Based Marketing work?

The overall goal is clear: to generate more revenue by attracting new customers or expanding business with existing customers.

The prerequisite for ABM is that the marketing and sales departments can already work closely together. This is because in this marketing approach it is important that employees from both departments are involved.

The two departments define subordinate goals that support the overall goal. Linkedin has compiled some suitable examples for such sub-goals:

  • Reach a higher number of decision makers within an account.
  • Set a higher number of appointments with management levels in companies.
  • Achieve a lower churn rate of customers.
  • Increase sales to existing customers.

As with all goal setting, it is important to be as specific as possible, using the SMART formula.

As soon as you know which people from the sales and marketing departments will take over the ABM and the roles and responsibilities are assigned, you can proceed with the strategy and start with campaigns. With the experience you gain, you can then refine the strategy and build up your resources for account based marketing.

Account based marketing is sometimes referred to as 3, 5 or even 7 steps. Depending on which of the following steps are considered separately. We present here the following five steps:

Step 1: Define and identify high-value customers

This step is about identifying the accounts that are high value for your business. These are mainly companies that have the potential for high turnover and with whom you want to work in the long term.

Here are possible starting points for finding such accounts:

With existing customers:
  • Open deals that you would like to close more quickly.
  • Deals that have already been closed and where you see potential for further projects.
  • Companies that show a lot of interaction with your current content (e.g. interactions with your posts in social media, comments in blog posts, high open &/ click rate in newsletters, download of resources from your company).

For new customers:
  • Key companies in the industry.
  • Companies that match your previously established criteria for quality leads (e.g. high sales potential, your ideal customers, opportunities for long-term relationships).

Step 2: Identify key people in the account (=company)

Here it is important to think about the process leading up to a purchase decision in the selected company:
  • Which people will take the case for your product or service to the decision-making bodies in the company?
  • Which people in the company can ultimately make the final purchase decision?
  • When and how are the decisions made?
  • What information does the company need to become interested in your products and services?
  • Who are the users of your solution?
  • Which people might have resistance or counter-arguments for your product &/ your service?

It is crucial that you consider and try to involve exactly these stakeholders in your campaigns. It is important to convince these people about you and your company.

Step 3: Determine content for the account and determine channels

In the previous step, you determined the stakeholders you want to address with your content. The goal is that your content promotes the conviction for a purchase decision among exactly these defined people. Therefore, your campaign content needs to be optimally aligned with the buying decision process and the people involved. As with other marketing approaches, the best way to do this is to create buyer personas.

Setting up optimally aligned content is probably a little easier written than done...Because the keywords here are: Get to the point in a short and concise way and show with examples and arguments how your products and / or services can offer added value for this account. The goal is to show your high-value accounts that you are a trustworthy contact person with a great deal of expert knowledge in this area.

  • What do the stakeholders think about the topic in question?
  • What level of knowledge do the stakeholders have in this area?
  • How can your message be personalised to the exact situation of this company? What do they need to make a decision?
  • What added value do you offer with your content for the challenges of this account? Do you provide information, instructions, examples or ideas that are useful for your counterpart?

When determining the channels, you need to find out which communication tools the stakeholders use most often to research trends and find solutions.

Step 4: Run the campaigns

At this point, the team or persons responsible for ABM have been determined, the strategy has been set, the accounts and associated persons have been identified and the content for the campaigns has been set. This means you can get started with the implementation.

Examples of implementation of account based marketing campaigns:

  • You have different accounts that you want to reach with ABM. One account, for example, is a large company from the textile industry. Now you set up a webinar content that is exactly relevant for this company and its challenges and share the registration on the channels where the company is active.
  • For example, you organise an important event where different companies as well as private persons participate. Now you have 2-3 accounts that are very important for you. Possibilities for ABM here are personal invitations with benefits for participation such as an associated meal invitation or a discount voucher for the ticket.
  • Social media ads give you the opportunity to target specific accounts directly, for example on Linkedin or Facebook, and tailor the ad campaigns to your target accounts.
  • You have certain large accounts that are always looking for or need certain information on your websites. Through web personalisation you have the possibility to optimise your website for exactly these companies.

Step 5: Measurement, analysis, optimisation

With ABM, the focus is on the accounts. This also means that you have to move the entire account - instead of individuals - through your customer journey to the purchase decision. You have to consider this when measuring and analysing your campaigns.

In the analysis, of course, you have to look at the sub-goals that the marketing and sales department set at the beginning:

  • Do the results match the goals?
    • If yes, can you keep the goals or do you have to set new ones?
    • If not, what could be the reason? Do you have to optimise your campaigns or adapt your goals?
  • Which parts do you have to adjust or optimise?

Generally speaking, you can measure the following points in relation to the campaign:

  • What engagement did you achieve with the accounts?
  • What opportunities have been created?
  • What deals was your company able to close?

It is important that you give yourself and your company enough time for account based marketing to gain experience, optimise campaigns and adjust the strategy if necessary.

Conclusion

The campaigns must be optimally tailored to the desired accounts. If you are targeting successive accounts that are very similar, it makes sense to reuse points from the strategy and content and not reinvent the wheel each time.

Some of the steps from ABM were not super different from other marketing approaches such as inbound marketing. The biggest difference is that only a few are targeted instead of many. The account itself builds a market by identifying and targeting the different key people.

A trend that has already become apparent in recent years is also evident in account based marketing: the boundaries between marketing and sales are becoming more blurred, as the two departments have to work closely together and thus there is no clear handover of the respective lead.

For whom is it worthwhile?

Acccount based marketing is worthwhile for companies that have customers from the B2B sector. The marketing approach is particularly useful if you want to address large accounts or companies. Examples here are accounts that are the most important companies in the industry, accounts that need a complex solution tailored to them or you want to inform the account step by step about complex offers. It is important for the campaigns that the account does not already have all the information for the decision, otherwise it will be difficult to bring in your arguments and ideas.

The application of ABM certainly requires some resources financially and organisationally. Therefore, the marketing approach is worthwhile especially if you can expect a large order volume.

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