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Markets are constantly moving at a faster rate, which makes it just as important for your marketing and sales strategies to keep up or stay ahead. Efficiency is the name of the game here, and that means spending more time on the leads that matter.
Account-based marketing allows you to better identify and focus on those high-value accounts, spending less time prospecting and more time engaging those accounts. ABM helps achieve this through marketing-sales alignment and personalized campaigns, resulting in increased customer loyalty, brand recognition, and ROI.
What is Account-Based Marketing?
Account-based marketing (or ABM) is a strategy that funnels a team’s efforts toward high-value accounts, clients, or companies. This is supported by highly-personalized campaigns and messaging that directly address an account’s needs. ABM is typically employed alongside inbound marketing, which is a more foundational approach to marketing that seeks to attract a more general range of potential accounts; leads generated by inbound marketing typically help inform potential ABM targets. Another term used interchangeably with account-based marketing is key account marketing.
Account-Based Marketing: Strategies & Tactics
Effective ABM campaigns have a key similarity—they follow sound strategies and tactics that allow them to stand out in a competitive market. Much of it also has to do with preparation, which sets your campaign up for success before it even launches.
Here are some tips for building your ABM strategy:
1. Ensure alignment between your sales and marketing teams
Marketing and sales are critical to the success of your ABM campaign, as they are primarily responsible for taking your customer from being just a lead to a successful sale and possibly a long-term partner. Synergy between the two is important, which means communication must be clear so they are always working in the same direction.
Important factors to align on include, but definitely not limited to goals, stakeholders, budget, messaging, your unique selling points, as well as your KPIs.
2. Identify your target accounts
To identify your highest-value accounts, having clear search criteria is important. Some of the ways you can determine which accounts to invest in:
- Review leads generated by your other marketing efforts that might not have been converted yet.
- Use information from previous, high-value clients as reference (e.g. industry) to filter for similar matches.
- Consider accounts from a specific region.
3. Create a custom plan for each account
Each account you target must be made to feel like they are receiving your full effort and attention, which means you need to craft highly specific messaging that will convince them that doing business with you directly addresses its needs. Some specific tactics you can employ here include:
- Creating informative content that educates accounts on how you can add value to their business.
- Showcase previous work to act as case studies on how advantageous working with you can be.
- Communicate directly with key account contacts to reinforce the sense of commitment you want to promote with each account.
- Host events for your accounts, such as lunch and learns, to create a more personal connection with your product/service.
4. Prepare your performance measurement plan
As with any marketing campaign, monitoring its performance helps inform your future efforts and decisions. Gaps can be easily and more promptly addressed, and your team can capitalize on the opportunities that positively affect ROI.
Common KPIs in account-based marketing include but are not limited to: time to close, total/percentage of deals closed, engagement levels, and more.
Benefits of Account-Based Marketing
Account-based marketing offers many potential advantages as opposed to a generic marketing strategy. Some of these key advantages include, but are not limited to:
1. High efficiency
With ABM, your resources are allocated towards opportunities that, with the right data, are proven to provide the highest-value returns for the effort that you put in. Typically, additional resources are required to prospect a wide range of clients—in ABM, this is streamlined, so your team can focus on activities that directly impact your capacity to close deals.
2. Improved alignment
Clear communication and effective cross-functional collaboration is essential to the success of any business, and the same applies in the context of ABM campaigns. Effective ABM mainly ensures that your marketing and sales are aligned in all aspects—their shared goals, the budget, as well as the roles and responsibilities of every stakeholder.
The alignment then extends into consistency, most importantly in the way you implement your strategy for every account. This results in a seamless experience for your high-value accounts, increasing the likelihood of repeat business. Continuity is also an added benefit, as your ABM strategy can continue to work even if the teams assigned to each account change over time. It allows new members to easily pick up ongoing work, which goes back to the seamlessness of the experience for your customers.
3. Clear metrics
ABM allows you to hone in on the performance or return of investment at the account level, which gives you a clearer sense of whether the ABM strategy in place for each account is working for their respective accounts.
A positive ROI highlights which accounts are worth investing more or continuously into, and it serves as a good indicator to target similar accounts in the future. This creates a data-driven cycle of success for your business.
4. High-quality, long-term relationships
Ultimately, an ABM campaign is an investment in your customers, specifically those that were determined to be of high value to your business. Because the criteria of a high-value account translate to which of them you can provide relevant business to, ABM increases the likelihood of closing more deals while spending less time prospecting too many leads that might not necessarily offer a lot to the long-term goals of your business.
Combining the personalized approach, the seamless experience, and the overall likelihood of success, ABM allows you to retain your most valuable customers over a longer period of time. This creates loyalty, which turns your customers into marketing channels themselves—a good reputation with high-value customers gives you access to their connections, which translates to more business opportunities in the long term.
Account-Based Marketing Best Practices
In order to properly stand out among other businesses using ABM, it’s important to run your campaign as efficiently as possible. Here are some of the best practices for your next ABM campaign:
1. Define clear goals
An effective ABM campaign is founded on creating a unique experience for every account, which means results can vary greatly between each. Outlining a clear goal for each makes it easier to tailor the experience to match while also informing your team of important KPIs to properly measure performance.
A reliable way to do this is to set SMART goals:
- Specific - What exactly does this campaign aim to achieve?
- Measurable - What attributes are important in measuring progress?
- Achievable - What constraints should the team be prepared to work with?
- Relevant - How does this goal benefit our key stakeholders?
- Time-Bound - When should we expect meaningful progress?
Without a clear direction, the creativity required in ABM marketing can get out of control. Setting SMART goals ensures that your campaigns align with strategic business goals.
2. Choose the right channels
Marketing to a specific, high-value account requires that you meet them where they are, otherwise, you are unlikely to get their attention. This means creating content on the channels that they use most for the best results, as well as striking a balance between your inbound, outbound, traditional, and digital marketing tactics. The principles of integrated marketing work well here.
When conducting research on your target accounts, look into which channels they most frequent—a VP of Sales or Marketing will be most active on a different platform from that of an artist, for example, as they would have very different goals for their business or themselves. Include this in your data-driven strategy for the best results.
3. Identify key stakeholders
Depending on the industry and size of your target account, those involved in the decision-making process can vary greatly across accounts. At times, the right person might not necessarily be the one making the purchasing decisions, instead, it might be someone who communicates these needs and facilitates the purchasing conversations within their own organization.
It’s important to understand the role of your contact in the process, so you can market to them effectively. A CEO would have a different perspective, as well as different demands and pain points from a VP, for example. Understanding who has the right combination of interest and power, and what their needs are, greatly increases your chances of making a sale.
4. Make it personal
We’ve talked about how ABM requires creating a highly personalized experience. This extends not only to your content strategy but also to your communication plan. Identify specific contacts within the accounts you’re targeting, and use that to create conversations that are relevant to their and their business needs.
It’s also important not to focus on just communicating to make a sale—use this opportunity to learn more about the contact, as well as their business from the inside out. This will allow you to adjust your ABM strategy as necessary to be as direct and relevant to your target accounts as possible.
Learning more about your contacts will tell you things like which channels to create content for, and which industry events to attend, and it might even earn you new contacts that would be worth creating new ABM campaigns for as well.
Account-Based Marketing Examples
While ABM is a personalized approach to marketing, a lot of value can still be gained from studying past ABM campaigns that have proven to be successful. Below are some examples of successful ABM campaigns and what principles can be taken from each.
One of the most common examples of a strong ABM campaign was GumGum’s push to land T-Mobile as a client by way of its CEO, John Legere. After discovering that he was a huge Batman fan, GumGum published a professionally-made comic that stars Legere as his own superhero, and GumGum itself as his personified sidekick. The story is a creative showcase of how GumGum’s services can help promote T-Mobile’s goal of providing reliable cellular services.
The campaign received a positive and very public response from Legere, which helped GumGum gain a lot of added exposure as well. This campaign emphasizes the importance of identifying a key contact, understanding them at a personal level, and using that in creative ways to sell your product/service. This has the added benefit of showcasing your team’s perceptiveness, which is a valuable selling point to almost any account looking for a reliable partner.
SweetFish is a good example of choosing the proper channels to market to your target accounts—as a business focused on B2B marketing and sales, SweetFish provided a direct opportunity for businesses to market to others by featuring them as guests on their podcast, which SweetFish is an expert in. The free exposure became a great way for them to connect with hundreds of leaders, eventually doing business with many of them.
3. Lunch and Learns
It will be hard to find an individual who doesn’t like free food—this is why the concept of a “lunch and learn” has been gaining a lot of traction lately. Because seminars are at risk of becoming pure sales talk, businesses have introduced providing their guests with food that they can enjoy during the event. For webinars, food is delivered to potential clients, while other businesses go so far as to host actual dining events to go alongside their presentations.
While this should be supplementary to having a strong sales pitch in the first place, finding creative ways to make traditional methods more interesting is a great way to showcase your team’s ability to craft delightful experiences that keep your accounts engaged.
Many other ways have also proven to be effective ABM components, including interactive storytelling and product launches, as well as customized content. Ultimately, the common thread that ties them all together is creativity in approach and consistency in messaging for every account you are targeting.
Build Your Next ABM Campaign with Workamajig
Account-based marketing done right is a highly-efficient method of converting your leads into meaningful returns. By creating personalized experiences for your highest-value accounts, you establish long-term relationships built on credibility and loyalty while also optimizing your efforts on clients that provide excellent returns on your investment.
With Workamajig, the premier marketing management software, you have an all-in-one solution for managing your tasks, deadlines, and resource allocations for building an effective ABM strategy. Easily adjust your schedule or modify task requirements to ensure timeliness and feasibility, use native reporting tools to measure your progress, and identify and address roadblocks along the way.