Account-based marketing (ABM) is a business-to-business (B2B) strategy that focuses sales and marketing resources on target accounts within a specific market. Instead of broad-reaching marketing campaigns that touch the largest possible number of prospective customers, an ABM strategy focuses resources for the book of business on a defined set of named accounts. Then marketing focuses all of their resources, budget and campaigns against the very specific list of target accounts to directly support sales effort.
An important goal of ABM is to identify employees at a specific company who are researching products and services and then customize sales programs and marketing messages to meet the needs of buyers and influencers at that company. In the past, an ABM strategy was expensive; it required a lot of work and many components had tasks that needed to be done manually. Today, however, any company that uses marketing automation technology and customer relationship management (CRM) software can automate much of the tedious, time-consuming work involved in mining potential customer data and personalizing marketing messages to meet the specific needs of the named account that is being targeted. In addition to traditional email promotions, this may involve creating and sharing information that is relevant to the potential customer’s business and stage in the buyer journey, a concept known as content marketing.
One of the benefits of an ABM strategy is that it makes it easier for a vendor or service provider to see how money the company is spending on marketing translates directly to closed sales and revenue. By aligning sales and marketing resources and targeting accounts have been pre-qualified, an added benefit is that marketers begin to think a little bit more like sales representatives, focusing attention on the best way to bring a potential customer to the table and generate revenue.
According to The 2015 State of Account-Based Marketing Study conducted by SiriusDecisions, 92 percent of companies recognize the value of ABM and see the strategy as a ‘must have’ for B2B marketing. The study also found that large companies are currently the biggest users of ABM, but small companies are the most aggressive testers.
How account-based marketing works
Although each business that initiates ABM will focus attention on the needs of their specific customer base, there are some parts of the process that are common to all.
- Align sales and marketing teams.
- Mine data to identify named accounts.
- Determine who the decision makers and influencers are at the named account.
- Personalize messaging to address the named account’s business challenges and needs.
- Identify which communication channels will be used to message the named account.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of messaging and sales efforts and make adjustments as necessary.