How to Implement an Account Based Marketing Approach

You have likely heard the term “account based marketing” thrown around in conversations about marketing trends as of late.

A marketing strategy that once made sense only for big companies targeting even bigger accounts, account based marketing has recently become all the rage among both large and small marketing teams focused on demand generation.

What exactly is account based marketing?

How can you actually implement such a strategy into your business?

Those two questions drive the focus for this article. Read on and you will learn the true value of account based marketing, along with some direction on how exactly you can roll-out a successful ABM strategy for your business.

First, What Exactly is “Account Based Marketing”?

You have undoubtedly encountered any number of different buzzworthy marketing terms over the last few years. It makes sense that this concept might have flown right past you. However, the truth is that if your business is not thinking about an ABM strategy already, now is the time to start.

Why?

It is because account based marketing has tremendous potential as a business strategy for targeting your most high-impact accounts.

ABM strategies focus in on top-priority accounts in a unique, personalized manner designed to maximize your reach and develop the largest potential opportunity for your sales reps.

At a high level, here is how account based marketing works:

  1. Sales and marketing collaborate on defining a short-list of top priority accounts. 

From a pure manpower standpoint, account based marketing remains a tactic reserved for the select few customers with the maximum potential to yield high-value results. Simply put, which customers represent the most potential for revenue and therefore deserve more white-glove treatment?

  1. Marketing invests time in developing a highly personalized strategy for putting your business in front of target decision makers within the selected companies.

There will be more specifics on this later on in this post, but in short, marketing teams identify key points of contact and then, based on existing customer demographic, behavioral, and psychological data, piece together curated customer experiences focused on drawing the targeted decision maker toward your solution.

  1. As target decision makers enter and move further down the pipeline, salespeople engage with highly personalized approaches that align with marketing strategies.

As with any lead generation effort, the ultimate goal is to get the right decision maker in the hands of a qualified sales representative. Because account based marketing focuses on targeted campaigns to several key people within an account, sales strategies need to adapt to accommodate the wide range of stakeholders involved in signing off on product add-ons (for existing customers) or new vendor relationships (for new accounts).

Now, you may be thinking to yourself:

This sounds like a whole lot of work.

Guess what?

You are absolutely right.

However, the payoff can be tremendous. Here are some of the benefits of developing an accounts based marketing strategy.

What Is the Value in Developing an ABM Strategy?

The problem with traditional marketing efforts, particularly in the case of large, high-impact accounts, is that teams typically focus on a single point-of-contact for marketing and sales efforts.

If a director-level leader at a target company completes a lead capture form but has limited buying authority, you naturally need to expand your reach to other contacts within that account.

Furthermore, even if that director has full buying authority for his or her line of business, you are inevitably missing out on other potential business lines within a large account.

How does account based marketing help solve that problem?

With account based marketing, you diversify your points-of-contact and market to each of them individually with the same gusto you might for a single point-of-contact in a high-value account. That results in:

  • Bigger deals. With a refined focus comes the opportunity to develop deeper relationships that uncover bigger and better opportunities with target accounts. Those opportunities likely would have gone unnoticed without a strategic, account based focus.
  • Higher conversion rates. The personalized approach of account based marketing results in a richer lead nurturing experience and ultimately a higher success rate of converting leads to new customers. While the process inevitably requires quite a bit of work, data shows that the return on investment for your efforts can be astronomic. According to ITSMA, 85 percent of marketers currently using an account based marketing approach say it yields the highest ROI across all marketing strategies.
  • Increased alignment between sales and marketing. One of the less obvious perks to an account based strategy is the way the process inevitably unifies your sales and marketing teams by aligning their goals toward the same accounts.
  • A better customer experience. Of course, what's not to love about account based management from the customer’s viewpoint? Your customer receives only the most relevant, personalized content from a potential vendor with a genuine interest in helping solve a problem for his or her business. Sounds like a pretty great customer experience, right?

Account based marketing

Hopefully, that convinces you of the power of developing an account based marketing strategy. Now you are likely wondering:

How do I implement my own ABM strategy for my business?

Here is How You Can Develop Your Own Account-Based Marketing Strategy

Step #1: Determine the Right Accounts to Include

Of course, the first step needs to be figuring out exactly who you plan to target. While it may seem like this is a great time for sales to share their input, here is a word of warning. Every sales rep thinks his or her accounts are the most important and you may soon get much more than you bargained for when asking the question.

Instead, let your data do the talking. Provided you have access to clean, quality data, predictive analytics modeling techniques should prove incredibly useful in determining the right target companies for an account based marketing strategy.

For example, you could look at the demographic and behavioral data of your biggest customers from the previous year and use that information to create a target company persona. That persona might tell you the size, industry, age, and growth of a company that would most benefit from your product or solution.

You could then use that data to either conduct your own research, or to create an alert for inbound leads that match the criteria set forth by your target persona.

Step #2: Find Your Points-of-Contact

Once you know the companies on which you plan to focus, it is time to figure out exactly the people within those companies who can make or enable a buying decision.

Start out by actually creating personas of the stakeholders you believe would need to be involved in signing off on a solution.

Maybe your ultimate decision maker is a Chief Financial Officer, but in order to enable a purchase, you know you are also going to need the buy-in of employees several tiers below the executive level. In that case, you would create a persona for the CFO, as well as influencers at each stage in the buying process.

After creating the personas, you need to actually map those to real people within each company. Some of that data may exist already within your CRM, but for any gaps, leverage LinkedIn to identify the right point-of-contact.

Step #3:  Develop Content (or Leverage Relevant Existing Content) for Your Contacts

You now know the company you are targeting as well as the contacts within that company. Now comes the content development stage.

This is where investing time in developing account insights can really benefit you. The more personalized your approach, both to the individual as well as the company’s problems and specific needs, the better your chance of landing them as a client.

With that in mind, here are a couple different ways to go about the content development process:

  • Pay attention to relevant news and industry trends. Set up Google search alerts that notify you about relevant updates to the target company, including important company updates and other news from across their specific industry.
  • Dig deep on social media. Use LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and any other social channel you can identify to uncover more about your target contacts interests, preferences, processes, and anything else that can help you more easily market to them.

Step #4: Start Marketing!

Once you have developed the structure of your campaign, leverage the power of predictive analytics once again to establish the right cadence and medium for content delivery, based on existing customers who match your contact’s demographics.

Remember that timing matters just as much as the relevancy of the content. You can be creating the best, most highly-targeted content for your leads, but if they never see it, well then…

Step #5: Measure and Repeat

Measure and repeat like a good marketer always should. Figure out what is working, what is not, and tweak your strategy to better reach your target audience.

This stage is not just about measuring dollars spent (though, of course, if the client’s spend increases, that is a good sign it is working). You may also consider just measuring for increased engagement. Account based marketing success does not happen overnight; rather, it is a slow play.

And a Bonus Step...

Make sure you have the right marketing solutions in place to make it all happen.

One important piece of that puzzle is Reachforce Smartforms.To learn more about how ReachForce SmartForms can help you optimize lead generation and improve your impact on revenue, sign up for a free trial and get a demo today.

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