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Account based marketing (ABM) is an effective means of targeting individual accounts, or a set of them, rather than an entire market. Companies that engage in ABM generate more than double the revenue of those that do not and cut down on wasted sales time courting low intent leads.

ABM is more than just a buzzword — it’s a total re-invention of the typical marketing paradigm that involves laser focusing on a few high priority prospects rather than giving passing attention to many at a time. 

Typically, marketing works by targeting either entire markets (sales geographies) or by targeting large segments of them built around a demographic — such as a demographic in a country. This often involves developing buyer personas that are built around survey findings of what profile typical customers fit (or actual customers). Automation is commonly used to target these types of prospects at scale. But while automation and inbound marketing can help marketing teams to do a lot with limited resources, they’re not the best means for showing the most serious prospects that your sales team really means business.

To do that, account based marketing brings that down to a much more individualized and concrete level. By tailoring marketing efforts to the anticipated needs of a hand-picked audience rather than a general one, marketers can much more directly target specific high-interest accounts. ABM isn’t new. In fact, it was popularized in the early 2000s as a means of bringing sales and marketing into closer alignment. But these days, it is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. And if your sales team’s success relies disproportionately on winning business from a few potential high value clients, then it’s a strategy that should definitely be on your radar. 

When should account based marketing be used?

A common question from many considering adopting ABM-based approaches for marketing to prospects is when it should be used. 

The choice between whether to use ABM or a “competing” philosophy such as inbound marketing needn’t be binary.

ABM flips traditional marketing on its head by first identifying target prospects and then moving them through a funnel — think of a narrow net that gets wider. Traditional methodologies — and inbound marketing — focus firstly on attracting unqualified leads and then progressing them down marketing and sales funnels where they are segmented and nurtured until the most promising ones start receiving individual attention from account managers (AMs). For this, think of a wide net that gets narrower.

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So although ABM and traditional marketing have very different features, ultimately, most traditional marketing and sales approaches eventually lead to a form of ABM. It’s just that they differ in their starting points and how precisely they target their prospects. With that in mind, it might make more sense why the two could be used in tandem:

  • Inbound marketing and traditional sales efforts cast a wide net whereas ABM efforts can be run in parallel to target very selectively a promising group of prospects. 
  • Prospects might be simultaneously targeted by ABM resources and receive general brand awareness efforts that are part of a broader campaign.

How Should ABM Be Rolled Out?

After deciding to engage in account based marketing, many organizations wonder questions such as: does ABM require a separate strategy? How do we begin deploying ABM resources?

Ideally, we believe that ABM should have a separate strategy to a general marketing plan, although tactics will certainly differ between pools of targets. Unlike in traditional marketing, assets and collateral developed will focus in on the needs of a small group of target customers.

Examples of account based marketing in action:

  • A microsite could be developed which targets a specific large organization. The designers of the microsite could have done due diligence to highlight the pain points which they believe the organization to be encountering. Then, they might map out precisely how the company’s service offering could help the client resolve that difficulty. Clearly, this level of individualization would be nigh on impossible to achieve using conventional marketing methods. But microsites — which can be easily replicated with a few clicks— support this use-case ideally.
  • Content marketing teams could put together a customized resource, like an ebook, guiding a particular target account on how they think they could gain traction in their market. Unlike a typical ebook, this resource’s intended readership might just be a few key decision makers within a target account.
  • Inside sales teams could put on lunch and learn presentations in high value prospects’ offices or via conference call. These educational sessions could focus on sharing information specific to the customer and their problems. 

What tools facilitate account based marketing?

The good news is that your marketing team likely already has all the tools it needs to roll out effective ABM campaign in its arsenal.

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For instance:

  • Consider writing individual emails to prospects in the company’s CRM rather than entering leads into an automated drip email funnel along with the rest of the leads.
  • Develop microsites which pitch for work directly to the most promising prospects on an organization’s radar
  • Build out the same collateral that you have experience building — like ebooks — but target them individually to a specific niche audience rather than a general readership.

Where do we do ABM?

ABM doesn’t require special channels in order to be effective. Again, the marketing channels that you have built out already likely do the job. 

Consider:

  • Using your CRM to send individual emails rather than automations. This leverages the functionality of the CRM (personalization, cross-organizational visibility of contacts), but the contact is individually personalized.
  • Roll out the same inbound marketing campaigns with the same assets (landing pages, email campaigns) but design your resources to target only a narrow intended readership rather than your target market at large.

Personalization Is the Name of the Game

As we have explored before in this blog, these days, buying audiences are craving more authentic communications from sellers. ABM is an ideal way to target potential buyers with very personalized campaigns. ABM isn’t just a nice concept — it leads to higher lifetime value and more profitable accounts for the organization. Microsites are an ideal tool to help make the process work