Account-based marketing (ABM) has become a very ‘buzzy’ term over the last few years. And if you’re in a position where you’re in charge of your company’s marketing, you’ve probably learned to be sceptical of buzzy marketing terms.
But in this case, it’s worth taking a closer look. ABM is a hot topic, but at its core it’s a natural, logical approach. Instead of trying to reach as wide an audience as possible as in traditional marketing, ABM focuses on building strong relationships with the most valuable targets who would be the best fit for your company.
Do it well, and you’ve got a recipe for success. In this article, I’ll go through a few reasons why you as a marketing expert at a larger B2B company should seriously consider ABM.
There’s a long list of metaphors that explain the ABM approach compared to traditional online marketing, but this one is probably the best – if traditional marketing is like fishing with a net, ABM is like fishing with a spear. Alternatively, ABM is like hunting with a rifle instead of a cannon. The focus isn’t on volume – there’s no rewards for using ABM to fill up your CRM with as many leads as possible.
Instead, the implementation of your ABM strategy must be preceded by careful research and planning. What companies in your market are the most likely to become your customers? Which of those would get the most benefits from your products and solutions? Which of them could you build a long-term relationship with? These are the companies that will make up your list of accounts to target.
Will you get every one of them? No, of course not. But you can at least be confident that when marketing to these accounts, you’re using your time and resources efficiently, not just wasting them by pursuing opportunities that won’t come to anything. This translates into better concrete results – according to a 2020 survey from B2B marketing company ITSMA, 55% of the 420 B2B marketers surveyed said ABM had delivered higher revenue.
Despite all the never-ending range of CRM tools out there, many B2B companies are essentially blind when it comes to seeing what kind of return they actually get on their marketing budget.
You can use a tool like HubSpot to painstakingly attribute each one of your company’s interactions with customers and prospects and figure out the ROI of each keystroke – but making this a defined way of working across the company, especially in a large B2B company, is very challenging. For people in management and CMO roles, this poses a problem.
Because you focus on fewer accounts with ABM, your results are easier to track. When working with a small number of pre-defined targets, rather than trying to attract any companies you can, the task of keeping track of how much time and money you spend on each one and what the outcome is becomes much simpler. This, in turn, makes it easier to get…
Again, there’s a common issue that people in marketing management roles share, and that’s giving top management the figures they want. You can explain at length what your department is working on and how it’s benefiting the company – but chances are, those above you want to know about the bottom line.
Like we’ve discussed, this is challenging with conventional online marketing, especially if your department isn’t that well-integrated with sales and your CRM system is under-utilised. But if you do it properly, it should be much easier to analyse your ABM efforts and come up with the cold, hard figures you need.
I think one of the reasons that so much scepticism persists around ABM is because these kinds of briefly popular, buzzy marketing terms have to do with ‘quick wins’. The marketing industry always latches on to ‘the next big thing’ and promises that this or that approach will change your business overnight – until the next thing comes along.
It’s natural that this has caused healthy scepticism among many marketing professionals. But really, ABM is the opposite of a quick win. Succeeding with it requires careful planning and preparation, as well as collaboration and buy-in across your company. It’s certainly not something that can be used to artificially inflate your numbers just in time for the quarterly report, at least.
However, when you approach it in the correct way, it lays a good foundation for long-term success. ABM is a strategy that involves building strong, personal relationships with individuals at your target accounts – and these are the kinds of customer relationships that stand the test of time and results in greater and consistent financial success for your company. In the ITSMA survey mentioned above, an entire 71% of those surveyed said they’d seen measurable improvement to their relationships since adopting ABM, in terms of account engagement and relationship strength.
If your department can be the one to create these strong relationships in a defined, reportable way, you’ll have done an excellent job.
Now you know what ABM can offer you as a marketing leader in a B2B company, but we haven’t covered much in the way of practical ABM tips – how do you build a target list, who should be part of your company’s ABM team, and what tools can you use to turn your chosen accounts into customers? We’ve created a guide to ABM tactics that answer all of these questions, and it’s free. Just click below to get access.
If you’d like to read more about ABM, take a look at our ABM guide – there’s plenty more reading material there, focusing on other aspects of this marketing strategy.