A Market of One: Account-Based Marketing (ABM) in B2B
Megan Heuer, VP at SiriusDecisions said, “If you believe ABM success is measured only in lead volume… think again. ABM is about influence.” B2B decision-making is a group sport. In fact, enterprise purchase decisions are rarely made by an individual. Account-Based Marketing (ABM) operates with this premise. Working hand in hand with sales, you identify and profile a specific set of target companies in depth. Then you develop tailored plans to uncover the influencers within the corporate walls and radiate out from there to reach decision makers on their own turf. It’s essentially high touch marketing that is inherently not a scale play. Rather, it’s about treating a small set of highly valuable customers as a market of one, allowing you to get hyper-targeted with content that is highly personalized.
Although the concept of ABM has been around for a long time, the emergence of technologies like marketing automation has created new opportunities to shift from marketing to the individual to marketing to the account. The key to making the most of an ABM strategy is having the right set of marketing tools built off your automation platform to enable real-time personalization, drive predictive decision-making and create an advocacy influencer network within the accounts that matter. A technology powered ABM strategy ensures you can go deep in addition to casting a wide net for high value prospects.
Here are a few primary use cases for Account-Based Marketing:
- Account Acquisition. To land specific marquee accounts.
- Account Growth. To expand existing footprint within a target account.
- Account Win back. To win back a target account that has been lost to competition or gone dormant.
- Account Advocacy. To build internal “fans” who can influence decision-makers within a specific account.
Supporting ABM with technology is not bulletproof. Here’s a cautionary tale of what can happen when you don’t have precision around your data strategy. One day a colleague of mine found a good sized 3D mailer sitting on his desk. It was addressed to him. He wasn’t expecting an order so he quickly opened it up to see who it was from and what it was. A beautiful, blue box lay inside with a formal letter sitting on top. Inside the box was a New York Times bestselling business marketing book and a gold bookmark. At first glance he thought, “nice door opener.” That is until he started reading the letter. You see the box was addressed to him, but the letter on the inside asking for a meeting was addressed to a completely different person at a different company.
3D mailer door openers can be a highly effective Account-Based Marketing tactic to reach potential decision-makers within large companies. They are highly personalized and can yield response rates above 4% versus 0.03% for email, 0.04% for display ads, and 0.22% for paid search. That said, if you don’t have a data safeguard in place, mistakes like this one can not only be expensive, they can damage your reputation and undermine the relationships you are trying to create.
There is an art to white glove engagement designed to open enterprise doors or win back strategic clients. The trick is to make personalization feel authentic, involve sales in the design as well as the delivery and be smart about knowing the next step.
The Golden Rules of Account-Based Marketing:
- Market to the account. 84% of marketers indicate that ABM delivers higher ROI than other B2B marketing tactics. (2013 ITSMA Account Based marketing survey)
- Get hyper-relevant. 75% of executives will read unsolicited marketing materials that contain ideas that might be relevant to their business. (ITSMA)
- Find your “fans.” Up to 17 people can influence enterprise purchases. (2014 IDG Enterprise Role & Influence of the Technology Decision-Maker Survey)
- Make friends with sales. ABM doesn’t work without marketing and sales working together to define the account strategy.
And when it comes to Account-Based Marketing, the wise words of David Ogilvy have never been more pertinent, “Don’t count the people you reach; reach the people that count.”