Account Based Marketing explained
Account Based Marketing: this article explains Account Based Marketing (ABM) in a practical way. It covers the definition and process of this marketing strategy, provides examples and lists benefits and drawbacks of ABM. After reading it, you will understand the basics of this powerful marketing tool. Enjoy reading!
What is Account Based Marketing? The theory explained
Account Based Marketing (ABM) is a strategic marketing approach that focuses on individual customer accounts or leads. It uses personalized marketing campaigns tailored to the specific needs and characteristics of a customer account or lead.
ABM takes a holistic view of marketing and goes beyond managing leads. This strategic marketing approach, mostly lead by marketing and sales team (i.e. b2b marketers) also includes upselling and cross-selling techniques. These techniques are considered one of the keys to extracting value from existing customer accounts.
It helps organizations to:
- Extract as much value as possible from the customer base
- Identify valuable contacts, such as specific companies or customers within a market for lead generation
- Align marketing activities including inbound marketing and customer strategies
- Engage customers and key accounts earlier with better aligned deals
- Retain customers with interesting and valuable content in the sales cycle
An Account Based Marketing Strategy
The complete account based marketing process is explained in practical terms below in a few phases and steps. Read the article about marketing automation: an indispensable concept in today’s marketing environment.
While it is possible to execute an ABM strategy using an Excel sheet and a notepad, many marketing departments have access to an advanced Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system with numerous capabilities to manage this process, as well as other marketing automation software.
Identifying target accounts
To identify which account is specifically approached, the CRM system is often leading. The software helps determine which accounts are promising when it comes to the likelihood of them making a purchase. These accounts are referred to as Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).
Therefore, the purpose of this phase is twofold:
- Establishing the criteria used to determine whether an account also represents an ICP
- Determining which accounts in the customer database meet these criteria
Account information in the CRM system may not be complete for a variety of reasons. In that case, you can choose to first enrich this data, for example by looking up public information or by contacting the people behind the account.
The next step in the account-based marketing process is to gain insight into the contact details of the identified ICPs. Which persons at this company/account are involved in making purchases? These can also be influencers, for example. The role or function of each contact person is determined in buyer persona studies.
Getting insights into the accounts
In addition to the previous steps, this step supplements and enriches the available information about accounts. This is important because it allows the organization to approach the person more personally and accurately.
The insights gained in the previous step can also be used to create and share personal content with the ICPs. For example, web pages can also be personalized based on the account that views the page. That way, each target account can get a personalized experience, which increases the likelihood of making a purchase.
In addition to personalized experiences on websites and in advertising, broader campaigns are also being conducted to reach multiple ICPs simultaneously. This is done using, for example:
- Email marketing
- Account-based advertising
- Website personalization
- Chat features
- Physical content (postmail)
- Conferences or other online events
Measuring and improving
Account-Based Marketing Examples
As discussed, ABM starts by segmenting the customer base with the aim of identifying the ICPs. After that, personalized marketing strategies are developed that are deployed on specific channels. Every company’s strategy is different, so the mix of tactics also looks different.
The approach to accessing an account depends on the specifics of the account. Below are some examples of how marketers can use techniques to execute account-based processes.
Events are traditionally one of the most successful opportunities for marketers to convince decision-makers in the procurement process of other organizations. For example, an ABM approach to events may include personal invitations, personalized gifts and VIP-dinners.
Webinars are also used to stay relevant and current for target accounts. The event will be tailored to the specific needs and requirements of the target account.
Physical mail is making a comeback. And that’s striking, considering it’s the norm these days to focus on online marketing efforts. Physical mail stands out and can be a valuable addition to the marketing mix.
Despite the increasing popularity of physical mail, email marketing is still invaluable to many marketing departments. Fixed templates are often used, but in the most ideal scenario as a digital marketing strategy a personalized email is created for all target accounts (ICPs).
Using paid advertising on social media is a common method of reaching target accounts on the internet. Social platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook enable the marketer to develop a targeted and specific campaign for a handful of target accounts rather than a broad network.
ABM also uses the technology used to create customized and account specific user experiences on the website.
Account-Based Marketing Benefits and Drawbacks
The reasons why this strategic marketing approach works well in many organizations are diverse. However, its use also has its drawbacks and challenges. Personalized messaging is a labor-intensive process and campaign development takes a lot of time and resources.
This also applies to offline campaigns. Successful ABM changes the way marketing teams work together and helps them achieve success in prioritizing and targeting key customers, high value accounts and meeting sales targets.
Account-Based Marketing Benefits
ABM is changing the way campaigns are drafted. In particular, the campaigns become much more personal and therefore more effective. In fact, the whole process revolves around personalizing. That sounds difficult to achieve, but the right automation methods ensure that the marketer can distance themselves from the details and focus on the strategy.
To achieve personalization, campaign execution must focus on ways a product or service solves a customer’s problems.
With the right ABM strategy, sales and marketing teams can provide the attention and care to valuable accounts (ICPs) they need. Providing these accounts with valuable content can provide an advantage in the long run.
Account-Based Marketing Drawbacks
Because different accounts have different wishes and needs, the content of all marketing efforts must be adapted. This is a labour-intensive process that cannot actually be carried out without the right automation techniques.
Due to the high labor intensity, ABM works best with a number of accounts (5 to 10 accounts at a time). This way, teams are not flooded with keeping hundreds of accounts up to date.
Now It’s Your Turn
What do you think? Do you recognize the explanation about account based marketing? Are the ICPs specifically approached in your work environment? What do you think are the benefits of ABM? And the disadvantages? Which tools and techniques do you think are valuable in this process?
Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.
- Burgess, B. (2016). Driving B2B growth with account-based marketing. Market Leader, 1, 45-47.
- Kumar, G. P., & Rajasekhar, K. (2020). Account based Marketing in B2B industry. J. Interdiscip. Cycl. Res, 7(2), 1154-1161.
- Duncan, T., & Moriarty, S. E. (1998). A communication-based marketing model for managing relationships. Journal of marketing, 62(2), 1-13.
- Doyle, P. (2009). Value-based marketing: Marketing strategies for corporate growth and shareholder value. John Wiley & Sons.
How to cite this article:
Janse, B. (2022). AccountBased Marketing. Retrieved [insert date] from Toolshero: https://www.toolshero.com/marketing/account-based-marketing/
Original publication date: 10/17/2022 | Last update: 04/12/2023
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