What is account-based marketing?
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a B2B marketing tactic where businesses target campaigns to specific accounts as opposed to the broader market. ABM messages are highly focused on the target account, their pain points, and needs. It allows businesses to focus on winning specific, high-value accounts.
What is an example of account-based marketing?
An -extreme- example of account-based marketing is a campaign by web development firm, Intridea. The business was trying to win an account with a renowned ad agency, Ogilvy. Intridea’s marketing team bought billboard space across the road from Ogilvy’s New York HQ. The billboard campaign led with the short but effective line “Ogle this, Ogilvy” with a URL to a personalized web page containing jokes and gifs. This bold form of ABM worked, as it landed Intridea a meeting with Ogilvy.
What are the benefits of account-based marketing?
When applied as the right marketing strategy, there are many benefits to AMB. Here are the top 5 benefits:
A survey by ITSMA found that 87% of marketers say ABM has a higher ROI than other campaign types. Traditional marketing focuses on generating as many leads as possible, be it through PPC, content marketing (which we’ll touch upon later), or other tactics. Once received, these leads have to be qualified and not all of them will be the right fit. As each lead costs money to generate, meaning disqualified leads squander marketing budgets. In contrast with ABM, where marketing teams target a specific business they know is a good fit. They can generate highly-personalized marketing that’s more likely to achieve the desired outcome.
Unified sales and marketing efforts
Traditionally, in many organizations, friction exists between sales and marketing teams. However, the nature of ABM requires marketers and salespeople to work closely together in identifying account lists to target. This unity between two key, revenue-generating teams benefits an entire business. Research by Forrester found that B2B businesses with aligned sales and marketing teams grew revenue by up to 19% more than those with non-aligned teams.
Better client experience
As ABM is highly-personalized to the specific accounts, marketing and sales teams have to learn about the businesses being targeted. This results in a better experience for the customers, as all their needs and pain points can be addressed. For the business, this means higher contract values as they can offer an all-around service. 85% of marketers claim ABM has helped expand their client relationships and increase retention.
Shorter sales cycles
As sales and marketing teams work closely on ABM, they’re able to research and pinpoint the key decision-makers within an organization. They then market specifically to these people with personalized messaging, which increases their chances of a meeting and closing a deal. Compare this with other marketing tactics, where it may take several months for messages to trickle through to the decision-makers. And even then, the messaging might not be relevant enough to provoke a response and win a meeting.
Higher conversion rate
Being highly personalized and targeted means ABM campaigns have much higher conversion rates than traditional marketing methods. A study by research firm Gartner found ABM had an average win rate of 25%. Whereas funnel-based marketing can expect a 1-2% conversion rate.
What are the 3 types of account-based marketing?
There are 3 main types of ABM. The best one to use in your business will depend on your goals and the accounts you’re targeting.
- One-to-one ABM – customized marketing for specific accounts. This is where sales and marketing teams target potentially high-value accounts that could change the direction of a business. The Ogilvy examples we saw earlier in this post is an example of one-to-one ABM. It’s also known as strategic ABM.
- One-to-few ABM – partly-customized marketing for groups of accounts. Also known as lite ABM, this involves targeting marketing efforts to a group of similar accounts.
- One-to-many ABM – tech-enabled marketing customization. The newest form of ABM, one-to-many was born out of digital transformation. It is where the marketing team build lists of accounts, and leverage technology (like big data and machine learning) to create personalized marketing campaigns. One-to-many ABM is also referred to as programmatic ABM.
According to ITSMA, 39% of businesses use a blend of different ABM models to achieve the best results.
What are the most popular account-based marketing tactics?
Once sales and marketing teams have defined which accounts to target and which type of ABM to use, they need to design tactics. ABM tactics are similar to those used in lead generation and sales enablement, except more specifically. For example, when targeting a law firm, they would create content specific to that industry like a whitepaper on “How Law Firms Can Get Leads in 2022”. Whereas, in standard marketing, this type of content would usually be generic: “How to Get Leads in 2022”.
These are some of the most popular ABM tactics in use today:
- Tailored content
- Relationship and loyalty programs
- Direct mail
- Targeted ads
- Email marketing campaigns
Define your customer journey to decide on the best ABM tactics
The number 1 rule in marketing of course applies to ABM: know your audience. Which type of ABM and the best tactics to use will depend on your customers. To decide the best marketing mix, you should map out your customer journey and ensure you focus on the key decision-makers.
Marketing teams can ask the following questions to help them define customer journeys:
- What pain points do they have in relation to the product/service being sold?
- What objections will they have at the discovery stage?
- How can they be moved to the consideration stage?
- What questions or doubts will they have at the consideration stage?
By mapping out the customer journey, marketing teams can spot gaps or weak points in the process.
What metrics should you use to measure account based-marketing?
Digital marketing is all about data and optimization, and ABM is no exception. As with other types of marketing, measuring the ABMs campaigns is essential to success. These are some of the most popular ABM metrics:
ABM metrics can be divided into two categories: funnel and revenue. Funnel metrics focus on the different stages of the buyer journey, from awareness to loyalty. Revenue, as the name suggests, focuses on the income being generated by ABM campaigns.
Funnel metrics include the following:
- Number of contacts in a business
- Number of website visits from business IP address
- Percentage of accounts engaged
- Session durations of visitors from business IP address
- Social media engagement
- Conversion rates
And revenue metrics the following:
- First touch campaign ROI
- Last touch campaign ROI
- Revenue growth from an account over a period of time
Content marketing is an important part of ABM. In this section, we’ll analyze content marketing in more detail.
What are the advantages of content marketing?
- Brand awareness, authority, and trust. Content marketing helps a brand communicate its values, personality, and expertise with its potential or current customers. Content marketing helps brands convert consumers into loyal customers by providing value upfront.
- More traffic and conversion. Content attracts potential customers to a business’s website by answering their queries and providing the information they’re looking for. Then on the website, the conversion-focused copy can persuade them to sign up for a newsletter, share the content, follow and even buy. Content marketing and copywriting is also an important part of SEO.
- Reach a wider audience. Through content marketing, businesses can reach more potential customers, such as those with ad blockers. It also means businesses can reach “top of funnel” customers. These are people who don’t search for the product or brand, but rather problems or questions related to it. They consume “top of funnel” content, which eventually introduces them to the product.
Disadvantages of content marketing
- Long sales cycle. Content marketing takes time to move customers down the funnel. It can also take a lot of playing around with different content ideas to determine which works best.
- Resources. Creating high-quality content that attracts people to your brand and eventually converts consumes a lot of time and resources. From researching content ideas to writing a blog post, content marketing can be a full-time job.
- Measuring. While you can evaluate traffic and conversion from a specific content funnel, it’s much harder to measure the wider impact of content marketing on brand awareness and loyalty.
Is content marketing effective?
Research conducted into the effectiveness of content marketing and found the following trends and averages:
- Over 60% of US consumers made a purchase after reading recommendations in a blog post (CoSchedule)
- Companies that publish more than 16 blog posts per month receive on average 4 times more traffic than companies that publish 4 or less (CoSchedule)
- Content marketing costs 60% less than traditional marketing, like PPC, and generates 3x more leads (DemandMetric)
With figures like this, it’s clear to see the results content marketing can have on your business. To achieve results, marketers need to define their goals and funnels, as well as the customer journey. Content should be relevant to your target audience by answering their questions and resolving their problems.
How to combine ABM and content marketing effectively
Now let’s look at how content marketing goes hand in hand with ABN. We’ll also look at how to combine these different marketing strategies to get the best results.
1. Use the right type of content for each type of ABM
The most effective type of content depends on your goals: brand awareness, product familiarization, or conversion.
One-to-many, or programmatic ABN, serves to create brand awareness in different market segments. As less specific, existing content can be repurposed and used, these include:
- Ebooks and white papers
- Newsletters and email campaigns
- Blog posts
- Social media posts, especially Linkedin
One-to-few, or ABN lite, is most suited for a small group of key accounts. One-to-few is best used when wanting to target specific accounts that aren’t as high-value as others. As one-to-few is more intimate, it’s worth using higher-value content and relationship building tactics, such as:
- Sector-specific blog posts
- Thought posts
- Executive-to-executive relationship programs
- Direct mail
- Sector-specific landing pages
One-to-one requires highly personalized content that’s relevant to specific people on a specific account. Therefore, marketers need to be familiar with the target business and its stakeholders. As it can be a resource-consuming ABM program, it should only be used when there’s a high chance of a conversion. The best types of content for one-to-one marketing include:
- Company-specific webinars and training
- Company-specific free trials and demos
- Company-specific meetings and phone calls
Marketing teams should optimize their content-ABM campaigns using data and analytics. They must also create content that allows potential to learn about the product before engaging with a member of the sales team. Marketers should also plot out the customer journey, creating relevant content for each touchpoint.
2. Define the “who” and “when”
Mapping out a customer journey is more complicated for b2b companies than other types of campaigns given the different number and layers of stakeholders involved. For example, in ABM, teams will need to market to sales managers, PAs, and company directors. Each of these stakeholders will have different pain points and areas of interest.
Therefore, marketing teams need to create ideal customer profiles and map out a journey for each different stakeholder on the account. Timing is also another important factor to consider when planning an ABM marketing strategy.
3. Create “convergence” content
Creating content in ABM is complex given the large number of buyer personas involved in the process. To avoid creating long funnels for each different persona on an account, marketers should create content that brings different buyer personas together. This is known as “convergence”. Webinars and demos are examples of convergence content that can be used in ABM. This tactic works for top and middle of funnel content, whereas more personalized content should be used for the bottom of the funnel.
How does COR help marketing agencies with content and ABM strategies?
As a collaborative platform that allows for client and creative team co-creation, COR facilitates effective content and ABM strategies for agencies. This means creatives, like copywriters and graphic designers, can collaborate with sales and marketing teams to co-create content that’s relevant for all buyer personas.
This is what some of our clients say about using COR:
René Baquero, Managing Director of HOY and COO of Havas Group in Colombia
“When a client has visibility over the agency in a much more technical way, it allows for a better relationship and the ability to measure the work”
Diego Romero, Director of Operations at VLMY&R, USA
“COR makes us more competitive”
If you’d like to learn how COR can help your marketing agency with account-based marketing, schedule a demo.