While demand generation has been one of the go-to strategies for B2B marketers for years, account-based marketing has been comparatively newer in creating buzz in the B2B marketing sector. These two strategies, despite being preferred by marketers to acquire leads, are different in essence.
Demand generation refers to the marketing strategy that focuses on acquiring top of the funnel new leads from a target company. This marketing approach tends to target decision-makers or influencers at certain levels within a specific company.
This usually means creating content or pursuing strategies that would engage with the maximum number of target audiences to eventually generate qualified demand(read: leads) in the long run.
Account-based marketing, on the other hand, is a more precise, targeted, and personalized approach to generating leads. In ABM, the accounts that are subjected to being approached are already predetermined as high-value accounts, implying they have the maximum potential to be converted into customers. In ABM, the sales cycles are thus much shorter than in other marketing strategies since the marketing and sales teams engage with accounts that already have a high potential to convert into long-term customers. Unlike demand generation, ABM focuses more on developing relationships with the targeted accounts while having marketing and sales teams in sync.
Differences Between ABM and Demand Generation
ABM as part of your demand generation
ABM is about focusing on a specific segment i.e. high value clients within your target audience. While demand generation is about creating interest within your target segment.
When it comes to marketing to other businesses especially when we talk about enterprise clients, it becomes necessary, for ABM to succeed that demand generation efforts are in sync with what ABM is trying to do.
What we need to understand is that ABM is dependent on organic, paid and social channels to influence its target segment to make a decision. Essentially, coming to the point where ABM itself works as part of larger demand generation campaigns.
In an ideal world, demand generation and ABM would go hand in hand. One reaching out to the larger target while the other focusing on a segment within this target audience to drive revenue.
Why Blend Demand Generation and ABM initiatives?
The act of balancing these two highly advantageous marketing strategies begins with a focus on blending them together. Researchers of Demand Gen Report have found in their survey that almost 58% of marketers active within the B2B scene are using a blend of these two to be successful.
Although these two operate independently and have different aspects to them. They usually have a shared objective, ABM and demand generation should be blended into one smart marketing strategy. Account-based marketing is dependent on the data including contacts sourced by demand generation. This data allows ABM to find new high value accounts to engage with a personalized marketing campaign. Therefore, ABM relies on demand generation data in this scenario.
ABM targets specific accounts while demand generation targets a larger audience, both of which generate data that can be used by either campaign.
ABM being targeted also means that ABM metrics would usually give us a deeper understanding of an individual or a small high-value group's behavioural data, including requirements, needs, and engagements.
This can be used by demand generation teams to create larger campaigns targeting similar but larger audiences. Combining ABM and demand generation data usually gives you access to both the behavioural and decision-making aspects of high-value clients and the larger target market.
- Balancing short term lead gen with long term demand gen
Despite having a number of differences, these two marketing strategies can be used as a blended approach by forming a double funnel. Since the demand generation marketing model focuses on bringing leads at the top of the funnel, it tends to take a significant amount of time, money, and resources and eventually tends to outweigh the results as you keep on exhausting the market. However, in order to tackle this issue and go all-in on ABM, many marketers prefer to adopt a balanced approach directed towards achieving both short term and long term marketing goals. In this approach, the demand channels will be working in order to bring new leads, while the ABM approach will focus on engaging with those leads that match your ICP in a more personalised manner after entering the funnel
How ABM Can Improve B2B Demand Generation Process?
For B2B brands that offer businesses like cloud solutions and others, the demand generation process could be really difficult. But luckily there is an option of adopting advanced account-based marketing strategies to nurture their most qualifying leads and turn them into customers effectively. Below we have given a lowdown on how ABM can be used to boost and improve the B2B demand generation funnel for best results;
- Make the most of social media
Most B2B companies tend to put social media in the backdrop and shy away from harnessing its true potential for their own benefit which ABM can provide. Social media is a trusted channel that is capable of building fruitful interactions with ideal prospects that may turn into future customers by not letting them drop out from the demand generation funnel.
An effective ABM program based on the use of social media may include offering support, sharing personalized content, and providing social proof for any company to boost their demand. Whether your best leads are active or passive can be determined with the help of ABM.
- Generating personalized conversations
If your demand generation process does not include an appropriate account-based marketing tactic then it is possible that your sales representatives are focusing on generating new leads more than nurturing the pre-existing ones. A successful ABM strategy is based on concentrating on ways to make progress with highly qualified prospects instead of getting new ones.
Putting together a well-thought account-based marketing plan with your existing demand generation process comes first for optimizing your sales team. That way they can spend time nailing personalized interactions with some valuable leads turning them into loyal customers eventually. This is a complicated thing to do that requires continuous practice and persistence.
- Utilizing the power of one-on-one meetings
B2B communications are usually connected to different types of email campaigns and though they are great communication starters for businesses there are other improved tools to build a connection with a high-value prospect. It is a known fact that email interactions do not always work out and significantly increase a company’s sales. Hence we consider a more personalized approach that is particularly preferred in ABM programs such as one-on-one meetings.
The effectiveness of one-one-meetings over email requests are proven to be 34% higher according to research by the Harvard Business Review. As a marketer, you must remain on top of other competitors that are willing to offer private meetings to their prospects. If you include ABM strategies that prioritize such interactions and meetings then it would make your demand generation funnel more flexible.
- Picking target accounts based on data
If you want to put all your marketing team’s concentration on a smaller audience that identifies as high-value accounts then ABM is the way to go for your company. Since ABM requires marketers to direct all their efforts and tactics towards the most promising customers of your company, it ends up saving time and resources in the long run.
If you already have a demand generation strategy put in place, then adding a layer of ABM into it could be the wisest thing to do if you want to get ideal customers with quality lifetime value. From the data feeds of ABM research, some valuable insights regarding customer preferences, behaviors, and attitudes can be acquired and used in the demand generation funnel.
- Categorizing accounts in tiers for simplification
Marketing budgets are limited for several reasons in many B2B companies which is at times even recommended by experts of marketing. These companies need to direct all available resources to processes that have the best chances of success. Understanding which customers require the most focus and marketing resources, it is better to categorize them in tiers.
This simple yet effective tactic can solve a lot of confusion within the company to identify the best leads so that they can be assigned to a capable team for the next step, bringing a balance within available resources including time and staff who would be working on high-value accounts. Tiering process is preceded by sorting the company’s priorities, targets, and required deals.
ABM and demand generation might not be the same thing but their similarities are more important than their differences. B2B marketing is a highly competitive space as of now and therefore experts should benefit from both of these strategies to boost their sales funnel.