Digital marketing for a long time has been, about conversion rate, traffic volume, and bringing in as many prospects as practically possible.Account-based marketing, also called key account marketing, is a B2B strategy that focuses on individual organisations and decision-makers instead of  casting a broad net over the entire marketplace or contact list. ABM is most successful when the lead is well qualified and encompasses involvement from both marketing and sales.

ABM is a highly strategic approach which has the purpose to convert customer accounts and expand a business. Locating and acquiring the right-fit clients may have a significant influence on a company.

Explaining account based marketing (ABM)

Account-Based Marketing Framework

The sales funnel associated with account-based marketing differs from traditional marketing in various ways. However, although ABM can be implemented across diverse verticals and industries, a common framework should be followed in order to ensure the effectiveness of the campaign. 

  • Qualifying the accounts

The most crucial factor in evaluating the success of an ABM campaign lies in the initial step of determining which accounts are to be held as high-value accounts. Creating a framework for an ABM campaign starts with establishing and identifying the ideal customer profile for the accounts your sales and marketing teams are about to target. In order to determine the factors that qualify a prospective account, consider the following factors.

Scalability of the accounts: Evaluate the business performance of the potential accounts and analyse their potential to scale in the future. Understanding the future potential of the account is crucial for strategizing further for a specific account, such as providing additional offerings to retain the account and eventually for the success of the campaign. 

Revenue from the account: The success rate of a campaign comes down to the amount of revenue generated from each account. By keeping the sales goals into consideration, evaluate the amount of revenue that can be generated from a specific account. 

Competitive scenario: Conducting a competitor analysis is important when setting a framework for your ABM campaign. Identify the accounts your competitors are selling to, along with conducting a thorough competitor analysis to find potential account opportunities. 

  • Aligning the sales and marketing teams

The importance of aligning sales and marketing cannot be overstated since the coordination between these two units is crucial for ensuring the success of a marketing campaign. The comprehensive approach of an ABM campaign lies in the level of engagement and personalisation of the approach that can only be achieved through syncing these two units of a business. 

In terms of implementing ABM, sales and marketing teams need to be on the same page regarding resource allocation needed for each target account as well as assigning responsibilities in order to ensure a better customer experience. 

  • Outlined market plan

After qualifying the accounts and aligning the sales and marketing teams, an outlined go-to plan is needed to complete an effective framework. Understanding the sales process associated with the ABM campaign is necessary in order to identify the areas of friction that need to be addressed for improvement in the campaign. Moreover, since personalisation is the core of ABM engagement, your business should be keen on finding additional ways to engage with the accounts that may add more value.

Account-Based Marketing Strategy

After setting up a comprehensive framework, the next step would be to establish a sound strategy to get the most out of an ABM approach. An ABM approach involves the following steps to ensure its effectiveness. 

  • Alignment in sales and marketing teams 

Aligning sales and marketing teams is not only important but is rather essential for account-based marketing to bring desired results. For a high-quality account to experience a seamless experience in the buyer’s journey, the sync between these two units needs to be in place from the time of acquiring them as a lead to converting them to a long-term customer. The only way to improve the coordination between sales and marketing is by having clear communication regularly and finding a middle ground for the synergy to be in place. 

Businesses that are just starting with ABM might try having a smaller task force with one professional in each unit that works together. This will give a clearer idea. However, when efforts tend to scale, companies should make sure a marketer supports additional salespeople to manage each account with adequate attention. 

  • Determine account personas by conducting research

After ensuring the sales and marketing departments are on the same page, the organisation can focus on targeting the appropriate account personas. Determining the account persona typically starts with thorough research to identify the right accounts to approach. For this tom achieve, marketers need to consider:

  • The company goals of the ideal customers, 
  • If any high-value accounts are presently engaged with the inbound marketing approach implemented by your business, 
  • Company size, scalability, and present stage of business maturity, 
  • Revenue model, 
  • Tools that they are using currently.

However, despite the various ways organisations may identify the key accounts, in order to make the campaign successful, your marketing and sales teams need to be in sync regarding selecting the right accounts. If the marketer is targeting a certain list of accounts while the sales department is focusing on a different list, it may lead to an ineffective and vaguely targeted ABM campaign. 

  • Establish account plans and attract contacts 

Following the account selection process, the strategy for approaching the target accounts is developed.Your sales and marketing teams in this stage need to decide how to attract and engage with the target accounts as well as create content that is relevant to each account. However, when creating account plans make sure both of the teams are focusing on each account individually, addressing their pain points and preferences despite having similarities with comparable accounts. The account planning process involves considering two crucial pointers: determining the key decision-makers behind the sales of the account and the type of content needed to target each member of the stakeholders. 

  •  Involving the buying committee

The success of an ABM campaign depends on targeting each stakeholder involved in the buying process. Although in the traditional marketing approach, the sales team is responsible for managing this aspect of the customer cycle, in ABM, the marketing team is also equally required to support the sales by creating relevant content for the decision-makers. 

As much as the strategic points are essential to follow, evaluating certain metrics is also crucial in order to determine the health of the ABM strategy. Make sure the sales and marketing teams are capable of identifying the decision-makers and tracking their interactions. Measures like velocity, deal-creation rate, and close rate are some of the most important ones to keep track of, as well as the total revenue associated with a specific account. 

Points to consider while attempting ABM

The tactics followed in your ABM campaign are the foundation of a sound ABM strategy and to make sure that your resources are well invested. 

  • Ensure the internal teams are aligned 

Having a secured ABM alignment is necessary to implement the ABM tactics successfully. Make sure to have all the internal stakeholders on board to address various factors associated with the ABM strategy. Having all the internal teams aligned will make it easier for the organisation to have consistency in delivering a personalised customer experience as well as streamlining the entire process. 

  • Building an ABM team 

For the success of the ABM strategy, having a dedicated team to engage with the target accounts is essential. Along with the alignment between marketing and sales, this dedicated team will be responsible for creating and publishing content for the target accounts as well as managing the buying committee and converting them into customers. Apart from sales and marketing representatives, be sure to add other internal key players, including customer success representatives, who must be aware of the alignment as well. 

  • Selecting the ideal set of targeted accounts 

Identifying and selecting the target accounts is one of the most crucial parts of any ABM strategy. Your marketing and sales reps can adhere to certain tips to properly invest the time and resources into the approach. These include setting up search alerts for your ICP on LinkedIn and streamlining the workflow in a way that filters out specifically qualified leads based on certain criteria like industry, company size, and more. These also include factors like identifying potential good-fir clients, selecting target accounts depending on a specific geographical region, analysing major companies that have been engaging with the inbound content, and allocating no more than 10 accounts per sales rep. 

  • Create account plans by aligning marketing and sales 

The effectiveness of an ABM campaign lies in the team effort that can only be possible by aligning the sales and marketing teams. Both the teams should be aware of the buying committee and key decision-makers for each account, identifying the appropriate channels and determining the right type of engagement and support curated for the accounts. 

  • Attract and build a relationship with the buying committee 

The next tactic would be to attract the key decision-makers and stakeholders of each account in order to engage them. The essence of attracting high-valued accounts lies in the act of personalising the content that addresses the specific challenges and preferences of an account. This may in turn increase the brand's awareness and relevance among the stakeholders. The sales and marketing teams may engage accounts on different social media platforms, create podcasts or videos, and build personalised landing pages, along with other ways of engagement. 

With attracting the high-value accounts comes the importance of building a meaningful, long-term relationship with the buying committee. Since this is a long term approach, your ABM team might need to focus on this attribute of the strategy for a longer period of time. You may create case studies, engage one-on-one, host events, and deliver personalised content in order to achieve this. 

Merging content, inbound, ads, and email together 

The evolving landscape of the B2B marketing setting requires a multi-channel approach in order to ensure the efficacy of the strategy. When it comes to a high engagement rate, email, ads, content, and inbound are the four pillar channels in an ABM strategy. One of the most undeniable reasons for choosing a multi-channel approach is that they build off each other. Since at its core, ABM is an integrated approach, it is essential to adopt an omnichannel method when it comes to engaging with the target accounts. In ABM, delivering personalised content is as necessary as incorporating targeted ads and customised emails into the strategy. Content, ads, email, and inbound marketing tactics can be individually effective for delivering results. However, opting for a merged and balanced approach is way more effective when it comes to increasing the conversion rate.   

Conclusion 

The complexity of an ABM approach is due to the comprehensiveness of the strategy and the fact that there are several stakeholders involved in a single purchasing decision. This very fact of account-based marketing demands this three-tier approach of framework, strategy, and tactics to execute a campaign successfully from start to finish.