Rather than trying to be everything to everyone, many marketers are now discovering the benefits of account-based marketing (ABM) methods. Once upon a time, ABM was regarded as too costly and demanding to be worthwhile. ABM tactics traditionally demanded more resources, making it less practical for small to medium-sized businesses. These days, however, ABM is a successful practice with high conversion rates – if done correctly.
Marketers may need time to adjust to the ABM approach and figure out how to get results. Fortunately, the following best practices can guide you to become proficient at everything from generating leads to delivering content. If you haven’t tried it yet, learn whether ABM may be worth your efforts and how to put it into practice.
Background on ABM
What is ABM, and why did it suddenly become such a popular marketing method? Let’s start with a definition. Account-based marketing is a marketing approach that regards every account as a unique market and targets each by employing distinct strategies specifically designed just for them. As a rule, ABM favors the quality and scope of engagement and interaction with individual accounts over the quantity of accounts reached. It therefore depends on high conversion rates and solid client relationships.
So why is ABM suddenly everywhere? Several market factors have shifted in recent years, creating a much more conducive environment for marketers to employ ABM.
One major development is the role of technology in business commerce. 74% of business buyers do at least half of their research on a product or service online before they purchase offline. This has given marketers unprecedented access to information about buyer behavior. With insight into how people research and what factors influence their decisions, the guesswork in marketing is gone, enabling marketers to create more specific rather than most-common-denominator strategies.
Also, customers now enter the sales conversation with much more information. This has changed the traditional role of a sales rep. Instead of focusing on delivering information, today’s sales reps must be prepared to answer questions specific to the account’s needs and seize every opportunity to show an account how products and services might be applied to its unique circumstances.
Because of this change in information, sales reps with more in-depth knowledge of accounts can create better conversion rates than they could in the past, when a generic high-volume approach was regarded as the best way to go.
Finally, the advent of internet-driven commerce allows marketers to create and deliver customized marketing materials at a low cost. In the past, media was expensive to purchase and therefore needed to reach the broadest market possible to justify cost. Websites, social media, and email make it possible to quickly deliver personalized low-cost marketing to targeted accounts.
ABM Best Practices
The following best practices will help marketers new to ABM or those who want to refine their techniques get the most from their methods:
- Generate helpful leads with less effort. One efficient way to find new prospects in your target market is to employ an automated lead management system. These software solutions collect and analyze targeted web traffic data to produce a consistent source of relevant leads for your company. Automated lead generation systems can also tell you the leads that are more likely to close, making them a useful tool for making sure you’re applying your resources wisely.
- Define your message. Once you know your audience, you need to know what you want to communicate.
Hone In On Your Target Audience
The success of ABM relies entirely on a thorough and accurate understanding of your target audience. The process of attaining that understanding involves the following steps:
- Come to a clear definition of your target audience.
- Conduct in-depth research to understand the unique needs of your target audience. In ABM, research is different because it regards each account as a separate market. For example, such research might include understanding the differences between titles and roles at different companies in order to ascertain the stakeholders for each market.
- Communicate target audience definition and research results to all team members, and coordinate efforts. Make sure everyone is on the same page, or you risk wasting time and creating confusion.
Completing each of these steps will ensure you’ve developed a complete and consistent approach to your ABM strategies.
- Craft laser-focused content. Unlike other approaches to marketing, ABM requires content that’s perfectly tailored to individual accounts. Personalized content will increase conversion rates. In fact, personalized web content dramatically increases conversion rates. Using ABM tactics, content should demonstrate that marketers understand each account’s industry and can precisely target consumers.
- One helpful strategy for assuring clear, industry-specific content is to maintain a collection of content for each target industry. This will allow your team to more efficiently craft personalized content. Examples include email templates that employ the right industry vocabulary and refer to the company’s specific roles as well as white papers that demonstrate a familiarity with their industry.
- Perfect delivery methods. Content is important, but even immaculate content will fall flat if it’s not delivered effectively. As with content, delivery can be customized for accounts to make sure every prospect is reached through the most effective channels. Many accounts will benefit from a combination of delivery methods, and this ensures that all avenues for delivery are covered.
One ABM best practice that can significantly improve delivery results is creating targeted campaigns by IP address. This allows marketers to deliver account-specific content to any visitor associated with a particular domain or domains.
Assessment and Adjustment
Last but certainly not least, getting the most from ABM requires defining and monitoring the right metrics. Without constant assessment of how strategies are working, marketers run the risk of wasting valuable time and energy or alienating potential customers with poorly targeted or ineffective marketing. Before each campaign, spend time defining the appropriate metrics to gage success. Measuring outcomes will assure that you can continue to refine your process, which is especially productive when you’re dealing with solo and limited markets.