A guide to account-based engagement account-based experience (ABX)

ABM vs. demand generation: How are they different?

ABM and demand generation differ in significant ways. But when approached correctly, the two can complement one another, leading to higher revenue and long-term customer loyalty.

In today's fast-paced business environments, marketing teams have become the driving force behind the success of any organization. With a multitude of options and platforms, these teams work tirelessly to implement a diverse range of strategies, all with the singular goal of capturing the attention and loyalty of potential customers. From traditional advertising to cutting-edge digital campaigns, marketing professionals have a lot of resources in their toolboxes to achieve success. Account-based marketing (ABM) and demand-generation strategies are often used in this pursuit of attracting and converting high-quality pipeline opportunities for an organization. These two approaches can be used individually or in combination to meet the goals set forth by marketing teams, and it is a good idea to understand how they work and how they can be deployed for successful prospect engagement.

What does account-based marketing mean, and how does it work?

These two approaches can be used individually or in combination to meet the goals set forth by marketing teams.

ABM is a strategic approach in marketing that focuses on targeting and engaging specific high-value accounts or companies rather than broad-based audience targeting. With ABM, marketing and sales teams work collaboratively to identify key accounts that align with the organization's ideal customer profile. The goal is to create personalized and tailored marketing campaigns that address the specific needs and pain points of the target accounts. ABM relies on a deep understanding of the target accounts, their industry and their individual challenges to deliver highly relevant and compelling messages. This approach often involves a combination of various marketing channels, such as personalized email marketing, targeted advertising, content marketing, and one-on-one interactions with decision-makers within the target accounts. The aim of ABM is to build strong relationships with key accounts, drive revenue growth and maximize customer lifetime value.

Foundational concepts of ABM

To achieve a successful ABM program, marketing teams should go back to the methodology of planning, implementation and optimization of the efforts. There are several elements that should be considered when it comes to running successful ABM campaigns. By incorporating these foundational concepts into an ABM program, teams can create a targeted and impactful strategy that drives meaningful engagement, builds strong relationships and generates revenue growth from the most valuable accounts.

  1. Strategic account selection. Success in ABM begins with selecting the right target accounts. This involves aligning sales and marketing teams to identify high-value accounts that fit the organization's ideal customer profile. These accounts should have the potential for significant revenue growth and align with the company's long-term business goals.
  2. Personalized messaging. Effective ABM requires personalized messaging that resonates with each target account. Tailor the content and messaging to address their specific pain points, challenges and industry trends. This approach demonstrates a deep understanding of the account's needs and helps establish a strong connection.
  3. Account research and insights. Thoroughly research and gather insights about the target accounts. This includes understanding their business objectives, decision-making processes, key stakeholders and competitive landscape. The more knowledge teams have about these accounts, the better equipped they are to create personalized campaigns and engage with the account effectively.
  4. Cross-functional collaboration. ABM should be a collaborative effort between marketing, sales and other relevant teams, such as customer success. Align these departments to ensure a seamless customer experience and a coordinated approach to engaging the target accounts. Regular communication, shared goals and collaborative strategies will maximize the impact of an ABM program.
  5. Multichannel engagement. Employ a multichannel approach to engage with target accounts. This may include personalized email campaigns, targeted advertising, social media outreach, direct mail and personalized website experiences. Use a combination of channels to reach decision-makers and influencers within the account, ensuring consistent and cohesive messaging across touchpoints.
  6. Content strategy. Develop a content strategy that caters specifically to the needs of the target accounts. Create valuable and relevant content -- such as case studies, industry reports, white papers and thought leadership articles -- that showcases expertise and addresses the challenges faced by the account. This positions an organization as a trusted advisor and helps build credibility.
  7. Measurement and optimization. With the collaborative internal ABM team, establish key metrics and track the performance of the ABM campaigns that are in market. Measure engagement, pipeline growth, revenue generated and account-specific metrics. Analyze the data to gain insights into what's working and what needs improvement. Continuously optimize campaigns based on these insights to maximize the success of the ABM program.
  8. Customer-experience focus. Deliver a seamless and exceptional customer experience throughout the ABM journey. Ensure that all interactions, from initial outreach to post-sale engagement, are personalized, relevant and valuable to the account. Building strong relationships based on trust and providing ongoing support will help retain and expand business within the account. This helps ease the transitions from marketing to sales and from sales to customer success.

What does demand generation mean, and how does it work?

Demand generation is a marketing strategy and set of activities aimed at creating awareness, generating interest and ultimately driving demand for a product or service. This approach is much more broad than a targeted ABM program, targeting a wider audience and nurturing prospects through a marketing funnel. It involves various tactics and channels to attract and engage potential customers, with the ultimate goal of converting them into leads and customers.

Demand generation focuses on building and nurturing relationships with individuals and organizations that may have a need or interest in the product or service offered. The primary objective is to create a demand for the product or service, even among those who may not be actively seeking it.

To achieve this, demand generation strategies typically include a mix of inbound and outbound marketing tactics. Inbound tactics involve creating valuable content, such as blog posts, e-books, webinars and videos, to attract and educate prospects. Outbound tactics include targeted advertising, email marketing campaigns, social media promotion and events to reach and engage a broader audience.

Foundational concepts of demand generation

Demand generation strategies often involve a combination of marketing automation tools, customer relationship management (CRM) systems and analytics to track and measure the effectiveness of campaigns, identify areas for improvement and optimize marketing efforts.

By implementing the following foundational elements of demand generation, businesses can execute an effective strategy that attracts, engages and converts prospects into loyal customers, ultimately driving revenue growth and long-term success.

  1. Target audience identification. Start by defining and understanding the target audience. Conduct market research to identify their demographics, behaviors, preferences, pain points and buying habits. This information will guide future messaging and ensure efforts are tailored to resonate with the right audience.
  2. Buyer persona development. Create detailed buyer personas that represent ideal customers. These personas encompass key characteristics, motivations, challenges and goals of the target audience. Personas help align marketing strategies, content creation and messaging to effectively engage and convert prospects.
  3. Content strategy. Develop a comprehensive content strategy that aligns with the target audience's needs and interests or the solutions to problems they may be searching for. Create high-quality and valuable content -- such as blog posts, e-books, white papers, videos and webinars -- that address pain points, provide solutions and educate prospects at each stage of their buying journey.
  4. Multichannel marketing. Implement a multichannel marketing approach to reach and engage prospects through various channels. This may include email marketing, social media advertising, search engine optimization, paid search advertising, content syndication, influencer partnerships and offline events. Use different channels to increase brand visibility and maximize reach.
  5. Lead capture and conversion. Develop effective lead-capture strategies to convert website visitors into leads. Utilize lead generation forms, landing pages and call-to-action buttons that entice prospects to share their contact information in exchange for valuable content or offers. Implement lead-nurturing campaigns to further engage and qualify leads through targeted and personalized communication.
  6. Marketing automation. Use marketing automation tools to streamline and automate demand-generation activities. Automate email campaigns, lead scoring and segmentation to deliver personalized content and experiences based on prospect behavior and preferences. Marketing automation allows for scalability, efficient lead management and better tracking of campaign effectiveness.
  7. Data analytics and measurement. Implement effective analytics tools to track and measure the performance of demand-generation activities. Analyze key metrics such as website traffic, conversion rates, engagement levels and ROI. Use these insights to optimize campaigns, identify areas of improvement and make data-driven decisions to continuously enhance the demand generation strategy.
  8. Continuous optimization. Demand generation is an ongoing process that requires continuous improvement. Through the regular analysis of the program, marketing teams can optimize their strategies based on data insights, market trends and customer feedback. Experiment with new tactics, channels and messaging to refine the approach and stay ahead of the competition.

ABM vs. demand generation: How are they different?

While both ABM and demand-generation strategies aim to generate revenue and acquire customers, they have distinct approaches and focuses. Demand generation typically employs a funnel-shaped approach, starting with a wide audience and progressively narrowing it down to target and nurture prospects toward becoming customers. It focuses on attracting, engaging and converting a broader audience by creating awareness, driving interest and guiding prospects through the buyer's journey.

On the other hand, ABM takes a reverse-funnel approach. It begins by identifying and targeting specific high-value accounts or companies that align with the organization's ideal customer profile. Rather than casting a wide net, ABM concentrates its efforts on a select group of key accounts. The goal is to deeply understand the needs and challenges of these accounts and develop personalized strategies to engage and convert them into loyal brand advocates. ABM emphasizes building strong relationships, providing tailored experiences and delivering exceptional value to these targeted accounts.

While demand generation is focused on scaling and optimizing marketing efforts to capture a broader market share, ABM prioritizes quality over quantity. ABM strategies often involve a high level of personalization, one-to-one interactions and customized campaigns tailored to the specific needs of each account. By treating each key account as a "market of one," ABM seeks to establish long-term partnerships, maximize customer lifetime value and foster brand loyalty among these high-value customers.

A visual comparing the account-based marketing process with the demand-generation process.
While ABM uses a targeted approach to engage high-value accounts, the process of demand generation is a funnel-based approach that can complement ABM by nurturing leads from a broader pool of prospects.

How to combine ABM and demand generation approaches for success

Combining ABM and demand-generation approaches can be a powerful and successful strategy for driving revenue growth and acquiring customers. By leveraging the strengths of both approaches, businesses can achieve a comprehensive and integrated marketing strategy that maximizes their impact on target accounts while still capturing a broader market share.

ABM brings a personalized and targeted approach to engaging high-value accounts, focusing on building strong relationships and delivering customized experiences. Demand generation, with its funnel-based approach, complements ABM by capturing and nurturing leads from a broader pool of prospects. It enables businesses to use various marketing channels and tactics to generate awareness, drive interest and guide prospects through the buyer's journey. By incorporating demand generation strategies into ABM, businesses can attract new leads from within their target accounts, expanding their reach and increasing the potential for conversion.

Ultimately, the combination of ABM and demand generation enables businesses to achieve a balance between personalized engagement with key accounts and broader reach within their target audience. It enables marketers to build strong relationships with high-value accounts while also capturing and nurturing leads from a wider audience. By aligning these strategies and leveraging their respective strengths, businesses can create a holistic marketing approach that drives revenue growth, enhances customer acquisition and fosters long-term customer loyalty.

Editor's note: TechTarget offers ABM and project intelligence data, tools and services.

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