Account-based marketing, or ABM, is a strategic marketing approach that focuses on targeted accounts rather than broad target audiences. It is an effective way for businesses to create and execute personalized campaigns that are tailored to meet the needs of individual customers or potential buyers.
The goal of ABM is to create meaningful relationships with current customers as well as to identify and engage new prospects that align with the organization's ideal customer profiles. The strategy involves identifying target accounts through data and research, creating customized messaging for each account and engaging cross-functional teams in order to deliver effective campaigns.
By focusing on targeted accounts, businesses can gain many account-based marketing benefits, such as valuable insights into their markets. They can also develop more efficient processes for finding quality leads. Additionally, ABM helps businesses better understand their customer's needs in order to deliver customized messaging that resonates more deeply with them.
In today's competitive market, having a strategic account-based marketing plan is essential for any business looking to increase its customer base and expand its reach. By targeting key accounts, companies can optimize their spending for maximum impact while ensuring they are delivering relevant messages at the right time that have the potential to drive conversions.
Use of ABM campaigns has surged over the last few years as businesses recognize its potential to optimize their marketing efforts and build lasting relationships with their target accounts. As technology continues to advance, ABM strategies have become more efficient in reaching the right audiences by using data-driven insights from current customers and industry research.
ABM has also let marketers evaluate their performance more effectively by tracking key metrics, such as website visits, email opens, conversions and other engagement metrics at the account level. This data showcases valuable insights into customer behavior that can then be used for developing new strategies or improving existing ones.
As organizations continue to understand how an account-based marketing strategy can help them better engage customers and foster stronger relationships, this approach has become increasingly popular across industries. For instance, a 2020 report on ABM practices found that 94% of B2B respondents have an active ABM program in place, up from 77% the previous year. Additionally, a commissioned report conducted by Forrester showed that 82% of respondents claimed ABM assists in engaging the right accounts at the right time.
Overall, an effective ABM strategy helps businesses create unique experiences for each account while also increasing efficiency in their sales processes -- helping them stay ahead of the competition in today's digital world.
9 benefits of account-based marketing
1. Aligning sales and marketing teams
By adopting an account-based marketing strategy, sales and marketing teams can align their efforts toward a common goal: acquiring and nurturing high-value target accounts. This collaborative approach improves communication, increases efficiency and ultimately leads to better business outcomes.
The teams work together to identify the target account lists and develop account-specific strategies for content and campaigns, enabling sales to better communicate with high-value targets. Through these efforts, there is an increased line of communication and collaboration between the two teams as they share goals for growing relationships with target prospect accounts.
2. Efficient use of resources
When doing a more broad-based marketing campaign, resources are stretched to cover more ground in traditional lead generation and nurturing. This tends to create marketing messaging that is a one-size-fits-all approach, bringing in the potential for lower-quality leads and distracting sales teams from higher-value communications with prospects.
A benefit of account-based marketing, along with the alignment between sales and marketing, is it becomes more of a team effort to drive more quality engagements. The teams that work together to execute ABM campaigns work together to identify the target accounts and simplify the nurturing process for very specific messaging based on the unique needs of the targeted businesses.
3. Leverage data-driven insights
When collaborating with sales and customer success teams, marketers have the added benefit of creating better ideal customer profiles. Using data from existing customers, market research and other sources allows for an ABM approach to have more effective campaigns toward accounts that are similar to those that have bought in the past.
Data from existing ABM campaigns can also be used to optimize new go-to-market strategies for target accounts. By improving existing campaigns, engagement rates will be higher and more impactful from the success or opportunities for improvement from already running campaigns.
4. Shorter customer lifecycles and accelerated sales cycles
At its core, ABM campaigns aid in the outreach to high-potential accounts. This can influence decision-makers before their communications with a sales rep by distributing the right content to the right accounts at the right time. Since the buying process at many organizations isn't reliant on a single decision-maker, using an ABM approach targets many contacts at an individual account with the right communications. ABM provides more air cover, meaning it targets the entire set of buying decision-makers as well as influencers, champions and others who might affect a purchase decision.
When multiple contacts receive communications that pinpoint their organization's needs, more internal discussion takes place. This can accelerate the sales cycle by providing sales teams with truly sales-ready leads. When more contacts are engaged in the campaign, there is a higher likelihood of closing the new business faster.
5. Better personalization
Because ABM campaigns build off sales and marketing alignment and data-driven insights -- which shed more light on the needs of the target accounts -- these campaigns can be much more personalized. The company deploying an account-based strategy can make content specific to the target company's needs and create stronger relationships with those accounts.
Through all the planning and research for an ABM campaign, marketing and sales teams know more about the target prospects and can develop campaigns specific to those business requirements. When these teams know how and where to engage target accounts, prospects will begin to perceive that personalized touch and feel as though the company is speaking directly to them, as opposed to a more broad-based one-size-fits-all approach.
6. Increased engagement
When creating ABM campaigns, the content used is meant to engage and entice the recipients. It's not an easy task, but the research done on existing customer accounts -- and alignment between sales and marketing to understand the needs of the customers -- means the content used in ABM campaigns is exactly what can provide actionable solutions to those problems.
By focusing on specific accounts, the content teams can create copy tailored to those prospects; when high-value content showcases the expertise of the company, the accounts become more engaged. If offers align specifically with what they need, response rates can soar.
7. Increased ROI
Shorter sales cycles and increased engagement from ABM campaigns offer a clear way to measure the impact of ROI. Coupled with the efficient use of resources and more sales volume, revenue can easily be tied back to ABM campaign performance. Increased volume, frequency and retention of target accounts leads to higher ROI for the business.
Using an ABM approach yields higher conversions, lower acquisition costs and increased sales growth between prospects and customers alike. When ABM accounts are in the funnel, there is also more predictability in the pipeline forecasting, as sales and marketing teams have better insight into how to close this new business because they understand the needs and can present expert solutions for those pain points.
8. Expand business through customer relationships
An ABM strategy is not exclusively useful for acquiring new customers; it's also well suited for targeting and building stronger relationships with existing customers. There is a large potential to cross-sell or upsell those accounts, especially when marketing begins to partner with the customer success teams. Existing clients like a personalized touch, and if the relationship is successful already, it can lead to repeat sales or higher retention rates from happier clients.
9. Automated processes
As technology advances and marketing automation tools implement more account-based tracking, the use of automations such as email or internal tasks can be leveraged based on account activity and engagement. This ensures timely notifications or responses to an account's interaction within the campaigns.
Using information about the accounts can also lead to automations in terms of displaying certain content to unique users related to known properties or segments within the target accounts. Serving up dynamic landing pages or calls to action can also encourage more engagement. The marketing technology stack can be a very powerful ally when executing ABM strategies.
Editor’s note: TechTarget offers ABM and project intelligence data, tools and services.