Companies invest in ABM (account-based marketing) because it works.
In fact, the Momentum ITSMA’s 2022 benchmark study found that the value of ABM goes far beyond lead generation and has a measurable improvement across sales, organizational, and account objectives.
- 72% of respondents reported that ABM delivered higher ROI than other types of marketing.
- 90% reported active engagement with selected accounts.
- A majority of participants also said it helped with pipeline growth (84%) and revenue growth (77%).
But here’s the thing: most ABM programs are still in their infancy. And so they fall prey to the typical lead-gen based ABM best practices which aren’t personalized enough to be effective.
When you factor in non-linear buyer journeys, where customers don’t follow a set path from awareness to conversion, a big problem emerges: sales-accepted opportunities are measly compared to the prospects reached.
ABM campaigns have to be matched to your buyer’s journey. And to do that, you need to move away from lead-gen based ABM and adopt a long-term strategic approach that’s measurable and scalable.
#1. Choose the right testable and scalable channels
You’ll often hear this advice: choose the right channels for your ABM strategy.
But when you’re starting out, it’s easy to personalize your efforts for a handful of accounts with a low investment of time and resources.
If you want to replicate those results for a larger channel, choose channels that can scale with your growth and offer features that allow you to test your messaging.
Here are some of the questions you should ask when making that decision:
- Can I run A/B tests to glean insights and adjust the strategy?
- Can testing be automated?
- Will I receive automatic notifications with test results?
- Is the measurement and reporting seamless and scalable?
- Does it integrate with my existing tech stack?
- Is there enough reach to gain impressions?
- Does it generate good lead data?
- Does it offer reliable conversion opportunities?
#2. Measure what actually matters — reputation, relationship, and revenue
Choosing the right ABM metrics is challenging because you want to don’t want to focus on just measuring marketing output — you want to measure the impact it has on the business.
But measuring marketing’s impact can be hard to measure with sales and marketing working together instead of in separate groups.
And that’s why the RRR (Reputation, Relationship, and Revenue) framework is a good place to start.
- Reputation: Are you cementing the right relationship with target accounts?
- Relationships: Are you building strong relationships with the right buying committee?
- Revenue: Are you contributing revenue that is strategic to the business?
Companies want to be seen as technology advisors, not vendors. And not having the right reputation creates friction in the buying process. There’s no better way to get in front of influential accounts than to design reputation-building programs (think thought leadership posts, targeted email outreach, or LinkedIn ads) aimed specifically at them and have them do word-of-mouth marketing for you.
“How do key stakeholders in our most important accounts perceive us? Are we moving the needle with them in the ways we want? Are they providing references and becoming advocates for us to support an enhanced reputation? We can do targeted surveys, interviews, reference initiatives, and more to measure reputation within our ABM efforts.”
High-value solutions typically have a notoriously long sales cycle, and strong relationships can speed things up, especially for those huge strategic accounts you’re after.
Salespeople know and live this every day. They know which customers are champions, neutral, or blockers. But marketing teams haven’t been as focused on building relationships.
“With ABM, marketing can work hand-in-hand with sales to strengthen the relationships that matter most… and we can measure that. Are they accepting invitations to our events? Are they downloading and sharing our thought leadership content? Are they participating in advisory boards or innovation workshops that help lead to new solutions?”
Implementing an ABM program requires moving away from measuring traditional lead gen metrics and homing in on account-specific metrics — close rates and pipeline growth.
Making those lagging indicators central to your strategy also, in turn, ensures that your marketing and sales teams are aligned.
While sales teams have historically had pipeline growth and close rate as their KPIs, marketers have only now begun to stop drinking the “MQL Kool-Aid” and make revenue their top priority.
Long, complex buyer journeys make it difficult to ascertain precisely how marketing helped and attribute a portion of the credit alongside sales.
With ABM programs that have common goals for both sales and marketing, there’s less focus on “department-sourced” revenue and more emphasis on working toward overall success.
#3. Use LinkedIn to push thought leadership, not webinars
Most B2B companies push gated content or webinars on LinkedIn. But here’s the thing: LinkedIn is not an intent channel.
Someone signing up for a webinar or downloading content doesn’t imply buying intent.
Think about it. An enterprise customer isn’t going to download an e-book and get nurtured by a 5-email sequence.
People buy when they need to solve problems or their strategies require new solutions, and they turn to their network for recommendations or buy from people they like and trust.
Positioning yourself as a trusted advisor and a niche expert requires thought leadership style content.
You can draw on your experience to create thought leadership content or analyze industry trends to spot something no one’s seeing.
Want more account-based marketing best practices? Read our post on What You Need to Know About Account-Based Marketing
#4. Get leadership involved in 1:1 C-level campaigns
One-on-one C-level outreach is an effective tactic for cultivating relationships with C-suite decision-makers at target accounts.
You can either use email or direct mail to send a personalized message on behalf of your leadership that explains why these executives should meet and a short note on how the platform can help target accounts achieve their priorities.
Here’s why this works: Decision-makers are bombarded by emails from salespeople trying to book a meeting. A well-researched personalized email from a C-level executive stands out and also feels more personal than a 1:many campaign would.
Plus, a 2022 report by Demand Spring found that only 19% of ABM marketers use the 1:1 approach exclusively, meaning that this strategy isn’t overused and has a much better chance of landing with your target accounts.
A 1:1 campaign like this naturally requires more budget. But if you’re at one of the 71% of companies that have increased your ABM budget this year, consider taking the 1:1 route.
Pro Tip: Here are a few tactics you can incorporate into your campaign:
- Use case studies and testimonials to show the ROI of your product or service
- Highlight how your platform can help with long-term business goals
- Explain how using your service can reduce risk for their business
Avoid sending out messages on Mondays, weekends, and holidays. Also, be aware of their time zones.
#5. Add video to the mix to increase personalization
One of the core tenets of an ABM strategy is tailoring all communication for your high-fit high-intent accounts. And while an email might be enough to get your foot in the door, it doesn’t hold a candle to what a video can do.
Plus, with virtual selling on the rise, videos help put a name to the face and help you build trust with buyers.
Videos can also be used to send out webinar invites if you’re doing C-level outreach. When Superside tried this strategy, 80% of people who received the invites wanted to attend, whereas, in the past, their webinar invites received a mere 1% engagement rate.
Pro Tip: You can use the Problem, Agitate, and Solution (PAS) copywriting framework to create your video scripts.
The right accounts are only half the puzzle. You need the right people.
You’ve heard “target the right accounts” all too often by now. And all ABM platforms offer to help you do just that.
But accounts are not enough. You need to have the right people and be able to reach them.
But finding the right people at those accounts is tricky.
When you use “intent signals,” most ABM platforms are practically a black box. You don’t know where the data is from so you have to trust that it is accurate.
Plus, no single data provider has all the coverage. To get complete and meaningful data, you need to tap into different data sources. But these platforms are often a closed ecosystem. If you need to merge data sources and perform operations on it, you need a data engineer or become an excel expert.
And that’s why we built Primer. We help you go deep to find all the decision-makers. We stack all data providers so you have multiple sources of data instead of having to rely on only one.
We help you build targeted lists with people-level contact records so you can reach decision-makers through a multi-channel play. You can sync audiences to Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, CRM’s, and beyond.
The best part? You have complete ownership over your data.
Ready to take ABM beyond account prioritization? See how it works in action.