Account-based marketing (ABM) is a powerful strategy for B2B companies that want to generate better leads, accelerate sales cycles, and drive revenue growth. This concentrated approach enables marketers to tailor messaging, content, and campaigns to resonate with each account’s specific needs and challenges. According to research from ITSMA, account-based marketing delivers a 208% higher return on investment compared to other marketing methods. Given the immense potential of ABM, it’s no wonder that over 90% of B2B marketers have implemented or plan to implement an ABM strategy.
So what exactly is account-based marketing? ABM is a highly personalized approach that treats individual accounts as markets of one. Instead of casting a wide net to attract as many leads as possible, ABM focuses on identifying and winning business from accounts with the greatest potential value. These high-value accounts align closely with the ideal customer profile and have a high likelihood of becoming customers. ABM relies on in-depth research to gain a 360-degree view of each target account. This enables marketers to address their unique pain points and deliver tailored messaging that speaks directly to their needs.
While account-based marketing demands more research and personalization upfront, the payoff is immense. By hyper-targeting the right accounts, ABM improves conversion rates and deal sizes. Contacts at target accounts engage more with relevant, customized content. Account insights allow sales teams to have more effective conversations and accelerate deals. With the ability to deliver such outstanding results, it’s clear why ABM adoption is booming. For B2B firms looking to drive substantial growth, implementing an intelligent account-based marketing strategy can unlock huge opportunities through higher conversions and expanded customer relationships.
1. Identifying Your Ideal Accounts
The first step in implementing an effective account-based marketing strategy is identifying your ideal customer accounts. These are the accounts that present the highest potential value and likelihood of converting to customers. Take the time upfront to thoughtfully research and select your target accounts.
Start by analyzing your existing customer base and determining common firmographic characteristics like industry, number of employees, and annual revenue. Look for patterns in the types of companies that have responded best to your offerings. Use this ideal customer profile as a baseline for the accounts you want to target.
Leverage tools like Apollo, ZoomInfo, and LinkedIn Sales Navigator to search for companies that match your ideal firmographic criteria. These tools compile rich organizational data like technologies used, leadership contacts, and more. Filter for accounts within your target industries, geographies, size ranges, and other attributes.
As you build your initial target account list, prioritize by potential deal size and likelihood to buy. Rank accounts by factors like budget, authority to make purchasing decisions, and demonstrated need for your type of solution. Use predictive lead scoring to quantify an account's sales readiness.
Don't rely solely on firmographic details, though. The most effective ABM also requires understanding an account's pain points and challenges. Use intent data from Bombora or 6sense to identify accounts actively researching solutions like yours. Monitor social media conversations and review sites to uncover dissatisfaction signals.
Send brief surveys to accounts to learn about their goals and obstacles. The more insights you can gather about an account's needs, the better you can tailor your outreach.
Taking the time upfront to carefully research and identify your ideal accounts will pay dividends later. You'll be able to craft more relevant messaging and personalize touchpoints of the account-based marketing campaign to resonate with your target accounts. Focus your efforts on the accounts with the highest potential to drive results.
2. Deeply Understanding Your Accounts
Going beyond basic firmographic data is crucial for truly understanding your target accounts in an ABM strategy. While company information like industry, employee count, and revenue provides a starting point for identifying potential accounts, you need deeper insights to determine which accounts are most likely to buy and how to best resonate with their needs. There are several tactics to help you deeply understand your accounts:
Monitor Buying Signals - Use intent data to uncover accounts that are actively researching solutions like yours or topics relevant to your products. Tools like Bombora and Demandbase track interest across the web and can alert you to accounts exhibiting buying signals. You can then prioritize outreach to these high-intent accounts.
Analyze Technographics - Understanding the technologies an account uses provides insight into pain points you can solve. Technographic data reveals details like what marketing automation platform, CRM, or e-commerce system an account has implemented. Use technographics to identify where your product would integrate well.
Listen on Social Media - Social listening provides real-time insights into the challenges and frustrations your accounts face. Set up listening streams for your target accounts to monitor discussions on social platforms. Uncover pain points and opportunities to position your solution as the answer to their problems.
Conduct Surveys - Surveys and questionnaires allow you to directly ask your accounts about their needs and goals. Well-crafted surveys provide explicit insights you may not gather through other methods. Offer a small incentive to increase response rates.
Build Account Profiles - Compile your research into detailed account profiles. Include information on technologies used, pain points, challenges, goals, key stakeholders, and history working with your company. Profiles should provide a 360-degree view of the account to inform personalized messaging and campaigns.
With these tactics to deeply understand your target accounts, you can identify which accounts have the highest potential value and craft truly tailored account-based marketing campaigns. The more insights you gather, the better you can position your solution as the right fit for each account's unique needs and challenges.
3. Equip Your Sales Team for Success
A key ingredient for account-based marketing success is equipping your sales team with the information and tools they need to effectively engage and convert target accounts. Sales and marketing alignment is critical, with both teams working together to nurture and convert named accounts. Here are some tips for empowering your sales team for ABM success:
Provide Target Account Insights
Share the detailed account profiles marketing has built with sales reps. Provide information on pain points, challenges, and buying signals for each named account. Insights should include details on key contacts and influencers, technographics, intent data, and any other intelligence gathered. This enables sales to have relevant conversations.
Supply Talking Points and Content
Based on the account insights, supply sales reps with key talking points and content assets that will resonate with each target account. For example, provide content that speaks directly to the accounts' pain points. Ensure sales has access to case studies and testimonials from similar accounts.
Collaborate on Outreach
Have marketing and sales collaborate on outreach strategies for target accounts. While marketing nurtures accounts through digital campaigns, sales can engage through personalized emails, phone calls, and in-person meetings. Work together to time sales outreach for maximum impact of account-based marketing efforts.
Inform About Buying Stage
Marketing should keep sales updated on where target accounts are in the buyer's journey so they know when to initiate contact. For example, if an account has visited pricing pages on your site, sales can follow up to discuss options. Cue sales when accounts are nearing a decision.
Provide Conversation Tools
Equip sales reps with tools and templates to drive effective account-based conversations. Share email templates and call scripts tailored to each account's needs. Provide presentation decks to support sales meetings. Arm sales with the resources to have highly personalized, relevant dialogues.
Establish Clear Metrics and Goals
Have clearly defined metrics and goals around target account conversion for both marketing and sales. Track metrics like sales qualified leads (SQLs), opportunities created, and deals won per account. Foster collaboration, not competition between teams.
With aligned sales and marketing teams equipped with account insights, outreach tools, and defined goals, you gain the power to execute highly targeted and effective campaigns that convert high-value accounts.
4. Equip Your Sales Team for Success
For account-based marketing to reach its full potential, sales and marketing teams need to work hand-in-hand. Both teams should align around the same target account list and goals. Marketing then warms up accounts through personalized campaigns until they are sales-ready.
To set up sales for success, start by sharing key account insights that marketing uncovers during the research process. Provide sales reps with detailed account profiles highlighting pain points, challenges, and buying signals. Equip them with messaging frameworks tailored to each account’s needs.
Sales reps should have access to marketing campaign analytics for their assigned accounts. This allows them to see what messages resonate and which touchpoints influence the account. Reps can use this intel to craft relevant outreach.
Work with sales leaders to define the criteria that make an account “sales-ready.” This will likely include criteria like visiting key pages on your site, attending a webinar, or downloading content. Marketing nurtures accounts until they meet the agreed-upon sales-ready standards.
Once accounts become sales-ready, promptly notify assigned sales reps. Set up a handoff meeting to walk through the account, share insights, and discuss the next steps for outreach. This ensures a smooth transition for the account from marketing to sales.
Provide sales reps with branded templates and collateral to send to accounts after the handoff. This includes emails, social media messages, and customized landing pages. Content should align with the account’s specific needs and challenges.
Equip sales with access to marketing automation and CRM systems. This allows them to see every interaction the account has had and continue nurturing them. Sales can also report back on engagement metrics.
To sustain the success of account-based marketing campaign, keep sharing feedback and insights between sales and marketing teams. Have regular check-ins to discuss what messages and touchpoints are working best. Continuously refine your account targeting, messaging, and plays together.
With aligned account-based strategies and open communication, sales, and marketing teams can work together to convert high-value accounts more efficiently. Providing sales with the right account insights and tools is crucial to account-based marketing success.
5. Optimize Efforts and Scale Your ABM Program
Once you have implemented initial ABM campaigns, it's crucial to continuously optimize your efforts to improve performance over time. Clearly define metrics at the start to determine what success looks like. Track quantifiable results like new sales opportunities, pipeline generated, and deals won from your ABM accounts.
Analyze the data to identify which elements of your account-based marketing strategy are working and which need refinement. Look at response rates for different targeted accounts and campaigns. See which content resonates most with each account. Examine sales cycle length for deals sourced through ABM. The insights will reveal optimization opportunities to increase conversions.
For example, you may find certain industries or company sizes have higher response rates to your outreach. You can refine your ideal customer profile to target more of these high-potential accounts. If certain messages or offers generate more interest, emphasize those in future campaigns. Make adjustments to improve personalization for each account.
As you optimize, look to expand the reach of your ABM program by adding more target accounts that fit your ICP. Gradually increase account list size once your campaigns are performing well. You may also consider expanding into new channels like paid social ads, retargeting, and lookalike audiences to extend your reach. Add more tailored content offers over time, such as industry-specific ebooks, demos, and webinars.
Scale your team to support a growing account list. Provide sales with expanded account insights and messaging briefs. Bring on more SDRs and account managers to engage your new targets. Expand design and content resources to create effective campaigns at scale.
Make incremental changes thoughtfully. Continue measuring results to ensure new efforts are successful. With an agile, metrics-driven approach, you can systematically scale your ABM program for greater pipeline and revenue. As your portfolio of target accounts and personalized campaigns grows, you will unlock even higher conversions through account-based marketing.
In the fiercely competitive B2B marketplace, exploring innovative strategies to drive growth is absolutely necessary. Account-based marketing has become a powerful approach, shifting the traditional broad-based tactics towards a more personalized, targeted strategy. With a proven track record of generating high-quality leads and accelerating sales cycles, ABM can be the game-changer your business needs.