When scaling a business, there’s a point, an inevitable plateau that you could hit in revenue, size, or even market cap that feels like an invisible ceiling. You’re focused on growth but there may be uncertainty about how to move forward — which strategy will allow you to maximize your ROI and your efforts?
Well, here’s a little secret: there’s a winning strategy that 97% of marketers currently say delivers a consistently higher level of ROI and drives up to 3.5 times more conversions than other initiatives.
It’s called ABM — or, account-based marketing — and it consistently outperforms other marketing initiatives. In this article, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of ABM strategy and everything you’ll need to successfully integrate this strategy to improve everything from CLV (customer lifetime value) to lead generation and average deal size.
Let’s jump right in!
What is ABM?
So, what is account based marketing?
A quick scour on the web and you’ll see that the definition of an account based marketing strategy sounds simple — but the results it promises are powerful. ABM strategy is a focused approach to marketing that aligns activities, initiatives, and campaigns to individual accounts, prospects, or customers.
You might wonder — is it really feasible to market to only one person or one account? Isn’t this about scaling?
Hang on with us 😉.
Account based marketing tactics have a clear structure behind them. And, in order to implement ABM strategy, you’ll need to have key elements in place. Here’s how it works:
- Internally, sales and marketing teams will need to work closely together to target qualified accounts. These are “key” accounts, which means not every customer is going to need to be catered to. You’ll identify which accounts to isolate, based on the potential for ROI.
- For these targeted accounts, your sales and growth ops will collaborate and create high-value, hyper-personalized content. These accounts are likely to fit your ICPs (ideal client personas), so you’ll be able to rely on your pre-defined inbound marketing strategy when deciding what content delivered over which channels will trigger conversions.
Hyper-personalized content delivered to these ICPs also means that you’ll have direct conversations with decision makers (we’ll discuss later on in this article exactly how to find and connect with these individuals).
ABM: The Answer to B2B Problems?
B2B organizations face unique challenges. Because businesses are interfacing with key decision makers that are a part of a company-wide hierarchy, the number of individuals involved in receiving and accepting a deal can be a significant determinant of how quickly you can convert.
That also means a long sales cycle as a customer walks through a journey and requires buy-in from multiple stakeholders along the way. Account based marketing strategies shorten the sales cycle and the number of touchpoints.
If you’re only speaking to or marketing to a single point of contact within an organization, you’ll be able to create increasingly focused messaging and personalized offers based on the behavior and choices made by this single point of contact.
In fact, observing, tracking, and responding to customer behaviors (characterized by that single account) can help your sales and marketing team uncover “niche” markets or potential target customers you may not have considered as part of your ICPs. When marketing and selling to specific accounts, you’ll be able to develop your customer analytics on these key accounts to a greater depth.
These deep insights can then allow you to create highly targeted B2B content designed to support your inbound marketing initiatives. For example, using customer analytics to derive insights, your team can create case studies that act as strategic references for download and email list building on your website.
This then opens the floodgates for the same types of B2B prospects to enter your funnel without a lot of upfront effort — and, of course, the boost to your authority and reputation doesn’t hurt 😌.
Besides developing strategic B2B content, customer analytics also helps your customer success team members identify and capitalize on opportunities to cross-sell and upsell, especially since personalized offers are at the heart of ABM strategy. Focused cross-sells and upsells can also be a part of creating more robust sales enablement materials.
Finally, the data trickling in from account based marketing tactics can be used to continue prospecting but without shooting in the dark. Instead, data-driven prospecting becomes the norm as you spend more time interacting with prospects and less time identifying them.
5 ABM Benefits For Your Business
As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” But the power of the ABM approach to prospecting, marketing, and sales doesn’t really fix something broken — it seeks to enhance and improve what might be working but could definitely get better.
Let’s take a look at five benefits you stand to gain by implementing an ABM strategy for your business.
Benefit #1: Way More Efficient
You’re probably already familiar with the idea and real-world utility of market segmentation. Dividing customers into subsets based on specific characteristics helps you understand their buying patterns with more clarity — which means you can then try and satisfy those customer expectations.
Account based marketing tactics are not so different from segmentation.
Targeting single accounts, users, or points-of-contact requires you to put resources — such as the levers of time, money, strategy, offer development, messaging, and reporting — into few avenues. The difference is that you know these accounts are highly likely to respond positively (and convert!) with this kind of focused attention.
In other words, it’s a much more efficient use of marketing dollars.
In fact, 30% of marketers relying on an account-based approach say that they’re able to engage twice as frequently even with “higher-up” prospects such as C-level targets. Furthermore, ABM reduces up to 50% of sales time that’s otherwise wasted on prospecting that ultimately goes nowhere.
Benefit #2: Measurable ROI
ROI can mean many things to different departments in a business. For sales, a return on investment is directly related to sales made or deals closed.
For marketing, it can mean improvements in click-through rates, traffic, or better conversion rates on ads.
Financially speaking, ROI should mean an increase in revenue. And for customer success reps or account managers, it could mean an improvement in customer relationships.
Well, you’ll be pleased to know that ABM can improve all these aspects — and can do so in a measurable, tangible way. Consider that:
- 80% of marketers report an improved CLV due to ABM strategy
- Companies implementing ABM saw an 80% improvement in relationship management, thanks to ABM-specific factors like client service management, automated list generation, and notifications, to name a few
- The “perks” of personalization means 58% of B2B marketers saw larger deal sizes
- In the first year alone, 60% of companies relying on account based marketing tactics report a minimum of 10% increase in revenue
How’s that for measurable ROI?
Benefit #3: Increased Conversion Rates
Conversion rates as part of an ABM strategy are quite interesting — because you’re focusing on a few key accounts, you’ll need to rely on intent data. These accounts are technically “in-market” but their behavior shows that there could be a high intent to purchase if captured and nurtured with the right content at the right time.
Of course, this means more time saved for sales reps, who can identify these accounts and measure them through activity trackers, CRM data, or even direct feedback.
The higher conversion rates, from both a sales and marketing perspective, occurs because, to some extent, these accounts or prospects are already sales qualified leads (instead of being marketing-generated leads that have yet to turn into SQLs).
Benefit #4: Better Overall User Experience
So far, we’ve looked at how account based marketing strategies can help internal marketing and sales teams.
But what about your customers? 👀
While efficient use of time and money are an undeniable benefit of ABM, it also completely transforms the client-facing experience. When prospects receive personalized offers, experience highly specific and tailored interaction with sales reps, or content that speaks to their needs exactly, they feel seen, heard, and understood.
And, of course, an improved user or customer experience means reduced acquisition costs. You can be one of the 84% of marketers who report an easier time retaining and expanding existing client relationships instead.
Benefit #5: Closer Team Collaboration
While your ultimate goal may be entirely customer-focused, there’s something to be said about the greater team collaboration that inevitably comes about with ABM.
In order to make account based marketing work, both sales and marketing teams will need to strategize, plan, and analyze metrics together. There’s a greater need for the two to understand each other’s language and priorities as they work together to support each other’s roles in the ABM buyer’s journey.
5 Things to Do Before Launching Your ABM Strategy
Keen on implementing an ABM strategy for your business?
Here are five key priorities to execute when you’re ready to go all in on account based marketing:
Define your objectives
To get started on the right foot, both your sales and marketing teams will need to collaborate and define combined and departmental goals. What constitutes success, in terms of metrics and what does the buyer’s journey look like for sales and marketing activities? Get clear on numbers you’re aiming for or should expect, including revenue goals, sales velocity, churn rates, win rates, total available market, and more.
Define your ICP and IAP
Part of sales and marketing collaborations should work to define and articulate your ideal client profiles or ideal account profiles. ICPs are not just a persona; rather, they constitute firmographic, environmental, and behavioral customer attributes that are expected to also become your most valuable. Use Captain Data’s ICP/IAP model to help you expedite this step.
Prepare a content strategy
Since ABM initiatives will require an inbound marketing approach, you’ll need to figure out which content channels are most effective for ICP touchpoints, interactions, or communications, and what KPIs to aim for with campaigns.
Choose your medium
How and where will you interact with your points-of-contact? Where will you find them and how will you connect with them? Your options could include through content like webinars and white papers, using outbound tools like lemlist or other email marketing options, through social media like LinkedIn, using phone numbers, or by running highly targeted ads (to name a few!)
Launch and iterate
Once you’ve begun the process of account-focused lead generation, marketing, and sales, make sure you have a system that’s able to capture key data. And transform them into insights to help you analyze ICP behavior (and the efficacy of your strategy) even further.
And you’re all set!
Now, read on if you want to get even more strategic with your ABM efforts.
Put Your ABM Strategy on Autopilot
A significant part of ensuring ABM strategy success is advance planning, patience, and careful research. Yes, ABM can make your sales and marketing operations more efficient and resource-effective — but that doesn’t mean you can simply take a set-it-and-forget approach.
To really save on time, you should plan to automate the most granular and tedious tasks, where possible. Plan to harness automation tools specifically geared toward searching for highly-targeted ABM leads, aggregating and organizing prospect lists, and contacting prospects.
Here are a few examples of aspects you should consider automating:
- ICP and IAP target searches
- ABM decision-maker extraction
- Integration of tools to your pre-existing business stack
5 Steps to Launch Your Automated ABM Strategy with Captain Data
Let’s take a look at ABM strategy automation in action. When you use robust tools like Captain Data, you can streamline lead generation and prospecting activities in just a few easy steps:
- Head to Sales Navigator and begin a search based on your pre-defined ICP/IAP
- Fine-tune your search using Boolean operators
- Pro-tip: Captain Data features a helpful X-Ray Search Template to guide your campaign set-up
- Within Captain Data, select the ABM workflow, configure your parameters, and enter the Sales Navigator search URL
- Launch the job — you can run this function multiple times and exclude viewed leads
- Simply download the results when you’re ready and send it to your desired location using APIs or Captain Data’s customer workflow editor
For business growth and success, there’s no simple formula. But if there were one, it would likely involve some combination of reputation, relationships, and revenue.
The three are interconnected and, the good news is that you can pursue all three at once using a highly targeted, clear, and forward-thinking approach of account based marketing.
To kickstart your ABM strategy into high gear, connect with Captain Data’s highly intuitive data automation software. Our no-code platform extracts, aggregates, and integrates the most crucial sales and ops data you need to realize the greatest profits with the least time spent managing automations.