In our digital landscape, awareness isn’t enough when it comes to marketing. Today’s brands must continuously engage their target customers, and traditional mediums just don’t deliver on that the way customers are expecting. A lack of engagement among customers often arises because marketers focus too much on price, product and promotion – three of the four P’s of marketing. In reality, marketers should really be devoting their attention to an entirely different P – people.
Whether online or off, the customer comes first, and one approach that puts people front and center is account-based marketing (ABM). This approach is more focused on specific customers, or accounts, than traditional marketing. In traditional marketing, a company uses advertising to help draw interest in their company before eventually learning which customers are most likely to result in a sale. Once the business knows which customers are most interested and willing to purchase, they try to sell to them. ABM takes a different approach. In ABM, a company starts the process by identifying a potential target and then markets specifially to those targets with a more personalized approach.
Instead of driving an endless parade of nameless, faceless personas to your site, cobbling together a broad list of potential customers and blasting out blanket emails to anyone and everyone, you take a far more personalized approach. You locate your target first.
That way, you can offer content tailored to the person and avoid chasing dead-end leads as well. You still collect customer insights, segment your data and test your messaging, but you take targeting to a micro level. This allows you to speak to specific pain points and make prospects feel as if you truly get them. Best of all? It works. Altera Group found that 97 percent of marketers said the ABM approach yielded a higher return on investment.
ABM just makes sense.
As a business leader, you may have read the title of this article and started panicking. Either that, or it made you think, “I’m doing just fine on my own.” Those responses are often the result of the misconceptions swirling around ABM. Here are the top three misconceptions about account-based marketing.
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1. ABM is a nascent strategy.
While surprising to some, the concept of ABM has been actually around for years — the Information Technology Services Marketing Association coined the term more than a decade ago. More than that, though, companies have long been whittling down their lists of prospects to the most viable and lucrative candidates, then doing everything they could to bring them into the fold. It’s just that we’ve now applied technology and systematic processes to make it more accessible. ABM isn't as young a strategy as some skeptics believe.
All that’s to say, don’t overthink ABM. Although you might be scaling back to enhance engagement, you’re actually learning more about your target audience with each new interaction. This allows you to thoughtfully expand your marketing efforts and improve a campaign’s effectiveness as you grow your business.
Learning from the interactions also enables you to better leverage technology — the key to any successful ABM campaign. If, for example, you want to perfectly time your marketing message, predictive analytics can serve as a crystal ball into your target audience’s future needs, while programmatic buying can help consolidate customer interactions and message only those who meet a certain criterion.
2. ABM is reserved for big accounts.
Sure, you’re targeting fewer prospects, many with the potential for bigger paydays. But like many other marketing tactics, ABM is scalable. You can still target numerous prospects without sacrificing any earning potential.
Because ABM relies on hypertargeting, I recommend starting small and scaling from there. To give you an idea, most companies new to ABM start with a few hundred prospects. As things take off, they branch out and begin to target other potential customers – customers qualified by what you’ve gleaned from interactions with the first set of prospects.
This scalability also allows you to scale within a company. As you know, business-to-business marketing rarely has you working with a single point person. ABM makes it possible to delve deeper into accounts and target each decision maker with tailored messaging that speaks to his or her pain points. Try it with a few of your existing accounts to help fine-tune your strategy.
3. ABM is just about sales.
ABM is a strategy built on the idea of uniting sales and marketing to identify and qualify leads, ensuring that their efforts complement, rather than work against, one another. If marketing, for instance, has developed a top-of-the-funnel whitepaper, then sales should be leveraging this collateral to show leads how your offering can address their problems. Once leads download the whitepaper, they’ll be dropped into a drip campaign, where the marketing team can further nurture them.
That means you must help make and keep the peace between marketing and sales. Think about it: sales will have all the nitty-gritty details about the true pain points of prospects because they speak with them directly. Once those are relayed to marketing, the team can craft messages that address the pain points and resonate with readers. When the two teams are intertwined, it's been shown that your customer retention rates could receive a 36 percent boost and your sales win rate could increase by 38 percent.