There is a big buzz around ABM or Account based marketing at the moment. Lots of clients are asking about best practices, how to implement or transition to ABM. I thought maybe there was something I was missing. Had I overlooked a transformative new marketing strategy? Then I got slightly paranoid and starting asking others about it, but they came back with what I already knew. Then I thought I would do some extra research. There was so much interest, there must be something to it, right?
Note: in 2020 Hubspot added some very convenient new ABM features for Marketing Pro and Sales Pro customers. We check it out and wrote a detailed post on how and when you can use these account based marketing features with to your inbound marketing strategy. CLICK HERE to read the details if you are interested in deploying ABM tactics with Hubspot tools.
1) ACCOUNT BASED MARKETING IS NOTHING NEW – it's just marketing
If you were not employing ABM strategy naturally to begin with well then we might have a bigger problem to deal with. Key accounts or target accounts have been around since the days of Mad Men and the birth of advertising agencies.
Most B2B companies should know:
a) What companies they would like as customers and
b) The opportunities that lie in existing customer accounts.
When there is a big enough opportunity everyone across departments come together to get the deal. It is not a new concept, there are articles on this subject dating back decades.
Wikipedia tells us “key account marketing, is a strategic approach to business marketing based on account awareness in which an organization considers and communicates with an individual prospect or customer accounts as markets of one. Account-based marketing is typically employed in enterprise level sales organisations”
Basically, this just tells us the focus is on the company or account level.
2) HOW TO IMPLEMENT ABM - just use marketing tactics
Let's have a look at some tactical suggestions by different companies:
Account Development Rep (ADR) - aka BDR's or SDR's
- Follow on social from ADR account
- Persona prospecting with some score-based engagement and personalized outreach
- Account-based contact sequence
- Pre-event appointments to stop by tradeshow booth
- Re-prospect returning visitors
- Target contacts and decision makers with relevent online ads to increase awareness this is done before & during Business Development outreach
- Using event marketing to bolsters sales activity with follow up calls, emails, online ads targeted to attendees and social outreach
- Sales and marketing then work together to create targeted messages and online ads that match the opportunity stage
- Sending personalised human emails from/to multiple target account contacts
- Direct mail package
- LinkedIn profile views
- LinkedIn messages
- Phone calls
- Account-based ads
To give you some ideas, here is an outline of ABM tactics at various stages of the funnel.
3) USE SEGMENTATION - you already have this in place, correct?
The above photograph is of a whiteboard diagram that I scribbled to explain how I look at segmentation.
I typically use 4 quadrants:
- Demographic ( city, industry, no. of employees, job title etc.)
- Behavioral (what did they click, visit, open)
- Recency (How recently did they engage)
- Frequency (How often did they engage)
By using this quadrant you can get a much clearer understanding of interest or intent to purchase. For example your ideal account could be a Marketing Manager of a Software company, they visit your blog and subscribe. On a report or scoring model this might look great. However if they subscribed 5 years ago and did nothing since it doesn't look so good. That is where recency & frequency come into play.
I also look at the persons level of knowledge and authority in the organisation. This helps to understand how to craft your message or what tactics might be suitable to use.
“Buyers are looking for their existing suppliers to keep them updated with relevant propositions” source
According to the Marketing Practice Decision Maker's Index “77 per cent of decision-makers say that marketing from new suppliers is poorly targeted and makes it easy to justify staying with their current supplier.”
Well this is just good content marketing and relationship building right? Remember educating your buyer with helpful, valuable content is the cornerstone of Inbound Marketing.
4) GOOD TIMING - the right message at the right time -sound familiar?
You can also use various tools to help you ascertain the right time to approach a target account. For example Datanyse can help you to uncover sales triggers like technology changes, traffic increases or funding rounds. You can use Hubspot to trigger notifications to sales reps based on a scoring or engagement metric.
5) BE PERSONAL & CUSTOMISE YOUR MESSAGE - doesn't this sound like an Inbound approach?
Let's take a look at what Wikipedia says.
“By treating each account individually, account-based marketing activity can be targeted more accurately to address the audience and is more likely to be considered relevant than untargeted direct marketing activity.” - Wikipedia
6) WORKING TOGETHER AS A TEAM - This is vital to all successful businesses
“Every person in your company is a vector. Your progress is determined by the sum of all vectors.” — Elon Musk
SUMMARY: GETTING NOTICED BY THE RIGHT PERSON & ENCOURAGINGTHEM TO TAKE ACTION IS KEY - that's the basics of inbound marketing, right?
Ultimately, I feel ABM or Account Based Marketing is just marketing at an account level. There are no new fancy tactics or playbooks here. Outbound tactics can be used to bolster a campaign but in a relevant and targeted way. ABM is just reinventing the wheel.
Instead, we are thinking about all the levers we can pull to communicate the right message to the right person at just the right time. We are thinking about all the resources we have, working together to win accounts. It sounds like Inbound marketing at an account level to me?