Have you ever heard anyone in marketing talking about Account-Based Marketing (ABM)? As Ron Burgundy would say it’s 'kinda a big deal’.
A recent survey from LinkedIn found that well over half of B2B marketers (56%) are using account-based marketing in their current business operations (Introducing the B2B Jumpstart to Account-Based Marketing Guide, October 2019). Over 80% of those surveyed said that they would increase their budget for ABM within the next year. A similar survey from HubSpot found that 61% of marketers are using an ABM to help grow their business. (HubSpot Research, Global Survey, Nov - Dec 2019).
Marketing Strategy Usage among B2B Marketers (LinkedIn Marketing Jump Start Guide To ABM)
So what is ABM? Is it a big deal? Most of all, can it help my business we hear you ask? Well, in this blog, we will explain what ABM is and how it can help. We will also provide you with seven steps to help you use ABM to grow your business.
What is Account-Based Marketing (ABM)?
HubSpot defines ABM as “A growth strategy in which marketing and sales work together to create personalised buying experiences for a select set of high value companies.”
HubSpot Account Based Marketing
To put it simply, ABM is about marketing to accounts rather than to contacts and it works perfectly with Inbound marketing.
Is ABM not just B2B marketing?
Not really, Account Based Marketing or ABM is one type of B2B go-to-market strategy.
Let’s Go Fishing!
A great analogy for ABM is that you are fishing with spears, not nets. With traditional marketing, you’re using nets and trying to catch as many ‘fish’ as possible. Your catch will be varied with a mixture of target prospects in your net. ABM does things differently by ‘fishing with spears'. It takes time and requires planning but it’s a more strategic marketing strategy. Essentially, ABM is highly targeted and typically lends itself to higher value deals.
Fishing with Spears and Fishing with Nets
“ABM makes perfect sense for companies who want to hyper target good fit accounts and not waste time”, says Dan Tyre, Director of HubSpot. “ In the old days (2018) a company could be a successful generalist, selling to multiple verticals and company sizes. Today, customers want an expert to help accelerate the identification of the right solution. Rather than targeting everyone and connecting with people who are interested, more work is starting with the right fit company and then sending personalised customised messages to get them engaged.” The challenge with ABM has always been how to get started and that is now easier than ever.”
Are all companies suited to an ABM strategy?
Not necessarily, companies that usually benefit from ABM are those that have high value B2B products and services, have a limited target base and require personalised and targeted communications.
How could an ABM strategy benefit my business?
We asked Dan how an ABM Strategy could help businesses grow.
“I frequently recommend that scaling businesses identify their Ideal Customer Profile - that is the company vertical market, revenue size, and specific business attributes where they deliver their best and most impactful work . This has many benefits because a focused strategy allows you to be more efficient, generate higher returns, create happier customers and understand more about the competitive advantage of your niche. ABM is an extension of that philosophy, rather than prospect 500 accounts, pick the 30 accounts based on location, employee count, business need and experience and engage to try to help. This process is actually less work, but should result in a higher yield, because you are focusing on the right target with the right message at the right time. “
“Just imagine what would happen to your cost structure if you could do the same amount of revenue with 80% of the sales & marketing overhead and when you get the prospect to the opportunity stage, explaining that they were ABM targets based on your researched criteria. My guess is that they would be very impressed. “
7 Steps to Create An Inbound Marketing Campaign
1. Review If Your Organisation Is The Right Fit For ABM
As mentioned above, an ABM strategy doesn’t suit all organisations. Here are some helpful criteria that could help you decide if an ABM strategy is the right fit for your business.
- Your product is expensive - You're not selling a beer here, your product costs a lot and probably requires approval from a company’s finance department. ABM could assist you.
- You’ve a nice niche - If you’ve a limited and specific target company base then ABM is a strategy that will help you to achieve that.
- Deal or No Deal - If you are looking for increased deals, an ABM strategy lets you focus on the larger opportunities in your portfolio
- Time to Collab - Have you ever heard of the term ‘Smarketing’? It’s a term that is used to describe the process of integrating a sales and marketing strategy. If you are looking for your sales and marketing teams to collaborate more, achieving better results then ABM is crucial to the success of this.
- Time to Close - An ABM strategy will not only help with deal size but it will also allow deals to close faster.
Does it sound like your organisation could be the right fit? Well, read on...
2. Build A Team
‘We’re all in this together’. If ever a phrase suited 2020, it’s this one. We’ve mentioned before that ABM is not a sales or marketing specific strategy, it’s for both departments. That’s why when you’re building a team specifically for your ABM strategy, you need to ensure that there is a representative from both sales and marketing. HubSpot’s best practices when building a team for ABM are:
- Start with 1 Marketer and 1 Salesperson in your ABM team
- A marketer can support up to 10 salespeople. So as your team scales add more sales people first.
- Limit your accounts per number of salespeople. Limit 10 accounts per salesperson.
How to do ABM (Source HubSpot)
3. Identify Key Accounts
Once you have established a team, it’s time to identify a list of the high-value accounts to pursue and identify KPI’s to measure success. When pinpointing target accounts it’s good to look at the following areas:
- Ideal Customer persona
- Website visits
- Technology use
- Number of employees Competitive product usage Current customers
Again, when deciding on this criteria it is important that this is decided by your ABM strategy team.
4. Create A Plan to Align
So you’ve built your team, you’ve identified your key contacts, what’s next? It’s up to your ABM team to build and construct a plan of action that will determine who are the accounts that will be targeted and engaged. In addition, the ABM team will need to decide on the content that will be used to attract these key accounts. The key areas of your account plan should include the following questions: who will be on the buying committee of your target accounts? What content will you need to attract and engage each buying committee member?
HubSpot identify the following common buying committee members
- Decision maker
- Budget holder
- Legal & Compliance
- Executive Sponsor
- End User
These are very important but very different members each with different personalities, challenges and professional goals. Therefore, it is fundamental to tailor content specifically to each member which could include, personalised landing pages, webinars, events, whitepapers and reports.
5. Attract Stakeholders
The next part of your ABM strategy is to attract stakeholders but where do you go to do this? For construction and manufacturing companies, a common place would have been trade shows and conferences. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic this has switched to online alternatives, such as webinars and workshops.
Another highly effective strategy is to utilise sponsored advertisements such as LinkedIn to target specific audiences and accounts. Sales teams can utilise Sales Navigator ‘reaching out’ to specific job roles in target industries to attract stakeholders. Other places include approaching industry influencers or industry publications. Whilst doing this, keep an eye on your metrics when attracting stakeholders i.e. contacts created, conversion rates, cost per conversion against the target accounts.
6. Cement Relationships
This is the time-consuming bit. Forging relationships with the buying committee will take months, even years, to establish. This will require constant nurturing and engagement. Some tactics to help build relationships with the buying committee could include personalised content and case studies, regular one to one communication and meetings, hosting events to get to know key individuals personally and finally constantly educate and tailor your communications around the committee.
7. Use the ABM Tools
There are some amazing Account Based Marketing tools available. Here are a number that could help your business get those better deals.
We asked Dan Tyre why he thought that HubSpot should be an integral part of your ABM strategy:
"HubSpot has spent a lot of time and effort working with our global customers to understand how to better support their scale. Just about everyone agrees that ABM is an effective sales process but the challenge is always how to implement the technology at scale. HubSpot Enterprise products Marketing Hub Enterprise and CMS Hub Enterprise are an extension of what many HubSpot customers have been asking for. Easy to use tools, all in one location, that allows a campaign manager to identify the best company targets, use simple to create and measure methods to engage, lean into omnichannel communications and tie everything together so that sales & marketing teams can do their jobs seamlessly for better results. I call this Smarketing (sales + marketing combined)"
How to use ABM in HubSpot
LinkedIn is the ready-made social media platform for an ABM marketing strategy. With LinkedIn’s marketing solutions advertisement platform, you can run campaigns to match your target companies to LinkedIn’s 13 million company pages by creating specific ad audiences. In addition, you can target the key decision-makers on your high value accounts. There are some very helpful ABM LinkedIn guides at the bottom of this blog.
As in Slack the communications platform?! That’s right, when combined with a powerful tool like HubSpot Slack can be hugely impactful for ABM including Using HubSpot and Slack to create a workflow to create deals and using slack to quickly obtain reports on a target company.
Supermetrics is an amazing marketing analytics tool which collects all your data and displays it in platforms such as Excel, Google Sheets and Google Data Studio. Supermetrics has connectors with Google Analytics, Google Ads, LinkedIn Ads, Facebook Ads and HubSpot. The HubSpot connector allows you to keep track of your marketing and sales performance by analysing reporting of all your data. You can also merge this data with other platform analytics such as LinkedIn giving you a better understanding of your target accounts. Perfect for your ABM strategy!
Org Chart Hub
Org Chart Hub is a nifty little application that allows you to build customer organisation charts on each of your accounts. With Org Chart Hub you can use relationship mapping and customised sales personas on your target accounts helping you to close more deals. You can also use account mapping to understand relationships between parent and child companies of those larger target account deals.
Company Surge from Bomboara measures the content consumption of millions of B2B organisations and let you know when target organisations are looking for the products and services that you offer. Company surge helps you to identify the businesses opportunities before the prospect has shown interest in your company or landed on your website, helping you proactively combine sales and marketing activities around your target organisations. Company Surge integrates with platforms such as HubSpot allowing you to scale your pipeline and identify target accounts to prioritise and communicate to.
Dan Tyre closes with the following comments about ABM.
"In 2020, every company in every industry is a tech company. From manufacturing to professional services, to industrial to technology, leveraging easy to use technology becomes a competitive advantage. With the acceleration of acceptance of ABM, UK businesses now have the opportunity to lean into a formal methodology to start and optimise ABM campaigns for a competitive advantage."
So there you have it, an ABM strategy could be a highly impactful way for your company to gain key customer accounts, saving time and money in the long run.
To learn more about Account Based Marketing check out the following guides.
The Ultimate Guide To Account-Based Marketing
HubSpot ABM Software
Introducing the B2B Jumpstart to Account-Based Marketing Guide
7 Truths About ABM That Marketers Should Know
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