Prologue

Account-based marketing (ABM) is an strategic approach towards architecting, measuring, evaluating & optimizing hyper-targeted marketing programs & other precise tactics to delve into the details about the specific business accounts before optimizing the users’ experience (UX) for the key decision-makers holding those accounts, to in-turn expedite the sales funnel, increase the integration between the marketing & the sales teams & finally to maximize the sales conversions.

According to Professor Malcom McDonald, Emeritus Professor from Cranfield University School of Management, account-based marketing (ABM) is on the threshold of revolutionizing the marketing domain by bringing about a much-needed paradigm shift.  

However, according to the third annual ABM Benchmark survey conducted by  Demand Gen Report in 2018, which unveiled that while 52% of the total marketers involved in the survey had an ABM strategy defined & well-placed for up to the next one year; astonishingly 49% of the marketers were still in the nascent stages of their ABM strategies.

In the survey, 48% of the marketers termed ABM initiatives beneficial for getting the maximum out of their marketing endeavors, while 33% of them considered its value as a tool for streamlining the customer acquisition process & 32% associated ABM endeavors with a clutter-free pathway to Return on Investment (ROI).

Launching, test-running, benchmarking & optimizing ABM programs helps B2B marketers to win new deals & grow their existing database of clients. Therefore, B2B companies nowadays are investing a substantial amount of their total marketing budget into ABM endeavors. 

According to a report published by ITSMA & ABM Leadership Alliance titled, “Raising the Game with ABM: 2018”, 77% of the marketers agreed that ABM helped them in optimizing their ROI by >= 10%, while 45% acceded that they were able to increase their ROI by more than  two times the original, leveraging a consolidated ABM strategy. 

In the same report, it was deduced that companies investing in ABM are setting aside more than a quarter (about 28%) of their total marketing budget exclusively for ABM. Account-Based marketing can be used as a supplementary procedure or even as a replacement of several other marketing tactics. In many ways, it also is reverse of the conventional methodologies of Inbound Marketing, wherein, acquiring a maximum number of prospects is considered to be an essential pre-requisite to expanding businesses. ABM helps marketers achieve their bottom-line goal of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO).

ABM marketers are the ones who focus the most on the targeting the most relevant accounts by tracking & channelizing their intent signals through omnichannel & in an effort to optimize the sales conversions by targeting the key decision-makers of the account, help the most in crafting an environment where all the vital teams within a B2B enterprise, specifically the marketing & the sales teams leave behind working in silos & take collaborative endeavors to optimize the revenues for the enterprises at large.

Clearly, ABM is an indispensable marketing tactic in the modern B2B dominion which establishes synchronicity between the key-decision makers of the accounts intending to buy & between the brands which have the ideal products or services to do away with the pain-points of specific accounts. ABM works by prioritizing the needs of the clients, from the periphery towards the center, precisely orchestrating the marketing endeavors to help the organizations reap the maximum benefits from the investments made on their marketing budgets, as well as also helps marketers in maximizing the sales revenues of the organizations. The significant principles of ABM can be summarized as under:

  • Key focus on aligning with & improving the 3Rs of the business etiquette & reengineering viz. building reputations, fostering relationships  & optimizing revenues for the organizations  
  • Special impetus on integration & repo-building with sales teams
  • Tailor-made & hyper-personalized campaigns based on the intent signals obtained from the prospects through omnichannel marketing for optimizing users’ experience (UX) 

Despite innumerable benefits that can be associated with an optimized ABM, there remain some evident challenges too. According to the ABM Benchmark Survey by Demand Gen, 40% of the marketers faced difficulties in defining the attribution models for their ABM endeavors. Furthermore, the same report also highlights that despite acceding to the undisputed effectiveness of Account-Based Marketing as an immaculate armory for optimized ROI, only 15% of the marketers affirmed of prioritizing ABM over the traditional methods of demand generation. The other challenges with Account-Based Marketing include qualitative & quantitative measurement of ABM undertakings (Account-Based Analytics) & challenges associated with personalization & customization of the ABM campaigns; besides, deciding on the percentage of the core marketing budget to be set aside for ABM initiatives. Attribution modeling for quantification & optimization of sales’ conversion rates generated through the ABM endeavors, technological constraints & lack of understanding of the ABM execution mythologies are also the prime areas of concern. 

According to ITSMA’s Raising the Game with ABM: 2018 Benchmark Study, ABM is still a newbie in the B2B realm with merely 17% of the programs in practice for more than three years, at a stretch. While many marketers are still in a stage of oblivion about the time taken to execute a full-fledged & split-tested ABM strategy (associated with the generation of an optimized ROI); a vast majority of them fail to understand that establishing a lean ABM strategy takes only about a quarter of a year, if done correctly & mistake it for a lengthy & time taking process. 

Undoubtedly, the challenges with ABM principles & execution are intact, nevertheless seldom any intelligent marketer would deny the vast scope & the untapped potential of ABM as an invisible to tool to generate hyper-targeted campaigns based on niche-specific targeting of the C-level employees (key-decision makers) of the accounts which demonstrate an inclination or a clear intent towards prospective sales. 

ABM is an all-encompassing marketing methodology which encourages intermingling & cross-functionality between different B2B departments – marketing & sales in particular. Though very different from the outmoded inbound marketing, lead generation & demand generation processes, ABM still happens to have interdisciplinary elements from the conventional methodologies intact. 

Before probing into details about how the integration of ABM & Sales paves the way for optimization of revenue for the B2B marketers, let’s have a look into what are the different types of ABM practices prevalent in the marketplace nowadays. While ABM has emerged as an ever-evolving strategy for targeting & converting the prospects (specific accounts); particularly after it’s interaction with the machine learning algorithms, operating on the lines of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the different ABM practices prevailing in the flea market can be classified into following main types:

1. One-to-One ABM:

An ABM strategy wherein marketers work with a single account to individually implement hyper-targeted campaign strategies to win them as sales leads is termed one-to-one ABM.

2. One-to-Few ABM: 

In this marketing practice, similar accounts are divided into specific clusters & marketers work with specific sales teams to focus on small segments of accounts (which are often having similar operational frameworks & business essentials).

3. One-to-Many ABM: 

In this marketing, strategy marketers integrate with sales teams to prioritize certain accounts & work towards prioritizing & personalizing experiences for the individuals associated with those accounts.

According to the ITSMA & ABM Leadership Alliance report: ABM Benchmark study published in October 2018, the following results were inferred: 

  • More than half of the marketers use just a single type of ABM strategy while little less than a quarter have opted-in for all the three types of ABM strategies, mentioned above.
  • 16% of the marketers used the One-to-One ABM strategy exclusively while 18% of them solely relied on the One-to-Few ABM strategy.
  • 20% of the marketers used only One-to-Many ABM strategy.
  • 14% of the marketers formed the superset comprising the marketers using One-to-One ABM & those using One-to-Few ABM while One-to-One ABM & One-to-Many ABM were simultaneously being used by 4% of the marketers.
  • Marketers that used both One-to-Few ABM & One-to-Many ABM comprised 4% of the total marketers that participated in the survey; whereas 22% of the total participants used all the three types of ABM strategies, at the same time.

According to a study published by Marketo, 65% of the marketers acceded to the fact that ABM aids majorly in client acquisition. ABM allows targeting to often very large & key accounts & marketers have to design precise strategies to design & run hyper-targeted campaigns leveraging omnichannel marketing – be they email marketing campaigns, ads for targeting & retargeting of prospects (to be displayed across omnichannel), virtual & real-time events or the highly specific on-demand webinars. Getting accustomed to Account-Based Analytics may help the marketers in developing attribution models to measure, test, improve & optimize the ROI associated with their ABM endeavors. The metrics for measuring ABM can differ from different organizations; however, aligning ABM conversions with the sales conversion of the organizations at large, may help the purpose of quantitatively & quantitatively analyzing the ABM endeavors. ABM analytics although vastly different, is still an integral part of website analytics & can be aligned with the revenue goals of organizations.

When the ABM-ers & the sales teams work in close integration, they help organizations in their bottom-line triumphing of Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO). A continuum of collaboration between the marketing & sales teams gives rise to a consolidated ABM strategy that helps the marketers sail through critically vulnerable situations, such as: through weaker areas of value proposition & capacity building.  

Leveraging multichannel strategies for encouraging collaboration amongst the ABM-marketers & sales teams have the following key benefits: 

1. Talking to the Sales Team helps in discovering vital pieces of information pertaining to the important accounts: 

The sales teams are often well aware of the insights related to some specific accounts that help in channelizing the conversions. Whether it be keeping a track record of all the appointments set before taking to the clients for showing the value propositions of the products or having conversations with the companies before “sealing a deal”; no team does it better than the sales teams & therefore, keeping cordial ties with the sales team is imperative for ABM marketers.

Once ABM-ers integrate with Sales Team, they can work towards an integrated strategy for optimizing users’ experience which, in turn, leads to optimized sales conversions.  

2. Paying attention to the actual pain points of the Customers & Reviewing the Customer Relationship Management Antiquity:

Modern CRM serves as an excellent tool for ABM-ers to derive specific intent-based insights. CRM can be integrated with several automated & third-party tools. These data points gathered from the omnichannel marketing endeavors can be integrated with the first-party intent data i.e. the data gathered from the website analytics. Furthermore, the first & third party intent data can be integrated with the demographic, firmographic, technographic, psychographic, fit-data as well as with the past buying habits & research mannerisms of the specific accounts, to derive more precise insights about the real-time problems being faced by the organizations. Hyper-personalized pieces of content can be created for converting the key decision-makers pertaining to vital accounts, leveraging well-tailored ABM content syndication strategies.

Also, scrutinizing the intent data unveils the clients that are well engaged with the pieces of content at disposal, & are ready for purchase. Such clients are most likely in a stage likely to generate conversions very soon. Other accounts that are not purchase-ready can be nurtured further until they make buying decisions or at least are ready for the same.

3. Charting & Profiling Stakeholders for realizing untapped opportunities:  

Delving into the CRM tools often integrated with the third-party marketing automation platforms allows the ABM-ers to analyze whether any of their prospects’ accounts have had an interaction with them in the past. The activities showing whether prospects have visited the website in the process of looking for the probable solutions to their problems viz. the downloading of pieces of content, or hitting the call-to-action buttons, can be tracked & listed as explicit intents for prospective purchases.  

Prospects who are already pretty-well engaged with the value propositions of products in the form of the content consumption or filling up of a form; obviously are the ones with a greater intent to buy & can easily be converted by designing & running highly targeted pieces of content.

Marketing automation platforms integrated with the CRM also display the new accounts that have been acquired. The accounts that are not purchase-ready need to be treated differently from the well-engaged ones (ready for purchases). The non-purchase-ready accounts require specifically designed pieces of content to educate them on why a particular product or service is the best fit for their business requirements.

4. Developing targeted value propositions: 

Not only the vital accounts that are engaged with the pieces of content at disposal, throughout their buying cycles need hyper-targeted value propositions to answer their specific queries & convince them in order to make a purchase; but the ABM-ers also need to keep in mind that value propositions work differently for different accounts. While a single product or service may be ideal fit to suffice various needs of the clients, a special impetus must be given to contrive a content strategy that shows value proposition, while still addressing & paraphrasing the main pain-points of the customers. Furthermore, the non-purchase-ready accounts need to be shown a wider spectrum of product utility, simultaneously addressing their pain-points in conjunction with the value proposition of the products.  

5. Integrating Sales & Marketing Campaigns: 

Integrating the sales & marketing campaigns makes sure that the sales team, as well as the ABM-ers, are aware of the pieces of content that have already been fed to the prospective accounts, often as a part of earlier stages of targeting. Integrated sales & marketing campaigns ensure that the prospective account holders are served with specific & highly targeted pieces of content during their individual journeys through the ABM sales funnels.

Bridging the gap between the sales & marketing endeavors helps the marketers in optimizing the users’ experience (UX). Optimizing the UX, in turn, helps the ABM-ers to optimize the sales revenue as the journeys of the prospects through their buying cycles are expedited. 

6. Research opponents, measure, benchmark & optimize the ROI:

Researching the competition helps the ABM-ers in targeting the promising niches that they might not have thought of as vital or might have been missing on altogether. With the help of well-planned ABM Analytics technics, the ABM-ers can quantify the successes of their marketing campaigns, by aligning them with the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of the organizations; especially with the metrics related to the sales revenue. Measuring, competitively benchmarking & test-running the ABM campaigns, are essential prerequisites to optimize the ABM endeavors.  

Furthermore, competitive pricing is also an indispensable element when it comes to optimizing the sales conversions, particularly for the companies providing digitized & SAAS-based amenities.

To Sum All

As evident by the third annual survey by Demand Gen Report, most organizations still happen to be in the early stages of the strategic implementations pertaining to ABM. While 61% of organizations surveyed in the report stated that they measure their ABM endeavors by analyzing its contribution to the pipeline revenue; 64% also assented that they are looking forward to investing more into creating tailored pieces of content, specific to industries.

We, at Valasys Media, are specialists in strategically planning, executing & optimizing the Account-Based marketing services for our B2B clients; which are aimed at optimizing their sales revenue. Besides, we also help our customers with account-based Content Syndication Services, Lead Nurturing Services & CRM Services

For the furtherance of a perennially healthy sales pipeline, to opt for ABM services which are highly orchestrated – to work from scrutinizing the intent of the prospects so as to generate expedited sales conversions, or for further details on any of our services, feel free to get in touch with us.  

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