Account Based Marketing Explained

Abstract drawings of phone screens displaying account based marketing research

At Elevation Marketing, we’ve seen that a successful digital strategy is all about balancing current best practices with innovative concepts. Sometimes, new ideas surface that take the current marketing landscape and completely upend it. Those new ideas aren’t always successful—but some of those topsy-turvy ideas are just crazy enough to work, and they become essential to a successful and comprehensive marketing plan. Account based marketing, or ABM, is one such new idea that has gained a lot of traction in the B2B space recently. In fact, more than 60% of businesses plan to implement some form of ABM strategy in the next year. But what is account based marketing, exactly, and should you be adding it to your digital strategy? Let’s get into it!

What is account based marketing?

Account based marketing is a marketing strategy that focuses on individual customers and prospects, laser-focusing on each one and treating them as if they were an entire market all by themselves. ABM takes the individual and makes them the center of a marketing campaign, building a strategy that focuses on netting this specific, ideal customer instead of casting a wide net and narrowing down potential customers from there. In other words, ABM flips a more traditional strategy, like inbound marketing, on its head—reimagining the typical inverted pyramid and saying “yes, this actually works right-side-up, too.” That’s because if you set yourself up to net your ideal prospects, you’ll also capture similar ones who are grouped near the most ideal, ready-to-buy prospect you’re optimizing for.

What are the benefits of account based marketing?

Account based marketing is a favorite for B2B strategies due to its narrowed focus. ABM is intended to sell to a small set of buyers—say, the handful of stakeholders running a company—or to tap deeper into your main accounts and strengthen your business partnership with them. Here are some of the clearest benefits of ABM.

  • More efficient leads – Inbound marketing generates large amounts of leads to then be winnowed away by the sales team, a highly resource-intensive, though necessary, process. Conversely, ABM streamlines the sales team’s efforts by handing them higher-quality leads whose sales can be closed in a shorter time frame.
  • Clearer return on investment – Marketing departments often struggle with attributing new sales to specific marketing campaigns, hampering their ability to more efficiently spend their marketing budget. With ABM, having specific accounts to focus on makes the attribution crystal clear. What’s more, over 80% of marketers who measure ROI found that ABM outperforms other strategies and investments.
  • Personalization – By narrowing the audience, account based marketing makes messaging resonate much better with each individual prospect, something that larger marketing campaigns often struggle with. This can also improve relationships with existing customers, as through ABM they’re more likely to feel that their specific needs are being met—because, quite simply, they are.

Inbound marketing and account based marketing are not at odds

With the above descriptions of ABM, it might seem like this strategy is diametrically opposed to inbound marketing. Rather than working in opposition to one another, however, account based marketing and inbound marketing are quite complementary. Inbound marketing casts a wide net to assemble a pool of prospects that get narrowed down to sales, while account based marketing focuses on existing prospects or accounts already doing business with your company. Thus, ABM is not a replacement for inbound marketing, but rather a way to reach different sets of prospects, or to reach existing prospects in a different way and improve customer retention.

How do I implement an ABM plan for my business?

Since account based marketing is of course centered on specific organizations, the first step is to identify and research those organizations to understand their pain points. But it’s also important to identify accounts more likely to buy; this knowledge can come from data such as revenue as well as more qualitative factors. While this isn’t to be confused with constructing personas, it doesn’t hurt to research who the top decision-makers are within your chosen target organizations and identify trends that could later be worked into targeted content.

On that point, preparing your content is the next step. Each piece of content needs to speak to the pain points identified as common not just among your target organization’s employees, but also important to the overall organization. Understand, as well, what platforms these organizations are spending their time on, as these are the channels where you’ll want to put your content. Coordinate and publish your content across these channels, making sure to keep your content consistent in terms of messaging. Continue to research as the ABM strategy moves along, using data to inform your strategy as you decide which individuals you’re reaching (and not reaching) and why.

Looking to jump-start your digital marketing strategy?

Account based marketing can form an integral part of a successful digital content strategy. But it’s still just that—a part. At Elevation Marketing, we work with our clients to assemble all the pieces that go into a complete and comprehensive digital strategy. Whether it’s through a targeted account based marketing effort or a revamped inbound marketing campaign, we tailor our digital strategies to meet the needs of each client in order to drive real results. Contact us today to learn how we can help your business!