You’ve probably heard about account-based marketing (ABM) by now. But is this trendy new approach to marketing just a buzzword, or is it here to stay? And, just as importantly, should you be doing it? Here’s what you need to know about ABM today.

What Is Account-Based Marketing?

Account-based marketing (not to be confused with people-based marketing) is a B2B marketing method that targets specific, real-life potential customers. Instead of marketing to composite buyer personas, which is the usual approach in lead generation marketing, ABM requires doing deep research on the potential customers you want to convert and then creating a personalized marketing campaign for each of them. It’s an intensive process, which scares some businesses away from trying it. But most marketers -- more than 90%, according to one survey -- agree that account-based marketing has great potential value.

The Benefits of Account-Based Marketing

ABM is picking up steam in the marketing world, but it’s still not the main approach most businesses take. So why might you want to break with tradition and give it a try? Here are a few reasons why ABM might make sense for your business.

1. ABM is well-suited for the B2B sales process. If you work in a B2B industry, you know there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all sales process, and this is the kind of situation where ABM shines. By creating a personalized marketing strategy for each customer, you can tailor your interactions and content to all of the influencers involved in the decision to make a purchase.

2. ABM is efficient. A well-executed account-based marketing strategy lets you reach your conversion and revenue goals without wasting energy on non-essential parts of the sales process. In particular, you’ll save time and money when your team doesn’t have to worry about trying to generate lots of leads who will disappear through cracks in your sales funnel later.

3. A/B testing is easy. Since you’re working at an in-depth level with a limited pool of potential customers, it’s a simple matter to try different variations of your favorite marketing tactics and measure the results. And, in fact, you need to continually test your campaigns this way if you want ABM to work for you. ABM relies on a high conversion rate to be effective, which means you have less leeway to make mistakes than you might with a more scattershot lead generation approach.

4. ABM streamlines the sales process. When you focus only on qualified leads and build an entire marketing campaign around each one, you won’t have to spend time on steps that don’t move your leads closer to conversion. When all your interactions serve a purpose, you’ll win over new customers more quickly.

5. ABM can make your business stand out. What do most prospective B2B buyers want? Trust and rapport often top the list, along with more practical concerns. No one wants to make a big purchase from a business unless they feel like that business understands them and has their best interests at heart. Using highly personalized marketing techniques can set your business apart from competitors who use a more cookie-cutter approach.

6. ABM primes customers for a great ongoing relationship with your business. Personalizing each marketing campaign means that you’ll learn a lot about each potential customer before they even commit to a purchase. This is great for making the customer feel valued and building trust right off the bat. Once a customer does convert, it’s usually easy to segue straight into a positive and productive working relationship.    

Is ABM Really Something New in Marketing?

Account-based marketing flips most businesses’ lead generation approach on its head. But is it really a new approach, or just a popular variation of tried-and-true methods? In a way, it’s both.

ABM relies heavily on nurturing leads and personalizing content for them. These ideas are far from new. In fact, they’re quite mainstream, and you probably incorporate them into your own work already. So, while the rise of ABM does indicate that many marketers are shifting away from high-volume marketing, the tactics themselves aren’t revolutionary -- they’re just being used a little differently.

The real shift that’s happening is a technological one. Machine intelligence and CRM software are both improving quickly, and this is allowing marketers today to take advantage of tools they simply didn’t have a decade ago. In the past, it wasn’t practical to take a personal approach with every potential customer. Marketers might have courted a few major clients, but it wasn’t the norm. Now, thanks to automation and increasingly sophisticated targeting capabilities, it is possible to carry out many complex campaigns at once. Technology clearly isn’t slowing down, so ABM may continue to get more accessible and more common as time goes on.

The Takeaway

Account-based marketing gets results when it’s done right. That means the marketing world is probably going to keep hearing about it in one form or another. The principles behind this approach are most likely already familiar to you, but advances in marketing technology are turning ABM into something much more scalable than before for businesses of every size and type. Whether you’re planning on trying this “new” marketing technique anytime soon or not, it’s worth your while to get familiar with it, especially if you work in a B2B industry. And if you’re interested in hopping on the ABM train ahead of your competition, now’s the time to get started.

Published on: Nov 8, 2018
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