Account-Based Marketing (ABM) for B2B Businesses – A Complete Guide

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) copy

‘The concept of Marketing is an ever-evolving myth’ – especially in the Business-to-Business (B2B) segment, and new ideas are generating every day, some of them become trending for shorter or longer periods of time. One of those ideas is ‘Account-Based Marketing or ABM’, which, however silently has been used as a marketing strategy for the last 15 years (pioneered by ITSMA in 2004); but its importance and effectivities have been idealized in recent past in terms of delivering very personalized, relevant campaigns to highly niche and customized audiences (called strategic audience).

In fact, a study from SiriusDecisons explains that ABM is considered as the prime marketing strategy by 92% of B2B marketers.

At INSYNC, we have successfully implemented Account-Based Marketing and that has helped us reach the metrics set in our marketing goals. We have been able to target more and better prospects and offer unique experiences via the ABM strategies. These strategies have worked for us and here’s a glimpse of how we, as a B2B organization that enables digital commerce and growth, have achieved it. And by following these steps, you can too!

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This article will cover all the following 13 topics in detail. Go through them and implement the same for your own business to see the skyrocketing growth in terms of revenue:

  • Account-Based Marketing/ABM – The Definition
  • ABM Importance for B2B Businesses
  • The Key Benefits of ABM Methods
  • To Whom it’s Ideal & Identical to Use as Business Strategy
  • Some Common Mistakes to Avoid while Structuring ABM Methods
  • ABM Best Practices
  • Grab New markets using ABM Strategies
  • Generating B2B Leads using ABM Methods
  • Importance of Content Creation Dedicated to ABM
  • ABM Automation – Importance for B2B Businesses
  • ABM Database Creation – It’s Importance & Effectiveness
  • Data Quality – Importance & Accountability for ABM
  • How to Use Intent Data to Bring More B2B Qualified Leads
  • ABM Tools you Should be Using in 2021

Let’s elaborate on all the above topics in detail below.

Account-Based Marketing/ABM – The Definition

This is a holistic marketing strategy or approach that is specifically built on a set of target accounts on specific industry verticals, with personalized campaigns constructed to engage segregated attributes and needs of every account from every industry vertical.

E.g. If you have 3 sets of industry verticals like Sports & Sporting Goods, Medicine & Healthcare, Beauty/Personal Care, then your messaging will be completely personalized for all the mentioned industry verticals and you must have specifically targeted accounts called ‘Strategic Accounts’ for each vertical to reach them with personalized content.

Unlike the traditional marketing approach, ABM will produce higher revenues in a quicker time frame if the campaigns are designed tactically.

abm-1Source: DRIFT

As Traditional Marketing works on a large dataset to generate qualified leads, ABM is just the reverse approach to focus on a smaller and specific dataset/key accounts and Marketers work with Sales & Customer Success teams in a collaborating environment on those identified datasets with tailored campaigns to generate much higher business revenue.

ABM Importance for B2B Businesses

As a B2B company when you face certain challenges through traditional marketing approaches, then and then only ABM helps you to come out of the impending problems to see exponential business growth. When you face certain restrictions in different areas like:

  • Customer Acquisition & Retention flow
  • Constructing right messaging for right buyer persona/prospects/accounts
  • Idealizing personified marketing approach over mass marketing methodologies
  • Acquisition of short-staying but profitable customers
  • Alignment of sales & marketing goals in a better way

ABM comes into the play immediately to help your business to overcome the above-mentioned difficulties and challenges, through engaging and nurturing a specific set of target accounts and the key decision-makers within those accounts.

Oracle and Argyle have recently conducted a study among B2B marketers, 48% of the respondents accept that ABM is a highly operative tool, and 16% think that ABM is critical to the accomplishment of a business.

The Key Benefits of ABM Methods

To reach the right prospects at the right time and engage with the right set of messaging to earn the right kind of attention from them, is what all Account-Based Marketing is about. The benefits are described below:

Sales & Marketing Team Alignment

Both teams play a pivotal role in business growth for any B2B company. Once they are aligned properly, the company must observe a higher growth rate in revenue, deal size & brand awareness. The following numbers say all about it:

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Source: SuperOffice

With the ABM approach, the focus is shifted to close every single identified account, which means the sales & marketing team should work in tandem to a common business goal. The marketing team will focus on the messaging and reach-out approaches to already known accounts to generate much-trusted leads, and the sales team will immediately jump onto it to nurturing based on past history, rather than wasting time to build a relationship with the new lead from the beginning.

Higher Return on Investment (ROI)

ROI is always the end objective for any business to run successfully, and when it comes to B2B businesses, the Research by ITSMA found that 87% of marketers that measure ROI say that ABM outclasses every other marketing investment! The following graphical representations say all about the same:

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Source: marketing charts

Increased Revenue

Not only does ABM help align sales and marketing teams and produce a higher ROI, but it’s also been proven to increase revenue significantly.

A study was conducted by SiriusDecisions, and it was observed that 91% of companies using ABM were able to increase their average deal size, with 25% of respondents stating the increase being over 50% or larger!

The below graph shows the most critical factors that drive Account-Based Marketing Success:

abm-4

Source: Digital Marketing Community

To Whom it’s Ideal & Identical to Use as Business Strategy

It’s easy to say ABM is not for every marketer and every organization, but the question is: who should spend time and money on this ever-evolving marketing technique?

The answer lies in some facts & research. Based on many generalized studies, it’s been observed that this highly focused and niche marketing approach and detailed strategy should only be implemented for the organizations who are basically Business-to-Business focused and trying to grow their business based on selective strategic accounts & contacts identified by the decision-makers of that organization, rather than targeting huge chunk of data through ad hoc marketing methods.

If an organization wants growth from ABM methodologies, then the entire organization must work on a collaborating environment to identify strategic accounts, sketch action items, execute action items and engage with the decision-makers with those strategic accounts to make the entire exercise successful. It’s time taking for the obvious reason but will give you a huge positive dividend as an end goal.

Usually, if you target some big known accounts and have a sizable database to work on, then ABM is apt for your business as it always required significant manpower and resources to be involved for a longer period.

Some Common Mistakes to Avoid while Structuring ABM Methods

As a strategic marketer focusing on ABM to create success stories for your business/organization, you must remember that there are 3 different tires involved in the ABM approach depicted through the below graphical representation:

abm-5

Source: Grow digitally

Still, marketers are prone to mistakes while executing the Account-Based approaches. Companies leveraging ABM without these mistakes can easily outperform their competitors and make huge revenues. The common mistakes are mentioned below:

  • No Visibly Defined Strategy
  • Lack of Precise Market Analysis
  • Considering Only Sales Team in Making Account Selection Happens at The Start of ABM Program
  • Lack of Operative Account Personalisation
  • Neglect of Contacts
  • Failure to Perform Periodical Audit Based on Measurable KPIs

In addition to this, ensure to streamline your data infrastructure to ensure that information across the departments can be pooled together for trend analysis and process optimization.

ABM Best Practices

You need to master some of the Account-Based Marketing best practices to run the entire process smoothly and successfully. Some of them are mentioned below:

  • Identifying high-intent & large-value audiences
  • Ponder over the pain points that your strategic customer is currently facing, rather than poking with the traditional sales pitch
  • Engage in strategic communication with the set of defined accounts
  • Intelligently research and choose few channels for communications. LinkedIn plays a pivotal role while ABM is considered.
  • Measure, track and optimize your ABM campaign when it requires

Below diagram will guide you to choose strategies, tactics & actions you must take for a successful ABM campaign:

abm-6

Source: Demandbase

Grab New markets using ABM Strategies

Identification and penetration of the target market is the most crucial part of ABM exercises for any organization. Finding the right contact from the right account in a new market can sometimes be challenging for both the Marketing & Sales team without proper access to the types of information that will help them to make data-driven decisions with their set methods or approaches.

E.g for an organization selling SaaS-based software or any high-value data integration products, the team should concentrate on identifying accounts that have the capability to afford the high-value product with a real business need. If this crucial research is addressed with proper guidance, then the organization can easily grab the new targeted market and convert the accounts.

Generating B2B Leads using ABM Methods

ABM needs an accounts-specific approach by studying new accounts – its firmographic & demographic behaviors to put the bet in it. Once properly done, the marketers will be easily able to pick those marketing activities that will yield them success in the longer run.

Below are some tips & tricks to generate qualified B2B leads through your approach:

  • Build a list of target accounts
  • Ask your sales team to provide a list of accounts and put your list together
  • Focus on identifying the key stakeholders from the combined list
  • Use data to generate a list of target accounts that fit a predetermined set of firmographic parameters like industry, growth stage, revenue tier and technology adoption
  • Leverage predictive analytics to distinguish the attributes of your best customers and build a list of pre-qualified ranked accounts
  • Aggressively target companies and their decision-makers
  • Generate new target account-based leads
  • Importance of Content Creation Dedicated to ABM

Importance of Content Creation Dedicated to ABM

Content is always the king when it comes to the traditional approach in marketing. But content is an emperor when it comes to the Account-Based marketing approach as well. Personalized and relevant content is the key essence of ABM. More personal to a certain business vertical, more buyers from the same persona will engage with the content and think around the buying decision.

Demand Gen Report survey has found that 95% of B2B buyers choose a solution provider that “provided them with ample content to help navigate through each stage of the buying process.”

Types of content that bring success to your business through the ABM model are:

  • Long and well-researched articles – more than 2000 words with a thoroughly researched approach
  • Tailored to a specific industry, roles, or accounts
  • Industry/technology-specific case studies, white papers, e-books that are problem-solving for a specific set of accounts/contacts will be more engaged with the buyer’s persona.

E.g., Let’s target an account which is a mid-level enterprise having 100 employees and serving in the IT vertical, the relevant content on the following topic can help them to engage deeply and boost their buying decision (considering the decision-makers of that account have the real need & budget in mind):

  • XX reasons why IT companies choose your software/product
  • XX ways IT companies shortlist vendors
  • XX ways IT companies will be benefited from your software/product
  • Top XX technology trends based on the leading IT companies

Also, CRM is a great tool to research a set of customers and their journey to decide how they are engaging with your software/product and execute content based on their tailored need to feed them the right type of information.

Let’s jump into the below diagram to understand the proper content lifecycle for an organization considering ABM as their primary source of earning potential business revenues:

abm-7

Source: Chatter Buzz

ABM Automation – Importance for B2B Businesses

When it comes to working on a selective set of accounts & contacts and on a long list of industry-specific datasets, manual effort in every step sometimes can burn your energy out and make you less productive. There comes the ‘Process Automation” part, which helps you to reduce manual effort at every step and simplify the process.

A lot of reputed CRM automation tools are available in the market, which will help you to set up your ABM strategies effortlessly. Dynamics 365 CRM, Hubspot, Salesforce all have a defined set of workflow templates to characterize your ICP (Ideal Customer Profiles) and leverage the benefits from them.

ABM Database Creation – It’s Importance & Effectiveness

When it comes to successful ABM campaigns, inbound and outbound data are the most effective things to discuss, as they play a critical role for the marketing and sales team when they align for a common goal. Two types of data are of most importance for the foundation, CRM data and Database you have built with a huge effort. Proper data analysis will help you to implement a market segmentation strategy, personalized content to target every segment to influence the decision-makers.

Without properly segmented data, it’s impossible to get success out of your campaign. Every step you implement in ABM is data-driven. Feeble, messy, untrustworthy data only can take your valuable time without any great achievements.

Inbound data – It comes from the huge volume of leads you generate through the inbound marketing campaigns and is successfully stored in the CRM your organization is using. Your sales team starts engaging right from the beginning of the lead generates. 10-15% of leads matured every month and 2-3% of them enter the next level of discussion. Your CRM stores all the inbound leads and their journey. When the marketing and sales teams sit together with a huge set of data to sort them based on different criteria; a clear picture comes out to help to construct the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) for better designing of the campaign.

Outbound data – This data you must create with a huge effort & time. Based on your target industry, Geolocation, Company revenue, Technology used, certain criteria on Decision Makers, Seniority Level, Employee strength; you need to find out data using different data finding tools used in ABM. One of the greatest tools is LinkedIn Sales Navigator (https://www.linkedin.com/sales/) which is a paid tool and helps you to create a lot of data based on different criteria you set as your campaign goal. You can use the ‘Advance Filtering’ option based on certain Accounts or Leads criteria to identify the ICP for your campaign objectives.

Look at the below examples:

Saved Account Searches -:

abm-8

Saved Lead Searches -:

abm-9

Examples of Lead filter (Advance Filtering) in Sales Navigator -:

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Examples of Account filter (Advance Filtering) in Sales Navigator -:

abm-11

Both the above filtering options will serve all your purpose to build the ICP through Outbound ABM activities.

Data Quality – Importance & Accountability for ABM

It’s not only about the data, but the quality, accountability & importance that matters for a successful ABM campaign to an organization. You can generate hundreds of thousands of leads through your inbound and outbound efforts and put them into a CRM system, but you must pick only a few hundred of quality data to work in a collaborative environment and nurture to the next level to convert some of them.

Some criteria to choose the right & quality data from a huge chunk for your campaign goal are mentioned below:

  • Industry
  • Company size
  • Revenue
  • Location
  • Budget
  • Average purchase size
  • What technologies do they use

If you can filter your data strictly based on the above criteria, then your ICP will be the most fruitful asset that you build, and it will serve as the blueprint for your objective.

How to Use Intent Data to Bring More B2B Qualified Leads

I have already discussed much on the importance of data for ABM, but there is another type of data called the ‘Intent Data’, which plays a huge role in the success story of any ABM campaign for your organization.

What is Intent Data & B2B Intent Data?

It’s some pieces of information you gather about your web content’s behavior or consumption of the same. From these characteristics of your content consumers, you can get insights into their interests and finally, you can be able to take measurable actions based on it. When you get data about your buyers or a particular set of buyers, it’s called B2B Intent Data.

How to Use Intent Data?

You can use these sorts of data in different ways as mentioned below:

  • Distinguish potential customers who haven’t yet been involved with you yet
  • Nurture known leads with personalized emails
  • Arrange inbound leads based on engagement
  • Personalize your website experience for unidentified visitors

Why it’s Important for ABM?

This data will provide you a vivid scenario on the right prospects looking for the right kind of offerings you already have. You must know the type of messages and contents they are searching for on the web platform, and you can feed them the same to engage in a better way. It also put your business ahead of your competition by forming a strong relationship with the ideal prospects

It’s not always a sweet story, sometimes different challenges can appear while handling intent data.

The below diagram shows it as well:

abm-12

It’s the sole responsibility of the marketers to identify the challenges, contest them and win with proper strategies. If the approach is fine, it can help you to generate more B2B qualify leads for your organization.

13 ABM Tools you Should be Using in 2021

There are a lot of tools available in the market which will help you in different parts of your campaign strategies. Below are the top 13 tools that you can use in 2021 onwards:

ABM Tool Pricing Rating
LeadGenius Upon request 4.5/5 stars on G2Crowd (based on 2 reviews)
Datanyze Upon request 4.1/5 stars on G2Crowd (based on 355 reviews)
Owler Free 4.2/5 stars on G2Crowd (based on 28 reviews)
ZoomInfo Free trial, pricing upon request 4.2/5 stars on G2Crowd (based on 778 reviews)
LinkedIn Free N/A
Adobe Campaign Upon request 4.0/5 stars on G2Crowd (based on 262 reviews)
ActiveDemand Free trial, pricing upon request 4.5/5 stars on G2Crowd (based on 53 reviews)
Seismic Upon request 4.6/5 stars on G2Crowd (based on 165 reviews)
Marketo Upon request 4.1/5 stars on G2Crowd (based on 1,624 reviews)
Radius Free demo 3.9/5 stars on G2Crowd (based on 15 reviews)
Demandbase Upon request 4.0/5 stars on G2Crowd (based on 35 reviews)
6sense Upon request 3.9/5 stars on G2Crowd (based on 51 reviews)
Apollo Upon request 4.5/5 stars on G2Crowd (based on 50 reviews)

Hope you have patiently gone through all the points described in this article, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Now it’s time to implement in your own organization to reap the benefits.

Ecommerce is speeding up more than ever and the thing that will keep growing distributors like you ahead in the game is how quickly B2B buyers can make a purchase online from your webstore and how well you can deliver the experience they are looking for!

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