It’s not an easy time to be a b2b marketer. The sector is grappling with several challenges right now. Acquisition costs are rising across the industry. And everybody is trying the same tactics, which is ironic if you’re trying to stand out from the crowd.
The way most marketers are attempting to garner leads today is through content. But now the web is saturated with low quality writing on your specialist subject, which makes the buying process harder than ever for your potential clients to navigate. You want that customer experience to be as good as you can get it. And that’s where account based marketing (or ABM) comes in.
What is account-based marketing?
Account based marketing (ABM) is all about making your product more relevant to the buyer and ensuring they’re aware of it. You focus on the companies you really want to work with, and make them come to you via personalised messaging. It can lead to bigger deals and longer contracts.
It’s not a new idea – ABM has been around since the early 90s. But only now is technology making it truly accessible for businesses of all sizes.
I used to get so fed up with the mountains of emails I’d receive, which were full of content that essentially told me nothing. Most followed the latest best practice template that made it easy to ignore. It just felt like a huge waste of time. Then it hit me: I can’t be the only one who feels this way. I was determined to find something better.
So I started a company which aimed to show only the best pieces of content to buyers in different industries. Unfortunately, though, no one would pay for it! Instead, I looked to achieve the same thing on the seller side. Account based marketing (ABM) was the answer.
ABM does not do away with content. Instead it teats content differently. In some ways, ABM is the antithesis to the e-book. Before, you’d ask your potential customer to spend a heap of time (that they don’t have) decoding your sales pitch. But with ABM, you take only the relevant snippets and put them in front of the buyer. They instantly think: “that’s my problem – and this company can solve it”. You get companies (or accounts) to understand your company better, faster.
And it gives you more control over who comes to you. Previously, for the most part it is first come first served when it comes to leads – whether your lead was worth £1,000 or £10,000. With ABM, who the company is, matters. You do your research and identify the companies you really want. This can have huge results. We’ve found that deals are at least twice as likely to close with ABM versus non-ABM. But even better, the average contract value was six and a half times higher on average.
Bringing sales and marketing together
Relations between sales and marketing teams haven’t historically been the most harmonious. But it’s critical if you’re going after higher-value accounts, you need to get your sales team on board early on.
Work together to identify the accounts you want to target, all the way through to close. This could be a culture clash at first, but I promise it’s worth it. Getting sales on-board often requires small steps. One we find works well is with our advertising platform that allows you to target departments at companies of your choosing. Sales always have a list of companies in mind that they’d really like to win. And if you asked sales ‘what if we could put personalised advertising in front of each of those companies?’, it’s really hard for them to turn around and say ‘no’.
But it’s not a silver bullet
Of course, switching everything you do across to ABM is not something I’d recommend. Whilst I strongly believe that ABM will produce increasing percentages of overall pipeline, that is not the case for most companies today. The sales team still needs to meet their targets in the short term. The trick is to allocate some time to ABM, but not all of it. It’s also something that takes time to ramp up and build. It requires a lot of testing and learning. But over time, it gets better and better.
How do you get started?
Talking to your sales team about account based marketing is the best first step. They already think in an account based way so you will already be talking their language. You’ll want to work out which companies you most want to target and the best ways of reaching them. Selecting the full list will come from a range of sources not just sales. Then, explore your technology capabilities and think about how best to integrate ABM in your existing strategy. Insight is critical. What are the milestones that will move you closer to closing deals with the businesses you really want?