Business-to-business companies all over the world are implementing an account-based marketing strategy. According to SiriusDecisions’ 2016 State of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Study, 27% of survey respondents said they were devoting between 11% and 30% of their total marketing budget to account-based marketing (ABM). As those marketers continue making that sort of investment, they’re seeing it pay dividends.
Almost 85% of B2B marketers who measure ROI describe account-based marketing as delivering higher returns than any other marketing approach, with half of those marketers citing significantly higher returns. In addition, sales and marketing teams that do account-based marketing align better than other organizations. According to Bizible, “marketers doing ABM are about 40% more likely to report alignment with their sales team compared to marketers not doing ABM.”
As we previously covered in this blog, it’s important to recognize that ABM is a strategy to brand, demand, and expand and that ABM performs for B2B marketers because the underlying marketing automation technology works to understand how B2B decisions are made. Corporate decisions are signed off on by a consensus of stakeholders. According to a recent Harvard Business Journal story, CEB found that the usual number is close to 5.4 decision-makers within an account.
The impact of an account-based marketing strategy shows in that area, as well as its positive ROI for money and time investment, means it will likely be sticking around. Yet, just like with other strategies, knowing some key tactics and best practices can help you ensure the best implementation. Here are five tips to consider when implementing an ABM strategy:
Gain necessary support for your account-based marketing strategy
Coordination across the organization is essential for a successful account-based marketing strategy. Sales and marketing in particular must be closely aligned—a fact backed by research by MarketingProfs. They found that companies with aligned marketing and sales departments on average generate 208% more revenue for their marketing efforts. But alignment is essential in more than just those two groups. Buy-in from the C-suite is also necessary for setting the expectations and advantages of ABM across functional groups.
Have the right data.
Data is at the center of implementing a productive ABM strategy. The cleaner and clearer the data provided, the more productive the system. Successful ABM relies heavily on constantly receiving correct, high-value data about target accounts. However, many companies find that is an area that’s ripe for improvement. In fact, 64% of B2B organizations cite improving data quality is their most challenging obstacle. But there are ways to bridge that data gap with the right technology.
Target and personalize.
ABM strategies encourage B2B marketers to focus on strategic accounts and the decision makers within them, rather than a broader approach. Marketers can customize their ABM programs to find specific account attributes tailored to their company’s differentiation points and value proposition. Once the account is targeted, B2B marketers can set out to develop the right content for the right decision maker at the right time. That presents a great opportunity to create the most impact; however, as pointed out earlier, each account often has more than one or two decision makers. These different contacts or accounts may require varied content. With the right platform, marketers can easily target and segment audiences based on customer profile or industry.
Have the right technology.
Ensuring the accuracy of data sets can hinge on selecting a top-tier B2B contact database provider that can give comprehensive information, in real time, on accounts. Predictive analytics can automatically identify new accounts by finding similar characteristics of existing customers. In addition, an effective marketing automation tool can allow marketers to create targeted content for each member listed on the account. That content then must be delivered to the right team member at the right time within the customer journey. Having the right marketing automation technology can help that along.
Measure, learn, optimize … and measure again.
ABM is not a set-it-and-forget-it strategy. It’s crucial to establish metrics for each account, measure the content and tactics for effectiveness against those metrics, and then reshape and adjust them as needed. Marketing teams can measure engagement and other critical success factors through methods such as account scoring, which give them keen insight into account health. Changing direction quickly and refining future campaigns based on these types of data will allow for the highest level of ABM success.
ABM encourages B2B marketers to focus on quality over quantity—that is, better leads and overall account health over number of leads and accounts. Having buy-in, solid data, the right technology, a targeted account list, and effective metrics will set the path towards success. Enacting an impactful ABM strategy will take time, thought, and targeted efforts, but the revenue and overall efficiency improvements make it well worth the work.
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