How to Build an Effective B2B Account Based Marketing Strategy

February 26, 2018 | by Lara S. Triozzi

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Account based marketing (ABM) is creating major buzz in the B2B sales and marketing space, and for good reason.

In contrast to traditional marketing or inbound marketing, ABM takes a focused approach to attracting leads that results in larger deals and shorter sales cycles. 87% of account-based marketers say ABM delivers higher ROI than other types of marketing.

Sounds good, right? For B2B businesses, sales cycles often take months, or even years, to close, and it’s only getting harder to capture the attention of decision-makers who could benefit from your product or services. Never fear — an ABM strategy may be just what you need to reach high-level buyers in a difficult market.

What is Account Based Marketing?

The name itself gives you a hint. Account based marketing is a strategy for creating personalized outreach campaigns targeted at a specific company, or account, you’ve been hoping to break into. It’s different than broad lead generation campaigns, where you aim to attract people to your website, have them fill out a form, and then follow-up with leads to nurture and convert them to sales.

Rather than attracting leads to you, account based marketing reverses the process by going straight to the prospects you want to close. It’s highly-targeted work that starts with researching specific companies and the decision-makers within an organization.

Once you know who you’re working with, the next step is to develop a relationship with them through content and messaging designed to address their individual needs and pain points. By focusing outreach on your biggest opportunities with the highest revenue potential, marketing teams set their sales counterparts up for success and drive significant revenue for the company.

It takes a lot of time, effort and skill to get ABM right. You’re basically building a relationship from scratch, after all. But that personalized outreach brings significant results for B2B businesses.

Why Account Based Marketing Works for B2B Businesses

Today, it’s the buyer who’s in control of the sales process. Account based marketing tackles this trend by helping organizations reach buyers exactly where they are in the sales cycle. Here are four main benefits.

1. Generates better quality leads

Because account based marketing is laser-focused, companies automatically start out with high-quality targets to nurture. Your don’t have to filter through all of your inbound leads. From the beginning, you are focusing energy on pre-qualified prospects. These are people you have already researched and identified as good candidates for your product or service.

2. It’s personal

Buyers require more touch points than ever before talking to sales. But it’s not just the quantity of outreach that makes a difference, it’s also the quality. This is one reason why account based marketing is especially effective for B2B businesses.

ABM allows you to build relationships and share your brand’s unique perspective, expertise, and solutions in a way that meets your target customers’ specific needs. A whopping 95% of buyers said that the solution provider they chose provided them with ample content throughout the buying process. Your job is to provide helpful content that will help them make a decision about whether or not to invest in what you have to offer.

3. Brings together marketing and sales efforts

One of the biggest challenges companies face is the hand-off of marketing leads to sales. There is a problematic gap in the process, where leads that come in are not yet ready to convert, but would be if they received systematic outreach.

ABM helps sales and marketing teams work together more efficiently because both are focused on targeting key accounts. Rather than focusing on raising awareness alone, with ABM, marketers focus on building engagement and relationships with a particular account, just like sales teams do. When sales and marketing teams are in sync, companies become 67% better at closing deals.

4. Improves efficiency and ROI

Account based marketing is especially efficient because your efforts are focused as well as optimized for specific accounts. No wasted resources or personnel hours. You know what you are putting in and what you expect in return.

ABM also leads to significantly higher ROI. The targeted approach to lead generation and nurturing means faster conversions to sales. Not only that, by focusing on accounts with high-revenue potential, when you do land a sale, you win big.

4 Steps to Effective B2B Account Based Marketing

Account based marketing is highly effective, but you have to put in the work to see results. Here’s how to get started.

Identify and research your target

The first step is to clearly define your ideal client profile and then use those criteria to build out a list of companies you want to target. This is called your “total addressable market.” Market research is a valuable way to establish this list as you look to identify the highest-quality prospects. You’ll want to collect background information on the company itself, like its size, location and revenue, to help you determine a good fit.

The most difficult, but possibly the most crucial, next step is identifying the individuals within the organization that are truly driving buying decisions. In today's corporate environment, more often there are multiple people who have to formally sign off on a major purchase, and you need to know who all of those stakeholders are. The payoff for your effort is knowing that your message will be getting to the right audience.

Create and distribute targeted content

Once your audience is built, let the relationship building begin. Now is your time to develop new content addressed directly to the companies and decision-makers you’ve identified as your target audience.

You can use email campaigns and content on your website to create awareness. This is your opportunity to establish a one-way dialogue as you put relevant information in the hands of these potential buyers. Your goal is to become their trusted resource for all things related to the subject matter.

Engage with prospects that interact with your content

Every time a prospect interacts with your content, collect that data and use it to continue to build out their profile. Each click, open or download is a piece of intelligence into a prospect’s stage in the sales cycle.

If you see a prospect interacting with a specific type of content, send them more of the same! Or offer content on a related topic. The goal of your communication with decision-makers is to provide a message about your offering that will resonate by addressing their pain points. When they do, take note.

Convert educated buyers at the right time

Educated buyers are more likely to convert to a sales meeting. Keep the dialogue going with personalized touch points to build reputation and trust, and convert to a sales opportunity when it is clear that need and timing have aligned.

B2B Account Based Marketing: A Case Study

A Fortune 1,000 company with a high-profile learning and leadership development content platform added more than $5 million additional dollars to their sales pipeline with account based marketing. The company wanted to focus on reaching a small group of high-priority accounts with messaging that felt personal and customized to their specific needs. They used the following plan, built on account based marketing best practices, to reach their target market:

  • Identify new decision makers inside each account
  • Push out thought leadership content and follow up to gauge interest and current needs
  • Develop inbound leads scored through an email automation campaign
  • Book introductory meetings with pre-qualified prospects for the sales directors
  • Pull prospects back into a nurture campaign if they did not move forward in the sales cycle

By following these five steps, the company was able to convert 26% of their target accounts to introductory meetings. Their success through account based marketing added significant revenue potential.

Nearly 2/3 of B2B marketers identify engaging key decision makers as their top challenge. At MarketLauncher, we use account based marketing to help companies reach executives and c-suite level buyers. Our specialists are subject-matter experts in a variety of industries, so we understand what you're up-against and how best to engage buyers at the right place and time.

Ready to drive more sales with account based marketing? Learn more about our approach.

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