What Is Account-based Marketing?
Account-based marketing (or ABM for short) is a strategic marketing approach that focuses on targeting specific accounts or customers, rather than casting a wide net to attract as many leads as possible.
When we think of account-based marketing there are three words that immediately spring to mind:
ABM is a highly personalised and targeted marketing technique that involves tailoring marketing messages and campaigns to individual accounts to build great relationships. The goal of ABM is simple: to build stronger and more profitable relationships with key accounts.
What does account-based marketing involve?
ABM typically involves identifying a list of target accounts or customers, and then creating personalised messaging and content that speaks directly to their needs, challenges, and pain points. This content is delivered through a variety of channels, such as direct mail, email, social media (LinkedIn is a great place for ABM), and targeted advertising, to reach the right people in the organisation.
ABM is often used by B2B companies, where the sales process is longer and more complex, and where the value of each customer is typically much higher. By focusing on a smaller set of high-value accounts, ABM can help companies build stronger relationships with key decision-makers, improve customer loyalty, and ultimately drive more revenue and growth.
ABM can be used in different ways depending on the organisation’s goals. It could be used to drive lead generation by targeting high-value prospects to convert more leads and increase sales revenue. It could also be used as part of an account-level promotion strategy, such as offering discounts or loyalty rewards to existing clients in order to keep them engaged and loyal over time.
Additionally, ABM could also be used as part of a customer retention strategy by understanding what clients want from their vendor relationships and then delivering tailored experiences that meet those needs—such as personalised content or product recommendations based on previous interactions with the brand.
How to measure the success of your account-based marketing efforts
Marketers typically measure success with ABM by looking at metrics such as:
- Qualified leads generated from targeted accounts
- Conversion rate for each campaign
- Average customer lifetime value (LTV)
- Cost per acquisition (CPA)
- Return on investment (ROI)
- Total sales revenue generated
- Customer engagement levels
- Brand awareness among target customers
- Overall customer satisfaction ratings
The goal is usually to generate more qualified leads while reducing costs associated with marketing efforts—and ultimately driving higher sales revenues through increased conversions and better customer loyalty rates.
How to implement an effective account-based marketing strategy
Implementing a successful ABM strategy can be broken down into seven manageable steps:
Identify and prioritise high-value accounts: The first step in ABM is to identify and prioritise the accounts that are most valuable to your business. These may be accounts that have the potential to generate the most revenue, have a high lifetime value, or are strategic in other ways.
Define your ideal customer profile: Once you have identified your high-value accounts, it’s important to define your ideal customer profile (ICP). This involves creating a detailed description of the type of customer that is the best fit for your business, including their demographics, job title, pain points, challenges, and buying behaviours.
Research and understand your target accounts: In order to create effective and personalised messaging for your target accounts, it’s important to conduct research and gain a deep understanding of their business, challenges, goals, and pain points. This may involve conducting interviews, surveys, and other research methods.
Develop personalised messaging and content: Based on your research and understanding of your target accounts, create personalised messaging and content that speaks directly to their needs and challenges. This may involve creating targeted email campaigns, social media content, blog posts, and other types of content.
Engage with your target accounts: Use a variety of channels to engage with your target accounts and deliver your personalised messaging and content. This may include email, social media, direct mail, and targeted advertising.
Measure and analyse your results: As you engage with your target accounts, it’s important to track and measure your results to determine the effectiveness of your ABM strategy. This may involve tracking metrics such as engagement rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates.
Optimise and refine your strategy: Based on the data and insights you gather from measuring your results, continually optimise and refine your ABM strategy to improve its effectiveness. This may involve tweaking your messaging, adjusting your targeting, or experimenting with different channels and tactics.
By following these steps, you can implement an effective account-based marketing strategy that helps you build stronger and more profitable relationships with your high-value accounts.
How Catalyst use direct mail for account-based marketing
Direct mail remains a powerful and effective way to connect with potential customers and get past gatekeepers who may be blocking access to decision-makers. Direct mail allows businesses to stand out and capture the attention of recipients in a way that digital marketing simply can’t replicate.
By using personalised and creative direct mail campaigns, businesses can increase their chances of making a lasting impression and generating leads that can turn into loyal customers.
Always ones to think outside of the box, here are a few examples of how the team here at Catalyst have used direct mail to get attention:
One of our clients is a manufacturer of machinery that detects pressure leaks. We considered the types of direct mail and decided we wanted to do something completely out of the norm. So, after brainstorming with our client we decided to send a whole leek (yes, the vegetable) with the message “This is the only leak you’ll get from us”.
Safe to say this caught the attention of not only the recipient, but the whole office!
When promoting premium packaging services to a prospective client, it’s critical to stand out from the crowded market place. With creativity at the forefront of our minds, we came up with a direct mail campaign where we sent potential clients a bottle of pretend headache pills and the message “Let us remove the headache from your packaging process”.
Capturing the attention of the relevant contact within the business resulted in numerous conversations between the prospective accounts and our client and ended in additional new contracts.
We had a client who was looking to target a very niche category of accounts. After significant research about the target client, we were able to create a dual branded fake newspaper with headlines about the success the two had working together. Inside the newspaper was all the reasons they should consider working together, paying attention to their researched pain points and challenges.
The prospective accounts loved the time and effort of our client (us!) had gone into creating such a captivating campaign.
Another great example of account-based marketing
One well-known company that has successfully implemented ABM strategies is Adobe. Here is an example of how Adobe used ABM to target a high-value account:
Adobe targeted Microsoft as a high-value account to pursue. The goal was to sell Adobe’s Marketing Cloud to Microsoft, which was already an Adobe Creative Cloud customer. To achieve this goal, Adobe created a highly customised ABM campaign.
The first step was to research the account and gather insights into Microsoft’s business needs, goals, and pain points. Adobe used this information to tailor their messaging and content specifically for Microsoft.
Next, Adobe identified key decision-makers and influencers within Microsoft and created personalised communications for each individual. This included sending customised emails, creating personalised landing pages, and delivering highly targeted ads.
Adobe also organised a series of in-person events for Microsoft, including product demos and thought leadership sessions. These events were designed to showcase the value of Adobe’s Marketing Cloud and build relationships with key stakeholders.
Finally, Adobe’s sales team used ABM tactics to nurture relationships with Microsoft’s decision-makers and influencers, providing highly personalised support and guidance throughout the sales cycle.
As a result of this ABM campaign, Adobe was able to successfully sell their Marketing Cloud to Microsoft. This example shows how ABM can be an effective way to target high-value accounts, customise messaging and content, and build strong relationships with key decision-makers and influencers.
Is account-based marketing worth it?
Whether or not you should use account-based marketing strategies depends on your business goals, target audience, and resources. ABM can be a highly effective approach for targeting high-value accounts and building strong relationships with key decision-makers and influencers, but it may not be the right strategy for every business.
Here are some factors to consider when deciding if ABM is right for your business:
High-value accounts: If your business relies on a relatively small number of high-value accounts, then ABM can be an effective strategy for targeting those accounts with highly personalised content and engagement.
Complex sales cycles: If your sales cycle is complex and involves multiple decision-makers and influencers, then ABM can be an effective way to build relationships and guide prospects through the sales funnel.
Limited resources: ABM can be resource-intensive, requiring significant time, effort, and investment to create highly personalised content and campaigns. If you have limited resources, then a broader, less targeted approach may be more feasible.
Aligning sales and marketing: ABM requires close collaboration between sales and marketing teams to identify and target high-value accounts effectively. If your organisation has a strong sales and marketing alignment, then ABM can be an effective way to drive revenue growth.