Yesterday, I had a discussion with the Chief Revenue Officer of a modern managed service provider. The company is focused on cloud migration and hybrid cloud for its clients. Its customer segment is companies from 50 to 150 users, and the company has a unique SaaS tool that will fit client requirements. He told me, “Saher, there are only a hundred companies who could ever buy our product or service and we know everyone, and have the contact information for them. We just don’t know how to engage them.”
Quick rule of thumb: If your company is B2B, has a long sales cycle, and relies on those bluebird deals each quarter to make or break your forecast for the year, then Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a strategy you should consider.
Account-Based Marketing is a good alternative when you have a limited number of prospects to engage, and the final sale will have the highest value and matter the most.
There are many definitions for ABM, and many marketing automation companies will insist that it is technology. However, ABM is more of a philosophy for how you are going to engage targeted companies.
It includes the same elements of the comprehensive marketing plan: inbound marketing, content marketing, earned media, and outbound marketing. The difference between ABM and comprehensive marketing is the size of the net you cast and the degree of personalization you extend. But, let’s simplify it: instead of giving a lead score for a prospect, you can give a composite lead score for a full account with five different decision makers. In the C-Suite, the distinction between who is accountable for a decision, who makes the decision, and who is involved in a decision can become blurry. An ABM program identifies all the relevant players in a company and sets forth a strategy for engaging each one.
ABM is a collaborative effort that brings sales and marketing together to cooperatively create emotional and intellectual touch points with each key persona in the targeted company.
An ABM is a hyper-personalized strategy that focuses your marketing and sales efforts on a limited set of accounts, rather than trying to market yourself over a broad spectrum of organizations. Personalized marketing campaigns, including customized webinars, landing pages, blogs, and email on topics specifically geared toward the targeted prospects are all key to ABM.
The effort for these limited accounts is all-encompassing. You provide a seamless marketing experience through as many channels and on as many devices as the C-Suite and company influencers use.
No marketing channels are off-limits. It is a metric-driven formula where you test all the channels for each buyer persona and focus on those that deliver results. These channels include all the traditional channels that are in a comprehensive inbound marketing plan, as discussed earlier. Within each company, there will be some buyer personas that are not representative of a group of people, but of a single individual. This allows you to create relevant content that is unique to that particular person.
To ensure that the information is timely and relevant, you need to engage in social intelligence to monitor every challenge, initiative, or success the company or the buyer persona may encounter. Your content department and social media groups need to be prepared to respond as quickly as deemed appropriate. What makes ABM so different is the degree of personalization. We are not talking about just inserting the name of the individual in an email. Instead, consider landing pages or microsites that are geared toward a different account with a personalized URL.
Marketers must have the appropriate technological resources to gather information across marketing, web, and operations systems. From a marketing automation standpoint, this means focusing on IP address, email, and cookies to target each account. This ensures that the most relevant information is delivered to the right person at the right time.
While there are companies with ABM-specific software platforms, HubSpot’s marketing automation platform can be readily used for ABM initiatives. In fact, HubSpot has been adding features that make it easier to implement an ABM program, such as business intelligence tools and paid ad integration with LinkedIn and Google Adwords.
More recently, HubSpot made a significant move to showcase how HubSpot marketing automation platform can effectively be engaged for Account-Based Marketing. As a HubSpot partner supporting clients in the USA and Canada, we have used some of these tools, and have found that with some dedication and focus, they can bring the results that you are looking for. Gone are the days where a CMO and their team needed to spend days trying to prepare a report for the CEO to show ROI.
ABM can be an effective approach when you know all the players and the possible win is big. Because you are providing each member of the C-Suite with personalized information that pertains to their pain points and concerns, it shows that you are a more credible solution and produces fewer objections.
If you are VAP or MSP/SaaS provider, we would love to hear your comments about ABM.