B2B and B2C marketing are highly different, in that B2C marketers focus on the end user, which is often just an individual customer, while a B2B marketing strategy targets an entire body of decision-makers that can include C-level executives, the purchasing department, and end users, among other stakeholders.
This fundamental difference is why account-based (ABM) marketing has grown in popularity among B2B sales and marketing teams over the years.
But what exactly is account-based marketing?
Account-based marketing (ABM), according to ITSMA, a B2B marketing organization believed to have coined the term in the early 2000s, simply means “treating individual accounts as markets in their own right.” The company adds: “Viewing individual accounts as entities similar to complex, multidimensional markets is
For marketing automation platform Marketo, ABM “is an alternative B2B strategy that concentrates sales and marketing resources on a clearly defined set of target accounts within a market and employs personalized campaigns designed to resonate with each account.”
Inbound marketing pioneer HubSpot says practically the same thing: “An organization takes an individual prospect or customer account -- these are companies, not individual people -- and treats it like its very own market, or a market of one.”
Meanwhile, Gartner says, “ABM combines B2B lead management and B2B relationship management techniques to grow LTV [customer lifetime value] by engaging accounts and individuals across all stages of the buying process.”
Both Marketo and HubSpot follow a defined six-step approach to an account-based marketing program:
- Identify your key accounts through market research, business intelligence, and firmographic data.
- Research how important decisions are made in each of your target organizations, including who the influencers and critical decision-makers are.
- Create content and personalize your messaging.
- Determine the best channels to promote your content.
- Run coordinated and targeted campaigns, ensuring aligned sales and marketing efforts, so you’re not sending differing signals to the same person within an account.
- Measure the results of your account-based marketing program and optimize them for future campaigns.
Account-based marketing tactics you can implement today
Now that we’ve defined what account-based marketing is and the steps involved in a winning ABM program, let’s talk about some of the tactics top marketing and sales teams use in their ABM campaigns.
Use combined sales and marketing data to identify your high-value accounts
Because your targets are organizations versus individual end users, defining your audience is a collaborative approach
Compile a list of role-based accounts
Once you’ve determined your target accounts, it’s time to create a contact database that matches names to their roles and responsibilities within the company, instead of just their designated titles. While it’s tempting to include as many names as possible into your list, remember that one relevant contact trumps a hundred or so non-relevant ones.
Ensure a personalized customer experience on your website and across all communication channels
Keep in mind that especially with account-based marketing campaigns, personalization must happen at every stage of the customer journey.
- Account-specific landing pages. Your landing pages should display custom copy, offers, images, and forms aimed explicitly at the person visiting the website. Think twice about showing the person’s name, though, as certain people find this too intrusive.
- Personalized email sequences. Ensure your email messages speak to your specific prospects and leads. To understand how your emails are performing, use tools such as
Pointfastfor insights into how recipients view your emails.
- Omnichannel experiences. Because people nowadays use a variety of devices and channels to communicate with brands, make sure that every customer touchpoint is seamless, pain-free, and reflective of your brand voice.
Come up with offers that will get your foot in the door
Create offers designed to initiate an initial meeting with your target audience. These include free assessments, quality scores, evaluations, demos, or consultations.
retargeting in content marketing
Your prospects consume web content. In fact, B2B buyers conduct 12 searches on average before they get in touch with a particular brand. Use retargeting/remarketing strategies to keep your brand in front of them.
Some retargeting platforms to check out include Google AdWords Remarketing, ReTargeter, and AdRoll.
Leverage the power of mentions
Most companies have social listening tools in place to monitor their mentions. Mentioning a brand within your blog’s content is one way to attract their attention and build relationships with them.
On Twitter, create a list of your target companies' leaders. Then publish social media posts that mention your prospects whenever appropriate. A social media mention also draws the attention of their extended network to your brand and content.
Use paid media to your advantage
Because of the various algorithm tweaks social media platforms have recently been conducting, it can become increasingly difficult to reach your target accounts organically.
Use paid media to your advantage through Facebook custom audiences, AdWords customer match advertising, Twitter-tailored audiences, and LinkedIn company targeting.
Test and measure your campaigns
Testing and measuring your campaigns are the only ways to improve them, so put the right metrics in place and ask the right questions when evaluating the ROI of your marketing efforts.
Analytics tools you can use to measure the success of your campaigns abound, and they include:
- Facebook Page Insights
- Twitter Analytics
- Google Analytics
At the core of it all, according to ITSMA, an ABM marketing tactic follows four underlying principles:
- Focuses on solving the prospect’s pain points
- Works best when sales and marketing teams collaborate
- Uses tailored campaigns and programs to spark interest and drive engagement
- Emphasizes relationships instead of revenue
Which account-based marketing tactics have you started implementing, so far?