What role does an ABM play
Account Based Marketing and Marketing Automation for targeted B2B marketing
Account Based Marketing, ABM for short, is a special form of marketing in the B2B segment. In contrast to conventional segmentation and campaign creation, ABM understands each company as an independent market. This results in new strategic and tactical opportunities, including deals a complex set of people involved in the purchasing process (Buyer Center). Marketing automation is essential in order to efficiently implement account-based marketing and individual communication. This blog shows what is important.
What is Account Based Marketing?
As the entirety of the possible contact persons and persons in charge of a company, the account represents the recipient of all marketing measures. For each company, relevant data must be researched in advance. This not only includes the names of the contact persons and their data, but also a complex buyer team personawhich must be identifiable in the database. The contact information that is available as completely as possible therefore forms the basis of such B2B advertising campaigns that are created for each company. ITSMA.com defines ABM as follows
“(...) more than a sales or marketing approach. It is a collaborative strategy that includes sales, marketing, specialist specialists and delivery specialists. Also involved are decision-makers in connection with the selected customer accounts, who determine where and how the customers' individual business challenges should best be met. Through deep insight into the target company and its goals, this collaborative team can ideally coordinate a marketing and sales campaign on a single target account. "
Account Based Marketing bundles the marketing strategy for the target company and addresses known leads in a targeted and individualized manner. It goes without saying that marketing automation in this context leads to greater efficiency through automation.
Where does ABM come from?
Even if ABM in the true sense of the word has only actually been efficiently feasible in recent years due to the new technical basis, it is by no means a new idea. As early as the early 1990s, ABM was being used as a strategy that saw marketing and sales working together with a company's key accounts. With this idea, ABM has helped numerous companies to think further than just to the end: The actual customer needs come to the fore through this consideration. The following graphic gives a brief outline of the history of ABM:
Strategic ABM, ABM Lite or Hybrid ABM?
ABM strategies are as diverse as their target accounts. The variant already described here, namely treating a target company as an independent market, corresponds to the classic ABM definition of ITSMA. For technology providers, this approach shapes the understanding of ABM today. However, because of the high effort involved in 1: 1 communication with each target company, strategic ABM is best suited for a maximum of 50 accounts. The increasing spread of ABM has favored a further differentiation into two further ABM strategies.
In contrast to strategic ABM, ABM Lite is aimed at a manageable group of similar target accounts. So a small but highly relevant segment is being processed with an ABM campaign. Similar business attributes, challenges and initiatives are suitable, among other things, as a common basis for ABM Lite account clusters. The relevance of these selected target customers may not be as high as with the strategic ABM. However, between 5 and 10 companies can be treated with ABM campaigns in this way. However, the use of software is also worthwhile in such a micro-segment in order to reach potential customers. The big advantage of ABM Lite is that the exact segmentation on such a small scale allows you to concentrate on the common, highly relevant content.
Hybrid ABM also works with segmentation and can address thousands of accounts. Industry affiliation or other criteria such as region, technical equipment and others can serve as a basis. The limitation to a few of these criteria sharpens the target group and thus also makes the processing of several thousand accounts a promising plan. Hybrid ABM only unfolds its full effect in combination with modern targeting, analytics and a high level of personalization. Employees who are recognized from the target accounts can then be provided with industry-specific content. With the hybrid ABM approach, a smooth transition to classic B2B marketing can take place in individual cases.
How does ABM improve marketing strategy?
ABM content is usually considered more individual and clever than the content of conventional advertising campaigns. Because of the broad database, ABM content can actually serve in particular to attract the attention of the person addressed. The chances of interaction are higher, as is the bond created and the chance of being able to identify contact information. But before such individual content can be created, a solid basis must first be in place. Account Based Marketing requires a lot of work up front, especially as complete a database as possible. The cooperation and joint alignment of the marketing and sales departments is crucial for success at ABM. The marketing department informs the sales team about the necessary measures. This is done with activity and tracking data, as well as with lead scoring, data analysis and other indicators. The sales team can therefore use this information to approach a sale directly or make an appointment at the right time. Deals come about through the skillful use of individual data for targeting and nurturing.
What are the advantages of Account Based Marketing?
Conventional lead generation tries to filter leads from the broad mass of potential customers and prospects. This inevitably leads to wastage, which ultimately strains the marketing budget. With its precise coordination with individual accounts, Account Based Marketing offers several advantages over conventional lead generation in the B2B segment:
6 advantages of ABM:
- Clearly recognizable ROI: Account Based Marketing delivers the highest ROI compared to other B2B marketing strategies. Since the number of accounts is more manageable than with conventional inbound campaigns, it is much easier to determine the exact ROI for each individual campaign.
- Minimized waste of marketing resources: Exact coordination with the target accounts enables resources to be used so precisely that ABM does not lead to waste. Scatter losses are minimized, and financial and human resources are used as efficiently as possible.
- Personalized and optimized: All communication with the account is maximally personalized, which significantly increases the likelihood of interaction. Due to the high degree of personalization, ABM is ideally tailored to the recipients, their business needs and their current stage in the customer journey. Design and content are personalized for all channels in order to further increase the recognition value.
- Easier measurement: Account Based Marketing makes it easier to measure success. Ultimately, it is important to only keep an eye on the more manageable numbers of a smaller, but highly relevant number of accounts.
- Easier coordination with the sales team: For efficient ABM, marketing has to approach the selected accounts with the thinking of the sales team. This makes it easier for both departments to work closely together and ensures greater efficiency.
- Optimized customer experience: Each touchpoint develops the account further in the ABM approach and enables ever better personalization by intensifying the relationship. The ever more precise relevance in turn leads to an improved user experience.
The numbers also prove marketing with ABM right:
- 80% of those responsible for marketing state that ABM measures are often much more efficient than conventional marketing for B2B lead generation (source: Marketo)
- 92% of companies recognize the value of ABM as an indispensable B2B marketing strategy (source: SiriusDecisions study "The 2015 State of Account-Based Marketing Study")
- 97% of those responsible for marketing agree that ABM usually generates a significantly higher ROI compared to other marketing strategies (source: Marketo)
- Companies that use ABM for their marketing can expect 208% more earnings (source: MarketingProfs)
Key ABM functions
Marketing Automation can not only collect the necessary data for ABM itself, but also take on numerous additional important functions. ABM can only achieve the desired success through automation. Drip campaigns for all individual leads are characteristic of ABM measures. With multiple marketing funnels for separate leads the behavior can also be precisely anticipated. Even after the conclusion, a customer remains part of the maintenance measures of the ABM campaign. Marketing automation software can also take over the design of the relationship through the entire customer cycle.
Complete data, and especially tracking data, are critical to ABM's success. Tracking data ensures the automated control of the measures, also sends drip messages and specific touchpoints at the right time. The more data there is for the individual accounts, the higher the possible degree of personalization of the ABM campaigns. Targeting, messages and the entire marketing will become much more precise as a result. Such ABM campaigns create the ideal starting point for calls and actual meetings. With the data it collects itself, marketing automation software helps identify the buying team right from the start.
Contact the buying team
It also plays a very important role to provide this team with direct messages online at an early stage. Ideally, this broad database can be used to identify additional responsible and previously anonymous persons at the target company. They can be converted into newsletter subscribers in advance, for example. Account Based Marketing says the function of the recipient in the foreground. She decides what the interaction should look like. Each contact person receives the arguments that are decisive for them, tailored to their needs. Only 3 to 5 contact persons are contacted for each identified account. In order for account-based marketing to work at all, a particularly close cooperation between marketing and sales must be implemented. After completion, the targeted follow-up with offers and individual service can be automated. This optimizes the customer cycle and therefore improves their loyalty to the company.
Data as a basis
Data ensures that the right decisions at the right time to be hit. A thorough data analysis and profile data that is as complete as possible are therefore crucial for the success of a campaign. Companies that want to implement this strategy need to use their data to understand their leads and customers. Every lead in an account receives tailor-made marketing. With behavior-based segmentation and ABM optimization, companies create the greatest possible personalization for the current customer cycle in ongoing campaigns. Continuously acquired data therefore ensures ongoing campaign optimization. Complete databases and a lot of sensitivity when readjusting advertising measures are therefore essential for success. However, in order for ABM to develop its full potential, sales and marketing have to work closely together. Above all, however, when selecting ABM software, you have to look carefully: After all, it is hardly possible to keep track of the mass of products. An expert should provide assistance with both the selection and the implementation.
Which functions does marketing automation have to deliver for ABM?
Marketing automation platforms are now available for almost every focus. For companies that rely on ABM, products are available that have strong basic functionalities in the ABM core processes. They should enable easy personalization, be scalable and support the coordination, but also the review of ABM measurement goals.
Integration with CRM is essential for ABM-compatible marketing automation. This function ensures a smooth flow of data, important insights and a seamless user experience on the customer side. The close coordination between sales and marketing is crucial for the success of any ABM strategy in order to achieve profit targets. The automation platform can also provide support here. All revenue-sharing departments at ABM work together to close high-value accounts even faster. The high degree of personalization of ABM campaigns brings the small details into focus. They enable the creation of a strong connection with the ideal B2B accounts. High-quality customer data that contain such details are essential for this.
Select ABM tools
A lot of software promises to optimally implement ABM, but in the abundance of products it is still not easy to make a decision. The following ABM software supports B2B strategies and can also be easily integrated into marketing automation:
Tools for ABM
- Engagio: Developed especially for account-based marketing, the software offers account-specific tracking and corresponding analytics. Engagio is therefore ideally suited as a supplement to marketing automation platforms.
- Term: As a pioneer of the current account-based marketing scene, Terminus offers individualization options that are tailored to the target person within an account.
- DiscoverOrg: Insights on contacts and the highest data up-to-date are the strengths of DiscoverOrg. Correct decisions can be made on this basis. This tool is therefore indispensable in the phase of compiling accounts and target contacts.
- Eltoro and Demandbase: Both tools use the IP to address target contacts precisely. Demandbase is the only ABM tool to offer industry-specific options.
- Triblio: Offers personalization for online advertising including analytics
- 6sense: Can identify the buying journey of the account; uses AI to determine the demand in the account
- Bombora: Provides intent data on the purchase intention of accounts
Basic strategy for account based marketing
Where traditional lead generation is more like fishing with a net, Account Based Marketing is fishing with a spear. Marketing activities are focused on a single potential company precisely and without wastage. A basic strategy for account based marketing can look like this:
1. Select target company:
Put together potential target customers in a list; this can be done in different ways.
2. Develop relevant content:
Target customers need to find the content useful, informative, and interesting in order to show interest in the product or service.
3. Well-defined goals:
Because only 3 to 5 contacts per company are addressed, the goal in communication must always be kept in mind.
4. Select suitable channels:
Multi-channel methods are usually promising here.
5. Analysis: In order to be able to measure the ROI and campaign success of ABM, it is not only necessary to consider the pure turnover, but also to include all other campaign-related expenses and costs.
Precisely because ABM campaigns are designed for the long term, clear tracking is crucial. Only the ROI can be determined transparently. A consistent strategy is essential for ABM, even seemingly small decisions should always be critically examined against the strategic goal.
The TEAM framework - gold standard for successful ABM
At ABM, not only marketing, but also sales, the service department, product management and other business units pull together. In order for ABM to be able to lead smoothly to the desired success with this variety of points of contact, a goal-oriented orientation is necessary that includes all teams involved. A highly specialized framework such as TEAM can do just that.
TEAM framework for ABM
The idea of the TEAM framework goes back to Sangram Vajre from the Terminus team. It includes all the necessary components that are necessary for an ABM strategy:
T: = Target: Select suitable accounts and, in the next step, align marketing and sales efforts towards a uniform goal.
E: = Engage: Create and organize interactions with the ideal target customer. But also take into account new and existing customers.
A: = Activate: Cooperation with sales, marketing and service in order to achieve more deals via account level interactions, also with AI support.
M: = Measure: Measure the success of the ABM strategy with suitable measuring instruments and develop optimization strategies from it.
The TEAM framework primarily addresses an often perceived weakness of the ABM approach, namely its strong focus on marketing.
The 8 worst mistakes you can make at ABM
Businesses shouldn't jump on the ABM trend without wondering if ABM is right for them at all. Because not every company without exception benefits from ABM. Therefore, it must be checked whether a newly introduced ABM is not also compatible with a more traditional sales funnel, for example. Technology alone does not solve problems, this also applies to ABM.
Error 1: Take the wrong measured values into account:
ABM is a fundamentally different principle for lead generation than, for example, inbound marketing or sales funnel. The success of an ABM campaign can by no means be gauged from its clicks or pure conversions. Rather, the relevant values vary depending on the status of the campaign. At the beginning of an ABM campaign, for example, metrics such as interaction with the account play an important role. During the campaign, general key figures such as MQL, engagement and others must be used to measure success. Later, however, the focus is more on face-to-face meetings or sales training.
Mistake 2: View ABM as a short-term measure:
ABM is certainly anything but a quick solution. Rather, this strategy is suitable for companies that sell a complex solution to a large company. ABM works best with products and services that are the opposite of classic impulse buying. Long, complex sales processes are therefore ABM's strength. However, without careful planning together with the sales team, ABM cannot function. ABM should therefore be seen more as an investment in future success, but by no means as a short-term solution.
Error 3: No personalization:
Because ABM focuses on the account, personalization is a must. This requires personalized messages, individual content, and creativity to maximize the relevance of the content to the account.
Mistake 4: planning ABM without sales:
Simply passing on unqualified leads for sale no longer works today. ABM is not an exclusive marketing initiative, but has to involve the sales team in the planning process right from the start.
Mistake 5: Use suitable technology:
Without the expressly suitable technology, ABM can only function with great difficulty. But despite all the personalized offers and messages, technology is still important to carry out ABM efficiently. Anyone who wants to get into ABM must therefore critically examine their existing systems or look for new, suitable technology.
Error 6: do not know target customers:
ABM lives from highly individualized personalization. That is why it is essential for success to know the target customers as precisely as possible. An ideal target customer profile must be identified beforehand, as well as the most important personas and their individual pain points.
Error 7: ignoring the sales cycle:
Even if ABM addresses the account personally and establishes a very individual relationship as the process progresses, the sales cycle with its various phases must still not be disregarded. ABM creates individual access to the target customer, but does not shorten the sales cycle by any means. Companies have to adapt their expectations of the ABM campaign to the circumstances of the sales cycle.
Error 8: consider account selection as wish list:
In many companies, ABM starts with asking the sales team for a list of possible target accounts. This is already the first mistake, because the account selection is not a wish list. Rather, companies should first take a close look at their data: Are there certain industries in which products are purchased at shorter intervals? Predictive analytics and intent data can also be used here to find the accounts that are most likely to buy the solution.
Marketing automation enables ABM
Account Based Marketing was an important topic as early as the 1990s. However, the technical possibilities at the time were far from being sufficient for a practicable implementation. Marketing automation solutions, which are now affordable even for SMEs, open up new perspectives for companies of all sizes with ABM. Account-based marketing is also a complex marketing strategy that generates higher conversion rates and more ROI compared to conventional advertising measures. Marketing automation systems are ideally set up for lead nurturing and therefore a perfect addition to the implementation of ABM campaigns. If you want to use marketing automation software, you should therefore pay attention to ABM compatibility during the evaluation in order to avoid expensive retrofitting at a later date. Would you like to find out how marketing automation and account-based marketing can advance your company? Arrange a meeting with us now and we will show you how it worked at the University Hospital!
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