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Editorials

Six Steps to Successful Account-Based Marketing

by Winn Hardin, Managing Director
TECH B2B Marketing

A growing number of B2B marketers are learning account-based marketing (ABM) can complement their traditional outreach strategies. While conventional B2B marketing campaigns cast a wide net to appeal to as many new prospects as possible, ABM targets a specific set of accounts. It brings your sales and marketing team together to identify key decision makers within an account and then tailor marketing programs and messages designed to foster stronger relationships and revenue growth. In effect, ABM translates conventional marketing approaches to individual accounts as though they were markets in and of themselves.

ABM and traditional marketing use similar tactics and terms but applying ABM can feel a little like learning a new dialect of a familiar language. Following the below steps will ensure you start off on the right foot with ABM.

Step 1
Discover & define your high-value accounts
Gather all the data and business intelligence you can find on your high-value accounts to help categorize and prioritize them. Look for common firmographic details such as company size, annual revenue, number of customers, target industry, geographic reach, and technology. But also consider categorizing accounts by strategic factors, including revenue potential, influence in the market, potential for repeat business and upselling, or potential for higher than average profit margins.

Step 2
Map accounts & identify key internal players
After you’ve targeted your highest value accounts, mapping how decisions are made within them comes next. Identify how your target accounts are structured. Who are the key stakeholders, decision makers, and influencers? What is their decision-making process, and how long does the process take to unfold? Getting the answers to these questions will help guide your next move.

Step 3
Define content & personalized messaging
After identifying the decision makers in your target account, you need to develop personalized messaging that will resonate with them. The content you develop should recognize the significant and specific business challenges they face and offer valuable insights and solutions. ABM often benefits from personalized messaging tailored to key individuals.

Step 4
Determine optimal channels
Communicate with your audience on all the channels they frequent, including web, mobile, and email. Consider which channels will be more effective for specific roles or industries you might be targeting. Also, keep in mind opt-in rules or other restrictions when targeting audiences in different regions.

Step 5
Execute targeted & coordinated campaigns
As you begin to roll out your messaging, it’s critical to coordinate your campaigns across channels and align the efforts of your marketing and sales teams for maximum impact. It often helps to develop a playbook to clarify roles and responsibilities and outline who does what and when. Digital tools can often help to coordinate and execute ABM campaigns at greater scale and more efficiently.

Step 6
Measure, learn & optimize
Be sure to routinely test, measure, and optimize your ABM marketing campaigns to ensure they are effective and your results improve over time. Look at the results of individual campaigns as well as trends at the account level and in the aggregate (all target accounts) to get a more accurate picture.

Some questions you might ask include:

  • Did personalized content lead to meaningful engagement?
  • Are targeted accounts becoming more engaged overall?
  • Did your ABM program generate new leads or further qualify existing leads?
  • Did ABM generate new revenue?
  • Did some accounts respond more or differently than others?
  • Did account stakeholders offer insights into how you might improve engagement further?

Like many tactics in conventional marketing, optimizing your ABM efforts is an iterative process. Building trust, engagement, and relationships all take time. But if you follow the steps above, ABM can contribute to new and stronger growth for your brand.

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