The Definitive Guide to Account-Based Marketing

Account-based marketing is typically defined as a strategic approach to business marketing based on account awareness. These accounts (or organizations) consider and communicate with individual prospect or customer accounts as a whole.

Account-based marketing is a tactic that is best when employed in enterprise-level sales organizations rather than smaller business accounts. This guide will go over what account-based marketing campaigns will entail, the risk vs. reward, and go over the critical questions you should ask yourself before starting.

We will help you easily verify if account-based marketing is the right strategy for you and your B2B marketing to have in place and, as a result, boost your conversion rates.

What you can expect to get out of this guide…

  1. What is Account-Based Marketing?
  2. Why You Need Account-Based Marketing (Includes 4 Key Benefits)
  3. 5 Crucial ABM Tactics And Strategies
  4. Case Study: What You Can Achieve With Account-Based Marketing
  5. Are You Ready To Branch Into ABM? Start Here!
  6. [BONUS] 6 Easy Steps To Implement ABM In Your Team

What is Account-Based Marketing?

First, we need to address the basics by addressing the question; What exactly is account-based marketing?

Earlier this year, in the Breadcrumbs article, 9 Best Account-Based Marketing Software reviews in 2020, we broadly defined Account-Based marketing as,

“A Business-to-Business (also known as B2B) marketing strategy that employs an account-level focus used by sales teams for targeted account selling.”

While this is entirely true, there’s so much more to know about account-based marketing and how to implement that information with those strategies and tactics.

Account-based marketing uses personalized marketing and sales efforts on a focused set of strategic accounts. Essentially, ABM inverts the standard demand generation process.

While demand generation starts by creating the content and messaging before distributing it among the relevant channels, account-based marketing begins with the target already in mind, or “the who.” Account-based marketing focuses on which accounts are most likely to become their best-fit customers.

ABM guide - focus on accounts that are more likely to become best-fit customers
Source.

As a marketer, once you have identified who your target accounts are, you can create highly personalized content relevant to those accounts you’ve targeted and select the right channels and strategies to reach the right people or persona within those accounts.

You can do this by enabling users to generate highly qualified leads, craft personalized buying journeys, and increase customer lifetime value by building further opportunities for in-pipeline accounts. ABM benefits include allowing users to combine their prospect data with real-time customer experience technologies to facilitate an account-based marketing strategy.

In this guide, we intend to clarify and elaborate on the steps and strategies involved in Account-based marketing.

Looking for more ways to speed up your revenue? It is critical to implement the Revenue Acceleration Process when working with account-based marketing. Check out our Revenue Acceleration Manifesto.

Why You Need Account-Based Marketing

One major benefit to choosing account-based marketing is the synchronicity that it creates between your marketing team and your sales team. When both the sales and marketing focus on the account itself, it’s much easier to align their messaging.

Account-based marketing is a strategy that makes it more accessible to help all marketers form higher-quality relationships with accounts before you move into sales. Account-based marketing also aims to create a zero-waste marketing system by focusing on quality over quantity thus creating a pipeline filled with high-quality account leads.

These leads are nurtured with personalized campaigns and lead to high-quality customer relationships. The ABM approach can also identify up-sell or cross-sell opportunities and outline those who might be a risk.

Account-based marketing is not for everyone. However, your campaigns’ results can be phenomenal when you follow the steps that are done correctly.

First we are going to highlight some of the benefits of using and utilizing account-based marketing.

4 Key Benefits of ABM Management.

  1. Synchronizing your sales and marketing: Account-Based Marketing (ABM) requires that both the marketing and sales teams collaborate to create meaningful content and experiences for your target accounts.
  2. Targeted marketing efforts: Your marketing efforts will be laser-focused on high-value accounts. We like to think of this as quality over quantity. You will waste less time chasing unproductive leads, and more time closing deals. This is especially helpful in cases where all you may need is one big deal to make it through the rest of your year.
  3. Shorter Sales Cycles: While the typical B2B cycle involves multiple stakeholders, which will often slow down the sales cycle. With Account-Based Marketing, your focus is on nurturing the key decision-makers within the account. This allows you to speed up your sales cycles.
  4. More efficient use of marketing dollars: The adage you need to spend money to make money is relevant here. While Account-Based Marketing can end up being more costly than other forms of marketing upfront, It is worth its weight in returns. This is largely due to the hyper-targeted nature of this approach, in which you can use it to maximize the value of your largest accounts via upselling and cross-selling.

5 Crucial ABM Tactics and Strategies

The key thing to keep in mind about account-based marketing is that it thrives on personalization and relevance. Now that we’ve covered the basic steps to identifying and marketing to your target, you might be asking what kind of strategies and tactics would be best to implement?

How do we start? Where do we go from here? Well, To help you out with that, we’ve put together some account-based marketing tactics and strategies below for you and your team to consider implement to achieve your personalization and relevance goals.

1. Create account-specific offers

One of the most important account-based marketing tactics is one of the most straightforward: Secure organizational ABM alignment.

This often means getting all internal stakeholders on board with the various factors of your account-based marketing strategy rather than creating general content intended for a wider audience and building content that homes in on your target accounts’ specific concerns.

Doing this will make it easier for your business to create consistent experiences for these target accounts. Take the time to research what stakeholders need and build content that speaks directly to those needs. Make sure your strategy is as streamlined and efficient as possible.

While it is important to have an offer available for potential clients, it is smart to create some more specified offers per potential prospects. Here at Breadcrumbs, we choose to run an offer to use a Free Email Verifier App that will allow you to begin narrowing down which prospects you should be investigating further.

2. Create deals aimed at securing a meeting

Create deals or offers aimed at your target with the intentions of getting your foot in the door.

For instance, if you work in a web design and/or marketing agency, you can send your prospect or target account a short video or a summary of your team’s analysis of their website. This will include information from your findings such as its strengths, weaknesses, and the data on how it’s performing against the competition.

If your research has indicated that conversion is a ‘pain point’ or concern for your target account, then you’ll want to consider offering to show them what the best companies in their industry are doing to reach their own conversion goals.

3. Use remarketing to your advantage

First, what is remarketing? Remarketing (often used interchangeably with “retargeting”), in short, is the process of serving up several targeted ads to leads or customers who have already interacted with content on your site but did not result in a conversion. It’s essentially a method for connecting your product or service with people who have already visited your site or mobile app

Remarketing, however, is generally an approach that is about re-engaging customers via emails, while retargeting usually refers to third-party online ads that target users who have interacted with your site without purchasing.

Serving up Cookies: With remarketing, you use cookies, not the sweet kind, but a tracking cookie is placed in the user’s browser. The cookie then notifies the remarketing platform of which type of ad to serve over to the user based on specific pages or content they viewed or perhaps engaged with on your businesses’ app or website.

4. Leverage social media data

Leveraging your social media data or social intelligence data is a critical element in account-based marketing. What’s often termed “Social Listening” is an essential piece of information when addressing the audience. Social listening is when companies monitor, analyze, and respond to social media conversations about their brand, products, services offered, etc.

A well-assembled social listening strategy will give you some valuable insights into your target accounts’ thought processes. Applying the social listening strategy should allow you to redirect your message or restructure your offers based on the information you’ve gathered from these interactions.

By monitoring your target’s social posting, you can gather tons of information about your target without ever having a direct conversation with them. Most people tend to post about their pain points and the challenges they face, which gives you as a marketer the opportunity to deliver your content at the right time.

First, it helps to start with simple practices like ‘liking,’ commenting, sharing, getting your target accounts’ attention, and letting them know that you’re engaged. These steps will generally increase your credibility with your prospect by the time you reach out to start a conversation.

“One of the most valuable tools I’ve used is the list building feature on Twitter. […]Create a list in your Twitter account, add the usernames of your target accounts and the decision-makers at those accounts, and then monitor what they’re sharing. Find out what type of content they tend to interact with (blog posts, infographics, videos, etc.) and then develop content based on your findings.” (source)

Social media interactions will set the stage for a more personalized engagement later on in the sales cycle. Please take a moment to make sure you’re utilizing the direct messaging option when engaging with your target, as it is one of the best ways to get yourself noticed early on in the process.

Remember: There are right ways to start a direct message chat, and then there are those that will be more like grating than appealing. 

Don’t be the guy who automatically sends out a cheesy and obvious pitch as soon as someone follows you. These aggressive and cheesy pitches tend to be more annoying than transparent and will more often result in the exact opposite of what you are trying to accomplish.

5. Personalize your prospects’ experiences on your website

Since we’ve already talked about cookies and social media data in the previous strategies, another great idea would be to provide your target accounts with a user-customized experience on your website as a way to increase engagement and boost your conversion rates.

Consider creating landing pages with custom images, copy, offers, and/or pricing specific to the account that’s browsing your website. Data you can use for website personalization include:

  • Behavioral data: This would be your target’s activity, like how a prospect behaves while on your app or website.
  • Contextual data: Things like which browser was used, the type of device, and its location.
  • Firmographics: Your target’s company name, industry, revenue, or stage in the buying cycle.
  • Demographics: Such as name, email address, work title, and location.

Pro Tip: Consider sending personalized gifts. You might want to delight your prospects by sending gifts specifically for them instead of the standard company-branded items.

Remember: think outside the box and develop something your target accounts will be pleased to receive that will stick in their memories.

Case Study: What You Can Achieve with Account-Based Marketing

If you’re still feeling fuzzy about what exactly Account-Based Marketing is we have a perfect example from GumGum’s CMO, Ben Plomion. Ben Plomion shared an article on 3 Crazy ABM Campaigns that actually worked. One of the examples outlined their efforts to land T-Mobile.

This story is a little crazy and the approach is absolutely wild but a perfect example in which highly targeted Account-Based marketing campaigns can be high risk, but it worked! This crazy approach Actually worked! They catered directly to the key-players of T-Mobile and pulled it off, and thankfully actually worked and paid out big time for all the work and effort put in.

Account-Based Marketing case study: GumGum's CMO, Ben Plomion
Ben Plomion and his team had all of the information he needed and they found it right on former CEO Joh Legere’s active social media profiles. They did the research, took the risk applied the strategies. Source.

Ben Plomion outlined in his shared blog that;

“T-Mobile CEO John Legere is incredibly active on social media. Those who scroll through his Twitter feed will quickly realize a few things: He supports his company as often as he can, he likes to wear the color magenta, and he loves Batman.”

Account-Based Marketing case study: GumGum's CMO, Ben Plomion - Lead generation form
You can even check out GumGum’s innovative and personalized Account-Based Marketing campaign yourself right here at the Source .

Ben Plomion and his team at GumGum decided with that information to take action and roll-out a wild plan while T-Mobile was unrolling it’s own unlimited plan, He recalls further,

“We wanted them to see how valuable our computer vision technology could be and highlight how the two of us could collaborate. But instead of going through the usual channels or sending a typical outbound email, we thought it would be smarter to go down a more personalized path. So we built a creative team of editors, writers, illustrators, and letterers who spent months making a comic book called T-Man and Gums.”

They distributed 100 copies of the finished comic to T-Mobile and its agencies of record (and you can even check out a copy for yourself to this day online.) and within’ hours the ball was rolling.

This ABM target followed through and it’s safe to say the tactic worked and definitely had caught the former CEO. T-Mobile’s CEO at the time, John Legere, must have had a positive reception, The blog noting that he even announced his approval on his verified Twitter.

Account-Based Marketing case study: GumGum's CMO, Ben Plomion and Joohn Legere
GumGum pulled a seemingly crazy Account-Based Marketing campaign towards T-Mobile in 2016 by targeting their, then CEO, John Legere, However it paid off big-time when they landed the account as a result.

In just days after GumGum employed their targeted campaign, they met with T-Mobile. The ABM tactic was definitely a high risk, but it sparked a meaningful conversation that led to snaring the Big Fish that T-Mobile is as a client.

Are You Ready To Branch Into ABM? Start Here!

If you’re still unsure if Account-Based Marketing is the right approach for you and your team, you might want to evaluate and consider the following before jumping into the deep end. With the investment cost, this can be a sink or swim opportunity, and you want to be sure to come out on top.

  • Who is your target audience: Do you know your target? Does your target audience know who you are? Are you start building your accounts list from scratch? Do you already have data collected to use? If your target accounts don’t know who you are yet, it’s best to reach out to them instead of waiting for them to contact you.
  • You will need to focus on Content Creation: Your goal is going to be to convert carefully selected accounts with their specific needs. This means your content should propel high conversion rates. You will need to assemble a team that can get that done.
  • Are your Sales and marketing teams assembled for alignment? : Get everyone on the same page. It would be best to sit down with your marketing and sales teams to discuss your goals and what steps you will need to accomplish those goals. It may put off potential customers if one person from your team says one thing to a prospect and someone else says something which contradicts the strategy.
  • Are you ready and willing to Invest? : Account-Based marketing requires a more comprehensive approach compared to other marketing methods. You find your target accounts, research, create accurate representative profiles, create content tailored specifically to their needs, devise an outreach strategy on marketing channels, and manage their engagements.

[BONUS] 6 Easy Steps To Implement ABM In Your Team

Illustration of Account Based Marketing

How does account-based marketing work exactly, or how can you make it work for you and your team? There are a few necessary steps you can explore to implement the terms in account-based marketing.

1. Identify and define your strategic target accounts

While most marketers are already used to defining personas and people, account-based marketing isn’t about distinguishing between each individual, so much as proper ABM management is about marketing to an entire organization or target stakeholders on an account. This is a critical distinction, and it will be what you need to keep in mind if you want to start on the right foot.

First, you will want to determine the best accounts with the potential to generate the most profit for your company or organization. For instance, when searching out your targets, you should define the industry, the company size, the location, the annual revenue, possible upsell opportunities, profit margin, and the ladder.

Basically, you want to look for the accounts that are yielding your business the highest long-term profits. It is precisely those types of accounts that you will want to really zero in on.

You will also want to spread some focus on your prospect’s overall turnover and on any of the account’s more negative points that your product or service can and will want to address and presumably improve upon.

This process will likely consist of qualitative and quantitative research. This research consisting of moves like maybe partnering up with the strategy leaders and customer-based employees. These very employees will be the ones who interact with the consumer. Your sales and customer success teams will be able to learn from their experiences while also working with the data you have to support these assumptions.

The information you can gather from both the employees who work on the front-line on prospects and customers is absolutely precious during this process. It will be these people who know your leads and customers better than you. Having the data to back it up will only ensure you’re heading in the right direction.

Looking for some great tips on building your buyer personas to market to? Check out our Blog on How to Use Your Lead Generation Process to Create Better Buyer Personas. This is also going to help you identify with your Target accounts.

2. Put on your ‘thinking caps’ and find your target accounts

Next, it’s time to go hunting with some strategic thinkers within your sales team. Once you understand the broader makeup of the organizations you’re pursuing, you will need to find those that match. You then can dig in even deeper to determine who the key stakeholders of that organization are.

You can actively search for your target businesses based on the profile you built in the first implementation step. Check your information and databases for the companies that have already connected with you. 

Once you’ve identified some ideal targets, you will move forward into learning more about how decisions are made at these target organizations. Determining who the decision-makers are and more about how these decisions are made are the key components for this step.

With account-based marketing, you are in a place where knowledge really is power. Put your investigation glasses on and learn about these organizations’ intricate build and start to strategize on how you can influence the stakeholders at each.

Don’t forget, though, that it’s important that you also look at your current customers. They already like you, and they’re much more comfortable to convert than businesses who don’t quite know who you are yet. 

3. Get personal and get social by identifying with your key contacts

Remember, with proper ABM management, you always want to emphasize researching your target accounts to find the important parties of people you must connect with.

Use this time to put your investigational work on ‘Social Intelligence’ to use with creative content that speaks directly to the stakeholders and organizations you’ve chosen to target. You do this by researching your target accounts to find the important parties you need to connect with.

This allows you to understand these stakeholders’ specific ‘pain points,’ which you can utilize in your campaign to appeal to how you can solve them with your messaging and imagery.

Remember: One of the main highlights of account-based marketing is that it is personalized to these organizations, which is why your content will need to speak specifically to them.

Be sure to use social media platforms (like Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.) and get to know them. You will want to engage with them and make them aware of your presence. You can do this by commenting on their posts and using @mentions may capture their attention to you.

Tip: Work together with your team to ensure your content is visually engaging and communicates the right messages to these key stakeholders.

If you happen to be using website visitor tracking software, You should use the data you already have from this software to pinpoint your best person to contact.

4. Choose the best channels for you to direct your social media efforts

Your research and content may just as well be useless if you’re not promoting your campaigns creatively and, most importantly, directing them in the right places. You need to understand where these stakeholders spend their time online.

Generally, You’ll also want to also cater to their state of mind when they’re on social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and these days, even TikTok.

For example, say you are targeting someone within a graphic design organization, perhaps you know that these individuals spend time on Pinterest from your initial research and you would follow up by spending your time marketing there and within similar channels.

Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn can be powerful platforms to target these stakeholders because you can actually run campaigns to appeal to specific organizations, as well as titles within those organizations.

Definitive Guide to Account-Based Marketing. Image Displays the detailed targeting feature on Facebook from the Ads' page.
Detailed targeting on Facebook allows you to set some specific targets in place.

Like many of these platforms, Facebook has a great detailed targeting menu and will allow you to select targeting based on the data you have for education, financial, event-based, relationships, work, interest, behaviors, etc.

5. Time to execute your account-based campaigns!

With the long (and sometimes seemingly tedious) prep work wrapped up and completed, It is finally time for you actually to run your campaign! Finally! (Whew!)

Don’t just let your content run wild, though! Something you want to keep in mind as you move forward is that since this marketing method is so targeted, it’s important not to overwhelm these prospects by bombarding them with repeat messages across multiple channels.

Remember: Be sure that you aren’t being a little overzealous with your remarketing and hitting the same people with the same message time and time again.

You want to make absolutely certain that your channels aren’t set up to speak to just one or two individuals, we know we’re targeting, but we want to keep it broad within these organizations. You’re targeting an entire organization and the stakeholders within it rather than a single person or subset.

You want to dance-the-line on the correct balance of catching your target’s attention without turning them off. No one likes to be hounded by salespeople, and your target is no different.

6. Measure and share your results

Time to check out how your campaign went. After your campaign has been running for 30 to 60 days, you will want to evaluate the data and measure the effectiveness of your account-based marketing efforts.

Ask your team some critical questions like:

  • Did our personalized content prove to be engaging? How so?
  • Are these accounts becoming more engaged with our brand and our content?
  • Are we expanding the number of known stakeholders within these organizations?
  • Did we generate any revenue from these campaigns and what did we generate?
  • What could we do better moving forward?

Pro Tip: If your results are not as great as you hoped they could be in the first time around, don’t get discouraged about it. Take this as an opportunity that helps you see exactly where you need to evolve and improve upon.

And remember: the best thing about online marketing is how you are able to measure your results.

ABM Relies heavily on marketing and sales teams tightly operating in sync producing targeted content at their best leads. If you’re looking for which of your leads is the cream of the crop it’s worth your time to check out our platform Breadcrumbs.

Breadcrumbs keeps you up-to-date, literally, with daily updates refreshing information and really speeds up the time you’d spend tracking through your leads. When you answer a few questions Breadcrumbs skips right by the need for consultants and lets you start right away and will determine the right model for your business.

Traditional scoring models can take weeks to implement, sometimes stretching into months. However, Breadcrumbs hides and automates all the complexity, giving you the flexibility you need, so you can focus on what’s important.

Start building your scoring model and see everything else Breadcrumbs has to offer including a free email verifier when you sign up for free today. Check Breadcrumbs out here.

Did we miss anything? Do you have any hot tips or strategies you’d like to share with us?

Let us what you think in the comments below.


2 thoughts on “The Definitive Guide to Account-Based Marketing”

  1. Great piece on ABM with tips and suggestions on getting started! I’m looking forward to sharing this strategies with my team and use account based marketing at its best.

    Reply
  2. Very comprehensive ABM guide. Personally, I particularly found useful the part describing the benefits of account-based marketing, it will help me have the buy-in of my team in implementing abm.

    Reply

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