According to the latest findings from Hubspot: Over the past year, there’s been a 21% increase in the number of companies that have a full ABM marketing program in place. So what is so special about Account Based Marketing (ABM)? Why is everyone using this buzzword these days, and how does Marketing Automation (MA) fit this model?
First, let’s begin with what I believe is a very good definition of ABM.
Engagio, an ABM software platform, defines ABM as “a strategic approach that coordinates personalized marketing and sales efforts to open doors and deepen engagement at specific accounts.”
One of the great things about ABM is that it actually echoes the sales team’s process. Historically, marketers have been marketing to leads; that is, to individual people within a company. In a B2B world, if you ever truly look into the inner workings of a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system and the sales team’s process, they do not sell to individuals—they sell to companies—which most CRM systems define as Accounts. The sales person’s title is Account Manager for a reason. Rarely, in B2B healthcare/life sciences companies, will your organization sell at the individual level. There is more than one person that will be contributing to the buying decision, so often marketing at the lead level is not enough.
An example: Imagine selling blood pressure monitoring equipment to hospitals. It is not entirely up to one person to make the decision of purchasing 10,000 units to be deployed throughout the entire chain of hospitals. It is generally an entire committee that decides what brand or configuration they will purchase.
How does MA fit in? If you have a MA platform to handle the logic behind the marketing for these accounts, you can become very proficient with your strategic ABM approach. An MA platform will help ensure your messaging is targeted to the correct accounts, will track all interaction within these accounts, and will help you with multi-channel marketing across the accounts. Your MA system, with its persona and segmentation prowess, will also be a great tool in determining the target accounts to begin with. (But do not, I repeat, DO NOT forget to involve the sales team in this determination!) One of the most unique and most powerful uses of your MA system in respect to ABM will be the ability to clone some of the campaigns that you have written for other accounts when you want to send similar messaging, but personalized differently for each account. This is a huge time saver!
Here’s a 6-step process on how to employ ABMA in your organization.
1). Target the accounts you value the most.
This decision can be based on accounts in the sales pipeline, top accounts that are not existing customers yet, or even accounts that have been dormant for a while. Or, maybe this list involves a scattered few of all of these types of accounts. The main objective here, though, is to partner with your sales team to identify and agree on this list of key accounts. The key to this step is to absolutely involve them in this decision.
2). Research these selected accounts in depth.
Find out everything you can about them. What are their pain points? What does a typical customer journey look like for the account as a whole? Use social outlets to do more research on where these accounts are playing in the social arena. Find out all the firmographic data you can about the company such as, company size, annual revenue, location, industry, expected profit margin, likelihood of repeat purchase, and market influence.
3). Create content that identifies pain points.
Within the content, make sure you are speaking to not only specific personas within the company, but also broader company issues. Treat the content as you would with an MA campaign, identifying the different journeys and buying stages within a specific account.
4). Choose your channels.
Ensure that the channels you are using are specific to where your targeted accounts are most interactive. Do they use LinkedIn more than they use Facebook? Are they more interested in YouTube for research? Are there sites where your accounts are signing up for research, blogs, competing brands? Be very focused on finding out where each specific account is active, so that you can become laser-focused on their specific playing fields.
5). Run the campaign(s).
Make sure your messaging has been coordinated across all digital channels. An editorial calendar should be created and should overlap similar messaging for each channel.
6). Measure the results.
This is where your MA platform will shine in your ABM efforts. As you ascertain the results, the more you learn about your specific account—and each campaign you run can become more targeted.
Using your marketing automation platform in combination with account-based marketing can not only increase efficiency in your marketing initiatives, but can also offer extremely personalized targeting to a laser-focused, carefully selected collective group of individuals within the same company. And likely, you will have picked up a few more leads within each of your key accounts that you didn’t even realize were part of the decision-making process.
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