What is account-based marketing?
In a short span of time, strategies to attract and engage customers have enormously changed. Consumers now have a multitude of technologies and digital platforms to research brands, products, and customer reviews before making big-ticket purchasing decisions. However, when dealing with high-priced and complex sales, only relying on digital marketing to engage with customers is ineffective, and it’s why account-based marketing has in recent years become one of the most popular strategies for business and revenue growth.
What does account-based marketing mean?
Account-based marketing (ABM) is a marketing and growth strategy where marketing and sales work together to create personalized buying experiences for your most high-valued customers.
Rather than trying to extend your reach to as many people as possible, account-based marketing focuses its efforts on a select group of people that represent significant growth opportunities and have a greater likelihood of converting into high-value paying customers.
Account-based Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing
Often when ABM is discussed, it is compared and contrasted to inbound marketing with an inevitable debate on which strategy is most effective. The truth is, you do not need to choose one or the other. In fact, account-based marketing can largely complement the efforts of a well-executed inbound marketing strategy.
Inbound marketing attracts customers by creating valuable content that is tailored to a semi-fictional buyer persona that represents your ideal customer including age, gender, income, beliefs, interests, family status, and more. The specialized content you create drives your persona to engage with your brand on your website, social media, or on other channels, and then hopefully, purchase your products.
An ABM strategy can be implemented at this stage, taking this identified group of engaged people and beginning research and analysis to determine if these interested consumers are considered higher value customers or personas.
Account-based marketing also uses buyer personas but unlike inbound marketing, ABM personas are based on data rather than assumptions. Companies using ABM strategies do not engage with people because they feel they’re an ideal or more probable customer, they focus on a specific demographic that possesses a set of behaviours that have proven to be most profitable.
Why is account-based marketing important for startups?
Survey data collected by Gartner in 2020 showed that businesses that launched ABM strategies showed increases in marketing and sales. The marketing data shows improved conversion rates, increased web traffic, and better advertising and email performance, and sales data showed increased wins, faster sales cycles, and larger deals.
As a startup business, account-based marketing may seem time-consuming when you have a million things on your plate, but ultimately it makes your marketing efforts and dollars more targeted. It also makes your highest value customers feel important and more catered to, setting your business up for a reputation of exceptional customer experience – an invaluable thing when trying to achieve startup business growth.
Most importantly, research shows that 97 percent of businesses using an ABM approach see higher ROIs than with other marketing strategies.
How to create an ABM strategy for your startup
1. Get everyone on the same page
If your startup has been following a particular marketing strategy, the best way to get your team and investors to support a switch to ABM is to present data to show how switching strategies will increase revenue and make better use of your resources.
2. Align sales and marketing
Historically, sales and marketing teams have had an ongoing feud where both teams blame the other when revenue is not increasing. ABM bridges the gap between the two teams and has everyone working together. As a collective, have sales and marketing agree on a shared set of metrics and goals for your ABM campaign.
3. Identify your high-value accounts
Analyze your sales history by talking to your sales team. Which type of interested consumer is the easiest to convert into a paying customer? Check your CRM to identify traits that all of your hot leads have in common. This will provide insight into the type of person you should focus on.
4. Create content and select channels
Once your target accounts have been identified, you need to create tailored content and decide which channels will be most successful in reaching them. Your content should speak to specific pain points that they have.
5. Launch your ABM campaign
Publish your content to convert prospective buyers into leads. By your sales team engaging with these leads in a strategic way, there is a high chance of them closing deals.
6. Review, evaluate, and adjust
This last step is ongoing and is crucial for all marketing strategies. Once you have launched your account-based marketing campaign, review how it is performing, evaluate your sales, and make adjustments to your strategy as needed.
In conclusion, account-based marketing is about placing greater importance on quality over quantity; focusing on a much smaller group of people who will accelerate your startup’s growth.
Your ABM strategy can be woven into other marketing strategies such as inbound marketing as previously mentioned, or a digital marketing plan. If your startup is not yet ready to hire a designated marketing professional, consider finding a startup mentor who has marketing expertise and can help put you on the right track to implementing an ABM strategy that yields attractive results.