What happens when you combine unprecedented access to internal and external data sources, new analytical tools, data mobility across the enterprise, and sophisticated digital marketing technologies? You have the perfect recipe for an explosive revolution in Account Based Marketing (ABM). Today ABM is shaping the future of B-to-B strategic account marketing while at the same time it’s having a strong influence on business strategies, reshaping priorities and investments, and even driving change in organizational structure and design.
What is ABM and why is it so important?
ABM is the strategy of marketing to a highly defined set of customers and prospects by delivering customized, relevant, and timely messages directly to multiple personas and purchasing influencers within these target accounts, and nurturing them through the buying process and beyond into post-sale relationships. The ABM premise is that your current customers are most likely to buy again and buy more, that prospects with similar profiles to your current customers are most likely to become new customers, and that large strategic accounts (current and new) will deliver your strongest ROI and top line growth.
In concept it’s easy, in execution it can be a little tougher. Here are some things to consider as you embark on your inevitable ABM journey:
Build your ABM strategy first, technology follows.
Vendors would like you to think ABM is about buying the latest technologies. They’d like you to consider new email platforms, database management software, ad serving tech, or CRM upgrades and other technologies – but avoid the temptation to think technology first. A strong ABM strategy begins outside-in with a focus on your customer and prospect targets. Who are your strategic targets? What are they buying currently and why? What do you want them to buy? How are you marketing or “talking” to them now? What needs to change? Once the fundamental questions are answered and has informed a strategy, technology roadblocks can be overcome. You may be surprised to find that you can get started with your ABM strategy with much of what you have in place, and build additional resources incrementally.
An ABM initiative is a great way to justify investment and take the first steps in digital transformation.
Because the end goal of any ABM strategy is increased top line revenue and market share from strategic customers or named accounts, corporate management and boards will be responsive to proposals for investing in resources (both human capital and infrastructure) that support the strategy.
ABM is a catalyst that can accelerate your digital maturity* in ways that you might not have thought possible.
An ABM initiative will look at your current customer data and internal systems and consider how they can work together more effectively – and potentially be enhanced with external data. It will consider content development, governance and workflows. It will consider email marketing strategies, social media, and digital ad targeting, as well lead capture and ROI measurement. These discoveries will lead to invaluable learnings and skills development, help you prioritize your next-steps, and expand your overall digital capabilities.
Product, Marketing and Sales should be integrated partners in building the ABM strategy and encouraged to work cross-functionally to achieve, and share in the reward, of positive results.
ABM is a great way to break through hierarchies, topple silos and unite cross-functional teams to drive new business and grow revenue from strategic accounts. Product teams will be able to participate directly in increasing adoption and penetration rates of new product offerings, Sales will applaud the targeting of buying influences they cannot reach or have had trouble reaching directly, and Marketing will be a true partner in revenue generation and accountability.
Enabled by digital innovation, there is a lot to love about an effective ABM strategy. Executives support ABM because of its focus on top line growth, its potential to move market share across major accounts, and its measurable ROI and accountability. Product, Sales and Marketing achieve efficiency, greater visibility into the nature of their customers, and are rewarded as an integrated team on customer satisfaction and growth. And, most importantly, customers and prospects respond favorably to ABM because they are served with information that is more personalized, timely, and relevant to their needs, and are therefore more likely to respond. ABM is about taking charge of your most important customer relationships and adding value to the customer experience to drive loyalty and brand preference.
*The Digital Prism Digital Maturity Index helps companies measure how well their organizations are developing digitally relative to the market-at-large. Click here to learn more and take the survey.