In my first post on account-based marketing (ABM), I went over its history in the 20th century, from its humble, unsophisticated beginnings to its modern day automation.
Today, I want to go over its benefits, and why—if you’re a B2B marketer—it’s essentially a no-brainer.
Are You Already Doing ABM?
If you work for a B2B brand, chances are you’ve done a fair bit of account-based marketing without even knowing it.
By their very nature, B2B companies are forced to prospect and sell to a narrow list of prospects. They use a combination of inbound, outbound, and account-based marketing techniques to make the magic happen. But most B2B marketers probably aren’t marketing to accounts the right way.
Marketing agencies (like Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce of Mad Men) are a great example of this. Most agencies have a very long list of one-off, once-in-a-while clients, and very short list of recurring “whale” clients that provide the bulk of their revenue (the 20:80 rule). They know that account-based marketing is the answer—they want to turn more of their “80” clients into “20”s—but they don’t know how to properly implement it.
Instead, they run campaigns against target lists the same way the ad execs of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce did it in the 60s: create a proposal over a week or two, land a target exec at the account in question, work for that exec, take him or her out to dinner, nudge them into introducing their colleagues, get in with those colleagues. Rinse and repeat.
It’s a very reliable but unsophisticated process that takes a long time to bear fruit. And it’s very risky. New account managers and projects managers have to be hired on for every new contact at the account, new vendors have to be corralled, new risks taken. If any given client bails, changes jobs, or gets fired, the agency is left to deal with the fallout.
The obvious solution to this problem? Automation. By implementing marketing automation and customizing it for account-based marketing, B2B marketers will have a technology stack that can scale with their new business. Fewer account managers will be able to handle more accounts. Target list prospecting happens automatically. Forecasting and goal setting actually becomes realistic.
Automated account-based marketing really is a no-brainer. The question is whether it’s right for your company.
The New Reality of B2B Marketing
Megan Heuer at SiriusDecisions gave a great presentation on ABM in April in which she went over the “new reality” of B2B marketing. She profiled the companies already using ABM as well as those thinking about starting this year.
- 45% less than $100 million
- 18% between $101 million and $1 billion
- 36% more than $1.1 billion
As you can see, the vast majority of companies using ABM have revenue below $100 million, and another large segment had revenue over $1.1 billion.
Yet it seems like companies making between $101 million to $1 billion underutilize ABM. That’s a massive range, and it tells us that most companies are interested in ABM to either scale their early growth, or streamline their expansion beyond the ten-figure mark.
This suggests that companies making between $101 million and $1 billion could be running their operations much more effectively than they realize. Perhaps they simply don’t realize that scalable account-based marketing is the right move—yet.
- 75% enterprise (more than 1,000 employees)
- 21% medium (101 to 1,000 employees)
- 11% small (100 or fewer employees)
But regardless of revenue, the vast majority of ABM-practicing companies are enterprise-level brands with more than 1,000 employees. This makes sense—ABM is easier to implement and scale once you already have a larger client base and staff in place.
But it also means that B2B companies with between 10 to 1,000 employees are not taking advantage of ABM. Perhaps they feel their employees are overworked, and don’t have the time to learn yet another system. Perhaps ABM is an unproven, “new” concept and they are too busy with old methods and strategies. Maybe they don’t think they have enough clients to justify such an investment.
Is ABM Right for Your Company?
But I think they’re missing the point a bit. ABM works best for B2B companies that sell to:
Situation A: a few large, key accounts, or
Situation B: accounts of a certain size in a specific industry.
If you’re targeting Fortune 500s to 1000s, for example, ABM can help you unlock the full potential of each target account and effectively double or triple your client base. Who wouldn’t want that?
Great candidates for ABM also include companies with ineffective sales models:
- 82% sell with direct sales force
- 13% with inside sales
- 4% with third-party channels
If your advertising isn’t working, or if you feel like sales is always complaining about a lack of alignment with marketing, maybe it’s time to try something new. ABM can help you accurately measure marketing ROI, button up marketing-to-sales alignment, and reduce or maintain the size of the sales force you need.
The Clear Benefits of ABM
Of course, none of this is convincing unless account-based marketing boasts clear and observable benefits. Fortunately, in my experience, it does.
Benefit #1: ROI is Much Clearer
According to the 2014 ITSMA Account-Based Marketing Survey, ABM delivers the highest ROI of any B2B marketing strategy or tactic. And according to Alterra Group, 65% of B2B marketers agreed that ABM provided significant benefits for attracting new clients.
This isn’t surprising—ABM is the sniper’s way of marketing. It’s incredibly precise, targeted, personalized, and accurate compared to general inbound and outbound strategies, which also makes it easier to measure ROI. Here are some more stats to back up those claims:
- Response rates from ABM accounts: 47%
- Online activity from ABM accounts: 39%
- Number of new contacts in ABM accounts: 36%
- Internal stakeholder feedback: 36%
- Participation in all marketing activities: 25%
Benefit #2: There’s less waste and less risk
This all means that unnecessary waste—and risk—are greatly reduced. By scaling ABM marketing strategies, B2B marketers can do more with less. A smart ABM technology stack helps the same number of account managers target, market to, convert, and upsell a much larger number of contacts at each account before another account manager has to be hired.
Which means there’s much less risk involved. You don’t have to hire and fire talent based on how well an account is doing. With ABM properly set up, accounts become revolving doors—even if one contact is lost, another one will walk right in.
Benefit #3: Clients like it because it’s personal
According to Aberdeen, 75% of customers prefer personalized offers. This has been shown time and again to be true. It’s why email marketing remains so successful compared to other forms of inbound and outbound marketing. And it’s why solutions that aim to stop cart abandonment are so popular with retailers.
ABM is implemented with the needs of a specific target prospect at a specific target account in mind. The research required to get this type of marketing up and running means that your prospects will know you’ve done your homework—and they’ll love you for it.
Benefit #4: Goal-setting and analytics are easier
When you analyze campaign effectiveness, it’s easier to draw conclusions. Not only are you looking at a smaller set of targeted accounts, you also have well-drawn battle plans for each account that let you easily compare end-of-quarter results to forecast goals. Which brings me to the last big benefit…
Benefit #5: Sales alignment is much easier
ABM marketers speak the same language and have the same knowledge as the salespeople they work alongside. They have to work closely with sales to accurately identify target accounts, map them out, and align on sales initiatives. This type of tag teaming between marketing and sales is what ultimately leads to the powerful, predictive marketing and turnkey targeted advertising that unlocks accounts.
But how do you set it up?
In the next and last post in this series: How to Set Up an Account-Based Marketing Technology Stack, I’ll go over several resources you can use to set up ABM the right way and keep your accounts coming back for more.
About the Author: Alp Mimaroglu is a Marketing Luminary. He specializes in marketing automation, demand generation, analytics, and marketing technology. Alp has extensive experience with both business and consumer marketing. He’s passionate about how technology is rapidly becoming the key to success in both the corporate sales and marketing landscapes. Follow Alp on LinkedIn and Twitter.