Account-based marketing (ABM) campaigns have taken the B2B marketing world by storm. Some have hailed it as a “magic bullet” that can cure all marketing ills. Others are confused about what it is and how you can get started with it.
What is an ABM campaign?
An ABM campaign is a B2B digital marketing strategy where sales and marketing align to engage with potential customers who will most likely bring in the highest revenue. An account-based marketing campaign aims to target, engage, nurture, and convert high-value prospects into lifetime customers.
Many different types of content and outreach approaches are included in ABM marketing campaign activities. They are:
Social media posts
Ungated or gated e-books and whitepapers
Outbound sales outreach
Webinars and other in-person and online events
How do you plan the perfect ABM campaign?
To help you get started, we’ve identified easy steps to set up, launch, and evaluate the perfect ABM campaign.
Agree on the best type of ABM for your business:
There are three types of ABM:
Picking a handful of high-value accounts and putting all your budget into targeting: The ABM targets one to five of your highest-value accounts in as personalized a manner as possible.
Sector-specific – selecting a larger pool of accounts in the same industry: This ABM targets one to 30 target accounts in the same industry with various marketing initiatives.
Personalized traditional digital marketing: The ABM tactic uses traditional marketing efforts but with more customer-centric messaging to gain the attention of 30 or more key accounts.
Align marketing and sales:
Building an ABM campaign means asking your sales representatives to work with fewer leads. Unless sales are entirely on board with the process, ABM cannot work. Hence, it is vital that the two departments align and agree on a shared strategy and goals.
Assemble your ABM team:
After proving the value of using ABM campaigns to your B2B sales team, it is time to start working together to help come up with great ABM campaign ideas.
Start by assembling an ABM team of people from your business who will all have different roles but common aims. These could include:
SDRs, or sales representatives: To solely focus on outbound lead generation.
MDRs, or marketing representatives: Responsible for following up on all marketing demand generation.
Sales operations: The department that drives efficiency in your sales team
Marketing operations: The department responsible for driving efficiency in your marketing team
Campaign marketers: Responsible for developing personalized campaigns end-to-end and well-versed in multi-channel ABM marketing
Content producers: Content writers, graphic designers, and video producers
Customer success managers: Responsible for developing key customer relationships and promoting retention and loyalty
Define your ABM goals:
How will you know if you have achieved success without knowing your marketing and sales goals? Give your ABM team clearly defined goals to help them focus their efforts and determine what the success of your campaigns will look like.
To determine your account-based marketing goals, think about what you want to accomplish from your new campaign and go from there.
Select the metrics to track:
ABM isn’t a “quick win” activity. It can take a lot of time to produce results. You’ll need to prove to management and the broader business that running an account-based marketing campaign is worth the time and expense.
The only way you can do this is by monitoring your ABM metrics.
While the metrics you track may vary from campaign to campaign, there are some core metrics that you need to keep your eyes on, especially if you’re just starting out with ABM.
Agree on the ABM performance metrics to track before starting your ABM campaign.
Align sales and marketing and ensure both teams are fully aware of the metrics they need to monitor.
Be transparent in sharing the results of your ABM activity as the campaign progresses, so both teams can learn together.
Key metrics to help you get started with your ABM marketing campaign:
Top of the funnel:
Number of contacts at your target accounts
Social media engagement from your target accounts
Website visits from your target accounts
Engagement time with your content
Form completions from your target accounts
Unique page views on specific pieces of content
Bottom of the funnel:
Contact your sales team from your target accounts.
Build your target list:
For winning bigger deals from more clients in the B2B space, ABM is an extremely effective way. However, it takes a considerable amount of investment, time, and money for it to work. For this reason, you need to have a robust plan before you start your ABM operation. So, you need to define who you are going to approach before you start.
To build your ABM target account list, follow these steps:
Create your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP): Once your sales and marketing teams are aligned and working together, create a profile of the type of account you will target with ABM. The key to ABM campaign success lies in identifying a small number of high-profile accounts and targeting them with personalized campaigns.
Measure first-party intent: First-party intent or engagement is information from end-user engagement with your brand, such as event attendees, users who have viewed or downloaded content, and people who have filled out online forms.
Measure third-party intent: Third-party intent is about people who could be interested in your company but may not know about it yet. Here, you are looking for people who have engaged with and shown interest in your industry or sector, including people viewing competitor websites and users searching for specific terms on search engines.
Order your target list: Once you have the list of people, put them in the order in which you will target them. Don’t just go after the biggest or most famous companies; look for targets that best fit your offering. Prioritize the accounts that have a strong intent to buy, and use your alignment meetings to decide which accounts you want to target and the type of ABM campaign plan you’ll need to deploy.
Create personalized content:
With ABM, you have to create content that resonates with every individual decision-maker inside your target account. The more personal you can get, the better.
5 steps on how to create personalized content for ABM:
Identify the Decision-Making Unit (DMU): Create lists of the ideal customers you want to target. Identify the Decision-Making Unit (DMU) inside your target company. The DMU has influence over purchasing decisions. Find out everything you can about them. Create a LinkedIn ABM campaign to connect with them. Conduct online research. Think about the messaging that would make an impression on them, the motivating factors for everyone who would have an input into purchasing your product, and the way you can reach them with the kind of messaging that will make them want to buy.
Define their pain points: Work out individual pain points for everyone in the DMU. DMUs might be looking to reduce costs, save time, grow their sales, or streamline their existing processes. Interview the salespeople who are interacting with the DMU and use their insights to define the prospects’ pain points. Then use them to create helpful content for your account-based marketing campaigns.
Choose the right medium: On average, seven to eight influencers are involved in every business decision. They will all respond to the content in different ways. There is a wide range of content types to choose from, including blogs, videos, case studies, whitepapers & guides, webinars & podcasts, letters & direct mail, templates & checklists, and reports and surveys. Ask your sales team before you choose the right option for you, as the sales team will have experience with what resonates most with different types of buyers.
Select the right channels: Personalization is the key to ABM engagement. So, when you have to activate your content, you will have to tailor and customize your messaging for each prospect. But the question is, where to promote the content? Going back to your ICP will give you the answer. From your ICP, you will know where your targets spend their time online and what social media channels they most often engage with. So, do your research, check your own social media channels and email campaigns, check where you are seeing engagement from your target accounts and others like them, study your data, and make decisions based on it.
Timing is everything: Successful ABM campaigns contain multiple steps involving numerous channels and content types. The more senior the decision-maker, the shorter your content must be in the first step. Senior decision-makers will have no time in their day to consume long-form content. It’s only later, at the decision stage of the buying journey, that they’ll have time for long content. Build up to that point by delivering smaller pieces of content at regular intervals.
Launch your ABM campaign:
It is now time to get ABMing! Distribute the content you’ve created to the people you have chosen. Ask your sales reps to start making inroads into your target accounts when your content is being sent out. Make calls to set up meetings and demonstrations. If your content is good and well dispersed, your buyers will already know who you are. You know the interest they have in your product. You see the solution you provide for them. It’s time to move them through your marketing funnel.
ABM is not a gimmick or an antidote to every marketing malady. It’s a process, just like any other process in B2B marketing. While it can undoubtedly deliver numerous benefits to a business, ABM takes time, skill, and lots of hard work. Remember, aligning marketing with sales is the surest route to success with any ABM multi-touch campaign.