Why Account-Based Marketing Is Important in 2020

What is account-based marketing?

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a strategic approach to designing and executing highly-targeted, personalised marketing programs and initiatives to drive business growth and impact with specific, named accounts. Treating each client or account as an individual and marketing to them accordingly is the primary difference between ABM and other styles of marketing.

In our account-based marketing guide, we’ll share what ABM is, why you should be using it, how you can establish it in your organisation, and look at some account-based marketing case studies which demonstrate how this form of marketing can benefit organisations.

Matt Heinz, President at Heinz Marketing, uses a well-known analogy to describe ABM: “Account Based Marketing simply means instead of fishing with nets, we’re fishing with spears. You identify exactly the prospects you want to do business with and then you market very precisely and narrowly to them directly.”

Justin Gray, CMO at LeadMD takes a more holistic view: “Our definition of account-based marketing is just good marketing. If you only had one prospect to sell and market to, you would treat them with the same principles as outlined in ABM. It’s just aiming at a more well-defined area of the funnel, and treating your best buyers in a much more personal way.”

The core principles of ABM include:

  • Customised, personalised campaigns that are created based on thorough knowledge of the customer

  • Alignment and integration between marketing and sales that promotes collaboration throughout the customer lifecycle

  • An overall strategy that focuses on optimising business standing, improving customer relationships, and increasing revenue

Why should organisations adopt account-based marketing?

In addition to a one-to-many marketing approach (e.g. a mass mail-out, a TV or radio ad), ABM’s one-to-one or one-to-few methods may help cement relationships with high-value prospects and ensure their customer experience is as optimal as possible.

RSPCA South Australia uses account-based marketing to offer advice and support to people who have adopted a new pet. Similarly, they tailor campaigns to those who have shown an interest in donating. Prior to implementing Salesforce’s Pardot, the marketing team would send out a campaign to a full list of contacts without a clear view of the relative importance of that information to each person. RSPCA SA’s successful ABM campaigns over the last two years have noted fewer people unsubscribing, email subscribers growing, and helps them identify and rapidly engage with regular donors.

What are the benefits of account-based marketing?

1. It offers a personalised and consistent marketing approach

ABM is about tailoring your ongoing marketing to a key account - identifying their need, and presenting your organisation’s solution.

2. Alignment between the sales and marketing teams

ABM aligns Marketing and Sales in the selection and pursuit of a set of accounts with greatest potential for business. Companies gain real competitive advantage from ABM when their marketers work with sales to make smart choices about which accounts to focus on, then find out what those accounts and the people in them care about, and use those insights to engage in relevant, timely ways. Sales and marketing departments share knowledge about a client that benefits both - the marketing team can customise their campaigns; the sales team can use engagement information from that to present more targeted solutions; and importantly the customer feels heard, and has a seamless experience with the organisation.

3. Streamlined sales cycles

One of ABM’s biggest strengths is accelerating the sales cycle by influencing decision makers before they even talk to a salesperson. In many organisations, the sales cycle involves a broad campaign to attract as many prospects as possible; sifting through the prospects to identify high-value leads; and pulling the leads through the pipeline with the hope of eventually closing the deal. With ABM, marketers (with the sales team) identify target accounts, personalise the marketing and experience, allowing the sales team to convert. ABM shortens the sales process by extending the involvement of marketing in the sales funnel. According to the fifth annual State of Marketing report, the incidence of sales and marketing teams sharing common goals and metrics rose from 52% to 87%.

4. Higher ROI

More targeted campaigns means less of a scattergun approach, and fewer wasted resources. It means focusing on high-value opportunities and spending less time and money on campaigns that aren’t hitting the mark. 87% of companies say ABM delivers higher ROI than other types of marketing (ITSMA).

How do you establish account-based marketing in your organisation?

1. Identify the right accounts

Use your data to focus on high-value clients or high propensity to buy prospects, and then identify key stakeholders within the target account. This will involve undertaking customer journey mapping, where you identify your targets’ likes and dislikes, challenges and opportunities. You then target customers individually, via your marketing channels with content, virtual and live event invitations, targeted digital and product demos in order to engage and influence them to make an informed decision on why they should buy from your organisation.

2. Improve customer engagement

Design and deliver personalised messaging to key accounts so that they receive the content that matters most to them, where they are. Not only does this improve their overall experience (no one likes receiving irrelevant emails), but it also pushes them further along the pipeline as the content itself is clearly addressing their need. 69% of business buyers expect Amazon-like buying experiences, such as personalised recommendations.

3. Align sales and marketing

Closer collaboration between teams, particularly marketing and sales, is the key to success. This is supported by findings from the State of Marketing report, which shows that high-performing marketers are 2.1x more likely to indicate sales teams regularly provides key insights which inform their marketing efforts.

4. Measure and optimise campaign performance

There’s no doubt that ABM is an optimal strategy for marketers, but without proper measurement in place at the onset of implementation, true business impact won’t be understood. The biggest difference with ABM is that it requires measuring a unified buyer journey for the whole account, not separate journeys for each individual. It’s measuring accounts as opposed to leads. The emphasis is also taken away from generating volume and is instead about quality engagement. With ABM you should be looking for fewer leads but a much higher conversion rate. Additionally, because ABM has longer sales cycles and more touchpoints than traditional marketing, it is also necessary to use a full-funnel attribution model, especially as a significant amount of marketing effort occurs after the opportunity is created.

KPIs will also differ from inbound marketing metrics. If your goal is to increase recurring revenue through ABM, there’s no point including the total number of new accounts as a KPI. Metrics that focus on potential leads, including initial enquiries, website users/sessions, and social followers need to be replaced with measuring engagement within particular accounts, like contacts, responses to ABM marketing material, revenue, upselling, and shortening the length of the sales cycle.

According to the 6th State of Marketing Report, ABM programs have quickly grown more sophisticated despite being a relatively new phenomenon.

Account-based marketing case studies

Volkswagen Group Australia

One of Volkswagen’s main priorities is to ensure a lifetime loyalty for their customers. At 104 dealerships nation-wide, Volkswagen has used Salesforce to ensure a consistent customer experience, provide analytics which helps customers find the right solutions, and hit a new benchmark - Volkswagen Group Australia now ranks within the top 3, globally, for service.

The dealer networks and the contact service group use account-based marketing to deliver a more connected customer experience, whether they enter a dealership, apply for a test-drive online, or follow through with a sale. These communications are all entered into Marketing Cloud and messaging is delivered that supports each customer at a personal level.

Cure Cancer
Over the last financial year, Cure Cancer has experienced a 226% rise in donations from email channels and an 119% increase in website traffic from emails it attributes to a more personalised tonality which nurtures customer journeys. The organisation uses Einstein Analytics to uncover new insights on donors, including how and why they are giving and where they are located specifically. This information will help Cure Cancer to further personalise communication and make fundraising efforts increasingly efficient and  effective.
Cotton On Group

30 years ago, the Cotton On brand was being sold at an outdoor market. Today, Cotton On is Australia’s largest retailer operating on a global scale. Cotton On uses Salesforce to personalise its marketing via the Cotton On & Co Perks initiative - a loyalty campaign which applies to customers instore and online. Marketing Cloud supplies insights and opportunities through customers’ engagement and purchases and helps ensure they are receiving promotions and communications relevant to their interests.

Download the Sixth State of Marketing report

Salesforce’s Sixth Annual State of Marketing report has more insight into account-based marketing and the trends of the high-performing marketer. To keep up-to-date with the latest data, download the report today.

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