Let’s face it, we’re in love with Account-Based Marketing (ABM). Why?
It’s simple really. According to Forrester,

“ABM helps shift the advantage away from digitally empowered buyers by reapplying fundamental marketing principles like segmenting, targeting, developing rich customer insights, testing, aligning across channels, and acting in response to results.”

Source: Forrester’s Retro Yet Revolutionary: Demystifying Account-Based Marketing

In a nutshell, Account-Based Marketing helps marketers and agencies actively participate and align with the sales process (I could feel your hackles rising just now, BTW). but it’s true—and it’s critical—because content marketing alone just isn’t getting the job done (I’ll explain more later).

We’ve heard the metaphor a thousand times “Content Marketing is fishing with a net, Account-Based Marketing is fishing with a spear.” There’s nothing to say that the two are mutually exclusive, in fact—they’re both more successful if they supplement each other.

Given this, we’ve put together the following evergreen interactive infographic (evergreen because we’ll be adding to it every week for the next 6 months or so, interactive because you’ll actually be able to interact with it, and infographic… well—you get the idea).

We urge you to take a look and bookmark this page in your browser and check us out once a week. Don’t want to do that? Subscribe to receive notifications on when we push our weekly updates live. Lastly, help us out and share this awesome Account-based Marketing infographic on your social channels.

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What is Account-Based Marketing?

Depending on your source, you get a bit of a different flavor, but in essence, Account-Based Marketing is the process of identifying the exact prospects you want as clients, and you market and sell to them specifically. Rather than leveraging content marketing to cast a wide net, you leverage content to drive and bolster specific one on one interactions.

Why Would My Company Use Account-Based Marketing?

200

More Revenue Generated

“We already target accounts—the sales team does that.” Yeah, sort of. But there’s been a disconnect between Sales and Marketing for so long—Account-Based Marketing is quickly becoming the bridge on that chasm. And according to FlipMyFunnel, companies using ABM generate more revenue for their marketing efforts.

Source: FlipMyFunnel

ABM Helps Align Sales and Marketing

"Organizations with solid alignment between sales and marketing teams gain 20% revenue growth on average, each and every year. Companies with poor internal alliance actually see revenue decline by 4%!”

Says Sam Hurley, a top Global Marketing Influencer.

Account-based marketing can help align by bringing expectations of marketing and sales teams more in line than strictly inbound or content-based initiatives.

In fact, according marktechtoday.com, companies engaged in ABM activities “have better alignment with sales, often close bigger deals with target accounts, and increase pipeline velocity.”

Source: Sparklane Group

Content and Account-Based Marketing Take Time

We know content marketing takes time, and so does ABM—but both are worth your investment. Based on a report by DemandBase in companies that have been leveraging ABM for a year or more, more than half of marketers saw a 10% increase in revenue, and 19% saw 30% or greater increase.

Source: Demandbase in eWeek

Revenue Increase of +10%
Revenue Increase of +30%

Your Customers (and Prospects) Still Trust You

Subject Matter Experts

39%
Websites

31%
Industry Analysts

31%
Sales People

26%
Peers

26%

For all the chatter (and reality) that B2C buyers don’t trust brands, B2B buyers still believe solution providers (and their SMEs) are one of the most credible sources of information during the purchasing processes, according to ITSMA. So, if you’re not creating content that establishes credibility, authority and a trusted relationship, you’re missing a huge opportunity to support your ABM efforts. 

Source: ITSMA

It Takes a Village…

We’ve always had clients who need to “talk to someone to get sign off” before they can proceed. That hasn’t changed. What’s changed is how many people need to know sign off to get projects moving and purchases made. The actual break down varies by source and study, but based on this article in HBR, you now have to deal with 5.4 (6 if you don’t believe in .4 people), to get your product or service sale closed.

Source: CEB in Harvard Business Review

5.4

Total Purchase Influencers

…And it’s a Village You Can’t Ignore

40

Better Chance of Success

Within these influencers, you’ll face a number of very different decision makers. According to HBR.org, from Go-Getters to Blockers, you’ll face a variety of different viewpoints and motivators when engaged in ABM and sales. But you can decrease your chance of failure since tailored content at this stage can improve your chances of success by 40%.

Source: CEB in Harvard Business Review

And They’ll Be Smart Before They Ever Talk to You

Those of us in content marketing (about 90% of marketers), are familiar with the “your buyer is more educated than ever—they’ve practically read half the internet before talking to you.” And this is why content marketing is such a key part of the ABM process. Since about 3/4 of business buyers have done more than half their research online before making an offline purchase (Forrester), it’s more critical than ever that you engage each of these individual users with very specific, targeted content.

Source: Forrester

Have Completed More Than Half of Their Research Online

It’s Going to Take You 7+ Marketing Touches to Generate a Qualified Lead

One of the biggest challenges we face is aligning marketing qualified leads (MQL) and sales qualified leads (SQL). This alignment is key to your marketing team, because SQLs have a higher chance of being “accepted” by sales and of being converted into sales. According to the Online Marketing Institute, there are four pieces of information you need to provide on a prospect to consider it an SQL: Budget, Authority, Need, and Timeframe—or BANT Data.

Source: Online Marketing Institute

3 Things to Avoid in ABM

It’s easy to talk about what good Account-based Marketing practices are. What can be harder for marketers to realize (without good ol’ trial and error) is what not to do. Thankfully we’ve got a little experience under our belts, and can offer some advice on what you should avoid when developing your ABM strategy.

67
Are You Guilty of Keeping Sales at Arm’s Length?

ABM teams are 67% better at closing deals when sales and marketing are in close alignment. Getting sales on board with account-based marketing early is crucial to the success of any ABM campaign. Orchestrate with an understanding of everyone’s role and the process of accounts moving through your campaign.

7000
Not Letting Your Tech Do the Heavy Lifting

With the Marketing Technology Landscape nearing 7,000 different vendors competing in the industry, the tech side of ABM is becoming almost overwhelming. The sheer power of the platforms available allow marketers to do more than ever before. It’s important to make sure your tech stack doesn’t have any organizational gaps, and you’re making full use of the tools (not everyone can balance MA platforms and a cool ABM infographic like us).

96
Building the Wrong Target Account List

A staggering 96% of marketers state that a significant number of people reached are outside their intended ABM target. Take the time to clearly define your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), and include important factors like (pull three examples from our ICP checklist). Use that data to hand pick your A-list accounts instead of relying on tools to generate large, misaligned account lists for you.

Research is Proportionate to the Price

90

Of Buyers Increase Research as Purchase Price Increases

Makes sense, doesn’t it? The more something costs, the more your buyer is going to research it. This means that the more you charge, the more you need to coach and teach your buyer throughout their buyer journey. If you’re selling a $5 a month SaaS solution, a five-page website might be enough. But if you’re selling a complex and expensive solution with many moving parts and a SAP level price-tag, plan on developing a detailed and specific content and AMB marketing strategy.

Source: Salesforce

You’re Already Halfway There with Content Marketing

90% of companies are already doing some sort of content marketing. And because everyone is doing it, it’s getting harder and harder to “win” at it. And since content marketing is at the core of ABM, it’s more important to be smart about what you’re doing. Job to be Done Analysis, Adaptive Personas, and Competitive Content Analysis are critical tools in developing a more targeted strategy, regardless of your approach.

Source: Content Marketing Institute’s B2B Content Marketing 2017 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America

Of Marketers are Engaged in Content Marketing

What’s the difference between Account-based Marketing, Content Marketing, and Inbound Marketing?

We’ve been at this Account-based Marketing infographic for about 2 months now, and we’ve heard from a lot of you that you’re not quite sure what the difference is between Account-based, Content, and Inbound Marketing strategies. To sum it up briefly:

Content Marketing

Content Marketing is the practice of creating and leveraging content (images, social media, blogs, videos), in a manner that educates your buyers at different stages of the buyer’s journey to build brand awareness and (ideally) drive lead generation.

Inbound Marketing

Inbound Marketing (sometimes called Permission Marketing—thank you Seth Godin), leverages content marketing to enable you to build awareness across a broad swath of prospects by casting a wide net with shared content, getting your prospect’s permission to market to them, and helping as many of them as possible solve their problems. The operative word here is “as many as possible.” It’s a numbers game after all.

Account-based Marketing

Also leveraging content marketing, Account-based Marketing is the “outbound” brother to Inbound Marketing. Where Inbound focuses on casting a wide net to catch as many fish as possible, Account-based marketing uses a spear to hunt exactly the fish you want to catch. In each case, Content is the boat that gets you to where the fish are.

Which Should You Use?

While every marketing strategy should be tailored to your specific need, in our experience, we’ve found that Account-based marketing is best for longer sales cycles (6 – 9 months or more) with a high (C-level) buyer, and $50,000 – $100,000+ deals with a number of influencers. Inbound is more tailored towards shorter sales cycles, mid-to-high-tier buyers with smaller budgets. And for each of these, a Content Marketing Strategy will be key.

How Should You Measure Content Marketing Differently When Leveraging ABM?

Curata, the software company–you may have heard about–known for its content marketing and curation platform was kind enough to loan us some insight from their ebook, “Content Marketing Metrics: Account Based Marketing Edition.”

In short, you’ll need to make a few (significant) adjustments to the way you measure and report your content marketing metrics when leveraging an Account-based Marketing strategy. These include:

Instead of measuring people, you’re measuring accounts.

But you’re still writing to people. You’re not casting a wide net (like inbound marketing), but using a hyper-targeted approach.

Quality is much more important than quantity.

It’s less about how many people are coming to your site, and more about who is coming to your site.

Leads are less important than opportunities or revenue.

Many leads can make up one account. When employing an ABM model, content should focus on the impact of the account or revenue generated level.

Identify Your Target Accounts: Your “Ideal Customer”

Many companies struggle with Account-Based Marketing for the same reason they struggle with inbound marketing—they focus too closely on developing personas and not enough on developing the account, and the problem the account is looking to solve.

By focusing too closely on a persona (typically generated through brainstorming and an advanced LinkedIn search) at this stage, you may miss the exact nature of the customer’s need—and miss how you can position your company as the solution for it.

Don’t get us wrong, we aren’t suggesting that you NOT create personas, but before you do, you must dig into the specific challenge your customer is facing right before they identify a solution. This helps avoid mis-identifying buyers, and helps you identify ideal customers.

An ideal customer is not a person, but an actual business or organization. You’ll want to consider a number of key characteristics of a business struggling with the problem you solve:

  • Industry
  • Size (revenue, headcount, etc)
  • Geography
  • Level of business maturity (growth, mature, decline)
  • Job to be done (in their own words) the particular problem they are struggling with that you can solve (the “job” they “hire” your product to do)

By looking at your business through the eyes of an ideal customer, you can position your company and ABM in a way that leads them directly to you—and only you.

Depending on your business, you may have a number of ideal customers. Once these are defined, you can proceed to creating adaptive personas and purchase influencers.

Source: Bill Schick, Founder and CDO of MESH

So Don’t Leave Them Wanting

65

Of Buyers Walk Away

According to McKinsey, 2/3 of buyers will walk away from the process because they are frustrated with inconsistent experiences. These might include being told one thing and experiencing or learning another on your website or in your content, levels of access to the right types of content at the right stage of the buyer journey, or even disconnects across your platforms (search and social).

Source: McKinsey

3 Ways to Personalize Marketing When You’re Leveraging an Account-Based Marketing Strategy

Account-Based Marketing is all about targeting very specific accounts—and delivering highly personalized content every step of the way. Here are 3 quick ways you can start personalizing your content today.

1. Account-based Advertising

Featured on Mark Schaefer’s {grow} blog, account-based advertising “should build on your account-based marketing approach, including insights that allow you to deliver the most appropriate message to each company, based on everything from industry to the status of each company in your sales pipeline.” Facebook, in particular, has some powerful and mostly untapped tools for delivering highly targeted and personal advertising to B2B prospects.

2. Sales Enablement Personalization

Different companies have different sales enablement toolkits. Some have dedicated sales apps on mobile devices, some leverage dynamic content like PDF case studies, while others have more traditional printed brochures with stock photos. Empowering your sales team with tools that can be personalized (even with simple form fields within documents) can dramatically improve engagement with prospects.

3. True Website Personalization

You’re probably thinking “here we go again, pop a name into a page on the website and welcome visitors back”. Think again. We recently completed a personalization project for a global business school that leveraged anonymous website traffic to build and map dynamic personas to the user experience—ultimately delivering not just specific messaging based on that persona, but dynamic content types as well. Different user types want more than just personalized messaging—they want it in the form and medium of their preference.

Three Examples of Interactive Content You Can Use in Almost Any ABM Strategy

Interactive InfoPapers

An interactive InfoPaper combines a number of different content asset types, including a white paper, video, infographic, quiz, and conversion forms. These assets, typically kept separate are meshed into a single, powerful content asset that has the potential to reduce your buyer’s journey by as much as 50% (here’s an example Interactive InfoPaper).

Learn More

Online Assessment

Another tool in the ABM arsenal, an online assessment can help both qualify a prospect as well as educate you on the market. Typically ranging from 10 to 20 questions (depending on the complexity of your offering), assessments can help you gain valuable insight into your user, their decision-making process, and suitability for a particular solution. Assessments are useful in ABM because, when leveraged at the right stage of the buyer’s journey and with the appropriate questions, an assessment can help a prospect select the right solution for their particular need, while providing you with valuable intel.

Learn More

Interactive Infographics and Resources

Just like their static siblings that are locked into PNG, JPEG, GIF or PDF format, interactive infographics tell a story or educate the reader by visually representing data, information or a process clearly. These are incredibly useful when you have a complex point to make, or a process that has a number of hard to describe moving parts (like marketing). The interactive kind (like this Account-based Marketing infographic is becoming) allows the user to interact with some (or all) of the data. We see most interactive infographics as being responsive and animated today, but look for infographics that capture user data in real time, allowing visitors to compare their own data to their peers in the moment.

Learn More

Metrics Are Your Friend

One of the most important—and often difficult to manage—components of Account-Based Marketing programs is the measurement of metrics.

Those who are new to ABM will often put high effort into getting their ABM strategy into motion, and then wrestle when it comes to analyzing and optimizing their campaign later on. Tracking metrics is the easiest way to see whether or not your campaign is successful—by measuring different data surrounding an ABM strategy, you can quantify just how well your program is working and where you need to improve.

What metrics you will track may vary, but here is our roundup of the most important ones.

Coverage/Reach

How many stakeholders within your target accounts have you actually reached? What are your open and click through rates within your target accounts?

Engagement

How are your targets interacting with your content? How much time did they spend on it? How many pieces of content did they engage with?

Impact

Did engaging with your content lead your target to take some action (call/email/form filled out)? What specific content caused this contact?

Influence

How has using ABM impacted sales? Are sales cycles shorter? Are sale amounts larger? Are conversion rates for ABM accounts higher than non-ABM accounts?

ROI

What is your return on investment? Are you getting more out of your campaign than you’re putting in?

Retention

Are targets sticking with you beyond the initial sale? Are your ABM targets more prone to up-selling and cross selling than non-ABM?

Source: Terminus and B2B Marketing

Account-Based Marketing Next Steps

ABM is clearly worth the effort. Given the time and resources it takes to make it a success, it’s important to have a strategy for it in place. Additionally, it’s critical to do your homework, and make sure you’re not getting lost in the sea of content.
Do you have an ABM and Content Marketing Strategy in place? If not, and you’d like to talk about what it takes to get one up and running, contact us today. If you have a strategy in place, and want to add fuel to the fire, let’s talk about that too!