Account based marketing is capturing the attention of B2B marketers. According to Forrester, the rise of customer experience technology and the quality of personalized experiences that it affords is pushing this sector forward. Essentially, account based marketing (ABM) is helping marketers better understand their customer data and turn it into personalized experiences across channels that deliver a better overall user experience.
In the past, ABM had been cost prohibitive because creating segmented tracking, delivering personalized content, and responding to a prospect’s behavior was all done manually. In the old days of ABM, a marketer would select the top 10-1000 prospects to target and buy their phone numbers and mailing addresses from a list broker. Then they would send a brochure and call them, which is a very intrusive approach.
Today, new data sources and automation tools are making this strategy effective without blowing an entire marketing budget on one customer. Big data and analytics tools can help B2B marketers create and deliver predictive content based on a buyer’s intent. Rather than just noise, nowadays, marketers are turning hundreds of data points into actionable data to reach prospects and convert them into customers. Predictive intelligence and marketing automation tools enable account based marketing and sales teams to deliver relevant content in real time.
LinkedIn asked 10 leading marketers how they define account based marketing today. “Account based marketing is simply instead of fishing with nets, we’re fishing with spears,” said Matt Heinz, President, Heinz Marketing. “You identify exactly the prospects you want to do business with and then you market very precisely, and narrowly, to them directly.”
“Our definition of account based marketing is just good marketing,” said Justin Gray, CMO, LeadMD. “If you only had one prospect to sell and market to, you would treat them with the same principles as outlined in ABM.”
There are several elements at work that are making ABM more important again. Since B2B marketers have a long buying cycle and need to target leads at unique stages in the sales process, ABM works to help influence leads no matter what stage they are in the journey. Personalization and engagement are becoming more important factors than click-through-rates and form submissions.
According to ITSMA, 85 percent of marketers feel that understanding their buyers is their primary responsibility. Therefore, these B2B marketers are embracing account based marketing as part of their marketing strategy, because of its opportunity to help better understand prospects using automation and data.
Yet, as marketers embrace this new opportunity, it is important not to fall into old ABM traps. There is a gap between the innovators and followers in ABM, according to a recent report from Sirius Decisions. While 92 percent of marketers recognize the importance of ABM, only 20 percent actually had a full program in place. Still, 52 percent were testing ABM programs.
Marketers using ABM are also finding benefits in working directly with sales teams in order to find key prospects and craft personalized programs and messages to these targeted accounts. Technology is making it easier to align the sales and marketing teams and improve results. Today, data helps marketers understand everything they want to know about their prospective buyers. Data has become fluid, allowing the teams to interact and work together.
Head of B2B Marketing, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions, Dave Karel’s definition of ABM sums it up: “To break down walls between sales and marketing, ABM is pretty close to a silver bullet in that it aligns programs’ dollars and focus behind the accounts that the sales teams cares about.