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What is Account Based Marketing?


Weslie Oeftering
What is Account Based Marketing?

The rumors are true; account-based marketing (or “ABM,” if you want to sound hip) has taken the digital marketing world by storm, especially in the B2B space. In fact, according to a 2017 ITSMA study, 72 percent of companies planned to increase spending on ABM by an average of 23 percent over the next 12 months.

This is a remarkable increase considering that the term “account-based marketing” barely registered on Google Trends just five years ago. Substantial growth like this can be attributed to the fact that when done correctly, account-based marketing yields higher ROI than other marketing methods.

So, What is ABM?

Understanding account-based marketing requires recognizing that B2B purchases are usually approved by multiple people in an organization before they are finalized. Instead of selling to just one customer as you would in B2C selling, you are selling to an entire account.

It’s easy to assume that as sales, in general, becomes more digitized, fewer and fewer people are required for purchasing decisions. However, Harvard Business Review recently found that the number of people involved in B2B purchases actually increased from 5.6 to 6.8 between 2015 and 2017 because increased digitization means that there is more information to sift through and ask questions about, which requires more people.

The key tenant of ABM holds that the best way to go about getting everyone in an account to agree to purchase is by personalizing interactions with them as much as possible. Ultimately, personalization allows a salesperson to engage with an account at every step in the process so that they are able to resolve any issues that might prevent a sale from happening. In other words, ABM completes and speeds up sales at a higher rate than other marketing models by building stronger relationships with accounts.

Such a high-level of personalization requires a lot of attention (and a good CRM to keep track of everyone), which means that one salesperson can no longer effectively serve and/or target a lot of accounts at once. Instead, ABM salespeople serve and target just a few high-value accounts. This is often referred to as “One-to-One” or “One-to-Few,” selling. The idea is that a smaller number of high-quality leads is better than a bigger number of average-quality leads. It’s easier to start a conversation with a promising lead when a brand’s message only has to speak to companies that are just like them.

Similar to inbound marketing in the B2C space, ABM emphasizes targeting specific leads, rather than just casting a wide net in the hopes of getting the right leads’ attention. Once you build a solid relationship with a high-value account, it often results in more high-quality leads and therefore more high-value sales.

In sum, many companies are increasing revenue with account-based marketing strategies because it prioritizes quality over quantity by engaging with leads on a more personalized level. This personalization comes from a marketing message that is specifically tailored to who your company most wants to reach. Therefore, ABM is nothing without an understanding of who your company should be targeting. Don’t set yourself up for failure by not taking the time to refine the details like this!

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