In the world of outbound marketing, there has been a great deal of chatter concerning ABM or Account Based Marketing. Now whether or not you’ve caught wind of the conversation, as a B2B or B2C marketer, it’s important that you educate yourself sooner than later. ABM is nothing new, but rather an old marketing strategy that is becoming increasingly popular due to technological advancements. Now that we’ve brought this to your attention, the question still remains — What is Account Based Marketing?
As defined by KISS Metrics,
Account-based marketers focus marketing and sales resources on a defined set of targeted accounts, using personalized campaigns tailored to each account. In other words, each account is treated as its own market.
In plain English it’s, “Focusing your marketing dollars on the accounts you want your sales team to sell to. You no longer have to fill out the formula.” – Jeffrey L. Cohen, Oracle Marketing Cloud.
Sounds simple enough, right?
Before we go any further, to what formula is Cohen referring?
Cohen is referring to the strategy or ‘formula’ of funnel-based marketing, wherein marketers 1) Decide what type of content needs to be created, 2) Where this content would best be distributed, and 3) What networks to best distributed their content to an audience. Account-based marketing on the other hand flips the order of this strategy.
The first step in outbound marketing is to design a campaign to generate leads to your web page, store, etc. However, ABM instead utilizes interest displayed by potential customers. How can you gauge interest? Interest is typically gauged by following the IP address of a specific organization.
ABM uses an IP address to target an account. This means you do not have to have a previous interaction with the account since you are using the IP address as the identifier. – Clickz.com
Now we’re getting somewhere in understanding that the first step is less of a guessing game and more of a deliberate pursuit. However, few modern organizations operate under the decision-making of a sole individual.
Looking at the diagram above provides an example of the contrast between a person-centric and account-centric marketing strategy. The number of decision-makers in the sales cycle of most organizations looks like our example on the right. Before we go too far though, let’s focus on the terms ‘Person-centric‘ and ‘Account-centric.’
To elaborate on person-centric marketing, it focuses on leading one specific individual through the sales funnel. Account-based marketing on the other hand is a more modern approach on a person-centric strategy — there is more than one decision-maker in a sales cycle. So, regardless of the approach you take they are each person-centric, except ABM recognizes the collective group of individuals involved in a purchasing decision.
Now that we fully understand what account based marketing is, how does it work? ABM uses an IP address to target an account. Here’s an example from Clickz.com to further expand on ABM:
Consider DocuSign’s use case. They employed account-based marketing and built a hyper-relevant Web experience in an effort to gain new business. In wanting their website to change for each company that visited, they used ABM to dynamically change their calls to action and messaging for each targeted account who came to their website. So, for example, a T-Mobile employee would have a very different experience than Wells Fargo employee.
ABM and Marketing Automation
Account-based marketing campaigns are a great option due to their compatibility with marketing automation software. Like the example above, programs can be setup and run with little management. This is the beauty of an account based marketing strategy. ABM creates a tailored experience for prospective customers. We like to refer to the approach as using a sniper rifle versus a shotgun — a shotgun blast spreads wide, but a rifle is designed to hit a specific target. As marketing master David Ogilvy described it, “Don’t count the people you reach; reach the people that count.”
While ABM makes it easier to find your target, does it mean that every target is necessarily a good one? To help you make that decision, it is best to create an index of the interest displayed by decision-makers in companies/organizations. [Jeffrey L.] Cohen uses an index designed on a 100-point value with 10-point grade intervals, so for example
- 90-100 Hot
- 80-90 Pretty Good
- 70-80 Interested
Whether you’re considering account based marketing OR have never heard of it before, this article is meant to raise your awareness of its potential. So, while we’re not telling you that you need to switch up your strategy, we are saying the B2B landscape will only continue to further influenced by ABM practices in the future. It is also important to keep in mind that not every (marketing) organization has the infrastructure to support an account-based marketing approach. We’ll leave that up to you to discover.
Account-Based Marketing Takeaways
- Offers IP-based targeting, allowing you to create targeted ads.
- Can be automated, allowing you to set up programs and run them with minimal management.
- Easy to implement, so long as you have the technical know-how and infrastructure.
- In its early technological adoption phase, and therefore not utilized by the majority of industry experts — the strategic approach may have several bugs that need to be worked out.
- Requires specific technical knowledge. “There is some manual work involved in mapping IP addresses due to the way many companies set up their IP networks.” – Clickz.com
- Requires a platform, meaning you need to decide whether or not it’s worth the investment.