Knowing where to start when putting together your strategic marketing plan is often the most difficult hurdle to overcome. There are so many ways to go about reaching your target audience, but how do you know which will be most effective?

For B2B marketers, there are two main schools of thought: developing buyer personas to focus on specific types of prospects, or focusing less on individuals and more on the groups of clients that make up specific accounts as a whole.

The second approach is called Account-based Marketing (ABM) and is an extremely popular marketing strategy for B2B marketers looking to acquire specific accounts. The inertia of setting up your marketing strategy can be paralyzing if you don’t know where to begin, so we’ve compiled a beginners guide to kicking off a successful account-based marketing journey.

Getting Started

The first step to achieving ABM is fully understanding what it entails. David Cain, GVP at Marketo, defines ABM as such,

Instead of leveraging a set of broad-reaching programs designed to touch the largest possible number of prospective customers, an ABM strategy focuses marketing and sales resources on a defined set of targeted accounts and employs personalized campaigns designed to resonate with each individual account. With ABM, your marketing message is based on the attributes and needs of the account you’re targeting.

The most important thing to remember about ABM is that it’s an appeal to collective decision making. More often than not, companies make big decisions in groups, so why wouldn’t you gear your marketing to the group as a whole rather than individuals within that group? It’s much easier to make the sale when all of the influencers in a group know your name rather than just one or two.

In order to appeal to those higher-ups in an organization with your specifically targeted content, we’ve outlined the basic steps to establishing a solid ABM strategy:

Select Your Target

Choosing the organization you’re going to focus your marketing efforts towards requires a lot of time, research, and input from both the marketing and sales teams since they both have a large stake in the outcome. Research into the prospect’s basic information (size, location, revenue, AUM, etc.), as well as factors which affect their potential to work with you (influence, current business relationships, propensity towards repeat purchases, etc.), should all be taken into consideration.

Once you have a thorough understanding of the prospective account in question, you need to build a persona of sorts. It’s crucial to keep in mind that you are building a collective persona for the entire group, not just for one member.

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However, knowing who the major decision-makers in an organization can be a huge asset when deciding how to position your marketing strategy. If you can base the persona you’re creating off of the preferences of 4-5 senior-level executives in the organization, your ABM strategy will be in a perfect position to win the account over.

Using the Advanced People Search function on LinkedIn is a great way to identify these senior-level decision makers since you can search by organization and position without having to input a name.

Also, keep in mind you don’t need to limit yourself to one targeted account. Resources allowing, you can target several accounts and create segmented marketing plans for each.

Angle Your Content

Now that you’ve identified your target, you need to start creating content that speaks to them. Focus on creating content that addresses issues of both the employees you identified, as well as the business as a whole.

Get on their level and think about the potential issues that this client or prospect faces which you would be able to help them with, and develop valuable content around that. At this point, you can begin to use inbound marketing techniques since your content has to be valuable enough to draw your target account in and get them thinking about what you can offer.angle

According to this report by DemandBase, 60% of visitors to a B2B site bounce after one page without interaction and, even more shockingly, 82% of B2B website visitors are not potential customers. This is why it is especially important to focus on the direction of your content so that when that 18% who are potential customers, primarily those who are part of your target account, visit your site, they see content written specifically for them.

Run. Review. Repeat

You’ve identified your target account and you’ve created new content specifically for them, now you just have to deliver it to them. Odds are you already have some sort of marketing funnel in place for your prior marketing efforts, so you’re already used to focusing your demand generation tactics towards a specific group. When you do this for ABM, you will need to tweak some of the steps of the funnel.

First, ditch the idea that your campaign’s success hinges on the total number of people it reaches and the quantity of interactions it gets. With ABM it’s all about the quality of the interactions, rather than the quantity. For instance, if 30 lower-level employees of the account you’re targeting interact with your email, this would still be less valuable than if one high-level influencer interacted with it.

recycle

Secondly, if it’s possible, you should be using content tags to identify which types of content your target account members like best, as well as an engagement scoring tool to rank which interactions are more valuable than others. You can then use these variables to get a better look into your target’s level of interest.

Maybe the lower level employees in an organization watch of your videos while the higher level influencers read more white papers. With content tags, you would be able to identify this helpful trend, and with engagement scoring, you would be able to weigh interactions with white papers as more important in future campaigns.

Whether you’re producing videos, white papers, blogs, live webcasts, or any other type of content, the more channels you include in your marketing plan, the more clear the view of your account engagement becomes. You can see what the account likes and doesn’t like using different targeting techniques to give you a better perspective on how to target them moving forward.

Using this information, you should constantly be updating your funnel and tweaking certain aspects of your content, tagging strategy, and overall marketing strategy to best fit the observed behavior of your target account.

Why ABM?

  • Forces Marketing & Sales to stay on the same page
    • If the marketing and sales teams are both focused on snagging a great white whale of an account, they will be forced to stay aligned. If you are just marketing based off of customer personas, it’s easy for the two teams to start to drift in focus from each other. With ABM, the marketing team starts to operate with a similar mindset to sales which will help smooth out potential trouble spots in your sales funnel.
  • Focus
    • When a team switches to an ABM strategy, the scope of their focus immediately becomes much more clear and personal. The goal, for both the marketing and the sales teams, is to appeal to a strategically selected set of individuals at a firm, rather than a massive group of people with an equally large set of interests. ABM also makes it easier to gauge the ROI of your marketing spend.
  • Reduced Waste
    • The “spray and pray” method of marketing results in a lot of bounces and unread emails, driving down engagement and causing more work for less of a result. Since ABM is focused on certain firms, your resources get used more efficiently and inevitably allow you to get more bang out of your marketing buck.

For more information on how to utilize the latest marketing tech to land the account of your dreams, reach out to StoneShot any time!