Since it was coined 15 years, the term Account-Based Marketing (ABM) continues to trend among B2B marketers. As a matter of fact, 92% of marketers in companies consider ABM extremely important in boosting their marketing efforts. This is largely because, unlike other marketing approaches, ABM delivers higher returns on investment, reduces customer attrition, shortens the sales process and creates alignment between sales and marketing teams.
The ABM approach differs from traditional marketing approaches in the way it targets prospects.
Instead of focusing on the entire industry, marketers who use the ABM approach identify high value prospects then treat each prospect as a market of its own. Key decision makers in each high value account are targeted through multi-channel marketing campaigns.
Available statistics show that ABM is highly effective in boosting B2B sales revenue and profitability. Within two years of applying the ABM strategy, 89% of marketers reported higher returns on investment than those realized through the conventional marketing approach. According to the 2017 state of the ABM study, the majority of ABM marketers – 91% – report seeing an increase of more than 50% in deal size.
Source: Sirius Decisions
The same report showed that close to a third of marketers said their engagement with C-suite executives in target accounts increased by more than 100% after they applied the ABM approach. ABM is particularly instrumental in reducing the time that sales teams spend following unproductive leads.
But, how can B2B marketers implement ABM strategies successfully to realize such results? In this article, we explore ten brilliant account-based marketing plan examples that B2B marketers can imply.
#1. Using Social Media to Make a Positive First Impression
Social media is a strategic avenue for making a personalized first impression with high value accounts and gaining information about them prior to meeting them physically. After identifying target accounts, practise social listening to identify their challenges and pain points.
To boost your company’s credibility, begin engaging these accounts by liking their posts, leaving comments, and even sharing their posts on social media. Also, consider sending them direct messages on social media – this gives you a head start by getting yourself noticed early. When doing this, marketers should apply the right tactics.
For instance, it’s plain wrong to send a target account a sales pitch when you’re just initiating engagement. Tools such as Social Inbox by Hubspot come in handy in helping B2B marketers stay abreast of target accounts and the decision makers.
#2. Mirroring Target Account Contact Language
B2B marketers can mirror the language or interest of their target contacts to capture their interest. For instance, a company can use the same lingo, metaphors or language that the brand they are targeting uses to attract them. A good example of this strategy is what Computer Vision Technology did to capture the attention of McDonald.
To pull this strategy off, a B2B company must invest in understanding the target account and pump resources to develop content and graphics for it. This strategy works best with target accounts that have the highest value.
#3. Recognizing Target Account Expertise in your Content
When executed well, educational content can play an important role in attracting target accounts to your company and creating demand for your offerings. B2B marketers can create engaging content in different formats including blog posts, workbooks, whitepapers, videos, case studies, infographics, informative guides and much more.
One of the tactics that seem to work well in capturing the attention of target accounts is recognizing them in blog posts. This is not just about mentioning a specific executive or the company on a whim. Rather, it means developing content in an area they are knowledgeable in and including an affirmational mention of their expertise.
A great account based marketing plan example on how this strategy can be applied is including something a target account contact said on the topic you’re writing about in the form of a quote in the blog.
Recognizing the expertise of your target accounts in your content is one of the most effective ways of introducing your company to C-suite executives in your target account. It is a sign of respect to them and a compliment to their idea. It also presents a great opportunity to begin interaction with target account decision makers on social media. For instance, you can deliver a casual message to your target account via Twitter informing them of the valuable work they are doing and your willingness to publish it on your blog.
#4. Creating Relevant Content
One of the most effective ways to engage and nurture ABM accounts is by creating and sharing relevant content. This requires B2B marketers to have a good understanding of not just the target account, but also the contacts in those accounts. Marketers have to gather data about their pain points, challenges, preferred content formats and even lengths to hack a good content creation strategy.
One company that has hacked this strategy is Snowflake, a data warehousing company that runs 500 ABM campaigns simultaneously, Each company is customized for a specific target account. To generate relevant content, Snowflake has a team of six marketers that work closely with a team of sales reps. The company publishes its content online to build credibility among its target audience.
#5. Personalizing Emails To Contacts In Target Accounts
Emails to ABM targets can be tricky to personalize, but when done correctly, they can provide the most effective channel for communicating with target buyers. The best way to apply this strategy is to develop a series of emails for your target account contacts then personalize them by role.
For instance, if your ABM team has identified ten contacts in one of your high value accounts that are involved in the purchase process but your sales team has not started engaging them effectively, you can develop email templates to help your sales team kick off the engagement. Each email you send out should have content that is relevant to the challenges that the contact deals with.
Your sales team can use these emails templates to fast track the sales cycle instead of spending time drafting an email from scratch any time they need to engage a target account.
When developing email templates, B2B marketers should avoid being personal as that can appear intrusive. Rather, the focus should be to provide helpful content about the concerns that each contact in the target account has that the company can address through its offerings.
The emails should be relevant and written in a conversational and concise way – without revealing too much about the products or available deals. When running an email campaign, avoid sending target account contacts too many emails. Spamming your contacts with emails will only cause them to unsubscribe from your mailing list.
#6. Supporting ABM Plans With Direct Mail
Even though a lot of communication today is powered by technology, direct mail still remains a powerful ABM tool. There are various ways B2B marketers can use this communication channel to engage their target account contacts.
A good account based marketing plan example is sending target account contacts personal offers to land your brand on their desk. You can do this with a brief, personalized note that highlights a specific offer designed for a particular target account. Rather than the typical “Get 10% off on product X if you call me today” line, B2B marketers should invest in content that gives their target real value.
Here’s a good example of direct mail lines marketers can use: “I know you’re struggling to [insert the problem you help customers solve]. I’d like to schedule a meeting with you to discuss how we can work together to [insert prospects’ goals].”
B2B marketers can go a step further to include a gift that’s relevant to the target account to increase the wow factor and kickstart social media interaction with a ‘thank you’ message. See how INVOCA rocks this strategy to generate interest among target accounts.
But, direct mail should not be used in the early stages of executing an ABM strategy. Doing so can easily appear creepy. Instead, this strategy should be used on target accounts that have already had significant engagement with your brand or content.
#7. Tapping Twitter’s List Building Feature
While social media can help you create a good impression with your target account contacts, there is much more marketers can do with Twitter. This social media platform comes with a list building feature that makes it easy for marketers to generate a list of accounts they wish to monitor.
A great way to use this feature in ABM is to identify usernames of decision makers in target accounts and add them to your list Twitter. B2B marketers can use this list to monitor each of these accounts to see what their target contacts are sharing online.
For example, monitor the type of content they interact with – these could be videos, infographics, articles or blog posts. These findings should then be used to personalize content by presenting it to target contacts in the formats they prefer.
#8. Build Media Partnerships to Get Data on Target Accounts
Gathering data about target accounts is among the first things marketers need to do. But for B2B marketers that want to roll out ABM campaigns but have not had a chance to gather data about their target accounts or interact with decision makers in those accounts, working closely with media partners can be a great strategy for getting the data they need.
Accurate data about the people who make purchase decisions in each target account is the key to succeeding with ABM. Rather than buying data lists or scraping the internet for email addresses, ABM marketers can work with external partners who have already built relationships with the accounts they are targeting. By working with third-party data partners, B2B marketers can create educational content and use it to engage decision makers in their target accounts with ease.
#9. Hosting Face-to-Face Events for Target Account Contacts
Bringing decision makers from ABM target accounts can go a long way in fast tracking the sales cycle. Face to face events have a way of humanizing the products that any B2B company is offering. Events can take the form of large networking meetings like industry trade shows, cocktails and conferences or smaller events organized in cities where target accounts are located.
Large events need high budgets because of the level planning required and the level of promotion involved to attract target account contacts and their wide geographical reach. If you opt for a smaller event, you can work with a minimal budget to run a marketing roadshow. Consider partnering with a few other companies to cut down on cost.
#10. Creating Customizable Video Templates
ABM is constantly faced by the challenge of conserving resources and time. While videos are great marketing tools, they take a lot of time and money to prepare. B2B marketers can overcome this challenge by developing video templates that sales teams can personalize real quick with ABM content. This means adding the target contact’s first name, title and company name to the video. By just customizing video headlines, B2B marketers can boost engagement by up to 500%.
The ABM approach to marketing has gained traction among B2B companies due to its high return on investment and its ability to speed up the sales process and increase deal closure. But it’s not a sell-quick strategy. Rather, it requires marketers and sales teams to collaborate in identifying high value accounts and gathering data to understand them in order to run successful campaigns. If you’re looking to run an ABM campaign, the 10 examples discussed above can give you ideas on how to structure yours.