Understanding and Applying Account-Based Marketing — An Agency Perspective
Account-based marketing is “hip” in business-to-business marketing, with many experts singing its praises.
The concept of ABM — identifying and pursuing a specific list of ideal companies — isn’t new. Named account development has been around as long as selling itself.
Behavioral data and predictive analytics make that process more viable, which is why ABM-based marketing is considered part of any successful marketing mix. An estimated 87% of account-based marketers say ABM initiatives outperform other marketing investments, so it is a valuable part of a modern marketing strategy.
As Shashi Upadhyay, CEO of Lattice Engines, puts it, “ Predictive analytics and big data collection solved the issue of scaling ABM.”
The ABM Goldrush
We witnessed the ABM Goldrush in 2015–2016. Countless solutions vied for their place in the marketing technology stack. Some said they’d improve the monetizing of inbound traffic, while others claimed to automate lead scoring and nurture.
This promise generated large Martech budgeting by many leaders in the B2B space.
In fact, a SiriusDecisions study reported that 92% of B2B companies called ABM “extremely important” to their marketing efforts, with 60% planning to invest in ABM in the next year. In 2020, 67% of brands leverage account-based marketing.
We’ve moved past the mad dash and those who implemented ABM early are already seeing their strategies maturing.
Too Many Trips to the Gold Mine Exhausts It
However, there is a finite number of targeted accounts without looking outside your current audiences. That’s what those with mature ABM strategies quickly learned.
Many marketing departments are better at nurturing and converting prospects than bringing in fresh accounts. It’s hard to break out of your specific corner of the market.
That’s why so many organizations, big and small, choose to purchase leads to expand the reach.
Those buying leads want them to interlock easily with their current ABM tech stack. Here at HIPB2B, a small, family-owned agency that fulfills both ABM and traditional campaigns, we’ve observed:
- There are higher execution costs for ABM over traditional campaigns.
- Long term outcomes aren’t sustainable due to limited prospect accounts.
- Client content isn’t personal enough.
- Multiple agencies pursuing the same lead hurts outcomes.
For ABM campaigns to be truly executable, content must be created that is matched specifically to the accounts being targeted. Increased personalization like this increases campaign execution cost.
Those working with ABM often hit dead ends, where they either can’t get access to the contact information for the desired accounts, or they seemed to have run out of fresh accounts to onboard into their pipeline.
Marketers buying lead generation services need to have the budget for lead gen — and the requisite content — to effectively acquire and nurture account-based leads. Otherwise, lead generation can hurt both the agency providing the services and the client can see their own brand equity damaged.
Variety is the Only Way to Strike Gold
ABM has tons of potential, some of which has already been realized.
It can enable a never-before-seen level of prospect intimacy and a degree of targeted buyer education. ABM targets both entire accounts and the individual buyer identities among them.
ABM is a key tool to include in a marketing mix. Properly executed, ABM campaigns executed by Sales and Marketing in close coordination are 6% more likely to meet their sales goals. Regardless, each should also use independent methods to find and cultivate interest, establish value, and close business. That is, while working together on ABM, teams need to be bringing in leads using other demand generation tactics.
Marketing departments need to raise brand awareness, build interest, and generate leads from both named and non-named accounts. Agencies like HIPB2B complement these efforts by helping Marketing drive sustainable lead volume to nurture on the path to Sales.
A mix of both named and non-named accounts is the only way to ensure Sales gets the best possible mix of potential conversions and quality opportunities. Try it out.