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How to Attract Enterprise-Level Brands With Account-Based Marketing

  • Growth Marketing

Marketing has undergone a monumental transformation in the 21st century.

Besides the actual mediums themselves evolving, there’s been a shift from old school push marketing (where brands essentially scream at the top of their lungs in an attempt to get anyone within earshot to listen) to pull marketing, which is far less intrusive and much more effective.

HubSpot’s 2017 State of Inbound report elucidates on this trend.

According to their research, “32 percent of marketers rank outbound marketing practices such as paid advertising as the top waste of time and resources.”

Paid Advertising Is The Most Overrated Marketing Channel

On top of this, 68 percent of inbound marketers believe their organization’s marketing strategy is effective, while 52 percent of outbound marketers do no think their strategy is ineffective.

By examining these stats, it’s clear that those antiquated “spray and pray” techniques just aren’t cutting it anymore.

The proof is in the pudding.

These outbound, pull techniques have all of the subtlety of a slap in the face and are far more likely to turn prospects off rather than actually get them interested in your brand.

Today it’s all about zeroing in on your target audience and subtly alluring, enticing and in some cases downright seducing them to jump on board.

You’ve got to hit the right notes and press the right buttons.

So forget about trying to reach the masses. Instead, laser focus on a hyper-specified segment of your target audience.

Nowadays, it’s about delivering the right content/marketing materials at the right time to the right audience.

Rather than beating them over the head with “BUY NOW!” types of messages, you let the content do the heavy lifting.

You let it woo them.

Consequently, there’s one particular technique that’s really gaining ground as of late—account-based marketing.

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What is Account Based Marketing?

Wikipedia defines account-based marketing (ABM) as “A strategic approach to business marketing based on account awareness in which an organization considers and communicates with individual prospect or customer accounts as markets of one.”

The key phrase here is “markets of one.”

Account-Based Marketing Example

Forget about being broad and trying to be everything to everyone.

The purpose of ABM is to shape and mold your campaign so that you’re able to reel in one big fish rather than countless minnows.

And as Forbes points out, “account-based marketing is typically used in enterprise-level brands with more than 1,000 employees.”

In other words, you’re only going after accounts at the top of the pyramid.

Different Demand Types

This is very important.

It obviously wouldn’t make sense to devote an immense amount of time and energy to winning over a small account with only a handful of employees.

However, the commitment is usually justified when you’re able to win over a major player.

These are considered high-value customers, and obtaining them can pay dividends in the long run.

Does Account-Based Marketing Work?

There’s a sound body of data that suggests that ABM not only works but works quite well.

A survey by Engagio found that 42 percent of marketers state that ABM has a somewhat higher ROI when compared to other marketing initiatives, and another 42 percent say that it has a significantly higher ROI.

ABM Return on Investment Compared to Other Marketing Initiatives

Stats like this are nothing to sneeze at.

It’s clear that when done right, ABM will give you a favorable ROI.

And that’s really the name of the game, isn’t it?

As long as the end result justifies the effort, that’s all that really matters.

If you can gain more revenue through one big name enterprise than you would through a dozen smaller companies, that would be considered the logical move to make.

While this may not be the most conventional route, it’s an approach that can definitely get results.

Maybe that’s why more than 60 percent of B2B marketers said they plan to implement an ABM program within the next year.”

And check out how the interest level has grown in recent years according to Google Trends.

ABM in Google Trends

It’s astronomical.

How to Get The Most Out of Account-Based Marketing

The way I see it, ABM offers three distinct benefits.

First, there’s an inherent level of personalization that’s unparalleled. In fact, it’s personalization on steroids.

Because you’re tailoring your campaign to the specific needs of a single enterprise, you can bet that your content and messages will be insanely relevant and resonate.

In turn, you can expect increased engagement and a more streamlined journey through the sales funnel.

You can get leads from the top of the funnel to the middle to the bottom with less friction.

And this is important, especially in a day and age where consumers are growing increasingly frustrated with generic marketing promotions that don’t immediately address their pain points.

According to CMO, “94 percent of customer insights and marketing professionals across multiple industries said personalization is ‘important,’ ‘very important’ or ‘extremely important’ for meeting their current marketing objectives.”

Second, ABM prevents you from wasting time and resources.

Due to its built-in level of personalization, it enables you to utilize your time and resources more efficiently so that you’re accomplishing more with virtually no wasted motions.

By optimizing your campaign for a targeted enterprise, you’re more likely to hit your target.

Third, it’s easy to track your goals and determine how effective your campaign is.

Regardless of the medium, you’ll generate highly quantifiable data for a single targeted account, which puts you in the know and minimizes any guesswork on your end.

As a result, your ROI should be crystal clear, and you’ll be in a position to make the right tweaks so that future campaigns can operate with greater precision.

How to Make it Work ABM Your Company

At this point, we’ve established that ABM is legit.

As long as you use it correctly and zone in on customers that meet the right criteria (e.g. large enterprises with at least 1,000 employees), it should definitely be worth your while.

Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

What are some actionable steps you can take to make ABM work for your company?

Start with the Account

Conventional marketing logic would suggest that you should start by creating an offer and then targeting customers based on that offer.

But ABM works in reverse, and you first start with the account.

AMB Starts with The Account Not The Offer

The goal here is to identify high-value accounts that you want to target.

Keep in mind that we’re not talking about creating cheesy individual customer personas like “finance manager Margaret” or “enterprise Eddie.”

You need to look at the macro level and analyze firmographic data to help you pinpoint high-value accounts—those who are likely to yield a rock-solid ROI and killer profit margins.

In other words, you don’t want to chase after the small fries.

You want to go after the true rockstars.

Some key factors to examine include:

  • Company size
  • Industry
  • Annual revenue
  • Upsell opportunity
  • Location

Typically, you’ll want to examine a few different prospects and prioritize your efforts accordingly.

At the end of the day, it’s all about focusing on the accounts that are going to give you the best possible ROI.

Do Some Sleuthing

Once you’ve got a target account, you need to tap into your inner Sherlock Holmes.

You need to figure out the inner workings of the enterprise and find answers to two critical questions.

  1. Who are the key decision makers/influencers?
  2. How are the decisions made?

Fortunately, the Internet makes this fairly easy to do. Here’s an example.

Let’s say that you wanted to target Atlassian, an enterprise software company with nearly 2,300 employees.

Atlassian

Because you’re targeting big accounts, there should be a reasonable amount of information available.

A quick Google search will provide you with information on founders, CEOs, etc.

Atlassian Description

Searching for Atlassian on LinkedIn provides us with even more information.

Just click on “See all employees” from a company’s profile page.

Atlassian on LinkedIn

Voila! You’ve got an instant snapshot of key players, as well as a means of directly contacting them.

People Who Work for Atlassian

When it comes to determining how decisions are made, you can learn a lot from the content on a company’s site such as their reading materials and blog.

Atlassian Blog

You may also want to check out their social media.

Atlassian on Twitter

It doesn’t really matter which resources you use for research.

Just do whatever makes the most sense.

The more information you have, the better shape you’ll be in

Create Fully Personalized and Customized Content/Messages

Once you’ve got an understanding of who the top decision makers/influencers are and how decisions are made, you’ll want to use your findings to shape your content and messages.

Marketo is totally on point with this statement:

“An effective ABM initiative employs valuable content that addresses clear and significant business challenges the target account faces. Think about how your messaging and content can address the target account’s specific business challenges.”

In other words, make sure that you’re focusing on their unique pain points.

This will no doubt require some significant brainstorming but should ensure that your campaign hits its mark.

In terms of the types of content are currently most effective, a 2017 report by the Content Marketing Institute sheds some light.

Here are the top eight tactics in 2018:

B2B Content Marketers_ Tactic Usage

This isn’t to say that you absolutely have to use one of these content mediums, but this list should give you some ideas what people are responding to the most.

Choose the Right Channels for Outreach

At this point, your task is to connect with the account via the channels that they utilize and are most comfortable with.

Sometimes a simple email will do the trick.

In fact, “75 percent of executives read unsolicited marketing materials that contain ideas that might be relevant to their business.”

What’s important is that you have:

  • Knowledge and understanding of their unique business issues
  • Knowledge and understanding of their industry
  • Fresh ideas to advance their business

As long as you’ve done your homework (which you already should have), you’ll be in good shape.

Or you can go with another channel that you know for a fact a company uses regularly.

Again, a quick Google search can supply you with the details.

Atlassian Social Profiles

Just use your best judgment on this.

Execute

Now the heavy lifting is done, and it’s time to put your plan into action.

You’ve done the research, identified key stakeholders, created relevant content and selected the optimal channels for communication.

Now it’s simply a matter of reaching out and sending decision makers the content/messages you’ve so diligently worked on.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind when executing.

First, you’ll likely want to target multiple people within an organization rather than just one.

Therefore, you’ll usually need to create multiple personalized and targeted messages, which leads me to my second point.

Be sure that you don’t send out a barrage of repeat messages.

You really need to proceed with plenty of tact and make sure that you’re not overwhelming the individuals within an organization.

Otherwise, you may end up shooting yourself in the foot and turning off would-be customers.

After all, who wants to be pestered by an annoying salesperson?

No one.

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Conclusion

I like to think of account-based marketing as the next wave of personalized marketing.

As campaigns become increasingly segmented, it’s likely that ABM will be the norm (at least when it comes to marketing to large-scale enterprises).

There’s arguably no better way to create a personalized and customized experience for prospects.

Is it labor intensive? Yes.

Can it be a bit onerous, especially researching a company and identifying their pain points? You betcha.

Does it take way more thought and consideration than a spray and pray technique? Definitely.

But you know what? It’s totally worth it.

As long as you follow the right formula and target the right enterprises, it can be a gold mine.

In fact, “More than 90 percent of B2B marketers acknowledge ABM as either important or very important.”

Therefore, this is definitely a marketing weapon that you want in your arsenal in 2018 and beyond.

What are some specific criteria you would assess when deciding which type of account to approach for ABM?

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