ABM is not a marketing strategy. Let that sink in.
Account-based marketing is certainly a highly effective way to inform your overall B2B marketing strategy. But it isn’t a ready-made strategy itself. In fact, one of the great things about ABM is that it doesn’t require any major overhaul of your existing marketing operations or wider strategy.
ABM is about applying tried and tested marketing tactics in a new and exciting way. And it works: 60% of B2B businesses who adopted ABM report increased revenue within one year.
That said, there are a number of steps your company will need to take in order to make ABM work to its full potential.
So here’s a quick, 6-step guide to building a data-smart ABM campaign, based on Leadspace’s Basics of Account-Based Marketing guide.
1. Before ABM, get your house in order
Before you start, you’ll need to ensure your existing databases are up to date. That means cleansing and enriching your CRM and marketing automation systems, and identifying prime accounts already in your systems.
This is crucial for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, you’ll never be able to market efficiently – ABM or not – with messy databases full of incomplete, obsolete or plain false information. Before you launch into ABM mode, find a high-quality, accurate database enrichment solution to ensure you’re working with actionable data.
Secondly, ABM requires a targeted, individual (account-based) approach. You can’t use scatter gun tactics – your strategy should be to identify a number of prime accounts, then prioritize them in order of their likelihood to buy. It won’t be possible to prioritize if your data is incomplete or wrong.
But how can you know in advance who’s most likely to buy, you ask?
2. Build an Ideal Customer Profile
Predictive analytics is key to successfully executing ABM. One reason for this is the need to identify your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). What does your “ideal” customer look like? What are the traits and behaviors typical to those leads with a higher propensity to buy?
Predictive analytics will build a model based on your leads’ past behavior. This should give you an accurate idea of which of your leads are more or less likely to buy.
Ideally, you should seek out an end-to-end, Artificial Intelligence solution which also allows you human input into that machine-learning model. Nobody knows your customers better than you, your sales team and marketing reps, so you should all have personal input into forming your ICP.
It’s also important to avoid “black box,” purely machine-based models, because you may well want to adjust the ICP at a later date based on subsequent sales patterns.
3. Match leads to accounts
Lead-to-account matching is a central part of ABM. Yes, your strategic focus will be marketing to accounts (companies), but you still need someone to talk to. It still boils down to finding key influencers (people) within your target accounts.
On the other hand, you could have a fantastic list of leads, but if you can’t accurately match them to the relevant accounts it’s useless for ABM purposes.
Your existing leads should be accurately matched if you’ve enriched your database properly. However, the same needs to be true of your inbound, net-new leads. This exposes a weakness in most traditional data enrichment platforms, which don’t allow for real time enrichment. At the very least, make sure your enrichment solution allows for regular database “refreshes,” if not on-demand enrichment.
Regularly refreshing your entire database is also critical given the propensity for B2B professionals to switch jobs or roles. Your database will deteriorate surprisingly quickly if you let it go stale: just consider how many B2B professionals get fired, promoted, retire or move jobs each year. One Leadspace study showed that 6% of B2B professionals were promoted in a single quarter alone.
Which brings us to our next point:
4. Yes, it’s account-based marketing – but don’t forget the people
All of the above applies to your individual leads, too. Make sure they’re all up to date, and prioritize influencers within accounts where possible.
ABM requires a highly-tailored, non-generic approach to both marketing and sales. Since you’ll be approaching only a select few key influencers (or perhaps just one single decision-maker), you need to make sure you have all the right intelligence.
It’s not just about being sure you’ve got the right person to make the sale. As any good sales rep knows, to make a good pitch you need to know what matters to your leads on a personal level.
5. Build an Ideal Customer Profile
No, don’t scroll back up – this isn’t a mistake. You’ll need a target persona on an individual level as well as on the account level.
6. Now go find more
Your database is accurate and up to date, and you’ve built a clear Ideal Customer Profile both for your accounts and individual leads. Now, apply that model to your entire database to discover your white space.
The more intelligent your predictive model is, the more untapped markets you can begin to discover.
Read everything you need to know about account-based marketing in our free Account-Based Marketing for Modern Marketers guide:
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