Account-based marketing (ABM) has been around for decades. It’s tried and true; the businesses that follow it swear by it, but yet it lacks the take-up of other digital marketing avenues. 

That’s because ABM can be a complicated venture.

In its true form, it’s perceived as a tactic for big businesses with (often expensive) marketing automation and relationship management tools and infrastructure. That may be somewhat true—”true” ABM leverages tools like Hubspot and a range of others that are not exactly cheap, but “true” is not essential for every business. 

Something is better than nothing. All businesses can benefit from an ABM approach, even if you don’t follow it exactly.

What is B2B account-based marketing?

B2B account-based marketing is a highly focused strategy where marketing teams treat an individual prospect or customer like its very own market. It’s all about personalisation, tailoring marketing efforts to a select group of high-value accounts and treating each as a unique entity. 

This approach is the antithesis of the traditional broad-brush marketing methods. And it is extremely effective. 

In B2B marketing, buyers rarely just go from research to purchase. They go through numerous touchpoints. A handful of people are involved in their buying decisions, and sometimes, they don’t even go through normal research processes, making them almost unreachable through traditional marketing efforts like SEO

B2B account-based marketing (ABM) prospect journey

One of our clients, Envirosuite, had a situation like that—a customer base that didn’t behave how buyers would traditionally. They didn’t directly search for products or services, so lead generation efforts never reached them. 

The only solution left in that scenario is to go outbound and focus on demand generation. If customers weren’t compelled to research, Envirosuite had to reach them and educate them about the solutions to their problems before they realised they had problems to fix. 

No other marketing approach can do that. We can craft the most compelling content to try to inform and educate our audience about the challenges in their market and how to solve them, but all other marketing approaches rely on customers to seek out this information. This B2B ABM tactic allowed us to get the information out to the right people before the need was even realised. 

But to suddenly engage disengaged prospects, you have to know them inside out. The foundation of B2B ABM is personalisation, and you can only create highly personalised content that is compelling and can generate interest where there was none before when you know your audience’s needs and pain points intimately. More on that in a bit. 

Through their account-specific outreach strategy, Envirosuite generated warm leads who had interacted with their content and were, as a result, more likely to convert. 

That is a powerful example of an account-based marketing strategy. You can read more about the campaign here

The difference between “true” ABM and basic ABM

Let’s consider “true” ABM simply as the most thorough method of approaching the concept of ABM. While this is the form you will read about when researching B2B ABM, it should be considered more of a best-case if you have all the available resources. 

What we want to get away from is considering this best-case ABM as being the only way to do it. 

These are key components of account-based marketing

1. Target account selection

It’s obvious, but targeting the right accounts is the first step of any successful B2B ABM strategy. To do this, you must identify the accounts most likely to deliver high lifetime value and align with your company’s strategic goals. Predictive analytics can help with this, allowing you to select these accounts by analysing data on past customer behaviour and predicting future potential.

2. Deep account research

Once you have your target accounts, it’s time to conduct thorough research. This is the part that informs how you approach your targets and what highly relevant content you’re going to offer them. You want to understand the account’s business model, current challenges, and future goals. LinkedIn and other industry-specific databases are great resources to help glean these valuable insights into your target accounts. 

3. Customised marketing campaigns

With deep insights, you can create bespoke campaigns for each target account. In the best-case scenario, these campaigns would be multi-channel and integrate personalised emails, tailored content, customised landing pages, and targeted advertising. If you have to drop anything off that list, it can be the customised landing pages and advertising. The others are essential for the outreach. What’s most important is that each touchpoint addresses the specific needs and challenges of the target account.

4. Sales and marketing alignment

B2B ABM’s value lies in aligning sales and marketing. It allows for seamless coordination between the departments, but both have to be on board, working towards the same goals and delivering a consistent message. Regular meetings and shared KPIs can foster this alignment, ensuring sales activities effectively support marketing efforts.

5. Metrics and analytics

Measuring the success of your ABM campaigns helps you continuously improve them. Engagement levels, pipeline velocity, deal size, and conversion rates should all be tracked. Advanced analytics tools can provide valuable insights into which aspects of your ABM strategy are working and which need adjustment.

As you can see, ABM-specific software and comprehensive CRMs are not explicitly necessary for you to follow all of the core components of ABM. They would make life a little easier, sure. But that’s an investment that could be made when the results of basic ABM efforts start generating those extra sales. 

Traditional marketing vs account-based marketing hierarchies

How to get started with B2B ABM

1. Assess your current capabilities

Evaluate your current marketing and sales processes. Identify gaps where ABM principles can be integrated. The tasks for this might include assessing your data quality, existing content, and the level of personalisation in your current campaigns.

2. Build a cross-functional ABM team

Sales and marketing are the core, but ABM is most powerful if you can secure collaboration across departments. Form a team that includes members from marketing, sales, customer service, and even product development, if applicable. This ensures a holistic approach where insights and expertise from various functions contribute to the ABM strategy. This point may seem advanced, but for businesses with smaller budgets, achieving this would let you maximise every dollar and spread the impact to every team. It’s not essential to do ABM, but it’s seriously powerful. 

3. Invest in the right tools

While ABM doesn’t necessarily require advanced technology, the right tools will streamline efforts and improve efficiency. CRM systems and marketing automation platforms are great if you can afford them. Email platforms and analytics tools are the basic essentials if that’s all the budget will allow. The analytics piece is a must to help manage and measure your ABM campaigns effectively.

4. Start small and scale

Don’t try to implement a full-fledged ABM strategy overnight. Start with a pilot program targeting a few of your key accounts. Learn from this initial effort, refine your approach, and gradually scale your B2B ABM activities to include more accounts. Starting small is a great way to keep the budget down while also keeping the campaigns as tight and effective as possible. 

5. Continuous training and development

ABM is an evolving strategy. Approaches change as market dynamics change, and technology is ever-evolving, too. You and your team should stay updated with the latest best practices. That could mean formal training and development, or it could simply be the conscious observation of what is happening in the space and updating your strategies and internal best practices accordingly. 

6. Regular feedback loops

With your ABM team (sales, marketing, customer service and potentially the product development team), set regular meetings to see what impacts the strategy is having in each department and what, if anything, can be done to further improve your results. ABM is not only great for sales, but it can also help your customer service team to preempt common frustrations. It can inform your product development team about things your customers like and dislike about products, potentially informing new products or discontinuing products that don’t work for the market.  

Recap: Leveraging B2B ABM strategies, basic or not, for better lead value

Even basic B2B account-based marketing principles can improve your lead quality and value. It doesn’t have to be perfect to be effective. Adopting even the most basic ABM principles can significantly enhance your marketing efforts, improve lead quality, and drive greater business success.

Whether you need an epic solution or a basic starting point, our team of digital marketing strategists and content experts can help. Give us a call.  

The Lead Agency has 20+ years of experience leveraging this powerful approach.

b2b digital marketing