Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is well and truly having its moment. ABM as a marketing strategy has become one of the biggest areas of growth for B2B marketers, with no sign of stopping.
Think of Account-Based Marketing as B2B's version of when a B2C company asks for your birthday or your interests, so they can get to know you better. You know that feeling when a retailer entices you with a discount code on your birthday?! ABM is sort of like that, working to identify and target the most relevant accounts for your products and solutions.
So what makes ABM so popular? It's the fact that it allows you to tailor your marketing precisely to specific companies and individuals. We live in an era of high personalization: being able to hit your targets with the right messages, at the right times, is often what will see your efforts succeed.
One of the most effective uses of ABM is in lead generation. Having a Target Account List (TAL) at the beginning of your lead generation campaign gives you a major head start. ABM encourages co-operation between sales and marketing teams which leads to a higher ROI.
In fact, overall, the leads you generate through ABM are more likely to see a good return on investment: 77% of marketers in Momentum Itsma's survey reported revenue growth thanks to ABM. And using lead generation as a KPI allows you to accurately measure your ABM strategy's maturity. As another example, At Headley Media we find the majority of our technology clients run their lead generation campaigns with an account-based marketing TAL.
What is Account-Based Marketing (ABM)?
Momentum Itsma calls ABM the number 1 priority for B2B marketers, reporting that 28% of a marketer's budget is dedicated to ABM.
But what is ABM? It’s a type of marketing that focuses heavily on individual businesses and personnel. ABM marketers use data to personalize communications and target new customers more effectively.
By engaging specific target accounts that are likely to be the best fit for your product or service, you can better tailor your messaging. In turn, targeting best-fit accounts can lead to faster results, greater efficiency, and a higher ROI for your marketing efforts.
Momentum Itsma also reports that 72% of marketers say ABM delivers higher ROI than other types of marketing, and 71% of companies are increasing their ABM spend in 2023.
However, ABM results take time, effort and of course money. ABM isn't easy to implement, you need resources for intensive data management and reporting, and time for your ABM strategies to mature.
Lead generation is considered the top ABM performance indicator by 42% of ABM marketers, according to Terminus. New business generation, customer retention and pipeline acceleration are some of the other major ABM KPIs. Therefore, there are plenty of ABM metrics you can track to measure the success of your campaigns, and plenty of good reasons for implementing an ABM strategy.
Some ABM tactics and strategies work better than others when optimizing your Account-Based Marketing efforts. Here are six of the most powerful ABM B2B marketing strategies based on our industry experience for you to try in 2023.
ABM Strategy #1: List Suitability
Deciding who you want to target and why is the first step to success in an ABM lead generation strategy.
However, building this list can be more difficult than it looks. Your TAL may be too small to be effective, or the quality of your data may be unreliable, incomplete, or out of date.
One common way to enhance your TAL is by creating 'lookalike' audiences to help expand your list further. A lookalike audience expands your TAL if it’s too small to be effective. An expert ABM lead gen provider should be able to expand your pool of target accounts and help you create a suitable TAL based on your objectives.
Working with a trusted ABM expert can also help you feel confident in the reliability of the data, as they will be able to show you how your lists have been created.
ABM Strategy #2: Content Syndication
Syndicating your educational marketing content – such as eBooks, whitepapers, case studies and research reports – via websites you don't own helps you attract a wider audience. Content syndication is one of the most effective methods of lead generation, and holds big advantages in ABM vs. traditional marketing.
Choosing the right partners and websites to syndicate your content on is crucial. You should only syndicate your content on relevant, well-used content libraries from reputable lead generation companies or publishers. Working with a trusted lead generation solutions partner can be particularly effective.
The provider will publish your content to the right audiences via platforms they own. As a result, they own the data generated and can verify it to a high standard. The leads they generate via your ABM content syndication campaigns are of higher quality and more likely to engage. Take a look at our Reader Journey as an example.
ABM Strategy #3: Data Validation
You've likely heard the term Garbage In, Garbage Out (also known as GIGO if you’re particularly techy and love an acronym). GIGO essentially means that the quality of your data output is only as good as the quality of the data you input. Makes sense really, doesn’t it?
Well, unsurprisingly the GIGO concept is also true of target account list data. Account data quality changes all the time: individuals change jobs, people get promoted, companies move offices. ABM data management is a continuous process that is easy to overlook.
That's why it's best to use a trusted Account-Based Marketing lead generation supplier to both generate leads using your TAL, and then validate them by checking the data is accurate and up to date.
And it's not just contact data. The best ABM strategies make intensive use of audience intelligence and intent data, giving you loads of ABM analytics that you can use to assess how close your targets are to buying.
Data validation for your target account list is super important. Afterall, it's your TAL that allows you to personalize your communications to make them more effective: the success of your ABM campaign relies on it being accurate.
Garbage In, Garbage Out.
The term garbage in, garbage out (GIGO) is widely attributed to be coined by George Fuechsel, an IBM programmer and instructor.
ABM Strategy #4: Sales Team Collaboration
Every ABM playbook recommends you align your Marketing and Sales teams. Not only will it help you to work towards the same goals, but it will also allow you to communicate more clearly and design a compelling customer journey.
A study by DemandMetric found that 70% of ABM users have completely aligned their sales and marketing teams, compared to 51% for non-ABM users. It's also been proven that businesses with aligned Sales, Marketing and Customer Service teams generally see more revenue growth.
A good Sales team can provide the criteria for Marketing's target account list, while the Marketing team can provide data, messages and content for the Sales team contacting the lead.
At the same time, sharing information means that anyone in Sales or Marketing can look at an account and know exactly where they are in the ABM funnel and what next steps to take.
HubSpot recommends your teams agree on resource allocation for each account, as well as which team members will have which responsibilities.
ABM Strategy #5: Lead Nurturing
In most cases, only a small percentage of leads are ready to make a purchase when they first encounter your brand. Therefore, you must continue to engage them through regular communication, offering relevant information at the right time.
This means constructing a buyer's journey and mapping it to your sales and marketing teams – effective nurturing means thinking customer-first.
Build your ABM customer journey around their needs, and then put internal processes in to ensure you meet those needs at every stage of that journey.
One of the biggest ABM advantages is that you can tailor your messaging and content to the individual, using the data you gain through your campaigns.
ABM Strategy #6: Demand Generation
Demand generation vs. ABM: Why not both? Nurturing doesn’t have to start after you've gained your lead.
ABM works really well with inbound marketing, which is what demand generation is all about.
Demand generation is when your customers come to you, organically (as opposed to lead generation, which counts as outbound marketing).
Demand generation ABM strategies include:
- Social media, such as running LinkedIn ads with an ABM target account list.
- Creating and distributing your content, such as eBooks, blogs, and webinars. Running those all-important ABM content syndication campaigns we explored earlier.
- Paid advertising to drive up brand awareness such as running programmatic display ads alongside your lead generation. Take a look at Headley Display as an example.
- Running pay-per-click ads (PPC).
By putting out valuable content for potential future customers to use, optimizing your SEO, and providing a good customer experience, you create a very warm environment in which to nurture your targeted accounts.
If they're already aware of your brand when you start your lead generation campaign, it's easier to move them along the marketing funnel. The best ABM campaigns effectively utilize both demand generation and lead generation, helping you to nurture your targeted accounts toward a purchase.
Working with an ABM Lead Generation Supplier
As we said before, creating an ABM strategy that works and matures is tricky to do, and resource heavy.
Fortunately, a lot of the hard work can be handed over to a 3rd party ABM specialist.
An ABM specialist can help you with:
- Expanding your TAL with lookalike audiences.
- Syndicating your content to their owned content hubs.
- Validating your data.
- Nurturing your leads (take a look at Nurture Track campaigns as an example).
As B2B marketers, our time is often very limited and we’re pulled in hundreds of different directions almost daily.
Implementing an ABM strategy would feel like a mammoth task if you tried to do everything in-house but luckily you can call upon a high-quality lead generation agency (like us!) to help you deliver your ABM campaigns.
Working with an ABM specialist leaves you free to work on your ABM strategy, aligning your sales and marketing teams, and implementing any necessary ABM tech solutions.
If you’re planning to run ABM content syndication campaigns it’s important to choose a trustworthy ABM lead generation supplier.
Ask your supplier about their Reader Journey, which should reflect their lead generation process. If an ABM lead generation supplier can’t tell you exactly where they get their leads, or how they authenticate them, don't use them. They should be able to answer any of your ABM questions. Take a look at our Quality Lead Generation Checklist for some guidance on what to ask your ABM suppliers.
The key to Account-Based Marketing is quality: putting time and resources into targeting the companies your business most wants to work with, and supplementing your customer service with plenty of valuable, personalized content and messaging. Find a B2B ABM agency that can work alongside you with the same values.
Need a quality ABM checklist? An ABM strategy template? Or help getting started with ABM? Contact us and let our ABM specialists guide you through the process.