Account-Based Marketing (ABM), a B2B strategy which treats individual accounts as their own markets, is finally gaining huge momentum in Asia Pacific. ABM flips the traditional inbound marketing funnel. Instead of casting a wide net and sifting through all your leads, you start by choosing the specific accounts to target.
It requires sales and marketing teams to work together to make personalised and insight-based campaigns that cater to the selected accounts and individuals within these accounts. When managed strategically, it can produce multidimensional benefits such as finding new opportunities for revenue growth within existing accounts, identifying and growing new accounts, shorter sales cycles, better pipeline, and lower acquisition costs.
According to Forrester, ABM continues to draw a lot of buzz among B2B organisations across all industries. In fact, a survey by SIRIUSDECISIONS found that 93% of respondents consider ABM as “extremely” or “very” important to their organisational success. An ITSMA benchmark report had similar findings. About 87% of its respondents claimed that the strategy drives higher ROI than other types of marketing. Before delving into the business benefits of account-based marketing, let’s take a look at the different types of ABM strategies.
We’ve updated this guide to include key information that will help you formulate your account-based marketing strategy for 2023.
Three Types of Account-Based Marketing
Account-based marketing (ABM) has been on the rise in the past few years. The growing interest in it has resulted in three different approaches.
Also known as one-to-one ABM, strategic account-based marketing focuses on developing personalised marketing plans for each high-value account. You cultivate stronger relationships with high-value customers using targeted interactions. For this approach, senior marketers must work closely together with sales teams to develop customised marketing programs for each target account. Strategic Account-Based Marketing would be considered the most resource-intense approach, requiring at least one fully dedicated marketing resource. The account selection and deep-customer insights process is critical and likely to take months of sales and marketing collaboration.
Using a one-to-few account-based marketing approach or ABM Lite, you’ll group a small set of target accounts based on similar characteristics. They share similar initiatives, needs, as well as challenges. They offer large opportunities, justifying more spend than your average deal, but not quite large enough for a 1:1 campaign. In an ABM Lite campaign, marketing and sales collaborations determine which accounts to focus on, which propositions to support, and how to personalise content to fit their programs.
Many specialists would argue that Programmatic Account-Based Marketing, also commonly referred to as ABM at Scale, is simply traditional Demand Generation Marketing and shouldn’t be labelled as ABM at all. Equipped with advanced marketing technology, you can efficiently scale and reach a broad group of accounts, ranging anywhere from 100 to 1,000+. A key strategy is to identify demand and intent for your products and services from your target accounts through 1st, 2nd and 3rd party data. Any B2B CMO or marketing leader would argue that both Strategic or Programmatic ABM are needed within the marketing function whether you’d call it ABM or not. Programmatic ABM is an ideal place to start if you’re struggling with time-constraint and limited resources.
The Advantages of ABM
Account-based marketing comes with a myriad of benefits. From shorter sales cycles, lower acquisition costs to higher ROI, ABM marketing can set your business up for success when done effectively.
You can avoid broad-reaching marketing campaigns with ABM because it is highly targeted and highly personalised. Instead of attracting a large number of prospects, you identify opportunity for revenue growth within existing accounts. You also identify and grow new accounts that are actively looking for your products and services.
There are digital solutions that help you target and manage accounts that would deliver the highest ROI. This lets you centralise management, so you won’t have to switch between different applications. The target accounts vary per company. You can determine the most appropriate ones for your business by using parameters such as competition, product fit, high yield, and territory.
Better customer experiences
Based on deep customer insights and understanding, account-based marketing allows you to tailor everything from product information and communications to online content for individual accounts. Simply put, you can develop better customer experiences for every touchpoint in the buyer’s journey. On top of that, you can develop and run these personalised campaigns from a single platform instead of managing each one individually. You would have consistent and engaging experiences across all your marketing channels. Through personalised content, you can highlight your company in a way that makes it seem like the most relevant option for your targets.
Complements inbound marketing
Account-based marketing and inbound marketing complement each other nicely. This B2B marketing combination supports targeted and efficient strategies for high-value accounts. Inbound marketing can set a solid foundation for your ABM campaigns. It can help you attract high-value accounts then engage each target account with exceptional customer experiences and personalised content. With this B2B marketing combination, you can attract a broader range of customers and opportunities that you might have missed by using one strategy over the other.
Aligns sales and marketing
ABM campaigns bring marketing and sales teams together. If both teams are focused on the same goals and combine resources, your business can efficiently engage key accounts. The marketing-sales alignment also ensures that their efforts from content and interactions are consistent for every account.
How to Successfully Implement Account-Based Marketing
Account-based marketing entails targeting, engagement, as well as measurement. If you work these factors into the foundation of your ABM campaign, you can achieve success.
Secure organisational alignment means getting the internal stakeholders to agree with your proposed ABM initiatives. By ensuring organisational alignment, your company can easily craft consistent experiences for different accounts. You can also make sure that your strategy is carried out smoothly and efficiently.
Build an ABM team
The VP of marketing and sales has the task of building your account-based marketing team. Together with the managers of these departments’ respective teams, they’ll have to pick out a marketer and sales representatives to handle the target accounts. In Strategic ABM, ideally, a team should consist of one marketer and about ten or fewer sales representatives.
You also need customer success representatives. They, too, need to be aware of and aligned with your ABM strategy. They are responsible for developing and publishing content for target accounts. They are also in charge of closing deals with the buying committees.
Identify your ideal accounts
Marketing and Sales must come together to identify and select ideal target accounts. If you’re doing Strategic or ABM Lite, where you’ll start with 1-20 accounts, the process can take several months.
Identify contacts from your ideal accounts
Behind every successful ABM strategy is an effective marketing and sales team. One of the most important tasks is identifying and mapping out every individual stakeholder involved in the buying process from every target account. Each individual is served specific, personalised and relevant content, delivered through the right channels.
Engage with contacts from high-value accounts
ABM, as mentioned, is a highly focused strategy. You won’t have to reach out to a broad range of customers based on demographics or personas. Instead, you can target specific companies from the very beginning. You can do that by engaging buying committee members and stakeholders of your ideal accounts. Depending on the ABM and business experience of your marketing team, you may or may not have contacts from your target accounts.
You can attract contacts by engaging these key figures on social networks, inviting them to events, offering gifts, and more. You can also run paid ad campaigns which target their job title, skill, and location.
Measure and optimise
To see long term success and optimise business growth, your account-based marketing strategy must be measurable. You’d need to set clear metrics and analyse your marketing efforts. In doing so, you’d be able to identify strengths, pain points, and areas of opportunity. Keep in mind that Strategic and Lite ABM aren’t short-term strategies. They’ll take at least six months to see results. Measuring your results would help you optimise your strategy, making it more effective for your company, marketing teams, sales teams, and accounts. Some of the key performance indicators that might offer insight into your marketing efforts include account engagement, deal creation, deal-to-close time, and percentage of deals closed.
5 Marketing Initiatives to Support Your ABM
No matter what marketing approach choose, you’d have to implement your own set of channels and tactics to carry out your account-based marketing campaign. Here are different marketing strategies that can support ABM.
As with other marketing approaches, ABM lets you leverage social media and pay-per-click ads. Paid advertising can help your company reach your target accounts online.
Unlike your usual email marketing approach, you won’t need automation and templates. You’d have to craft tailored content, information, and messaging for every company and individual.
A webinar event is a fun way to engage key prospects from different accounts. You can tailor content to fit varying business needs and interests. After an event, you can send attendees a follow-up message to thank them for attending.
Old school practices are acceptable as well when it comes to account-based marketing. For example, marketers can use direct mail to connect with various organisations. Just remember that even with direct mail, your content should be personalised and targeted. This means that everything you send via direct mail, like gifts and messages, should be of high value. On the bright side, your revenue potential is high.
Aside from your digital marketing strategy, you can use in-person experiences to persuade key decision makers of organisations. You can, for instance, send personalised invitations to special events, dinners, and more.
Why Should Organisations Do ABM?
Account-based marketing removes less-valuable prospects early on, which enable you to focus marketing and sales efforts on identifying opportunities in important customer accounts. With successful ABM initiatives, your business can optimise your efforts, gain in-depth metrics, and achieve higher revenue.
The inherently personalised nature of account-based marketing campaigns enables you to meet the needs of clients every single time. By tailoring information and experiences to their specific needs, you can get successful conversions.
Instead of engaging a broad audience, you can get to know your target consumer on a deeper level. With that in-depth understanding of customer intent and behaviours, companies can establish themselves as experts or authoritative figures in their niches.
Expands customer relationships
Using account-based marketing, you can provide your customers with deep and insightful, relevant and personal content. By understanding not only your customers’ pain points but also the external market forces, competitive pressure, and stock market fluctuations they’re facing, you can have conversations on a much deeper and relevant level.
Shows a clear return on investment
Account-based marketing not only provides a clear ROI but also delivers the highest ROI of any B2B strategy. In a 2018 study, 99% of responders claimed that account-based marketing fuelled higher ROI than other forms of marketing. An ABM strategy lets you measure the ROI for each account you invest in. By measuring your ROI, you can determine the success of your tactics. Moreover, you can determine whether the accounts you targeted were worth investing in. If so, you can continue to build relationships with those accounts long term. You can also target similar accounts next time.
Increases deal size
In a survey by Sirius Decisions Command Center, 91% of respondents showed that ABM boosts their average deal size. Around 25% of that number reported seeing an increase of 50%.
Streamlines the sales cycle
Sales cycles vary greatly depending on your company, industry, and resources. With an ABM program, you can enjoy a short sales cycle because you focus your efforts on specific accounts and individuals and zooming in on nurturing every stakeholder involved in the decision making purchase process. Sales and marketing teams benefit greatly from account-based marketing practices, as it enables them to provide relevant and personalised content and solutions to the clients that are most likely to convert. You can save a lot of time and money.
Aside from ensuring the efficient use of resources, account-based marketing practices can help you cut some costs. For instance, using new tools from social networks allows you to target specific companies without spending too much money. If you’re already aware of attractive targets, you can also save a great deal of time and money.
The Face of ABM in 2023
It’s estimated that the account-based marketing industry will grow to USD 1,196.9 million by 2023, with a compound annual growth rate of 12.9%. Some of the factors that are influencing this growth trajectory include the continued rise of social media and, with it, social advertising, plus the need to increase customer lifetime value.
It’s also expected that the APAC will become the highest growing region in the market due to the significantly large amount of users of mobile devices and social media, as well as the surging popularity of online shopping and better internet connections and speeds.
Account-based marketing continues to make waves. As the consumer behaviours and expectations continue to change and technologies improve, we’re seeing how ABM keeps up with these changes and how it redefines the B2B marketing landscape.
How will these changes and recent innovations impact ABM in the future?
Nowadays, by leveraging data, marketers now have a better understanding of their customers and their respective customer journeys. There’s a growing need for marketers to offer a hyper-personalised experience. There now exists a need to go beyond the account-based marketing and go deeper into building more in-depth connections with customers with account-based marketing for the individual or ABM-i.
With ABM-i, you’re looking at your stakeholders as individuals and understanding their unique mindsets. As such, you need to have a deep understanding of their customer journey, interests, and ideas.
This requires creating a scalable approach that will allow you to execute your strategies across all your different accounts. Account-based marketing for the individual lets you make use of data and design to build highly personalised campaigns and relevant content at scale. To create more customised campaigns, you’ll need to factor in details such as a customer’s interests and their roles in their respective organisations, as well as what their life and interests are beyond the workplace.
Aside from ABM-i, there’s also account-based experience (ABX), one of the emerging account-based marketing tactics that’s also considered as the “next wave” of ABM. ABX requires your marketing and sales teams to work together to deliver content that’s not only highly personalised but also relevant and reliable. It’s a customer-centric approach that encompasses the entirety of a customer’s journey, from awareness to the final interaction.
Unlike traditional account-based marketing, which focuses on finding and engaging with the right accounts and doesn’t highlight the role of your sales team and marketing team, ABX zeros in on uniting your different teams through a shared strategy that derives that maximum value from customer journeys. It also puts an emphasis on making sure that each stage of interaction with your customers is valuable and meaningful and that you’re able to cultivate such relationships with the goal of converting buyer into loyal customers.
Top Trends to Look Out for to Inform Your 2023 Account-Based Marketing Strategies
What else should you expect from account-based marketing in the coming years? Take a look at these trends to help shape your account-based marketing tactics for 2023 and beyond:
Intent data as a KPI
Focusing on engaging target accounts is a more traditional approach to account-based marketing. Given the influx of data, we’re bound to see a new KPI in the coming years and that is first-party intent data. With the great shift away from third-party cookies in the previous years, looking at intent data can help your marketing team identify when an account is showing interest in making a purchase, which will then help your sales team guide that account into a successful transaction.
The rise of omnichannel experiences
Omnichannel experiences aren’t just restricted to social media. They can also be applied to your account-based marketing programs. There’s a need to go beyond offering experiences to customers on only one platform. Nowadays, marketers need to move in the customer’s direction and be with them throughout their journey. This means adding more touchpoints for each stage of the journey and being present on the platforms that your customers are using.
The growing need for personalisation
The line between B2C experiences and B2B experiences are getting more blurred, giving rise to alternative methods such as ABM. In the coming years, the need for more personalised experiences and content will shape the direction of your marketing strategies.
With ABM, you’re leveraging personalised experiences to engage your target accounts. But why is personalisation such a bug deal? When done right, it can encourage repeat engagement and customer loyalty. 76% of customers note that receiving personalised communications helped them decide to consider a brand, while 78% shared that personalised content is more likely to encourage a repurchase.
Prioritising upselling and cross-selling
According to Forrester, one way to leverage ABM for growth is investing in your existing customers. As such, strategies like upselling and cross-selling are gaining traction, while focusing on aspects such as demand marketing and customer marketing. You also have to factor in cross-functional collaboration and focus on welcoming audience anonymity to expand your reach.
Focusing on properly executing account-based marketing strategies
According to the same Forrester report, organisations need to take a closer look at their strategies and assess their performance. You may be implementing an account-based marketing strategy but you may not be doing it right or you might not be getting the results that you want. To make sure that you’re doing things right, you need to observe ABM best practices to ensure that your ABM initiatives aren’t underperforming or at risk of getting a budget cut.
If you’re thinking of expanding your ABM strategy globally for growth, you not only need to make sure that you’re following best practices—you also need to look at the right data. This means taking into account factors such as data for international markets, GDPR compliance, ads in the local language, as well as identifying key account buying signals.
Who Benefits from Account-Based Marketing?
The early adopters of account-based marketing or ABM were predominantly marketers within US Enterprise, IT, Software, and Tech companies. Within these organisations, Account-Based Marketing roles and responsibilities within the B2B Marketing departments have been in place for at least two-to-three years. B2B CMOs and marketers within Australia and Asia Pacific are increasingly catching up to their US counterparts, and we’re seeing not only IT/Tech companies starting to adopt the strategy but also B2B marketers within Professional Services, Banking, Insurance and Financial Services, as well as Manufacturing. B2B Marketers within Large Enterprise organisations, with large teams and budgets are in ideal positions to start their Strategic ABM journeys.
On the other hand, those within smaller organisations, with smaller budgets and less resources, are ideally placed to start their journey focusing on Programmatic account-based marketing. ABM is growing in popularity because it has proven to be adaptable. You can adapt it to the varying needs of organisations. No matter what kind of products you sell or who you sell them to, it enables you to drive demand, speed up your sales process, drive higher return on investment, and maximise your resources. Although account-based marketing might be a little tricky at first, once you’ve gotten familiar with the practice, the rewards would be worth all your efforts.