Marketing today is all about personalization. Marketers compile massive amounts of data on potential customers to help build targeted B2C advertising experiences for anyone who happens to be online. But personalization is also taking over in the B2B world – account-based marketing (ABM) is a prime example.
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There has been a tremendous push to get B2B ABM efforts fully underway in the past year. One survey found that over 94% of businesses had at least started to implement ABM programs. Of those organizations, nearly half had reached middle to late-stage implementation.
Of course, this leaves quite a few businesses that are still figuring out how to use ABM best. And clearly, there is still room for even those businesses who have moved significantly down the ABM path to improve their efforts.
In this post, we’ll look at how account-based marketing helps businesses maximize their marketing expenditures. We’ll also walk through the basics of getting an ABM program up and running and fine-tuning it to get the best ROI and conversion rate possible.
How do you optimize your account-based marketing?
Account-based marketing is a targeted strategy that focuses personalized efforts on a few high-value opportunities rather than spreading marketing efforts across large market segments.
ABM relies heavily on relationship building. One benefit of the relationship-based approach is that it creates trust that drives higher conversion rates. And if the coordinated ABM team works to foster the relationship, there is the legitimate promise of long-term relationships with substantial repeat business.
Successful ABM campaigns require research, planning, diligence, and post-mortem analysis. You can get the most out of your ABM campaign by answering the following questions as you move forward.
Question 1: What are you trying to achieve?
This question is not unique to ABM, but it sets a necessary framework for the program. Every marketing campaign should have specific goals. And, as always, they should be SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-sensitive). Without clear goals, the ABM marketing team will have no way of knowing if they are successful, and they may wind up misdirecting their efforts.
Question 2: What are your most promising opportunities?
Here’s the major front-end effort for your ABM campaign. You must spend sufficient time researching potential target businesses to develop your shortlist. Beginning with a less-than-optimal pool will lead to poor results.
Get started by thinking about the characteristics that define your ideal client. Are you most concerned with size, geographic locations, revenue, or other factors? Do you already have data from your existing clients that can help you narrow down the types of companies that will most likely respond to your efforts? Indeed, are your current clients the best place to start?
You can mine the existing accounting tools you use for tracking revenue, which should reveal much data about your clients’ buying tendencies. You can identify whether your customers are more likely to visit and make smaller purchases frequently, make larger purchases more infrequently, if they tend to buy products that are prominently displayed, whether they were referred to your site, or if they only buy after discounts.
Question 3: Who do you know at the target business?
Once you have selected your primary targets, you need to dig a little deeper. Specifically, you need to identify the people within the target organization with whom you will build relationships. Find the decision-makers, as they will be the focus of your efforts.
If an existing client is your focus, consider how you can leverage existing relationships to get to the right people. An introduction from a known source can go a long way to developing trust.
Keep your efforts focused. People talk, and if you are reaching out to everyone as a potential customer, you lose the personal aspect of the campaign.
Question 4: How will you determine success?
Key performance indicators (KPI) go hand-in-hand with goals; indeed, this is the measurable aspect of a SMART goal. You must decide what your success measures are. Is it a certain number of new clients? A certain amount of repeat business? Overall revenue increase?
Once you have set your KPI, you must be diligent in evaluating them. If you aren’t meeting them, you need to decide how to modify your campaign.
Question 5: What messages are you going to deliver and how?
Now it’s time to take your research and use it to develop a personalized communication strategy. You need to assess what types of materials will best engage your prospective clients, as well as the best channels to use for reaching out to them. Consider whether you can use modern tools such as artificial intelligence and machine learning to draw from your existing data on client behavior.
Make sure that your marketing materials specifically address known needs. If you are effectively cultivating your relationships, you may have already identified your contact’s pain points. Show them how you can help ease their pain.
Of course, even the most relevant and convincing advertising won’t be effective if your target never sees it. Rely on the special knowledge you have built about your prospects. Do they frequently text business contacts? Do they rely on social media? Do they follow a particular influencer? Do they only want to make online purchases, as B2B e-commerce nearly doubled in value in only five years? Know how you can best reach them.
Question 6: How often will you contact the prospective client?
It is crucial to schedule your AMB efforts. Everyone in the team needs to know who is doing what when. You don’t want to annoy your contact with excessive contacts just because one team member was unaware that someone else from the team called the contact the day before.
You should also make sure to document your communications and share them with the team. That way, the next person in line can further refine the material for the subsequent encounter.
Question 7: How did it go?
This question goes beyond a simple KPI review. Instead, you should think holistically about the overall effectiveness of the campaign. You want everyone on the team to think about what did and didn’t work and what you need to improve for ongoing and future efforts. Learn from your efforts and build on them.
You have now learned a lot more about your target business and your contacts in it, including likes, dislikes, and idiosyncrasies. Use that knowledge for the next round because you will want to keep developing new business from the client for a very long time. After all, that’s why you started the relationship in the first place.
Guest author: Lee Li is a project manager and B2B copywriter from ShenZhen, China, and is currently based out of Singapore. She has a decade of experience in the Chinese fintech startup space as a PM for TaoBao, MeitTuan, and DouYin (now TikTok).