What does Account Based Marketing (ABM) offer Marketing Managers?

ABM is suddenly the talk of the town, it’s emerging as a solid strategy for engaging high level contacts in large organisations, particularly when you’re promoting something especially complex.

Why explore ABM?

When you’re a marketing manager for a technology brand, you’ve got some significant challenges on your hands. How do you reach the CIO or CEO of a fortune 100 company? When you do reach them, how do you get their attention long enough to have them (1) understand your proposition, and (2) lean towards engaging with your organisation?

There’s also the challenge of reaching the myriad of influencers within an organisation. Gone are the days of “one person one decision”, as organisations become less risk averse, they not only take longer to make decisions, but they also involve more people in that decision.

What can ABM deliver?

The ROI is certainly impressive, according to ITSMA 85% of marketers say that ABM is more effective than other marketing engagement strategies. Another report from eweek shows that longer term, ABM is incredibly effective across the whole of the marketing and sales funnel, adding value at every stage.

We’ve seen some impressive ROI from companies we’ve worked with, including £2 million in sales from a £10k investment. While they are not all like that, it’s always better than many other marketing initiatives.

It also works well in keeping companies engaged and opportunities alive when long sales cycles are involved. It also keeps sales and marketing working closely together, which is one reason I like it.

How does it work?

ABM is not cheap, or easy. Which can make it a challenging sell into the organisation, until of course they see how well it works. There are three critical aspects to investing in an ABM programme:

– original research based content
– disciplined data and account selection
– close coordination with sales

Think of these as the legs of a three legged stool. Without any one of them your ABM initiative will not succeed, I can guarantee it.

Research based, original content is crucial in order to effectively engage the people you’re targeting. The best way to get an executive to engage with you is to tell him or her something they don’t know about their industry, or (even better) their own business. You can trawl publicly available information to get data on the organisation, and use industry case studies to demonstrate how your solution could benefit their organisation specifically.

Ideally this content should be delivered as a physical asset, i.e. printed. You can get delightfully creative (but remember to stay relevant) in order to be memorable, and we’ve seen an 86% call put through rate by using this method.

Getting the data right is critical, making sure you have intel on the companies you’re targeting such as what challenges they are experiencing. Know why you’re targeting them, and ensure they present an “ideal customer” for your business.

Working closely with sales is also a must, without sales you’ll be missing the ability to firstly know who you should be targeting, but insight into each account based on their knowledge and experience. It will also make the follow up process far more coordinated and effective, making sure that no leads are left hanging.

According to ITSMA, 72% of B2B marketers are looking to increase spending in this area and absolutely no-one said they are going to reduce spending in this area, which I feel really speaks for itself in terms of effectiveness.

With lead generation becoming more challenging, and buyers switching off from the “sell”, it’s an incredibly effective strategy for engaging new clients.


About the Author

Charlotte Graham-Cumming

Director, Ice Blue Sky Ltd

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