Account-based marketing is the latest big thing in the marketing world. Well, there’s always a “latest big thing” in the marketing world, but this is one that we’re particularly excited about. And we’re not alone — more than 60 percent of companies planned to launch an ABM-based campaign in the last year.
Even so, it seems as though most B2B companies aren’t familiar with the concept. Part of the reason for that is a misalignment between sales and marketing. When the two teams aren’t on the same page, it’s hard for companies to make progress. But ABM only works if sales and marketing are working together — and if done right, it can be hugely lucrative. Part of “doing it right” is the use of a CRM like HubSpot. Here’s how HubSpot can help.
What is Account-Based Marketing?
Think of account-based marketing as a reversal of the traditional funnel model of marketing. With the funnel, you put out marketing materials that attract a relatively broad group of visitors to your site. Those visitors are narrowed down to leads, then narrowed further to customers.
With account-based marketing, you market directly to an individual target or customer. Rather than tailoring your marketing to an industry or demographic, you can create content, events, and entire campaigns that are pointed at one single account.
The Benefits of ABM
ABM isn’t designed to completely replace your marketing efforts, it’s designed to supplement them. Imagine you offer data hosting services. Obviously, it’s beneficial to your business to land a few dozen smaller websites — but imagine you could go after someone like Dropbox. That single account could make up the bulk of your revenue for years. They deserve their own marketing package.
ABM is Personalized
In the end, even B2B businesses are still selling to people — usually half a dozen or so decision-makers at your target company. Not only can you create marketing materials that are specifically customized to appeal to those people, but you can save a lot of money on the scope of the campaign if you only need to show it to six people.
ROI is Easier to Track
One of the biggest challenges for marketers is attribution — finding out where your leads came from is crucial if you want to figure out whether your marketing money is being well-spent. You might put money into social campaigns, blogging, emails, and paid search, but it’s very hard to tell which of those touchpoints made the difference and spurred people to make a purchase.
With ABM, that ambiguity is gone. You prepare a pitch and a campaign for a specific target company and with a specific budget. Either you sign that company or you don’t. If you do, you know the exact return on the money you spent, which makes it easier to budget going forward.
Shorter Sales Cycle
Generating leads is just the beginning — some of them won’t turn into customers, and the ones that do will take a while to finally convert. ABM bypasses this delay by selling directly to people who actually want to hear from you and use your product. You won’t spend time grooming leads that don’t pay off, which means sales will close faster.
Better Sales and Marketing Alignment
We’ve talked before about the history of tension between sales teams and marketers. The story goes that salespeople tend not to be satisfied with the leads that marketers generate, and marketers want more visibility from sales so they can craft their campaigns better. With ABM, that bickering is a thing of the past — sales teams get the exact leads they expect, and marketing knows exactly who they’re marketing to.
The Intersection of ABM and Inbound Marketing
We’re an inbound marketing agency, and HubSpot has long been one of the biggest advocates for inbound marketing. In principle, inbound marketing seems like it wouldn’t align with ABM. Inbound marketing involves creating content that brings prospects and leads into your orbit, at which point you can sell to them. ABM flips the script, putting the emphasis on you to reach out to them.
But here’s the thing: when you reach out to these leads, you’ll have to reach out with something. You’ve been creating useful, relevant, timely content that shows your prospective customers how your company and product can genuinely solve their problems — it’s as simple as using that same content strategy with the target companies on your list.
Whether it’s B2B or B2C, customers don’t like pushy salespeople. Your marketing has to be valuable, not aggressive. Even when you create a campaign that’s pointed at one particular company, your approach has to be focused on showing them how helpful you can be.
How a CRM Like Hubspot Can Help
As with any marketing campaign, organization is crucial. In order to keep track of the progress you’re making with each of your target companies, you need a CRM — here’s how HubSpot can help.
Creating an Ideal Customer Profile
If you want to start an ABM campaign, you’ll need a list of target companies to sell to. This is similar to developing a buyer persona, but instead of creating a broad category that contains lots of potential customers inside it, you’re working toward a list of specific companies.
To do that, you’ll need to establish what your ideal customer profile (ICP) looks like — that means firmographic data, industry, company size, location, revenue, market influencers, profit margin, corporate structure, and so on. And there’s no better place to start than the customers you already have.
Examine your most successful customers — the ones that have generated the most revenue, lasted the longest, advocated for you most strongly with their colleagues, and been most receptive to upsells. Look for what they have in common. When you’re building a list of new prospects, build around that model.
Do Your Research
As we mentioned earlier, there are usually about half a dozen decision-makers at a given company that you need to convince in order to close a sale — and you need to know who they are.
First things first: check your CRM for existing contacts at the companies you’re targeting. If you’ve already built a rapport with someone at the business, you’ve got your foot in the door.
If not, LinkedIn’s advanced search feature is a powerful tool that you can use to your advantage. You can search for people by current company, past company, industry, contact info, schools, title, and so on. If you can’t find contact info, there are third-party brokers that can help.
A CRM can be incredibly useful not only in collecting info, but in keeping it up to date. This is a serious concern — according to one study, 70 percent of B2B contact info will be out of date a year after it’s acquired, and in some industries, that decay is even faster. A CRM will let you track how long it’s been since your data was entered and can even give you prompts to update it periodically so you don’t lose track.
Track Your Results
Once you’ve created a list of contacts, you can create compelling content that’s personalized for each of the individuals or companies you’re trying to win over. But as with any marketing campaign, your efforts are no good if you can’t tell how well they’re working.
Your CRM can help keep track of everything. The channels you use, the responses you get, the sales outreach calls that you make, the contracts you sign, and the money you bring in will all be linked in your CRM software, making it all the easier to measure the success or failure of your ABM campaigns and build on those lessons going forward.
ABM is all about specific, targeted marketing for the companies that fit your product the best. It’s a laser-focused approach, which means there’s not much margin for error. That’s why it’s so important to keep your marketing organized. A CRM is the solution you need.