2 Nov 2022

Account-based marketing: All the steps to implement the approach to your business

It's time to discuss account-based marketing, a well-known marketing strategy that has experienced explosive growth in recent years. But first, let's examine the traditional marketing strategy, as this is what companies have utilized extensively over the years. Account-based marketing is not a novel concept. It was employed less. Now businesses begin to comprehend its actual value.

In traditional marketing, compaies reach out to thousands of businesses and attempt to convince them to buy their product or service or become company leads. Then, some of them became customers after speaking with them. Finally, companies close the deal with a small number of companies compared to the thousands they initially considered. Most of the time, companies are still determining whether or not these are good prospects for the company.

Consider some vital points for the traditional marketing strategy. For instance, how many have purchased the products, and how many have been contacted? Is it preferable to get specific customers to guarantee their purchase?

How is this even possible? Through the account-based marketing approach:

  1. Companies identify only those who believe to be genuinely interested in their product.
  2. Engage with them by developing explicit marketing content, a comprehensive marketing strategy for those particular clients, and, more specifically, by creating unique content for each account.
  3. They have the opportunity to communicate with other interested businesses that share the same characteristics as their clients. The last one is called "land and expand," and it is time to implement account-based marketing.

What is account-based marketing?

Account-based marketing is a strategy for targeting and attracting a small number of customers—the customers companies need—and likely to be interested in their proposal or product. Therefore, they deliver highly relevant and personalized campaigns to this target audience.

The initial step of an account-based marketing strategy is to identify prospects. Whether they should use an account-based or a traditional marketing strategy depends on who and how many clients they try to reach.

First step is to consider their products and services. How many businesses would purchase this? If it is something that only a few companies would buy, they need a strategy for a small market. The primary characteristics of the product, its price, and other specifics will provide the answer to which marketing strategy to utilize; traditional or account-based.

Here you can find out an account-based marketing framework

Account-based marketing: All the steps to implement the approach to your business

What three types of account-based marketing are there?

The target customers-accounts will demonstrate which of the three account-based marketing approaches is optimal for the business. Regarding the number of their target companies and accounts, companies employ one of the following strategies:

1) One-to-one: personal contact (strategic account-based marketing) 

A one-to-one approach is the most traditional way for a business to implement account-based marketing. This strategy comes to mind when companies hear "account-based marketing" and is the one used as an example most frequently. In this type, a marketing strategy is developed for each account. So, the sales and marketing teams work closely together to create different plans for each customer.

For instance, we produce product X and discover that only customers A, B, C, D, and E will be interested in it. So, rather than developing a single strategy for all customers, we devise different plans based on the client's wants, how the company works, and who the decision-maker is.

In detail:

  • Using sales team facts and information, create highly-tailored marketing plans for individual accounts (companies). 
  • We can build strong relationships with the crucial decision-makers at our target account by putting the client first. 
  • We can focus on our target account's business issues through marketing.

2) One-to-few (account-based marketing lite)

There are some similarities between strategic account-based marketing and account-based marketing lite (we study the audience, identify their characteristics, and approach them accordingly), but there is a significant difference. With this type, companies place "second-tier" target accounts and group them with similar accounts in order to develop the same strategy for each group. In this case, marketing and sales should work together to determine the following:

  • Which accounts should be targeted and grouped? 
  • How to customize content and marketing initiatives for specific customer segments?
  • What pain points do the target account groups experience?

3) One-to-many (Programmatic ABM)

This type is ideal for account-based marketing campaigns that target a large number of accounts. Again, in this type, businesses do not randomly target customers. Instead, they are aware of numerous goals and ideal companies. Therefore, marketing collaborates with sales to identify a large number of accounts (hundreds or thousands) and discovers specific ways to market at scale utilizing the technologies and capabilities available to digital marketers. In this case, marketing and sales collaborate once more to:

  • Utilizing technology to scale the personalization of marketing campaigns to specific, named accounts.
  • Collaborating with sales to target specific segments.
  • Horizontal markets.
  • Vertical markets.

In all these situations, the marketing and sales teams work together to develop the best plan and know how to approach and talk to each company.

The funnel for account-based marketing

Regardless of the type of account-based marketing a company chooses, the final funnel should adhere to a standard format in order to yield profitable results. To achieve ever-improving outcomes, companies must reformulate the funnel according to the three types. (That is if they target a single customer, multiple groups, or numerous customers)

Here are the stages of the funnel in detail: 

Identification: In the first level of the funnel, they devote their full attention to the objectives. They analyze the organization, the product they wish to promote, and the number of businesses they will target. Then, based on the information above, they focus on leads and prospects who are likely to be interested in what they have to offer. As a result, they create a strategy that will work.

Personalization: Behind the companies and accounts are real people who make decisions and likely perceive the problems that dominate the organization through the means of facilitating them. Thus, the entire strategy should not be predicated on a typical, impersonal approach to the company but rather on a focus on the individual. So, it's time to personalize the business, understand the needs of each person, and make them feel like the content was made just for them.

Engagement. After extensive research and compiling appropriate marketing materials and content about the targeted business and its people, it is time to contact these individuals. Email is the most effective method, but direct email communication yields even better results.

Let's look at the findings from "small business trends" to see what direct email marketing and direct email communication are worth and how well they work: 

  • 80% of direct mail is opened.
  • 56% of buyers initiate brand contact through direct mail.
  • 59% of consumers appreciate receiving direct mail from brands they enjoy.
  • 18-20% is the average ROI for direct mail campaigns.

Direct mail can be tailored to target specific individuals within a particular account. For example, direct mail lets us personalize the content by including company logos, names, and job titles.

Advocate. It is now time to "land and expand." It's time to generate new leads by conversing with the existing prospects. Engagement implies that companies develop a relationship with the decision-makers, regardless of whether they become a customer. So, it's time to use this connection to find new leads that will help keep and grow relationships with existing clients.

How is an account-based marketing strategy ideal for a company?

Before a company can use account-based marketing, we need to make sure that it meets the following criteria:

  • The target-based strategy. 

To ensure that account-based marketing is what companies needs, they have to ask themselves specific questions about their company's structure, clients, employees, and, of course, their goals. 

In addition, it is beneficial to pay more attention to who their current customers are, as they determine their entire business strategy. 

Specifically, they might ask themselves: 

  • Who are their most successful customers?
  • What product or service do they purchase most frequently?
  • What is the size of their ideal client's business?
  • Which industry best describes their ideal customer?
  • Who is the decision maker at the company of their ideal customer?

These questions will help them determine the profile of their ideal target customer.

  • The team-based methodology

The most crucial aspect of account-based marketing within a organization is the team. The marketing and sales teams comprise an undivided team who collaborates for account-based marketing to develop standard solutions and a common strategy for each company. Therefore, in order to achieve those as mentioned above, each company must be on the same wavelength and share the same information and knowledge, such as through weekly team-building and communication sessions. The majority of account-based marketing strategies fail because of a lack of communication.

  • The CRM system 

CRM is essential to achieving this specific approach. This CRM is a comprehensive tool containing all customers' valuable information. A CRM's objective is to be as organized and cautious as possible. Thus, data is preserved, and they do not become lost in the abundance of information. The CRM is the ultimate tool because it includes all required client or leads notifications, a prospect database where a company will regularly update, and structured, clear, and organized files. In addition, the more complex something is, the more trustworthy the database must be to reduce the likelihood of errors and miscommunication.

How does a company initiate the account-based marketing strategy?

1) Identify the optimal target accounts

The first step in account-based marketing success is identifying the accounts that align with objectives. This will allow businesses to match and create campaigns for each account successfully. Consequently, their campaign's first step is compiling a list of key accounts.

They acknowledge that it can take time to determine which businesses and accounts are ideal for collaboration. Thus, it is prudent, to begin with existing customer data. These businesses will likely align with their objectives, and their prior interactions will facilitate communication. They are not limited to viewing only their customers. It is beneficial to examine their entire database or leads. Using this method and the answers to the previous questions, they make a profile of the ideal target customer to figure out what kind of business will do business with them in the future.

Once they have a list of companies, they can conduct additional research on them.

2) The investigation of the accounts

The second step is to search for public information, primarily online, on websites, and reports about the accounts' market size, industry, and competitors. In addition, they investigate their past, sales, organizational structure, and reports. After locating those mentioned above, they searched for information about all the decision-makers (such as the CEO, CMO, and CTO), their management, purchasing power, and leadership roles. There may be many different decision-makers, but they can persuade them all with our content, campaign, proposal, and general marketing. We have to do a whole audit for all of them to communicate and show them our ideas.

3) Create personalized and appropriate content

It is time to personalize; to view target businesses as individuals. The more personalized and pertinent the content is, the greater the likelihood that a buyer will engage with it. The best practice in account-based marketing is to create industry-specific content, but businesses can also tailor content to specific roles or accounts.

Additionally, they can always return to the existing content to determine if it is suitable or relevant for an account. Therefore, they review their blog posts, case studies, and e-books and consider how they can be tailored to their client's needs or improved. After reviewing all of the content, they must place it in the sales funnel. For instance, which stage does the blog belong to? Thus, they know what type of content to send to their prospects based on the buyer's funnel position they are.

However, if they still need content that resonates with their ideal customer, the best way to understand their top business challenges is to conduct interviews with existing customers whose profiles match theirs. For instance, companies can ask them:

  • What prompted them to seek an alternative solution?
  • How are vendors shortlisted?
  • How is the product tested?

Based on the responses, they can create pertinent content. Remember that the primary goal of the account-based marketing strategy is to create different content for all funnel stages. It's good to have content that moves the prospect from one step to the next since the account will eventually reach the last stage, which is the cooperation and becoming a buyer.

4) Distribute content to the appropriate individual

Once the content is complete, it is time to promote it. To whom; however, to the right person at the correct account so they can engage, nurture, and grow the relationship. As we have previously stated, straightforward email is the most effective means of communicating with decision-makers.

You can use email to send sales representatives and highly relevant content to a single contact at an account, a group of individuals within the account, or a handful of companies that match your ideal customer profile. Direct mail, however, can target specific individuals within a particular account and customize the content specifically for them.

In addition to direct email, you can also use telephone calls and social media (mainly LinkedIn).

5) Evaluating the outcomes

After sending the content, it's time for companies to evaluate the results. Let's begin by recalling the primary objective of the account-based marketing campaign. Account-based marketing seeks to establish and cultivate relationships within the target accounts and to move them from one stage to the next through content. Consequently, it could not occur in the blink of an eye.

Account-based marketing campaigns are not evaluated using traditional metrics such as the number of leads, website conversion rate, click-through rate, and cost-per-click (CPC). Therefore, companies must employ broader metrics, including awareness, engagement, and relationship.

  • They can find out how well people know about an account by looking at the number of website visits, social media mentions, social media shares, and email replies. (Awareness)
  • They can report page visits, the number of return visits, time spent on site, and email permissions to measure engagement. (Engagement)
  • To measure relationships, they can report on the number of decision-makers reached, the number of content downloads, and the number of product trials or sign-ups. (Relationships)

In addition, they can evaluate the success of their account-based marketing campaign by analyzing the sales cycle length, deal size, and total revenue from any new sales that result from the campaign. Then, they can compare these numbers to how many customers this marketing strategy brought in.

Remember that showing a high return on investment (ROI), an increase in average deal size, and an increase in revenue is a surefire way to convince the company's upper management that the strategy we're talking about is the only way to get new business in the future.

Five benefits of the account-based marketing strategy

If you are still trying to figure out why your business needs account-based marketing and why you should use it, there are five main benefits to consider, and it's time to look at these benefits in more detail.

  • Increase the earnings.

The income increase will take time to occur. In order to achieve optimal results, however, companies must repeatedly check and recheck their strategy. For example, 60% of account-based marketing users reported a revenue increase of at least 10% within 12 months, while 20% reported a revenue increase of at least 30%. In addition, a separate study found that 91% of companies that implemented this strategy increased their average deal size, with 25% of respondents indicating that the average deal size increased by at least 50%!

You can achieve the highest levels of success only by continuously analyzing the outcomes of your consumers. Therefore, companies need to remember to evaluate the results constantly.

  • The sales and marketing teams will develop a close relationship.

The more the teams collaborate on equal terms with shared information and opportunities, the more they learn to function as a team and produce superior results. In some companies, individuals, for instance, perform work without communicating, whereas in others, companies work closely together and are jointly motivated to achieve goals. Who is the "actual" team, and who will achieve positive outcomes faster? The second one, of course.

Teams of marketers have been making marketing campaigns for decades to bring in new leads that salespeople can sort through to find a number of possible customers. Account-based marketing aims to close a single account, so both teams must maintain their concentration and work toward the same business objective. Therefore, nothing is more successful than account-based marketing!

  • Efficiency

Companies shorten the sales cycle with Account-based marketing by falling deeper into the traditional marketing funnel. They can accelerate sales and quickly close deals with critical accounts in mind. This can reduce the time and resources required for marketing and sales.

  • Improve ROI

Account-based marketing reduces wasteful spending, which allows them to increase ROI. According to Titan Growth, a study by the Account-Based Marketing Leadership Alliance found that 77% of marketers think account-based marketing has been their target accounts' most successful marketing or sales effort.

  • Uniqueness

The purpose of marketing is differentiation! What better way to stand out than to comprehend the target account's pain points, goals, and business strategies? Demonstrate to the target account that companies stand out from the crowd.

Account-based marketing is a technique that has been introduced previously. Companies are only now beginning to recognize the significance of having a group of people create content exclusively for an account. This is the benefit provided by account-based marketing. Obviously, this is not a one-size-fits-all approach. For instance, it is only ideal if a business sell something to some businesses. It is for those who may sell a premium product and target a specific market share.

With account-based marketing, companies can create content for a single company, a group of companies, or a small number of companies. Thus, they can ensure that decision-makers will view and audit their content.

Viable growth factory is the ideal ally to help you succeed with account-based marketing. You can contact us if you wish to schedule a meeting with us or receive information.