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Account-Based Marketing: Top Tips for an Effective Strategy

June 25, 2024

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Account-based marketing (ABM) is one of the fastest-growing approaches in digital marketing, increasing by 15% between 2020 and 2021. With a strategic focus on high-value accounts, ABM provides natural alignment between sales and marketing teams. 

Putting a strategy in place to extract the most out of your ABM efforts is key. Here are the top 9 tips to consider when creating your account-based marketing:  

1. Create a strategic account planning template

The goal of ABM is to provide a unified approach to targeting high-value accounts. To do this successfully, using an account planning template is key. The most important aspects of an account planning template are listed below:

  • Business Overview
  • Key Business Initiatives
  • Customer Relationship Landscape
  • Customer Products and Revenue
  • Account Competitor Analysis
  • Buying Process and Selling Points
  • Relationship Goals & Strategy
  • Sales Opportunities, Targets, and Risks
  • Action Plan

2. Ensure organizational ABM alignment

While a unified approach between sales and marketing is ideal, ABM requires full organizational support. When targeting key accounts, catering to and anticipating the needs, wants, and support of is increasingly important. For a coordinated effort across all fronts, organizational alignment is imperative. For high-value accounts, the customer experience is going to heavily sway a decision, and that requires consistency at every touchpoint. Studies show that a company’s reputation can be improved by up to 84%, which is a key factor when using ABM in digital marketing. Securing this alignment includes:

  • Working with marketing and sales team members who are directly involved in the strategy.
  • Sharing your strategy with account-buying committee members and any other account stakeholders.
  • Communicating your business’s unique selling point for each target account.
  • Increasing your ABM resources (talent, budget, tools, and technology).
  • Reviewing and sharing your ABM goals and KPIs company-wide. 

Teams need to work together to not only attract high-revenue customers but to provide a seamless experience once those accounts have been onboarded. 

3. Assemble your ABM dream team

Building a team will be a consolidated effort between marketing and sales teams. For companies that are looking to implement ABM for the first time, small, agile teams are better. Silos are the enemy of progress in ABM, and ensuring a good team dynamic of collaboration and consultation will help establish a strong relationship between lead generation and account management. 

As a company grows, so does the team, and the efforts toward putting together a team can become more sophisticated. While the general rule of thumb is a minimum of one salesperson and one marketer per account, other teams usually include

  • Strategy Lead: This person establishes the strategy and team direction, and is responsible for identifying target accounts. They also ensure that there is alignment between marketing and sales.
  • Content Creators: They focus on creating customized content tailored to the needs and/or preferences of each account. For organizations with a bigger budget, having a dedicated team/person working solely on content for target accounts is invaluable.
  • Data Analyst: Producing data-driven insights is an important aspect of monitoring and evaluating performance. A data analyst is usually required to derive these insights and make recommendations to optimize strategy and improve results. 
  • Marketing Operation Manager: With various ABM platforms and tools available, someone needs to take charge of tool selection, management, and optimization.

4. Research and pick your ideal set of target accounts

The next step is to identify your target accounts. This is research intensive and requires a clear understanding of your ideal customer persona. Because time and resources are being directed toward a few high-value customers, account-based marketers need to put themselves in the best position to secure an account. Here are a few things to consider when looking for a new client account: 

  • Consider what business challenges you’re able to solve and who might be experiencing the pain points you’re trying to solve
  • Study their buying process
  • Understand the client’s decision-making process and identify the decision-maker
  • Find qualitative data from surveys and interviews for deeper insights into your client

5. Choose a key account

Once you’ve identified these basics, choosing key accounts is the next step. There are a number of ways to go about this. Here’s the approach we recommend: 

  • Create workflow filters for incoming leads that are based on criteria such as company size, industry, annual revenue, etc. Tag these companies as your ideal accounts.
  • Identify your best deal to date, and use its characteristics to find other complementary clients (look at the client’s industry, understand their values, what pain points were solved, the deal size etc.)
  • Develop a niche by focusing on accounts from a particular industry or location.
  • Go back to your CRM and isolate the high-value accounts that are reviewing and engaging with the inbound content you create but haven’t been converted yet.
  • Find accounts that are a good fit according to both marketing and sales teams agree on

6. Build specific account plans

Now that you’ve laid the groundwork for your account-based marketing team, worked on your strategy, and identified your potential client, it’s time to build account plans to lock in those contracts. Two key things are needed at this stage: 

  1. Understanding which potential leads you’ll need to win to meet your targeted accounts
  2. What content will need to be produced to stimulate engagement with the audience

To gain the trust of the account buying committee, the Marketing and Sales teams need to consider the following questions:

  • Who will we need to know at each account? 

Take into consideration the various stakeholders and decision-makers, as well as the end-users. 

  • What content will we need to create? 

ABM teams need to generate content that attracts and engages the account-buying committee and other stakeholders who are decision-makers in the team. This is where your strong research skills are necessary. 

  • Which channels will we use? 

Finding the channels and platforms that are native to the account-buying committee is key, and establishing a presence on these applications is key to reducing friction when they reach out. Putting out the content is crucial, but ensuring a member of the ABM team is monitoring comments, engagement, and DMs to answer questions and nurture leads is also important. 

  • How do we manage support? 

Hand-in-hand with creating support on content creation channels is thinking about what this looks like throughout the customer journey. What does this specific account need to create a highly personalized, seamless customer experience at every touchpoint? Some accounts might need simple AI chatbots and FAQ-guided support at the early stages of the journey, but dedicated support for more complex requests later on. 

7. Attract contacts associated with high-quality target accounts

One of the biggest aspects of account-based marketing is winning over the buying committee. In traditional B2C marketing, the focus is on converting quick, individual purchases with a short decision-making timeframe. With ABM, you’re trying to convince a committee of 10 or so people, each with their own area of specialization. These are big purchases, and the buying cycles are typically extended. 

One of the ways to convert a lead into a sale with ABM is by appealing directly to the buying committee members and the account stakeholders. There are a number of approaches that you could employ, but we recommend making use of an inbound strategy. 

Being mindful of data protection laws, here are a few ways to reach out to high-value accounts and their committee members: 

  • Network amongst current contacts, clients, and accounts and ask for referrals.
  • Use social media to reach out. This can include joining forums committee members are a part of, sharing helpful information in the comment section of their posts, and sharing relevant content you create.
  • Send Direct Messages on appropriate platforms like LinkedIn. You can also send out cold emails or cold calls and reference a pain point you noticed they posted about recently.
  • Content teams can make connections by inviting a member of the buying committee to feature as a guest on a podcast, or interview them for a blog post or article.
  • If there are enough resources, featuring as a sponsor for a conference or event with an account is a great way to make an introduction.
  • Invite members to speak at an event you’re hosting or offer complimentary access to an industry event they might want to attend. Where budget constraints are an issue, digital events are a great way to still lead with generosity and a free offer of value.
  • Provide accounts with a free offer of value to indicate your interest and demonstrate your skills.

8. Invest in relationship management with the buying committee

Strong relationship management is a key factor in account-based marketing. Accounts are spending large amounts of money with your company, and equally, the business thrives off a few key accounts, making each one critical. Maintaining these relationships requires an investment of time. 

The main goal is to provide excellent customer service and put as much effort into retaining the account as you did to procure it. Tools like Enlyft integrate with popular CRM tools and provide incredible sales and marketing insights that are invaluable to an ABM team. 

We’ve put together a list of a few ideas to help you maintain connections and build a strong relationship with the account buying committee members: 

  • Help account buyers remain committed to working with your team by sharing educational content on the value of your product/service.
  • Content is still king, and sharing personalized content for account teams is key to retaining their business. Generating useful content like case studies is key to boosting customer confidence and helping account teams understand how you’ll address their pain points.
  • Communication is important, and when possible, addressing committee members one-on-one allows them to feel like a priority.
  • Treat clients to social events like dinners, lunches, or activities that are of interest, such as golf days, art exhibitions, and other networking occasions. These occasions allow you to get to know the team on a personal level and improve the relationship.

While relationship management is part of the sales wheelhouse, it’s vital that marketing teams are kept abreast of relationship management activities. 

9. Monitor, evaluate, then iterate

Once your ABM strategy has been implemented, tracking the outcomes of your efforts is the top priority. Earlier, we mentioned that a data analyst is a key member of an all-star ABM team, especially at scale, and this is where they could provide immense value. 

Once you’re able to retrieve data insights, it’s possible to identify any gaps in the strategy and make changes to your plan. Here are some helpful metrics to measure against:

  • Track interactions with buyers 

This is important to establish which strategies are successful for converting leads, whether it’s personalized content that was sent to account-buying committees, or cold email copy that has a high open rate. 

  • Evaluate deal health

It’s useful to have data that indicates the lifecycle of lead conversion, which could include data points like the close rate, the amount of money spent to convert the lead, the resources required, and the number of team members included. This information can help streamline the process for converting committee members. 

  • Net-new revenue

Net-new revenue can help teams better understand and predict the future value of new deals compared to the amount spent to generate and convert these leads. ABM is focused on high-value accounts, which are both time- and revenue-intensive.