As a business-to-business (B2B) marketer, you’ve probably been hearing about ABM the past couple years. Maybe you’re finally tempted to give Account-Based Marketing (ABM) a try? You know it’s a very strategic form of marketing that concentrates sales and marketing resources on a clearly defined set of target accounts within market, or individuals within target companies, and utilizes highly personalized communications to reach each target.

ABM is likely the exact opposite of approaches you’re currently taking; where you cast a wide net to drive multiple leads, hoping that a few truly workout and are a good fit for your products or services. Most of your marketing focus is being spent on top funnel activities to get noticed and generate some interest in your brand.

With ABM, your focus starts by bringing sales and marketing together. You will jointly determine your goals, select the accounts or companies you want to work with, delegate roles and accountability and start researching. The ABM strategy is a good thing for your sales and marketing teams as 70 percent of ABM users report their teams are mostly or completely aligned compared to 50 percent of non-ABM users.

Through a joint effort you are better able to address the needs of your B2B buyer today. A buyer that is usually not just an individual, but also part of a group of people comprising a company committee tasked with the purchasing decision. Purchasing teams that continue to be growing, according to a Harvard Business Review report that found the number of people involved in B2B solutions purchases has climbed from an average of 5.4 two years ago to 6.8 today.

Dig Deep with Data

Now you need to start getting to know your audience through data. This can be pulled from CRM system records, marketing automation tools, business directories, and numerous online sources. LinkedIn, Google Alerts and Google News can be useful tools. To effectively launch an ABM strategy you need to gather company facts such as: key decision makers contact information, number of employees, location(s), products or services, current customers, technology use, pain points, etc.

Social media analytics can also support ABM. How? By “social listening” to your target companies and individuals, and engaging with both via social networks including LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.  Your targets social content will give you insights into their interests, which then can be used in your ABM communications and campaigns.

The foundation of ABM is a customer database or profile with detailed information on the company, individuals, and a history of interactions and communications. Profiles are updated and used by all team members for real-time information.

Create and Deliver Personalized Content and Events

It’s time to determine the ABM tactics you’ll use to engage decision-makers, or the buying committee at target accounts. This involves creating personalized content and figuring out how best to deliver it. Every organization will need to determine what makes sense for them. Here are four key tactics for engaging B2B buyers:

Educational Content

Well-executed white papers, blog posts, infographics, webinars, etc. can gain your target’s trust while demonstrating your expertise. You may have existing content that you can repurpose by including a personalized introduction and conclusion. If your company has good data from a recent study that’s been conducted, slice and dice the data whether by industry or business size and repackage the stats specific for your target.

Remember, video content works well for this tactic too. Like blogs, if you have or want to develop a library of videos that address key questions or needs that can then be communicated via a nurturing process.

 Social media can be used to communicate with companies or individuals. You’re working toward making the target more receptive to your future ABM tactics and ultimately a purchase.  

Email Gets Personal

ABM replaces mass emails, with personalized emails. Think in terms of targeted emails to small lists, or a single decision-maker based on roles, personas, titles, or related. Cadence or frequency is important. You want your target to think you are the subject matter expert for your product/service. And you want to guide them through the purchasing process, from initial information gathering, to final decision making. The purchasing cycle (your sales cycle) is different for every product/service or industry. Your communications timing and frequency should, ideally, dovetail with target information requirements.

Direct Mail

Best used once a target is showing a high degree of engagement with your company. It’s an oldie, but a goody. It gives you the opportunity to send a personalized offer and note designed with the idea that you’d like to schedule time to help them solve their current problem. This is content that marketing should produce and hand off to sales to execute. If you know enough about your specific prospect, a small, interesting, and sometimes humorous gift will help you remain on your target buyer’s mind.

In-person Events

The power of a face-to-face encounter still prevails. Many B2B sales cycles are six to nine months long, strategize how to establish an in-person relationship during that time. Industry events work well if you are an exhibitor; consider hosting a special live event for your ABM contacts. Creating a genuine connection helps humanize your brand very quickly.

Measure ABM ROI

Marketers will need to determine the best ABM tactics for their businesses, as there are many worth implementing to create the necessary hyper-focused, highly personalized approach. You will be devoting a good deal of resources to a select few targets v. stretching your lead budget to reach as many as prospects as possible. That’s the beauty of how ABM works — it pays in stronger leads that convert at a higher rate and result in better ROI. Be sure to measure and report sales conversions, and ideally, calculate return on marketing investment (ROMI).

Relevant ABM Resources:

The Ultimate Guide to Account-Based Marketing: 6 Key Steps

The Fundamentals of ABM You Can’t Live Without

Align Marketing and Sales Initiatives to Drive Success

Micro-Vertical Marketing Guide