It is a documented fact that ABM, or Account Based Marketing, yields higher returns than any other marketing investment. In fact, according to a recent survey, over 80% of marketers who measure ROI say that ABM initiatives outperform other marketing investments.
“More specifically, with ABM, the key metric is revenue, not lead generation.”
Reason #1: It’s Not Just a Marketing Plan, but a Strategic Business Initiative
So, what exactly is ABM? For starters, the name is a bit misleading, as many believe that ABM is really more of a strategic business initiative, not just a marketing plan. This approach, also known as key account marketing, focuses on key, targeted accounts and relies heavily on a very strong sales and marketing alliance and internal organizational support and resources. It is, notably, not just a function of marketing.
Unlike many more traditional marketing pursuits, the purpose and strategies behind ABM include opening doors, crucial relationship building with key accounts and deepening worthwhile and meaningful engagement within these accounts. Those who implement it must cultivate a keen understanding of the targeted account’s key business drivers. This invariably requires a strong concerted internal effort with top notch research as the lead player plus a strong methodology. Payoffs can sometimes be a long time in coming, but when they happen they are almost always very significant in terms of ROI and other benefits. More specifically, with ABM, the key metric is revenue, not lead generation.
When it comes to getting started with ABM, the most important step is identifying targeted accounts by looking at the characteristics and personas of your largest and most profitable customers and/or your greatest growth markets. This might consist of a list of companies across industries or aligned to a single vertical. The next step is creating a fully integrated, targeted marketing approach, including content on your website, as well as personalized events––both live and virtual––that will provide relevant information to your target accounts and a consistent platform of engagement for your sales team.
“ABM also means that the marketing and sales team work in concert, not in the traditional, and quickly disappearing, marketing to sales hand off approach.”
Reason #2: It’s Much More Profitable than Traditional Marketing
Quite impressively, ABM had higher ROI than other marketing activities, according to 97 percent of marketers in a survey. ABM also leverages the classic 80/20 marketing rule, where 20 percent of marketing messages generally produce 80 percent of campaign results and revenue. Understanding where this rich 20 percent resides and how to most effectively cultivate and market to this audience is an underlying principle of ABM. This approach allows you to be more efficient and productive in your spending and resource allocation.
Ways to manage ABM might include assigning key account managers to penetrate targeted accounts, cultivating informed relationships and offering business insights. Ways to connect with key decision makers within the targeted organizations might include private, invitation- only events or dinners that nurture business relationships and showcase areas of expertise or marketing knowledge.
“Of course, a key component of any marketing or strategy plan is measurement.”
Reason #3: It’s Knowledge-Based and Tailored
For an ABM marketing program to succeed, there must be a long-term, strategic, ongoing relationship with the target account (often an entire company) that includes tailored communications, applying account-specific insights and information and providing relevant content and services to the desired account. The most successful of companies are assigning single account managers or account teams and are utilizing a myriad of tactics to place their executives in front of these key accounts. Relationships are the name of the game and critical to generating the highest returns.
For these relationships to materialize, it’s important these organizations are seen by clients as thought leaders that are offering leading solutions in the market. As a result, the most successful organizations are feverishly working with credible third parties to put a dinner series, road show or alternative content based vehicle together that will kill these two birds with one stone (thought leadership and connections). This is very different in terms of time frame and depth of penetration, than the more traditional, “one and done” marketing approach. ABM also means that the marketing and sales team work in concert, not in the traditional, and quickly disappearing, marketing to sales hand off approach.
Also critical to ABM success is marketing’s role in developing intelligence about key accounts. As described by Peppers and Rodgers in 1993: “When two marketers are competing for the same customer’s business, all other things being equal, the marketer with the greatest scope of information about that particular customer […] will be the more efficient competitor.” This kind of knowledge-based approach is also leveraged in relationship marketing.
Reason #4: The Measurement Is Macro, not Micro Of course, a key component of any marketing or strategy plan is measurement.
But it must be noted that the measurement of an ABM strategy will differ from traditional marketing metrics. With this approach you are also measuring the (potential) value of sales, the (potential) value of revenue in the pipeline, overall communications and much more. Simply put, the values are different and the model will be different too. As stated earlier, with ABM, you are ultimately measuring revenue, not lead generation or other more traditional, micro marketing results. But there are some key ABM performance indicators you can measure along the way, including how well you are reaching key targeted accounts, and how aware and engaged they are. In the middle of the ABM sales and marketing cycle you will want to examine whether key people in the targeted organizations are interacting with you and ideally, whether you have identified one or more internal champion within the organization. This should lead to departments or accounts that are ripe for further outreach.
Reason #5: When Done Right, the Rewards are Big
Although the origins of ABM marketing can be traced to the IT industry, this smart strategy is now being adapted (and sometimes modified by) more and more forward-thinking organizations across industries. In fact, in Frost & Sullivan’s recent eBroadcast, Top 10 Marketing Must Haves to Budget for in 2017: Sales and Marketing Experts Speak Out, 58% of the attendees polled said that they were planning to implement ABM as part of their 2017 marketing strategy. For any organization that wants to target smarter and generate higher marketing returns, ABM is an absolute must.
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Leveraging the breadth and depth of over 50 years of industry expertise, our Brand and Demand Solutions practice delivers the most comprehensive marketing solutions to support every stage of your customer’s buying cycle. Featuring programs that help you target smarter such as account-based marketing research as well as custom virtual and live events, Frost & Sullivan’s Brand and Demand Solutions practice understands how to position your brand (and your sales team) as the strategic solution provider for your selected prospects. Get in-depth intelligence on named accounts before you launch key campaigns and leverage the unequivocal leading brand for B2B live and virtual events, Frost & Sullivan, to reach elusive executive prospects. Start targeting sharper with our solutions today by visiting frost.com/brand-and-demand-solutions/target/.