As businesses face new challenges in this digital age, there is a growing emphasis on value-driven, highly customized marketing (and that’s where account-based marketing comes in). This is especially true for B2B companies, who must demonstrate trustworthiness and overcome more objections than ever from prospective clients. Top-of-funnel advertising and cold outreach are expensive — and can harm the brand’s reputation if done incorrectly.

Account-based marketing is a highly personalized strategy in which sales and marketing efforts are aligned and focused for each prospective client. Rather than a scattershot approach targeting multiple individuals, ABM builds a valuable relationship with a company’s key decision-makers. Today, thanks to ABM-friendly automation tools, it’s easier to develop and streamline an ABM strategy for your B2B enterprise.

Problems with Traditional B2B Marketing

Traditional B2B marketing identifies one or more individuals at a company, then sends them a pitch. While this approach can work, it’s also ripe for error. If the marketer contacts someone who is not in a position to make a deal, they’ve wasted time and resources.

When they do reach the right person, how can they pass off the lead to the sales team for the greatest chance of success? In many cases, marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) do not end up being sales-qualified (SQLs).

Cold, impersonal outreach can also seem spammy or scammy. Most people have received unsolicited pitches at their work address promising some business solution or another. So, a healthy skepticism has emerged around B2B outreach. Unfortunately, that makes it more difficult for legitimate businesses to connect with prospective clients.

Account-based marketing solves these problems by bringing the marketing and sales teams together to target the prospects with the best chance of success. Typically, these are also high-value accounts that offer a good ROI. In an ABM strategy, sales and marketing share data to customize their messaging for the given prospect. This meets that essential “know, like, trust” paradigm while creating a dialogue that stands out from generic B2B email blasts.

That combination of improved targeting and value-driven personalization makes a difference. In one study, 91% of B2B marketers reported a better ROI from using ABM, and 73% said they landed bigger deals.

Elements of Account-Based Marketing Strategies

Account-based marketing focuses on prospects who (a) are more likely to convert and (b) have the potential to be a high-value, high-ROI client. Those prospects are then delivered a thoroughly personalized campaign that nurtures their buying journey. Rather than passing a large group of leads down a sales funnel, marketing and sales work together to analyze data and customize their messaging.

Therefore, a good ABM strategy requires the following elements:

Ideal Client Profile (ICP)

An ICP clearly defines which companies would be best to target. Depending on the B2B enterprise’s services and niche, key factors could include the client’s:

  • Industry and its projected growth
  • Market position
  • Previous engagement with the company
  • Number of employees
  • Annual revenue
  • Budget potential
  • Plans for growth or acquisition
  • Geographic location
  • Technology stack

On their own, those facts don’t instantly illuminate a prospect’s ROI for the B2B company. However, today’s AI-powered tools use machine-learning to score each potential client and their chance of success. Predictive analytics can provide helpful insights into an account’s potential revenue, growth, and preferred engagement.

Data Enrichment

As ABM emphasizes a highly personalized nurturing strategy, data is vital to developing and aligning the sales and marketing teams’ endeavors. Account-based marketing tools pull and analyze valuable data at all points of the journey.

Automated ABM tools can collect all the critical details about a prospective client by mining data from annual reports, LinkedIn pages, and social platforms. Then, AI-powered machine-learning algorithms compare them to the ICP, score their potential, and assess their intent. For example, if a prospect’s LinkedIn content indicates a pain point the B2B company can solve, that prospect is more likely to be sales-qualified.

Analyzing all these data points by hand would take hours, decreasing the ROI of landing that account. But with today’s smart ABM platforms, it’s much easier to build a strong docket of highly qualified prospects and how to target them, rather than sifting through a long list of generic leads.

Cross-channel Sales and Marketing

One of the top challenges for B2B enterprises is ensuring that the sales reps’ messages align with those from marketing, and vice versa. If sales and marketing are not on the same page, it’s all too easy to accidentally pitch the wrong solution to a prospect or send an email that doesn’t match their interests.

The ABM approach understands that buying decisions (especially in the B2B space) take time and happen across various channels. Many B2B marketers use high-value content such as whitepapers to attract leads. But what happens once they’re in the pipeline? Should a sales rep email them or book a discovery call? How does their engagement with your content reflect their priorities? Which solutions should you pitch to them?

All these interactions and outreach attempts must be mapped and tracked in a central space, with the ability to create a feedback loop between recent activity and next steps. New insights must be woven into the overall web of data points, allowing ABM teams to progressively monitor and refine their approach — all while saving time and money.

This allows both marketers and sales reps to thoroughly personalize their approach. According to research, business decision-makers who receive B2B messages tailored to their needs and pain points are 40% more likely to convert.

When incorporated into marketing automation tools, ABM offers the one-two punch of data-driven prospecting plus efficient, customized outreach and nurturing. That’s a winning combination that can empower B2B enterprises to land high-value deals that both meet their strategic goals and deliver a great ROI.

Wrapping Up

To get started with account-based marketing, build your Ideal Client Profile and begin collecting data about your prospects. If you’re already using a marketing automation solution, you may be able to cross-analyze CRM data with campaign performance and previous customer behavior.

There are many ABM tools on the market to further enrich your data and use machine-learning to predict revenue potential, score leads, and guide your messaging strategy. Plus, smart intelligence tools can identify the right decision-makers and assess their buying intent. When brought together into a powerful, ABM-friendly ecosystem, your marketing and sales teams can better align their efforts — and win more deals at a higher value.

Learn how SharpSpring’s campaign analytics, behavioral tracking, and lead scoring tools can support your account-based marketing strategy.

Rebecca Wentworth