What is ABM Marketing, Why Does It Work So Well and Where Should You Start?
local seo optimisation
by Amy Bull

It would be easy to think of account based marketing (ABM) as ‘nothing new’. It’s using a combination of marketing channels to reach a specific audience and brands have been doing that for years, so what’s different with ABM?

ABM isn’t a new platform or marketing channel, but it is a new way of thinking for many businesses.

So, what exactly is account based marketing?

Account based marketing (ABM) is a hyper-targeted form of B2B marketing where you tailor and personalise your activity to specific high value accounts. And that means it allows you to be highly relevant to your target audience.

To make that happen, ABM campaigns can consist of email marketing, direct mail, advertising, remarketing, downloadable content and much more, all working in tandem to target a specific audience.

And it is the size of that targeted audience that determines what ‘type’ of ABM campaign you will be running. Your campaign will normally fall into one of the following three categories:

  1. Cluster account based marketing: This is where you target a small cluster of similar businesses, perhaps within the same industry or location, or with the same challenges which your service or product can resolve.
  2. One to one account based marketing: This is the most targeted form, where a business targets multiple stakeholders in one business with content relevant to each of these stakeholders. There is only one account, or one business, as the target of this type of account based marketing.
  3. One to many account based marketing: This is the least targeted form of ABM, where you target many businesses (as a rule of thumb, about 30 or more) as part of one campaign. These businesses should still have similarities, but not to the degree of cluster account based marketing.

Here’s an example to bring it to life…

That might all make theoretical sense, but maybe an example will help to bring it to life?

One of the more straightforward ABM campaigns we have delivered for a client followed the below steps. This was a one to many ABM campaign, with a limited ad spend budget. That said, it still hit all of its KPIs with enquiries coming in from blue-chip companies…

  1. We used GDPR compliant data to capture a list of companies familiar with our client and their offering. Working with their sales team we whittled down that list to approximately 100 top prospects.
  2. We targeted them using a Linked ad campaign, with a dedicated landing page and a high-value whitepaper and video content.
  3. When they visited the landing page and downloaded the whitepaper, we captured their data and they entered an email marketing nurture sequence – powered by HubSpot to offer personalised content.
  4. During this sequence, the contact also received a direct mail.
  5. If a representative from the company got in touch, we would create a sales briefing form for the client’s internal team – detailing how the contact had interacted with the campaign and empowering them with all the information to make sure they could have an informed, productive conversation when they did get in touch.
  6. If they didn’t engage during this process, they were filtered into a campaign that started from step 1 all over again – but with different ad creative and messaging.

So even in this simple campaign you can see how we targeted a very specific audience with relevant, personalised content across numerous channels.

Why does account based marketing work so well?

This campaign worked really well for our client, and here’s why:

  • It was highly measurable – you should be able to clearly see if one of your target accounts converts as a result of the campaign. In turn that means it’s a targeted use of marketing budget.
  • We used content that was highly relevant to the audience. With an ABM campaign you will be focussed on a defined, targeted set of accounts, and that means you can map out content that the audience really wants to see.
  • We learnt more about their audience. You will be able to see how people interact with your content, what type of messaging works well and, in many cases, it should give you the opportunity to capture more data that allows you to personalise your content and messaging moving forwards.
  • It allowed us to be relevant. According to HubSpot, nearly three-fourths (74%) of online consumers get frustrated with websites when content (e.g. offers, ads, promotions) appears that has nothing to do with their interests. I know that the same goes for B2B decision-makers – we expect content to be relevant and personalised towards us, and ABM campaigns give you the opportunity to deliver just that…

So hopefully I have convinced you that ABM campaigns are something you should consider for your B2B marketing…but perhaps you’re now wondering where to start?

Start by building and getting to know your audience

It sounds obvious but it’s vitally important that you start planning your ABM campaign by getting to know who your target accounts are, why you have chosen them and how you can resonate with them.

One of the biggest challenges for a successful ABM campaign is finding the right accounts to target. There are many different ways you could create a list of accounts to target – from third-party data or information from your sales team, for example. Whatever route you choose, always be clear on what similarities the target accounts have with each other and, therefore, why they are part of the same ABM campaign audience.

Once you have settled on who you are targeting, get to know them…

  • Speak to your sales and/or customer service team to understand if, how and when your business has interacted with the accounts in the past. If there is any ‘history’ it should inform how you approach them.
  • Look at the different individuals you might target within each account – for example, one target business may have multiple decision makers you need to influence during the campaign. Factor each of them into your campaign.
  • Establish how you can reach this target audience – do you have email addresses? Websites? Postal address? This will dictate what initial channels you use during your campaign.
  • Research what kind of messaging and content will grab the attention of your audience. My colleague Amy has written a great blog on where to get started with content ideas: Tools to help you with your content strategy and research (Part One)
  • Map out the campaign flow for your ABM campaign – detail how, when, why and where you will be creating a touch point with your targets.
  • Build the assets for your campaign and do plenty of testing! Make sure everything appears as and when you expect it to, particularly if you are using any marketing automation.
  • And last, but definitely not least, measure your campaign with clear objectives (what do you want to achieve?). Make sure you regularly check in on how the campaign is performing as you may find opportunities to tweak things to ensure the best possible results.

All of that is quite a lot – I have literally summarised one significant job, content research, in one short sentence in the above. Getting the content research and creation right could take a good chunk of work to deliver by itself. And so it should. Without the right content, an ABM campaign won’t work.

In a nutshell, ABM campaigns are absolutely worth it – but it’s also absolutely worth making sure you deliver them to the highest standard. These are high value accounts you’re reaching out to at the end of the day, and you want to get it right.

If you want to learn more about ABM, lead generation or, more broadly, inbound marketing, get in touch with one the Media Matters team today – we’re a friendly bunch and we’d love to have a chat about what you want to achieve!

The Author

Amy Bull

Amy looks after our clients’ accounts. She’s the glue that holds our strategy, delivery and results together; she makes it happen and keeps it on track. She is the wearer of many hats! Amy joined MM as the queen of words, crafting content and securing some incredible outreach opportunities for our clients. She’s since combined this with an in-depth knowledge of SEO, making every one of our clients’ words work as hard as possible in the digital landscape. Her passion revolves wholeheartedly around ‘client accountability’ - hard work, integrity and honesty – doing the very best for our clients based upon data-driven evidence.
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