Account-Based Marketing | Examples & Best Practices in 4 Steps

Tactics to Improve Your Account-Based Marketing Results

Account-based marketing is a strategic tactic employed by business-to-business marketers to reach a defined universe of targeted business accounts. In other words, instead of focusing on sales and marketing strategies aimed at a large group of companies, your message is tailored to an individual account. It’s taking marketing from the traditional one-to-many approach and making it a more personal one-to-one approach, and it’s been adopted by many organizations, big and small.

There’s no shortage of reasons why account based marketing (ABM) is attractive to business-to-business (B2B) companies. Companies practicing ABM have better alignment with sales, often close bigger deals with target accounts, and increase pipeline velocity with companies they may have never thought about going after in the past. In our survey for the 9th Annual B2B S&M data report, 64% of respondents reported currently utilizing an account-based strategy where they marketing and sell their products or services to a targeted segment of best-fit companies. 21% said that they are 'not currently utilizing an account-based strategy but were planning to implement in the next 12 months.'

And even while account-based marketing has been one of the hottest concepts over the past few years, it is not entirely new. In the past, ABM has been viewed as a laborious and expensive strategy reserved for large corporations that concentrated on targeting just a handful of their biggest accounts. But with advancements in technology and the proliferation of data, ABM can be used at scale for any business. But that’s not to say it’s gotten any easier to execute.

Data is really the fuel for any successful account-based marketing program. And while having access to the most accurate data and the right tools to inform the type of decisions that help companies succeed with ABM, there are some other steps that need to be taken when starting to develop an ABM strategy.

Step 1) Connect Sales & Marketing for Account-Based Marketing

To create that synergy between sales and marketing, two things need to happen. First, you must have shared processes, shared data and insights, and shared measurements. Second, your organization needs to change the way it thinks about accounts and the way teams are structured. It’s important to break through traditional silos, encouraging comprehensive thinking and nimble actions across both sales and marketing departments to drive the optimal customer experience. One way to achieve this is to develop cross functional teams dedicated to specific personas with joint metrics to ensure integrated experiences for every specific account.

Step 2) Leverage Customer Data for Account-Based Marketing Result

Additionally, you need to use data and analytics to architect the most valuable engagement for each account. This requires leveraging data to understand what the real-time needs of the account are and what messages are relevant to it, and then deliver those through the proper channels. For this step, you must start with structured, connected, real-time data. You need to understand your current customer base to figure out who your best customers are and then identify more accounts like those.

Step 3) Prioritize with AI based models

Another valuable account-based marketing tactic is predictive analytics, which can help you prioritize the highest revenue opportunities. This starts with collecting data on every customer touch point, both on and offline. It also requires implementing a data strategy so you can build a 360-degree view of the customer account across the organization. Once this data strategy is in place, you must determine how to surface the insights from that data to the right systems and people who can then act on the data in real time.

Step 4) Explore the engagement data, all in one place

If your data is stored and analyzed separately across different platforms, chances are you’re not leveraging the full potential of your data assets, impacting your ability to make real time decisions and improve customer experience. To get a holistic view of your customer profile, try using a platform that gives you an integrated view of the patterns and trends in your ABM programs. Breaking down data silos can allow your business to deliver more personalized, targeted and effective customer experiences.

It’s important to recognize some of the biggest obstacles that typically arise when trying to implement an account-based marketing strategy. One of the most common challenges is not knowing where to start, or not having buy-in from the executive team. For teams new to ABM, the recommendation is to start small with 5-10 accounts. Test, learn, and measure so you can prove the value and then scale your ABM programs.

Bad data is detrimental to an ABM strategy. Irrelevant, incorrect, and outdated data should be a warning sign for all organizations. Companies need to ensure the data they are feeding into their system is structured, real-time, and connected across departments to allow for deep, relevant, and contextual insights. Don’t make the mistake of not enriching your customer data as this will lead to inaccurate or misleading profiles which can inhibit new business wins, stall the sales process, and obstruct growth

Account-Based Marketing Examples

Here are some examples of companies doing ABM right.

One of our customers in the financial services industry was a small, regional bank looking to stay competitive. The company was essentially going against the big, national banks. One of the things that the company realized was that they wouldn’t be able to differentiate on scale and cost, but they could differentiate on customer experience. We pulled all the data together that gave this financial service company a differential understanding of the opportunity with certain customer groups. They were then able to target accounts that the larger banks may not focus on, and provide more tailored service. That was a game changer for them, thanks to a sound ABM strategy.

A few years ago, another customer, one of the largest document management and solutions companies, was challenged with data integrity issues. More than half of their accounts did not have contacts associated with them. Many accounts were duplicate records with different account IDs. There was no data integration between their CRM, marketing automation platforms, or other disparate systems. Needless to say, they lacked confidence in the accuracy of the data they did have, which made pursuing an effective ABM strategy impossible. We helped the company address their immediate data challenges, assessing, cleaning, and enriching their data to improve its accuracy and completeness. Today, they know their key industries and the critical firmographics within those industries by product, geography, and size of company. They understand their markets and personas down to the smallest common denominator. With clean data and valuable insight, committing to an ABM approach was much easier — and rewarding. Response rates have improved from 5% to 86% on average, and conversion rates have increased to 10% and more.

A third example is one of the most recognized brands in the B2C and B2B technology space. One of their key challenges was that the company’s marketing and sales teams had little visibility into how accounts were engaging across their web property. We helped them identify anonymous web traffic at a high scale, more than 75 million page visits a month. The Marketing Operations team set up dashboards to show not only which accounts were visiting the company’s web properties but also which specific pages those accounts were engaging with and when. With these insights, the Sales team was empowered to pursue the best opportunities and open highly relevant conversations. They were able to uncover otherwise missed opportunities and ensure they were competitive.

It may seem daunting at first, but if you apply these account-based marketing tactics, best practices, and simple steps to your own strategy, I’m confident your organization will reap the benefits.

Insightful segmentation is key to a successful account-based marketing program. Learn more about the best-in-class B2B customer data platform.