How To Implement An Effective Account-Based Marketing Plan
Written by Alastair Kane
Sep 12 2016
Understand the key steps effective ABM campaigns contain, and learn some of the key go-to-market approaches that account-based strategies use.
Identifying and targeting key accounts has always been a best practice for B2B marketing and sales. But today, advances in technology are allowing more efficient ABM practice at scale. Now, reaching out to individual accounts and contacts, with personalised content, is more straightforward.
Key Steps In An Effective ABM Plan
Account-based marketing is thinking of the account as a market of one. It’s about being laser-focused on their needs and deploying the most effective marketing tactics available to nurture value-added, pervasive conversations with key stakeholders. - Nick Panayi, Head of Digital Marketing and Global Brand, CSC
At a bare bones level, an ABM approach will require you to:
Define your target account criteria
Set campaign goals
Define each target account and the Decision Making Unit (DMU)
Identify target ABM prospects within each account (Create a target company list, and develop a list of ABM prospects. Lead score, and prioritise by propensity to buy)
Enrich your existing database with further data - if available
Develop relevant content
Select ABM go-to-market/ channel strategy (targeting by IP address, cookie targeting, geo location etc.)
Follow appropriate sales strategies and outreach
Defining Target Accounts
Remember: your ideal list of target accounts is the starting point for Account-Based Marketing. To be successful you need a solid idea of the right companies and people within those companies, who best align with your services. Business size, location, budget, challenge, and lifetime value are prime criteria to identify and prioritise a good fit account.
Within each account, you will also need to identify the specific contacts you want to work with (decision makers, individual purchasers, key influencers). You may already have an existing database of key accounts or prospects for this, and will need to assess, enrich and score any current contacts to determine their challenges and propensity to buy.
Using DB (Database) Enrich & Expand: If you already have an existing lead database, you can enrich contact records with additional information, such as further contact detail and social data. There are platforms available to support database enrichment and expansion based on contact profile. You can also make the most of an enhanced database by supporting it with other Inbound marketing tactics.
Selecting An ABM Go To Market Strategy
ABM is all about focus and personalisation. That focus means that each account you target requires a unique strategy. When it comes to selecting the right ABM approach there are multiple options, notably:
ABM: Targeting By IP Address Range
Once you know your target accounts (and a defined ideal geographic location), it’s possible to target them via their IP address range. By using ABM Content Promotion Tools, you can recognise when relevant account visits come in to your site, and display content personalised for them uniquely. This can also be used when serving ads - and can go so far as to ensure your content is only seen by target accounts in the correct geographical area you want to engage. The IP address range of companies can be obtained via search, or an IP address look-up service.
ABM: Cookie Targeting/ Targeting By Job Title
ABM: Targeting Via Social Media
Social selling is a key component of Inbound sales strategies, and translates perfectly into an ABM approach. As 78% of salespeople using social media to connect with prospects perform better than their peers (Forbes), social selling should form part of your marketing and sales approach regardless. In an ABM plan focussing on social targeting, the key is to begin with a list of your target account’s job titles or email addresses, then find matching social handles across networks, and have sales engage appropriately (via social selling and inbound sales techniques).
Using ABM Content Promotion Tools
ABM Content Promotion Tools use a combination of the targeting options above (and more), to identify when a specific account is active online, and precisely segment content to those exact accounts. This enables refined content targeting, unique to each account’s purchasing context, challenges and interests.
Note that these are just a few of the go-to-market options available. Targeting by keyword, location, and other methods may suit your specific ABM strategy better.
In an ABM approach, it’s important to think correctly, remembering that you’re visualising the funnel in reverse. Rather than generating a large stack of irrelevant leads to pour into the top of an ever-narrowing funnel, the aim is to start with that singular focus and widen out, identifying best fit contacts (based on the DMU), expanding contacts into accounts, and engaging via the channels they’re using.
Account-Based Marketing On LinkedIn
To break down walls between sales and marketing, ABM is pretty close to a silver bullet in that it aligns programs’ dollars and focus behind the accounts that the sales teams cares about. So there's inherent buy-in. That said, ABM is only as good as your visibility into your highest potential accounts and best-fit customer segments, which gets clearer over time. So it’s most effective when deployed as part of a comprehensive set of targeting strategies. - Dave Karel, Head of B2B Marketing, LinkedIn Marketing Solutions
Taking ABM targeting on social media further, LinkedIn have recently launched their own Account Targeting service, which enables users to tailor Sponsored Updates and InMail to a priority list of accounts. LinkedIn Account Targeting works by matching a target account list against the +8 million Company Pages on the site, and creating segments based on matches.
These campaigns must be managed and continually optimised by LinkedIn themselves. But by no means does that prevent you from separately using LinkedIn to find and engage with target accounts. Following social selling tactics, LinkedIn’s vast network of B2B users, and great search capability make it easy to connect with identified account targets.
LinkedIn Referral Network
Once you have developed a social selling strategy you can start to work with your sales, marketing or thought leadership teams within your business to develop account network contacts and a referral process, targeting the DMU, to expand network connections within accounts. One key aspect often overlooked here is proper reporting back into your business on social selling and social ABM activity.
Just as every business is unique, so too is each ABM strategy. But as a guide, once you have a clear view on your account buyers and their interests, you can start to develop the best go-to-market strategy for them uniquely.