Megan Eisenberg, CMO at MongoDB, defines account based marketing (ABM) quite simply: “Account based marketing...is more targeted and personalized versus spray and pray, where you’re just trying to capture anyone in your net. You’re being very specific about who you want to talk with, and it’s a way for sales and marketing to align on the target.”
What Megan is getting at is this: ABM is about shifting your focus from lots of leads who may or may not be a good fit for your business to highly targeted and specific leads that are the best possible fit for your product and/or service. Each account is treated like its own market and each one has a strategy tailored only for them.
ITSMA tells us that there are four underlying principles of ABM:
- Client focused: Rather than focusing on promoting the solution to your prospects issue (i.e., your product or service), sales and marketing departments should focus on fixing their prospects’ problems.
- Partnership between sales and marketing: Both departments should act as equal partners, focusing on what’s best for the prospect.
- Focus on building relationships and reputations: ABM implementers should focus on the lifetime value of a prospect, rather than lead generation and revenue goals. Think long-term relationships!
- Tailored programs unique to accounts: With a combination of market and account insight, marketing and sales teams will develop customized content for the prospect to raise interest and engagement.
When trying to decide if ABM is right for you, a key factor in that decision is identifying what type of ABM you will execute (1:1 ABM, ABM Lite, Programmatic ABM or Bolt-on ABM). Let’s take a deeper dive into each of the types.
Strategic or “1:1” ABM
Strategic ABM, or sometimes referred to as 1:1 ABM, is about personalizing the tactics that you’ll be utilizing to get in front of these companies. Depending on the size of your team, a senior-level marketer will work with one or two key account teams on the sales side to create fully customized marketing plans. While technology can help with account insights and tracking progress, Strategic ABM requires significant time spent developing initiatives and content tailored specifically for each account. This approach should be used for the most valuable prospects, since this approach requires significant amounts of time from your marketing and sales team.
ABM Lite focuses on a small group of accounts (generally 10-100) that share similar business qualities and challenges. When the marketing department collaborates with sales, the main decision points that are discussed are: what accounts should be targeted, what business issues should be addressed, and how existing content should be tailored for the handful of programs and campaigns your team is trying to attract.
Technology is used more in the ABM Lite approach than in Strategic ABM when executing campaigns. However, since this ABM approach is less resource-intensive, the return on any account may likely be “lite” as well. Even so, ABM Lite still offers the benefits of being far more personalized than non-ABM tactics, providing a higher ROI.
Programmatic ABM is used to reach 100-1,000 potential accounts, which is possible because of the latest technologies in targeting, analyzing and personalization. Compared to Strategic ABM or ABM Lite, Programmatic ABM is much less marketing resource-intensive. This approach is similar to a more traditional marketing effort; the key difference is you’re strategically targeting verticals or large groups of similar companies.
Businesses that use Programmatic ABM should still be closely aligned with the company’s sales departments. Other than the large reach that Programmatic ABM offers, the main difference that sets this approach apart is that companies who use Programmatic ABM target specific horizontal or vertical markets, rather than specific accounts.
Bolt-on ABM can be used for any number of companies. This ABM approach really integrated with inbound marketing efforts. As Terminus explains, a lead comes in through inbound efforts and is worked within the inbound strategy your company has set up, using technology to trigger actions that engage other personas from that lead’s company.
This method of ABM allows you to get in front of other people at the company outside of the person who has raised his or her hand. Since we know there are an average of 7 people involved in a purchase decision at B2B companies, this could be critical when it comes down to the wire of what company they will chose to engage with. Bolt-on ABM really is meant to increase the likelihood of closing any of your inbound opportunities.
Businesses looking to take an ABM approach need to understand the key differences of the four ABM approaches in order to understand which is right for them. But, no matter the approach your business might choose, sales and marketing must be aligned.
As we all know, today’s marketplace is a disruptive one and – sad news folks – the disruption is only getting louder. But when you combine ABM with the Inbound Marketing Methodology, you’re able to quiet the distractions a prospect goes through by providing useful information and content that pertains directly to them, for them. So, before you begin your ABM strategy, make sure you have the inbound marketing basics covered. Download our Inbound Marketing Checklist now.