By Chris Norton, the founder of Prohibition PR and multi-award-winning social media marketing expert,
As business professionals, we all understand the value of customer relations. And, as the digital world plays rise to an increasing demand for more one on one contact from customers, it’s clear to see why people focused marketing is on the increase. It is this need for human interaction and more bespoke marketing approaches, which is seeing trends such as Account Based Marketing (ABM) being hailed as one the most progressive marketing approaches of recent years.
Why is ABM so popular for businesses?
Of course, it isn’t just the customer centric traits of ABM that make it such a success. As a business marketing model ABM also prioritises aligning sales and marketing outputs – making it a popular strategic approach for marketeers with stringent KPIs and demanding sales teams.
So, if sales are on board and marketers are plugging the approach, it can mean one thing only for business professionals – this is and will continue to be a key strategic tool to shape business success over the coming years. In short, it’s time for business leaders to jump on board the ABM band wagon and discover how this marketing ‘phenomenon’ can be utilised to transform sales, improve customer experience and ultimately build on the sustainability of your existing business model.
What is ABM and how does it work?
So what exactly is ABM? As the B2B strategy of choice, marketers and sales team alike use ABM to focus a team’s efforts on attracting, engaging, converting and then measuring its highest value accounts or customers. The key to the effective implementation of ABM, is aligning sales and marketing to become targeted and fully integrated.
In practice this means utilising technology and data insight. ABM is founded on clean and quality data, this is used to identify and isolate high value prospects and customers that deserve extra care and attention as they enter and progress through the sales funnel. Effective ABM strategies achieve this whilst demonstrating a clear ROI, enhanced personalisation and optimisation, sales alignment, streamlining of resources and delivery on measurable goals.
How can a business establish an ABM strategy?
Establishing an ABM strategy will be a case of streamlining and re-focusing existing tactics for many businesses. However, the priority has to be placed first and foremost on data to identify rich prospects. Here’s the structure we implement for clients:
Phase one – target audience diagnostic
The first step is to identify your targets. This is a strategic exercise and is the foundation for a successful ABM strategy. Fail to diagnose prospects accurately and the whole ABM structure collapses. Use analytics, listening tools and other data available to review, critique and segment audiences into value potential, market influencer and purchase potential.
Phase two – audience profiling
Once we have completed our target audience diagnostics, we move onto audience profiling. This is where we begin to learn about our primary targets and what their needs and requirements are. This investigative stage requires some ‘out of the box thinking’. Don’t just focus on base level information, invest the time to really get to know your targets. Familiarise yourself with internal structure, taking a close look at decision makers and key influencers and identifying individual target personas as part of your organisation hit list.
Phase three – bespoke content development
Content developed in phase three should incorporate the lessons from phases one and two. Considering the needs and wants of the different priority audiences and the challenges they face will inform the content marketing. This increases the chances of said content resonating and resulting in high value conversions following targeting. It is important to create content that offers a tangible solution to your customer.
Phase four – channel optimisation
Reaching an audience across multiple channels increases the chances of conversion. As part of phase four, key target channels should be established and tested. This stage must be measurable, so that the approach can be refined and improved accordingly. ABM ensures that the right people, are being targeted with the right messaging, on the right platforms.
Phase five –measure and amend
Building from learnings across each phase, the ABM should be constantly reviewed and amended to ensure the content is constantly improved, refined and optimised. Take time to understand the content and channels that are proving most effective and invest in these areas accordingly.
Should I be using ABM as part of my business strategy?
The ultimate objective of ABM is to generate a laser sighted approach to communications, sales and wider marketing. Businesses looking to place their customers at the forefront of what they do, offer added value and to increase conversions should look to invest and implement this approach into their wider business model.
The beauty of ABM, and perhaps the part reason to its unrivalled success over the past few years is its ability to flex and shift according to a business’ needs. Simply put, ABM is about understanding your audience, working out what they want, prioritising leads with potential and serving them content that offers solutions, on platforms you know they are using.