How to Build an Effective ABM Strategy

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Mark Donnigan


April 20, 2023

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a strategy for driving growth by collaborating between Marketing and Sales to provide customized purchasing experiences for a selected number of high-value accounts. Unlike traditional inbound marketing, ABM enables startups to focus on budgets with the highest conversion potential, resulting in a more efficient marketing approach.

This strategy can be highly beneficial for startups because it improves sales performance by targeting specific accounts, lowers costs by avoiding ineffective campaigns, and fosters strong customer relationships through personalized engagement.

Here are the elements and actionable insights to guide you through the process of developing a strong ABM strategy tailored specifically for your startup: 

How To Understand Your Target Accounts 

Understanding your target accounts is the first step in any ABM strategy. This involves knowing their needs, challenges, and decision-making process. You can research, interview potential customers, and analyze data.

By taking the time to understand your target accounts, you can create more targeted and effective marketing messages that will resonate with your audience. However, there are several factors to consider when understanding your target accounts. These include:

  • Company Size: Determine the size of the companies you aim to target. Are you focusing on small businesses, medium-sized enterprises, or large corporations?
  • Industry: What industry are your target accounts in? You can tailor your marketing messages to their specific needs with this information.
  • Location: Focus on local businesses if your company primarily serves local customers. However, if you operate nationally or internationally, consider targeting businesses in specific regions or countries.
  • Pain points: What are the pain points of your target accounts? What are the challenges they’re facing? Knowing these things will help you compose marketing messages that solve their problems.
  • Goals: Understanding what they want to achieve allows you to align your marketing messages to show how your offerings can help them achieve their goals. This will position you as a strategic partner, increasing your chances of conversion. How

Set Specific Goals For Your ABM Strategy 

Setting specific and measurable goals will steer your strategy in the right direction. As a startup founder, you may do this by trying to: 

    1. Reach a certain number of companies to expand brand awareness.
    2. Engage with key contacts at each company to build relationships with decision-makers.
    3. Measure account engagement rates by channel to allocate resources effectively.
    4. Evaluate touchpoint response rates by title to refine messaging and targeting.
    5. Track content downloads to gauge interest and refine content strategy.
    6. Aim for a specific number of sales-qualified conversations to drive meaningful discussions and leads.
    7. Monitor the open pipeline to assess sales progress and health.
    8. Set goals for won business to measure revenue generated.

Read three ABM success stories for inspiration.

Start Account Segmentation 

You can tailor your marketing messages and campaigns to their needs and pain points by grouping accounts based on shared characteristics such as size, industry, or location. 

Critical Steps For Account Segmentation:

    1. Data collection: Collecting comprehensive customer data is the foundational step in account segmentation. This can be achieved through various methods such as surveys, customer interviews, website analytics, and data mining techniques.
    2. Segment identification: Once the data has been gathered, organizations must analyze it to identify meaningful segments. Standard segmentation methods include demographic factors (age, gender, income, location), behavioral factors (purchase history, website activity, social media engagement), and attitudinal factors (brand awareness, purchase intent, customer satisfaction).
    3. Profile creation: Creating detailed profiles for each customer segment is essential for understanding their unique characteristics, needs, and pain points. These profiles serve as valuable references for tailoring marketing and sales efforts.
    4. Customization of marketing and sales efforts: Companies can customize their marketing and sales strategies for each segment with segmented profiles. This may involve developing targeted marketing campaigns, employing different sales approaches, and offering segment-specific pricing structures.

Craft Personalized Content 

Giving out personalized content increases credibility, strengthens connections, and positions your startup as a valuable solution provider. You can do this by directly addressing your target high-converting accounts’ unique challenges and interests

Tips for writing more personalized content: 

  • Infuse Personalization with Humanity: Use Conversational Language 

Personalizing marketing copy requires a human touch. This means you should stop relying solely on artificial intelligence (AI). Instead, use natural conversational language to connect with your audience. To avoid sounding robotic or generic, consider how you would like someone to explain a concept: Ask yourself, “Is this the way I’d like to be taught?” If the answer is no, it’s time to transform your writing style. Embrace a more engaging and relatable approach that captures and maintains attention. 

  • Align Your Message with Your Brand Identity 

Your brand isn’t just a logo or a tagline; it encompasses your values, personality, and unique qualities. Ensuring it matches and supports your brand’s identity when crafting your message. Consider the tone, language, and style most appealing to your target audience and maintain consistency across all your marketing channels.

  • Follow the Golden Rule 

Following the Golden Rule is a powerful principle when writing marketing copies. Treat your audience the same way you would like to be treated. Put yourself in their shoes and consider how you want to be communicated with. Always show empathy, understanding, and respect in your messages. 

Leverage Multiple Channels For Engagement 

Reaching your target accounts requires a multi-channel strategy. Diversify your approach by using a variety of communication channels.

Marketing Channels for SaaS Startups and Tech Companies

  • Social Media: Utilize platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn to build brand awareness, engage with your target audience, and showcase your tech products or SaaS solutions.
  • Content Marketing: Establish thought leadership and attract organic traffic by creating valuable blog posts, whitepapers, or industry reports that educate your audience about your innovative tech offerings.
  • Video Marketing: Showcase your tech products or SaaS solutions through engaging videos on platforms like YouTube and Vimeo, effectively demonstrating features, sharing tutorials, or showcasing customer success stories.
  • Influencer Marketing: Collaborate with influencers in the tech industry to tap into their established audience base, gain credibility, and increase brand visibility for your tech company or SaaS product.
  • Events and Webinars: Host or participate in industry events, conferences, or webinars to showcase your expertise, network with potential partners or investors, and generate leads within the tech community.
  • Mobile Marketing: Optimize your marketing efforts for mobile devices by developing mobile apps, implementing SMS marketing campaigns, or ensuring a responsive design for your website to cater to tech-savvy audiences.
  • Podcasting: Start a tech-focused podcast to share industry insights, interview experts, and discuss the latest trends and innovations in the tech field, positioning your tech company or SaaS product as a thought leader.
  • User-generated Content: Encourage users to create and share content such as reviews, testimonials, or case studies related to your tech products or SaaS solutions, leveraging social proof to build credibility and foster a community around your brand.

Establish Sales and Marketing Alignment

You can effectively target and nurture accounts by aligning your efforts. That’s why the sales and marketing teams have a unified strategy that targets duplicate accounts. Setting up common targets, processes, and communication channels will ensure seamless collaboration.

What Happens When Sales and Marketing Teams Aren’t Aligned?

When the marketing and sales teams are not in sync, it can lead to significant problems. Here’s a good example: While the marketing team is busy generating leads, those leads may not be a good fit for the sales team. As a result, the sales team wastes time on charges that are unlikely to convert, and the marketing team is frustrated that their efforts aren’t paying off. It’s a classic case of miscommunication and missed opportunities.

But that’s not the only issue. You can expect severe clashes between the marketing and sales teams without alignment. They might be working towards different goals, with marketing focused on quantity and sales chasing after quick wins. It’s a recipe for disaster. 

But here’s the kicker – it’s not just the internal drama that suffers. Poor customers suffer when marketing and sales aren’t on the same page. Imagine receiving mixed messages from a company where marketing promises one thing, but the sales team fails to deliver. Customers feel confused, disappointed, and less likely to trust or engage with your business.

What’s The Best Solution For This? 

The best solution for aligning sales and marketing teams is to foster open communication and collaboration. Encourage regular meetings and joint brainstorming sessions to promote idea-sharing and problem-solving. By working together and sharing insights, both teams can better understand customer needs and align their strategies accordingly.

Implementing a shared customer relationship management system can also be a game-changer. This allows both teams access to the same customer data, facilitating a unified approach and ensuring consistent messaging throughout the customer journey. By sharing information and insights, marketing can provide better-qualified leads to the sales team, while sales can provide feedback on lead quality and customer preferences to refine marketing strategies.

Finally, establishing a service level agreement (SLA) between sales and marketing teams can formalize expectations, responsibilities, and workflows. This document outlines the lead handoff process, response times, and other crucial metrics that ensure seamless collaboration. Regularly review and update the SLA to reflect evolving needs and maintain team alignment.

Implement Measurement Analysis 

Measurement analysis is vital for tech companies as it enables data-driven decision-making, performance evaluation, customer understanding, resource optimization, and competitive advantage.

Mini Step-by-Step Guide For Measurement Analysis 

    1. Define clear and relevant KPIs aligned with your objectives: Establish measurable goals like conversion rate, average order value, and customer lifetime value to accurately evaluate your business performance.
    2. Select appropriate analytics tools: Choose platforms such as Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, or Twitter Analytics to track and analyze data related to website traffic, user behavior, audience engagement, and demographics.
    3. Track engagement metrics: Monitor page views, time spent on the page, bounce rate, social media interactions, and other engagement metrics to assess content effectiveness and understand audience preferences.
    4. Measure conversions: Utilize conversion tracking through analytics tools to measure desired user actions like purchases or sign-ups. Analyze conversion rates, average conversion value, and the conversion funnel to identify areas for optimization.
    5. Calculate Return on Investment (ROI): Track costs and compare them to revenue generated to assess the profitability of your marketing and advertising campaigns. Also calculate ROI for different channels and campaigns to allocate resources efficiently.
    6. Analyze data and gain valuable insights: Regularly analyze collected data to identify customer behavior patterns, trends, and top-performing strategies.

Adapt Based on Feedback and Market Dynamics 

To remain competitive, tech companies must be agile and responsive. They should refine their ABM strategies consistently. Companies can proactively adjust their ABM tactics to capitalize on emerging opportunities by closely monitoring industry trends and competitors’ approaches.

For example, with the rise of AI and machine learning, using data-driven personalization in ABM campaigns can deliver personalized and impactful experiences. Similarly, as customer experience remains a key differentiator, leveraging innovative technologies such as chatbots or virtual assistants can boost engagement and drive better results.

Scale the ABM Strategy 

ABM became a buzzword in the dynamic landscape of B2B marketing. Its appeal stems from the possibility of closing larger deals, achieving higher close rates, and cultivating a loyal customer base.  However, the question is: How can you unlock the full potential of ABM? The answer lies in scaling your strategy. 

To scale your ABM strategy effectively, follow these five steps:

    1. Increase Budget and Resource Allocation: Allocate additional funds to invest in marketing automation tools like HubSpot or Marketo and paid media channels such as LinkedIn ads or programmatic advertising.
    2. Expand Target Account Base by Refining Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs): Conduct research and leverage firmographic data and intent data to identify new accounts that align with your target criteria.
    3. Experiment with New Channels and Tactics: Explore emerging platforms like TikTok or Clubhouse and implement interactive content formats such as quizzes or calculators to engage a wider audience.
    4. Enhance Personalization Through Advanced Data Analysis: Use predictive analytics models to identify high-potential accounts and deliver tailored messages and offers based on individual preferences and past interactions.
    5. Streamline Operations with Automation and Sales-Marketing Alignment: Implement marketing automation platforms like Pardot or Eloqua to automate tasks and streamline collaboration between sales and marketing teams.

Diving deep into the thrilling waters of business strategy, this podcast explores the powerful synergy that emerges when sales and marketing teams align their goals and collaborate effectively. Get ready to learn from real-life examples, innovative strategies, and in-depth discussions that will equip you with the tools to enhance collaboration between your sales and marketing teams.

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