The term Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a buzzword that took the world by storm in recent years. Sales professionals change their whole funnel to try it, sales and marketing blogs swear by it. But how effective is ABM in realities of an average B2B business? Is this merely an outlandish idea too difficult to implement in practice, or are these sales gurus actually onto something?
Luckily, the UMG has been introducing ABM to regular small and medium sized businesses for some time now, so we have the data and experience to say with confidence — ABM works and it’s the future of sales interactions.
Let’s take a look at some of the takeaways we got during our ABM campaigns with companies from multiple different industries, all over the world.
But first, some theory to get us all on the same page — who is actually the ABM beast?
What is Account-Based Marketing?
Why is ABM effective?
In simple words, Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a focused B2B approach that combines the efforts of Sales and Marketing departments to to target best-fit specific accounts and turn them into customers.
Seems easy enough, doesn’t it?
Think of it like this — traditional sales practices are like casting a wide net to catch a lot of small fish, while ABM is chasing the big whale with a harpoon.
Another great way to describe ABM is — “Don’t count the people that you reach, reach the people that count.”
ABM helps your business find and identify the biggest, most relevant high-value accounts. By aligning the work of your sales and marketing teams you create a single focused nurturing channel with a personalised buyer’s journey, account-tailored content and messaging to those specific accounts.
In return you will see a higher and clearer ROI as well as improved customer experience.
In other words — more results for less effort.
However, ABM takes time and commitment to properly set up. Because of the highly targeted nature of these accounts, your departments need to have the right knowledge and tools to identify them and create content that would be effective to the specific audience. Sales and Marketing will need to work in tandem until the finish line and constantly communicate to decide on a strategy.
The daunting task of combining personalised tactics like content marketing, lead generation, nurturing and emails, as well as identifying and reaching the right accounts, is what actually puts people off ABM.
And it’s true — without the right data, ABM is a shot in the dark.
But even with the right tools and setup, how effective can ABM actually be? It seems like the great obvious strategy, but is it really applicable to the day-to-day sales processes of average small and medium businesses?
Should you believe the hype?
In an nutshell, yes!
The UMG took the idea behind ABM and applied it in a scalable and easy to understand way for SMEs in different industries worldwide, and here’s what we found out about real account-based marketing effectiveness.
By its very definition ABM strives for efficiency in everything. Rather than finding thousands of prospects and shooting in the dark, ABM identifies exact accounts who will have a need or interest and focuses on nurturing those.
Sales professionals and marketers can channel their attention into the most effective ways of promoting based on accurate account information, rather than scattering their approach.
Why spend time and resources on people who will never be interested in your product?
While the the actual preparation, i.e. prospect identification, funnel setting, content creation and marketing might be a little time-consuming in the beginning, this approach pays off over the course of the ABM campaign.
Also, It is far more cost-effective to determine the accounts which are the best fit for this product or service.
Real-life exampleIndustry: Learning & DevelopmentTarget geography: US and UK
Industry: Learning & Development
Target geography: US and UK
Here is ABM efficiency in action: one of our clients, Company-Y (here and in further instances the company name is hidden per the client’s request, however you can contact us to get their contact details and references) was looking to connect with professionals interested in introducing Diversity & Inclusion mentoring in their companies.
Our Account Manager assigned to this client, created the perfect customer profile, based on several days of research and analysis of businesses operating in the US. Targeting decision makers who wanted to introduce D&I programs, our managers gathered a database of 1,600+ high value potential prospects.
In only 1 (!) month through a carefully targeted campaign, Company-Y scored 60 bookings with relevant decision makers.
You can read the full case study here.
Unfortunately, the situation in most companies is that sales and marketing departments do not get along. Despite them having similar goals, miscommunication and differing perspectives lead to conflict. And conflict in the grand scheme of things means missed leads and opportunities.
ABM finds a find to sync up the efforts of your sales reps and marketing team. This means that they follow the same agreed-upon strategy, budget and goals, and they both understand their role in nurturing the buyer.
And obviously, cross-team collaboration and better communication are beneficial to overall growth.
For example, Bizible’s 2017 State of Pipeline report found “that marketers doing 50% or more ABM see strong alignment with their sales teams.”
The analogy with the big whale and the harpoon might not be exactly accurate here. Yes, ABM targets high-profile accounts, but it is the finishing net of multiple communication channels that does the trick.
Once you know who exactly your high targets are and what they might be interested in, you can begin to create a campaign that would work specifically for them.
That includes any marketing content, conversion messages, ads etc — but most importantly — the communication channel.
And for ABM you need to use multiple, meeting with your prospects gently at every opportunity.
We wrote a guide on how to choose the best communication channel in your industry, so feel free to refer to that.
But it is the alignment of the channels, as well as marketing and sales alignment, that makes ABM effective.
Think about it — your marketing team creates content and oversees the email and/or LinkedIn outreach automation with messages that convert, whereas the sales reps are ready to pick up the conversation in both channels, as well as calling the prospects.
That way no lead is lost in the funnel and beach member of the team can pick them up at any point in their buyer’s journey.
Real-life exampleIndustry: Learning & DevelopmentTarget geography: UK and South Africa
Target geography: UK and South Africa
Our client Company Z wanted to get leads using a combination of webinar promotion and lead generation. The UMG used an intelligent approach of combining interconnected LinkedIn and Email channels.
Using a multi-channel drip campaign with friendly, conversational messages helps establish trust and makes the prospect open to hearing ideas and considering collaboration, more so than simple cold emails or cold calls.
Every sales rep knows the frustration of not speaking with a quality lead, and every marketer understands the futility of throwing marketing efforts at the wrong audience.
Don’t count the people that you reach, reach the people that count.
ABM does not allow this to happen. By careful targeting and weeding out the irrelevant people, it is possible to improve the quality of the leads dripping through the funnel.
Creating a high-value prospect profile takes time and effort from both teams — however, it means that the message is highly personalised and it only goes out to people who will want to hear it.
Surely, the pool of these accounts will be small, but they are going to be a lot more qualified and ready to buy.
Targeting decision makers in senior positions is also a lot easier than spreading your message to everyone in the company in terms of the right channel.
Real-life exampleIndustry: Computer SoftwareTarget geography: UK
Industry: Computer Software
Target geography: UK
X-plora was reaching out to heads of museums, galleries and exhibitions in the UK to introduce a virtual tour experience at a time when museums were closed due to COVID restrictions. The UMG targeted very high-reaching profiles — CXO, Director, Partner, Owner, VP.
As a result, X-plora connected with 21 high-value prospects who were all qualified and had the power to not only discuss, but also implement their solution.
For X-plora, going focused was the answer.
Precise targeting leads to our next point — quality leads and better conversions.
ABM sets your sales team up for more successful sales conversations.
Knowing exactly who your prospects are helps create extremely personalised materials. Automated outreach makes it possible to nurture your leads slowly.
From the buyer’s perspective, they are being catered to. Everyone likes personalised messages and as we know, personalisation is the hot new 2021 trend — and ABM allows for just that.
Since account-based marketing is so personalised, targeted customers tend to be more likely to engage with content. Since it is geared specifically to them, their business, and their specific stage in the customer journey, buyers are more likely to interact.
By the time the buyers reach the sales call, they have already been exposed to your company’s materials and messaging. This means that they will have more trust in the product and are a lot more likely to convert.
Moreover, the sales team will already have their details on file and will be able to lead the conversation tailoring it to the prospects’ needs.
Real-life exampleIndustry: Medical softwareTarget geography: Africa
Industry: Medical software
Target geography: Africa
Company UX hoped to bring safe and reliable laboratory testing to people in Africa in the middle of a pandemic. They turned to UMG Digital Agency to help them find relevant people so that life-changing information can be implemented at the decision-making level. As a result, Company UX were able to connect to 111 qualified leads within the first 2 months of lead generation campaign.
But that’s not all. Due to personalised messages and relevant data on each prospect, Company UX were able to turn prospects from curious to converted on successful sales calls. The buyers reported how easy and smooth the whole communication experience was which partly became the reason why they made the positive decision.
And last but not least (or even the most important point) — ABM allows to not only increase ROI but measure it clearly.
Today’s world is driven by valuable data, and ABM can deliver.
Because of the precise nature of the accounts, it is easy to measure which accounts were most successful than others.
From your targeted approach you can pull data on the location, industry, seniority job titles for improve your future campaigns and identify gaps in the market.
ABM helps your teams make data-driven decisions and use detailed information to inform their next strategies.
As a result, because ABM concentrates resources on high-value researched targets backed up by data, the return will be higher compared to traditional tactics.
For example, a study from the Information Technology Services Marketing Association showed that “84% of companies surveyed said account- based marketing delivers higher ROI than other types of marketing.”
Essentially, ABM creates a closed loop where detailed data received from previous campaigns informs future steps.
Real-life exampleIndustry: FinanceTarget geography: UK
Company X were hoping to expand their network. Their ROI was outstanding — within the first month of cooperation with the UMG and trying out ABM, they received 68 qualified leads, which would make it only $2/per lead.
This data is not reflected in the case study, however, after the initial campaign, Company X was able to make further decisions on which industries, locations and job titles to target next. We have been assisting with their ABM strategy for a few months now and each new campaign is informed by data gathered previously.
Account-based marketing presents a simple solution to drive up sales. Unity is a key word in ABM — it is not simply about uniting sales and marketing, but a company-wide strategy dedicated to single goal but with clear separate role for each member.
While people might be sceptical about the real ABM effectiveness, the numbers presented above don’t lie — a version of ABM is absolutely applicable to all kinds of businesses in many different market.
It does not have to be cut and dry either — each company’s ABM strategy will look different.
If you are curious about stepping into the future of sales and trying ABM at your company, the UMG team will be happy to assist you with the creation of the funnel. Click the button below to contact our team for more information.