Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategic approach that focuses on targeting and engaging specific high-value accounts or companies rather than a broader audience.

Instead of attracting a broad audience, account-based marketing focuses specifically on attracting and nurturing individual accounts. 

Because of this personalized approach, it can be an incredibly effective strategy for B2B brands.

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1. Account-based marketing exemplifies efficiency

Account-based marketing, when done correctly, is more efficient than traditional inbound marketing. 

Brands waste fewer marketing and sales resources attracting unqualified clients, and they put more of their time and effort towards attracting attention from the best-fit accounts. 

Additionally, because these prospects have been vetted and have received personalized messaging, sales qualification and follow-up are typically much easier. Less time is spent on attracting broad audiences and building lead scoring models. 

2. ABM is a powerful tool for cross-selling and upselling

In addition to attracting new clients, account-based marketing is also useful in building upsell, cross-sell, and retention campaigns for existing clients. This is considered a “land and expand” motion.

Certain account-based marketing campaigns exclusively focus on existing customers and driving expansion revenue through additional products, seats, and features. 

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3. Personalization is at the center of account-based marketing

By tailoring marketing messages, content, and offerings to specific accounts, ABM ensures relevance and resonates with target audiences. 

This personalized approach fosters a sense of exclusivity and demonstrates a deep understanding of the account's unique needs and challenges. It helps build trust and credibility, as prospects perceive the effort invested in understanding their business. 

Personalization enhances customer experiences, drives engagement, and increases the likelihood of conversion and long-term customer loyalty.

4. ABM encourages sales and marketing teams to align

Finally, account-based marketing programs effectively give sales and marketing teams shared goals and alignment. 

Brands often create "revenue teams" that combine sales and demand generation efforts, and the teams are unified through a single KPI or shared revenue metric. 

This is an incredibly effective way to build trust with potential customers and create a lasting relationship that goes beyond a one-time sale.

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Stage 1: Account research

1. Identify high-value accounts
2. Perform customer research

Stage 2: Content creation

3.  Choose channels and tactics
4. Develop tailored content

Stage 3: Execution and measurement

5. Execute personalized campaigns
6. Measure and optimize

In large organizations, it’s not uncommon for multiple teams to own each stage and execute on the individual tactics.

Like any form of personalization, the key is to agree on the highest-value target accounts and uncover ways to reach them. There's no single software tool, tactic, or a way to do this; in fact, creativity and customized tactics are standard practice in ABM. 

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Outside of traditional channels, account-based marketing can leverage creative campaigns like small personal events and dinners, custom gifting, or pretty much whatever the creative mind can conceive. For example, a brand could publish a beautifully designed magazine featuring quotes and data from decision-makers in their target accounts list and distribute these via direct mail.

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Step 4: Develop content tailored to each account 

Account-based marketing requires content tailored to each prospect. 

Depending on the channel, this could include custom landing pages or personalized website copy and imagery, custom LinkedIn or social media ads, email copy and scripts, webinars, invite-only panels, podcasts, or research reports. 

The best way for marketing leaders to determine what content to create is to collaborate with sales and customer success teams. They often know the common objections, pain points, and questions each segment has, so marketing teams can proactively create content to attract and convince target accounts based on these data points. 

Many marketing tools exist to personalize broader campaigns with relatively low effort, swapping in different logos and brand names based on the identification of an IP address, email address, or other defining factors.

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Step 6: Measure campaigns and optimize over time

ABM campaigns should be more cost-effective and ROI positive than broader inbound marketing campaigns. This should show up in the data with, Improved click-through-rates, conversions, lead quality, sales closing ratios, revenue from target accounts, and customer satisfaction and retention rates. 

Keep in mind that measuring the success of ABM programs can be more complex than traditional marketing initiatives due to the highly targeted nature of the campaigns.

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What messaging matters to the target audience?

The first thing marketers often think about when they hear "personalization" is using the prospect’s or the brand’s name in their communications. 

This approach may provide additional click-throughs or response rate, but it's unlikely to turn a prospect from unaware to convinced of the product's superior value. 

Business leaders can find the messaging that matters through research focused on the pain points faced by the target audience. Invoking these pain points and the product's competitive advantages in the marketing materials is a true way to stand out. 

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What data is needed to target prospects accurately?

Not just performance data to track campaign effectiveness but also the data used to identify and segment best-fit leads and accounts, as well as using real-time data to target these prospects at the ideal time. 

Certain platforms, like LinkedIn, make this easy. However, to do account-based marketing on a website, brands need to have data tools that correctly identify traits of website visitors that correlate them to a company, and then use a tool that can deliver personalized experiences at that moment. 

Again, starting small is key. 

It doesn't take as much complexity to send personalized emails or LinkedIn messages. But to do complex account-based marketing like programmatic ad campaigns requires operational excellence.

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How can sales and marketing align on shared goals?

As mentioned above, many companies are forming "revenue teams" that are a combination of sales and marketing professionals. These teams have shared goals and strategies, and this allows them to sync their efforts toward attracting the right prospects. 

Even if the org structure doesn't change, it helps to have shared goals that map towards pipeline or revenue instead of something farther up the funnel like marketing qualified leads (MQLs).