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10 Steps to Getting Started with Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

By Suzanne Seif

After our discussion of the many benefits of account-based marketing (ABM) in our last piece, it should come as no surprise to you that there is a multitude of companies currently trying to set up such a program for themselves.

Nearly 60% of companies have concrete plans to do so within the next year.

Even if you’re not sure how to get started, now is the time to start thinking about incorporating this tactic into your marketing roster.

That’s why we’ve identified ten steps that marketers like you can take to get an ABM program up and running at any time.

They are:

  1. Assemble your team
  2. Define your goals
  3. Identify (and prioritize) your target accounts
  4. Select your ABM technology
  5. Review and manage your contact data
  6. Choose your channels
  7. Create your content
  8. Run your campaigns
  9. Offer ongoing personalized communications
  10. Measure your results

 Each of the ten steps will be elaborated upon in more detail below.

  1. Assemble Your ABM Team

Any good ABM program always starts with finding the right people to run it.

You can’t do this job by yourself – this is a particularly labor-intensive type of marketing that needs the attention of many dedicated professionals with good people skills and a strong desire to please.

As a general rule, try to choose individuals who like to be meticulous over those who like to be fast.

You should also make sure to expand your search beyond just the marketing team. Because ABM is so closely intertwined with sales as a whole, you’ll want some members of the sales team working with you too.

This is a natural and beneficial arrangement to have when you’re both working on such similar levels; 80% of companies currently using ABM report that their marketing departments at least somewhat aligned with their sales departments, proving the value of this arrangement.

Get to know your new sales colleagues early on and be sure to ask them for their insights regularly as you go.

You want it to feel like you’re working together with them, not just alongside them.

Related : How can you bring your marketing and sales closer?

  1. Define Your Goals

Once you have the right people on your side, you can start to sketch out the objectives you want this group to accomplish.

You probably want to raise revenue, but by how much? Do you want to lock down more clients or build better relationships with the ones you already have? What would success look like in each of these cases in numerical terms?

Anything similar to this could serve as something to strive for.

Account-Based MarketingVague ideas of goals with no real direction won’t do here, and neither will simply starting out without a purpose to see how things go. You want to have a very clear idea of what you’re shooting for so that you can more easily determine if you’ve accomplished it later on. Otherwise, you won’t be able to prove the worth of your ABM program in contrast to the marketing initiatives you are already running.

  1. Identify (and Prioritize) Your Target Accounts

Running ABM initiatives is expensive - the average company currently earmarks $350,000 for it. You can’t afford to give every lead the VIP treatment.

Instead, you’ll want to make a ranked list of your best prospects so you can spend that money where it’ll really count.

You’ll want to look for leads that you think you might make large or repeated purchases from you in the future, as well as existing clients who have already bought from you multiple times in the past and who you think could be convinced to buy again.

Anyone who looks like a good prospect for frequent and/or large purchases should at least make your shortlist, and you can narrow things down from there.

The ideal target account:

  • Has a big budget to spend.
  • Has a definite need for what you’re selling.
  • Is managed by someone with whom you have an existing relationship and for whom you have extensive contact data.

In some cases, you can also target a company for ABM outreach even if you have never had any contact with them before; it’s just a slightly riskier way of doing things since they haven’t expressed any direct interest in your product themselves, leaving you with no way of gauging their true interest.

For the sake of achieving predictable and consistent results, you should try not to let these untested accounts make up the bulk of your overall set.

Related : How to excel at quality lead generation?

  1. Select Your ABM Technology

Just like any marketing endeavor, pulling off an ABM campaign successfully will always require you to have the right tools to back you up.

You’ll want to make sure you have software on hand that can give you detailed reports about what is going on with all of your active accounts and compare results across accounts to help you look for trends.

However, this is just the bare minimum of what you’ll need to make your ABM program reach its full potential.

Think about what you’re trying to accomplish (managing your leads, understanding them better, creating suitable content for them, etc.) and choose tools that will help you to carry out those functions.

This will probably require a combination of several different solutions if you’re aiming for the optimal setup, but if you’re facing too many budget constraints at the moment, you can always start off with the basics and add to your roster later on when you’ve secured more revenue.

For now, focus on securing the metric-tracking software that will tell you if you’re doing things right or not; there’s no function more essential than that when you’re first starting out in ABM.

  1. Review and Manage Your Contact Data

One of the most important things you’ll need to look at when you’re implementing ABM is your organization’s data.

A thorough and well-maintained contact database full of quality data is the backbone of any ABM operation – without it, you won’t even be able to get in touch with the decision-makers who lead your accounts, never mind provide them with the heightened level of service that is called for.

Quality data is:

  • Unique
  • Complete
  • Accurate
  • Consistent
  • Conforming
  • Timely

Databases do not produce and hold quality data on their own.

Related : 6 characteristics for great contact data quality

In order to make sure your data arrives in this state and stays that way, you need to implement strict data quality management procedures and regularly audit your data to catch any errors or blank fields that still manage to slip into your records.

If you keep up with these tasks, however, you’ll have reliable data that can tell you all you need to know about each account in order to determine what kind of focus it needs.

  1. Choose Your Channels

Next, you’ll need to choose how you want to get your message out.

Email marketing will still generally be your best bet because it’s extremely inexpensive and can be addressed directly to the most important people that make up each account.

However, it’s not the only channel open to you and it shouldn’t stand alone. Many B2B buyers use many different channels to help guide their decision-making process before they make a purchase. Of all the options out there:

There are even more options out there, of course, and some may be even better suited to your business than the ones listed here are.

Use your own judgment when determining what you should use, but try to incorporate a few statistically well-liked options as well to serve as a backup plan on the off-chance that you misread the market.

Related : Pros and Cons for Each Channels to reach out to your leads

  1. Create Your Content

Once you know what type of content you should be making, you’ll be ready to start actually producing it.

Good content marketing can provide revenue that is 6 times higher than what you’d get with other methods, so it’s in your best interest to take your time here and come up with pieces that will be truly compelling for the individual buyers in each account.

Related : How to nurture leads with content marketing?

To do that, be sure to use the points of interest that you’ve identified through your data as a guideline for building the content.

For instance, if you know that a particular account is very concerned with getting the best possible results for their money, you’ll want to craft content for them that proves that your product will be a good investment.

On the other hand, if the account is more focused on solving a problem than on minimizing their costs, you’ll want to provide them with lots of technical information that shows them what your product can do and how it can help them.

  1. Run Your Campaigns

With your new content in hand, you can move on to distributing it.

You’ll want to pay as much attention to timing with ABM as you would with any other marketing campaign, guiding each account through the sales funnel with the appropriate materials when they are called for. Because you’re so tightly focused in each case, it shouldn’t be hard to swoop in at precisely the right times.

Account Based Marketing

So you should start to see significant results fairly early on if you’re doing everything right.

Don’t be afraid to pivot into a new direction if your original plan isn’t working out, but give each of your moves enough time to produce results the results you’re hoping for.

After all, you won’t know the final impact of what you’ve done until you’ve taken stock of the final results at the end.

  1. Offer Ongoing Personalized Communications

In addition to running your campaigns, you should also be sure to open a line of communication with your prospective customer that will allow you to address specific needs as they come up.

To do this, you can offer support, answer questions, elaborate on what you’ve already presented in the materials for that account, or anything else you can think of that might help them to better understand your brand and your product.

Don’t make the mistake of not putting much effort into this part of the process. Nothing you send to an ABM client should ever be generic in any way; since you’re catering to a tiny audience, there is no reason not to tailor your message directly to their tastes, even down to the smallest detail.

This might feel like a waste of time at first, but it’s sure to pay off on the lead engagement side of things.

71% of consumers have indicated that personalization impacts how they interact with emails, making them more likely to read the messages and consider purchasing from the brands that sent them.

Let them know that you consider catering to them to be a priority and they will respond with the enthusiasm you want to see from them.

Related : How to reach out your leads through email marketing?

  1. Measure Your Results

No marketing campaign can be called successful unless you have concrete numbers available to you that prove that this is true.

Doing that properly can be tricky – 41% of marketers who use ABM have trouble tracking its effectiveness – but it’s imperative that you do your best.

If you don’t know when things are going wrong, you won’t know that you need to make changes to the program in order to see what it can really do.

For best results, you should try to incorporate a mix of long-term and short-term metrics.

Tracking something like account engagement alongside account purchases can give you a good idea of how well your campaigns are working even if you haven’t actually made many sales yet; an engaged lead has a good chance of buying from you in the future even if they’re not quite ready in the present, so you want to know if your ABM efforts have had this effect on them.

Other helpful metrics include things like the average length of your sales cycle and the average purchase size.

Account Based Marketing

Get ABM In Place Now

Incorporating ABM into your overall marketing strateg is essential to your company’s long-term survival; that doesn’t mean it has to be difficult to do.

If you follow the steps above and continue to fine-tune your process over time, you’ll have this highly beneficial marketing program up and running in no time.

It will still take a little longer to perfect it, though, so getting started as soon as possible is still the ultimate key to success here.

The potential business uses for good quality data are nearly limitless, and we’re as committed as ever to showing you more of these possibilities.

We’ll be back next time with more information on what your data can do for you, but be sure to join us right away for instant access to much more of our existing expert data knowledge.

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Tags: Marketing performance, Lead Generation, Account-Based Marketing