Can ABM strategy be applied to any size business or account list?

There are many people who would argue that ABM is more akin to other Marketing strategies once the target account list changes size. There is also a mass perception that ABM strategies cost serious money. But can ABM be applied on any scale? For any business? Does size really matter…in the world of ABM?

The short answer is no it doesn’t. Thanks to the wonder of modern technology, we are now able to execute more personalised marketing than ever – at scale. ABM is also very easily scaled down to suit a much smaller, more refined account list. Meaning there’s an ABM strategy to suit everyone.

There are some ABM purists out there who believe ABM should only work for a very small number of accounts. This is the traditional source of ABM and certainly has a huge amount of success. However, even en masse, ABM is so much more efficient than mass demand generation so why not use it?

Here’s an example of how scaling ABM can work to fit your aims. This is not a hard and fast guideline. For example, if you only need one, high value, net new customer a year and have a small pool in which you’re fishing then the 1:1 methodology would fit your company better. It’s all just common sense.

Regardless of size, every ABM strategy should follow the same key steps:

  • Audience Research
  • Content Messaging/ Creation
  • Activation/ Distribution
  • Reporting and analytics

Each of these sections has a lot of depth to them and we could definitely talk about them individually for hours (in fact, we sort of have in each of our blog’s subsections). But as we respect your busy schedules we’ll offer you a whistle stop tour.

Audience

  • Firstly, you need to decide how much you are willing to spend on a customer by working out your ROI. This will obviously vary depending on your business size and is completely within your control to dictate. While there is a wide perception that ABM strategies cost serious money, this simply needn’t be the case.
  • The most important part of ensuring efficiency with your budget is researching and understanding your target accounts’ decision making unit. Having a full grasp on what makes these key decision makers tick means you not only know who you’re talking to, but how to talk to them.
  • This research can be supported with an excellent range of martech – such as intent engines and social listening platforms – which is pretty essential to give you direction with your account list.

This research phase is also an essential part of ensuring you are targeting the right accounts in the first place. Intent engines such as Bombora can show you which companies are surging around topics which are most relevant to your business and help reveal new prospects you may not have considered! Prospects which are actively focused on your business’ services.

If you have a bigger budget, this research can also be supported with a full (carefully selected) Martech stack. Including systems like Kickfire, or LeadForensics to track which companies are viewing your site, social listening platforms (Audiense, Crimson Hexagon) complied with Bombora data create an excellent overall picture.

However, you don’t necessarily have to fork out for these solutions. Smaller businesses can do this research with some good old fashioned Googling (other search engines are available…if you really want). Searching for key words, job titles and accounts you have in your sights, looking into their social presence and recent posts/ activity can result in great insights.

Content/ Messaging

Once you’ve established the right accounts and how to communicate with them. Focus on how your company will benefit them and create HIGH QUALITY content. Now, when we say high quality, we don’t mean expensive. Funding isn’t what improves content quality, its value is. Creating something that actually informs, educates, or interests your target audience is what will get you results. Use your understanding of your audience to give them the answers and solutions they are looking for.

If you’ve used Bombora to identify what content your organisations are looking at, why not tailor your message accordingly, make it as personal as possible.

Often organisations focus on the content but completely forget about the message all of their content is delivering or how they want the audience to feel. Without clear messaging, aligned to the customer pain points (and not what you’re trying to sell them), the best content can get lost.

Activation/ Distribution

Once your research and content has been completed you know who to target, what they need and how to reach them. Activating this could be done using a CRM platform (Salesforce) as well as automation platforms for social media (Hootsuite) and email (Mailchimp) or marketing automation in general (Hubspot, Marketo, Pardot).

That being said, if your budget doesn’t stretch to any of these, planning your posting schedules and simply investing in tracking software as well as paid promotion of your assets will also return results.

The key to building a proper ABM activation plan is to consider the audience (persona), the channel(s) they are consuming information on, how they like to receive information and when. This will give all your great audience and content/messaging the work, the greatest chance of success.

Patience!

Now while this isn’t in one of our ‘key steps’ it really is a massive part of ensuring a successful ABM strategy. ABM success is built on a wider relationship with your prospects; building trust and credibility, which takes time. That being said, if you’ve done your research and your ROI has been calculated correctly, it will all be very much worthwhile.

Reporting and Analytics

Ah, good old reporting. A lot of companies are measuring ABM campaigns by the same old tired metrics they were using 10 years ago. Unfortunately, this is often where a program falls down. Which is why it is so important to ensure your sales team know what you are doing, why and how they can action account level intelligence.

Account level intelligence says it all, we haven’t mentioned leads at all, despite this being how a lot of companies still measure success. ABM is all about looking at account activity through both their known and unknown (anonymous) activity. In essence, combining multiple data points to give your sales team the greatest chance of converting.

Final thoughts

Make sure your message is clear and concise across your entire ABM strategy. While your accounts move through the funnel, your approach will change from 1:many, to 1:1 and the message they have been exposed to must remain consistent throughout, or trust will start to wane.

Audience is key. Ensure you are targeting the right people, research them, provide them with valuable content and be patient.

There is no minimum spend with ABM, nor are there restrictions with the size of your account list.

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