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  • Rebecca Barnatt-Smith

Account-Based Marketing 101: Advice for SaaS start-ups

Account-based marketing (ABM) is identifying high-priority accounts and designing personalized, targeted campaigns to engage each account. The sole purpose of your ABM strategy, of course, is to convert your target accounts into customers. But this type of marketing also involves a bit of a mind shift.

Like many things in our world right now, B2B marketing continues to evolve in an e-commerce-driven economy. New B2B companies are on the rise, although the harsh reality is start-ups are complex and 1 out of 4 will fail in the first year.

What does this mean for new start-ups looking to enter the post-pandemic market?

From higher levels of competition to an extremely active audience, digital-based brands need to start thinking smart. 

The old method of “spray and pray”— send as much out as you can and hope you get a return— is out. Now it’s all about utilizing customer insights and improving communication between your sales and marketing teams, and discussing your account-based marketing strategy is a great place to begin.

What is Account-Based Marketing?

So what is account-based marketing? In a nutshell, account-based marketing (ABM) is identifying high-priority accounts and designing personalized, targeted campaigns to engage each account. The sole purpose of your ABM strategy, of course, is to convert your target accounts into customers. But this type of marketing also involves a bit of a mind shift.

ABM funnel

(Image Source: Content Marketing Institute)

In an era of information overload, B2B marketers continue to fight for buyer attention. Using account-based marketing, both the sales and marketing teams come together to target prospects that have a high propensity to make a future purchase, in essence, “flipping the funnel.” The focus is on building relationships with high-quality leads, rather than simply attracting a generalized audience. However, this high ROI strategy needs to be perfected if start-ups want to see e-commerce success.

Marketing is no longer a one-way street; it’s not just about a brand doing all the talking. Instead of promotional ads, think about starting a conversation and inviting your prospect to contribute. Online audiences are connected 24/7 by technology and have the ability to engage with and respond to the media they consume. As such, ABM success involves both listening and responding to a buyer’s cues. When done successfully, account-based marketing can generate positive sales results, faster— here’s how.

The benefits of optimizing your ABM strategy

From personalizing the marketing experience to shortening the sales cycle, there are a number of benefits associated with using ABM to target best-fit accounts.

Personalizing your buyer experience

Alignment between sales and marketing teams is essential to an effective ABM strategy. Utilizing customer data, demographic analytics, and feedback from the sales team, marketing teams can use this information to formulate a customized campaign for their best-fit accounts. 

Using your data and personalizing your buyer’s experience can lead to as much as a 30% uplift in sales, according to Gartner. Additionally, 56% of marketers say personalization is the key benefit to ABM’s success, and 64% of buyers want a tailored experience, too.

Personalization is the foundation of an ABM approach, creates a memorable impression, and helps your brand to stand out from the crowd. A personalized buyer experience needn’t be time-consuming for sales reps either— see how you can create personalized sales collateral in minutes by connecting Qwilr to your CRM. Schedule a demo with our team to learn more.

The ROI of ABM

87% of B2B marketers rate ABM as their number one approach for delivering high-quality sales returns— without question, the ROI is there. 

As both the marketing and sales team work together to deliver collective results, an ABM  approach can boost sales in a short window of time. Focusing on best-fit accounts and honing in on your buyer’s needs is a much quicker way of attaining success vs. a generalized, broader campaign.

Of course, social listening and tracking the activities of your target accounts is paramount to your ABM success, too. Marketers can use analytic tracking tools such as Finteza and Google Analytics to gain detailed insights on on-site engagement and consumer trends in order to fine-tune your campaigns and optimize your outcomes in response.

A shorter sales cycle

Because ABM targets the accounts most likely to purchase and your marketing tactics are highly personalized, it comes as no surprise that sales organizations using an ABM approach are experiencing a reduction in their sales cycles. A recent ABM Metrics Survey revealed that B2B organizations who prioritize account-based marketing closed deals as much as 30% faster. 

sales cycle length

(Source: Komarketing)

How to improve your ABM strategy using customer insights

The key to success in any ABM strategy is knowing your customers.

Gaining information on market trends, customer needs, and best-fit account values and attributes is a fast-tracked method for ROI victory. Deeply understanding your prospects, their demographics, and company activities are vital if you want to target your best-fit accounts with precision.

Highlight high-value accounts

According to Adobe, 80% of a company’s revenue will originate from 20% of its leads. If you want to see a swift return on investment, it’s important to know which target accounts are most likely to provide a high-value payoff for the company.

Considering the target account’s market influence, do they have the potential to thrive amongst their competitors? You also need to identify which accounts will provide the best opportunities for your business. Are they likely to repeat purchase? Will their potential success impact your company’s awareness?

In order to identify your best fit accounts, it’s time to start prospect profiling. If you want to convert your leads into sales, here’s how to gather actionable data about your target prospects:

  • Analyze prospect characteristics. In order to pinpoint your client’s current position in the buying cycle, you need to acquire as much information as possible about the prospect’s company infrastructure, capacity, and financial capability. Using data enrichment tools such as Leadfeeder, ZoomInfo, and Clearbit to identify ready-to-buy sales leads will help pick high-value targets out of the crowd.
  • Mine your CRM. Run reports to identify your biggest and most profitable customers. What commonalities do they share? Industry? Title? Other defining criteria? Then, use this data to build your list of new prospects.
  • Look at your competitors. Are your competitors attracting a specific customer segment you are missing? Is this a viable segment you can go after too? Or, do you offer competitive advantages to go after some of your competitor’s customers?

Create an insight-led campaign

Using customer insights to drive the foundations of your campaign planning will ensure that the results are personalized and speak directly to your best-fit accounts. For a campaign to be successful, it must target the potential challenges the client is facing and provide solutions that are personal to your client’s individual pain points.

As you are gathering data on your account’s behavior, position within the market, and even their company’s demographic trends, you’ll be able to effectively predict the optimal channels for campaign success and which platforms are most likely to be receptive, whether that be via the web, social media, or email.

Don’t neglect your CRM

While it’s important to gather outbound insights into target prospects, don’t neglect to update your CRM with important prospect activities, either. Prioritize your internal practices to help your sales teams gain control over important pipeline data and recognize emerging opportunities quickly.

Set actionable KPIs

A lot of work goes into your account base marketing campaign; it’s important to measure and analyze the success of your ABM efforts. Testing and tracking the results of your individual campaigns as well as constantly monitoring account level trends will ensure that your efforts are effective and ever-improving.

As part of your campaign planning set attainable KPIs. Your objective is to highlight successes as well as areas for development within your ABM strategy. Asking yourself questions such as are accounts engaging? Are you converting leads into contacts? Or, is your client list growing? Spending time thinking about the desired outcomes and how you will measure the impact of your efforts helps to isolate what components worked and what needs improvement for future success.

The future of ABM success

In 2021, 70% of B2B marketers leveraged ABM strategies successfully, an increase of 15% over the prior year.  2022 is predicted to be even more successful for account-based marketing initiatives. As we enter a post-pandemic digital shift, it’s up to smart marketers to engage buyers and attract their attention in more meaningful ways.

For more on how to attract, impress, engage, and convert buyers, we invite you to book a Qwilr demo— the preferred proposal software for modern selling.

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