Exploring ABM: The rise of account-based marketing
For marketing to remain effective, it needs to evolve with the ever-changing habits of consumers and technological advancements of society. Without that constant evolution, marketing as a profession is doomed.
Times change of course. Otherwise we’d all still be listening to Britney Spears and watching Rambo on VHS. But that’s not the only lesson here.
Twenty years ago, nobody would’ve predicted that by 2021 we would have unlimited free access to a social networking platform with almost three billion users. But here we are.
One of the most exciting changes to happen in the B2B marketing space recently is account-based marketing, or ABM for short.
But ABM is actually NOTHING NEW. I’m shouting because the concept itself has roots back to the early 1990s. So the next time you see an agency touting ABM as their latest formula for growth, feel free to politely correct them.
In its simplest form, ABM is about personalised one-to-one communications. It’s about targeting a smaller-than-normal group of prospects with a very personalised, customised message specifically for each person in the group.
In the days before iPhone and LinkedIn (the nineties specifically) ABM was aptly named one-to-one marketing.
The failure of success
It might sound hyperbolic but one-to-one marketing has the potential to drive growth more than any other channel or strategy, even direct sales. The challenge is implementation.
It has always been notoriously difficult to scale a one-to-one marketing campaign; they can take weeks to prepare and months to see results.
And so, after maybe one or two months into their first campaign, most companies abandon ship and revert to trusty old bulk email blasts, mass mail, and a whole host of other spray and pray techniques that can be executed in minutes rather than weeks.
The B2B marketer’s strategic weapon
The transition from one-to-one marketing to ABM started in around 2005 when the IT Service Marketing Association (ITSMA) launched its ABM certification.
ITSMA says it “pioneered ABM in the early 2000s and has worked since then with leading B2B technology, telecom, and services firms to design and execute ABM strategies and programs.”
The growth of marketing technologies (MarTech) like automation and content personalisation mean that B2B marketers can get to grips with ABM quickly.
MarTech provides the tools to scale ABM into a demand generation beast where prospects feel valued and engaged, especially when compared to other mass-marketing approaches.
Fundamentally, ABM is about identifying the most valuable target accounts and building a personalised campaign from there. The channels and communications may vary, but ABM campaigns all have one thing in common: they speak to potential buyers at scale without making it appear like an at-scale effort.
In common scenarios where the buying committee contains three or more people, ABM can deliver personalised communications that appeal to each member of the buying group. Marketing channels are specific to each person based on their buyer persona and behaviour.
The benefits of account-based marketing
It’s mostly about ROI. Money in versus money out. That’s the only thing that matters in the board room anyway.
But ABM delivers much more than just revenue. It delivers a personalised experience which buyers enjoy, and provides a welcome boost to brand reputation. Compare that to the spray and pray strategies of the noughties and it’s clear to see how powerful ABM can be.
ABM also helps B2B marketing teams:
- Demonstrate clearer ROI
- Refocus marketing teams on the right prospects
- Keep their audience engaged for when they are ready to buy
- Improve brand awareness and problem recognition
- Align marketing with sales
Learn more about ABM
If you’re keen to learn more about account-based marketing, take a look at Marketo’s eBook Three Essential Components of an ABM Solution.
If you’d like to talk about your B2B marketing strategy needs, or you’re looking for an experienced B2B marketing consultant, call or WhatsApp me on +44 (0)118 324 7770.