Over the past year, ABM has been all the buzz for B2B marketing strategies. The main driver behind the popularity of ABM is the providers of ABM technology platforms. However, there is value behind the buzz as B2B firms are starting to see the ROI of well-executed ABM campaigns. Here, we take a look at why your B2B marketing team should be running your next ABM campaign.
What Is ABM & Why Is It a Valuable Approach?
First things first, what is ABM and why is it a valuable integration into a marketing and sales strategy? ABM is short for account-based marketing. Generally speaking, ABM targets a list of accounts or ideal prospects with a specific marketing message. This approach has received a lot of attention recently because of the technology platforms that now enable hyper-targeting to the list. This means that marketing budgets aren’t squandered on less than ideal prospects.
For example, Bop Design only builds custom B2B websites. We do not work with B2C firms. As such, we target only firms that actively sell products or services to other businesses. In the ABM campaigns that we run, we focus only on B2B companies. Our marketing team would consider it a waste to spend money marketing to an audience that also includes B2C companies. ABM technology enables us to remove B2C companies from the mix and focus our budget on B2B companies.
Who Typically Runs ABM Campaigns?
Historically, account-based marketing campaigns were driven by the sales team. The sales team has a list of ideal prospects that they target. They work the list regularly in whatever manner they have available to try to forge relationships. While this is not an ineffective approach, it’s not always a value-building approach that is customer-centric. The prospect is always aware that they are being sold to.
Why Should Marketing Be Involved?
The shift in ABM should be from a company-centric approach to a customer-centric approach. Yes, the end goal is a sale, but the process is not selling as much as it is educating.
Essentially, B2B content marketing is all about the soft-sell approach where the focus is on the prospect’s needs and objectives rather than the end product or service. By putting marketing in charge of account-based marketing, the shift is to unobtrusively share helpful information with the target prospect to carefully nurture their interest until the time is right to make contact.
Strategic Lead Nurturing
A prospect doesn’t get much value from continual touch points that are focused on the product or service. Rather, ABM is a great lead nurturing tool that continues to provide valuable content marketing pieces designed to educate and make life easier for the prospect. For example, rather than sending sales brochures or offering to provide demos, ABM campaigns can provide guides or resources that show a prospect how to streamline their processes or how to utilize a particular product to save time.
Get Mileage Out of Content Marketing Pieces
Ideally, the marketing team works closely with sales to produce B2B content marketing resources that answer common questions, provide support for decisions, or help prospects do their jobs better. While these content marketing pieces can be used by the sales team, they are great candidates for launching account-based marketing campaigns. Remember that many of the prospects on an ABM list aren’t technically in buying mode. However, in six months or a year, they may be in a buying position.
ABM campaigns based on content marketing pieces establish your firm as a true resource in your industry. When the time comes for that prospect to start the sales process, you want your firm to be top of mind and well-established as a thought leader and partner. This can’t be accomplished through sales-centric campaigns.
Warm Up Leads (MQLs)
In our humble opinions, marketing qualified leads (MQLs) are really just warm leads. Rather than cold leads, MQLs – like those that are garnered from ABM campaigns – have already been vetted as an ideal prospect AND have shown a level of interest in the product or service. ABM campaigns run by marketing are a great way to “warm up” those ideal prospects and to make the sales process smoother and more pleasant for the prospective client.
It’s a United Effort
Silos are the biggest threat to the success of any marketing campaign. The same holds true for account-based marketing campaigns. While we recommend the ABM campaigns be run by marketing using B2B marketing resources, it takes a good level of collaboration with sales to ensure the process is smooth and the prospect feels valued at every stage of the process. The main objective is to build value early on, before the prospect even enters the funnel, and to continue showing value and understanding until the close of the sale and beyond.