Account-Based Marketing In the Age of Big Data

Account-based marketing (ABM), or the business practice of focusing the bulk of marketing resources on a short list of the most lucrative accounts, has grown in popularity over the last couple of decades. ABM is actually a decades-old practice that has enjoyed a recent resurgence, largely due to the ability to precisely target audiences using insight-rich intent data.

Organizations need to be careful about which accounts to choose as their “key accounts” or risk losing a valuable client. When choosing, organizations should consider revenue history, account history, margins, and profitability, as well as the likelihood that the client in question would be interested in a long-term relationship. Determining what the client and the company have in common helps clients understand that they cannot find this kind of service anywhere else. Lastly, the process of defining those target accounts should never be one and done. Especially in today’s global economy, the markets are changing rapidly, as are the client’s needs and your products. An organization should employ a model of continuous evolution in refining their list of target accounts to meet the markets needs at the right time.

ABM enables B2B marketers to forget about promoting individual products to as many customers as possible and instead focuses on promoting multiple products to the prospects and customers who have the highest chances of converting, utilizing intent to better engage that audience. This not only increases new sales for B2B companies but can also increase cross-sell and upsell opportunities for existing customers. In fact, ABM can often be a significant factor in expanding existing accounts, for whom widespread marketing approaches would not be targeted enough.

Over the last several years, consumer marketing has led a general industry shift away from mass communication toward a more one-to-one engagement approach, and the popularity of account-based marketing as a strategy is in line with this general shift. ABM allows B2B marketers to engage prospects earlier and higher, get the best value from their marketing spend, and to align marketing and sales strategies. In fact, aligning marketing and sales teams is vital to a successful ABM strategy, and intent data is the key.

Even though ABM is showing high initial returns, and 92 percent of marketers are currently considering ABM programs because they have proven to be a successful way to reach prospects, only 20 percent of marketers have had ABM programs in place for more than a year. Most cite their primary obstacles to ABM as being lack of resources to support it, difficulty in aligning sales and marketing teams, and inability to scale.

There is widespread interest, but comparatively little experience in the field; even though it is an old-school tactic, the new-school is having trouble grasping it as a concept, considering that traditional marketing has always been separated by channels or specific goals such as direct response, branding, etc.

ABM actually brings these channels and goals together to deliver unified, cohesive messaging and marketing with a narrower focus on key accounts and prospects. This allows B2B marketers to harness the power of ABM to grow, reducing waste by eliminating a disparate marketing strategy and developing a single focus on only the most interested (and therefore more likely to convert) and most profitable customers.

In B2B advertising, the initial conversion or sale can often take months of reaching out to a prospect to complete. With that much work going into acquiring a single customer account for a sale, the best way to increase ROI is to turn that first-time customer into a lifetime customer. ABM, utilizing intent data to target, has been shown to dramatically increase the long-term value of a customer. For example, companies like Northrop Grumman and Shell have utilized ABM to drive the completion of multimillion and billion dollar deals.

But you don’t have to be a global oil conglomerate to utilize ABM — ABM offers multiple benefits for all businesses, from startups to big corporations, but it can be especially valuable to smaller and mid-tier B2B marketers who have traditionally had difficulty in scaling intent data beyond smaller audiences.

As consumer data piles up, it can be difficult for companies to know how to leverage it for profit. Combining an ABM approach with the right MarTech technologies to provide not only data, but actionable insights, can help marketers cut away the fat (so to speak) and focus only on the accounts that actually result in revenue. And that appeals to both the old-school and the new-school.

This article was originally published on iMedia