Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is becoming synonymous with B2B marketing. But if you’re just making the transition to ABM then you’re probably asking yourself the proverbial question, “How do I launch ABM for my business?”
There’s plenty of resources out there to give you a high-level understanding of ABM. So I won’t be re-hashing those topics today.
Instead, I’ll highlight some real-world approaches that will help you pilot ABM. These are the common tactics and methods expert practitioners use to launch, test, and scale ABM strategy from an operational standpoint.
Setting the stage for ABM
Before we start, there are a couple of nuances worth discussing. If you’re new to ABM or still piloting it in your organization, I’d use these as a general rule-of-thumb:
As Matt Heinz phrases it, “It’s not really ABM unless a) you’re executing with tight integration between sales and marketing b) you address multiple members of the prospect’s internal buying committee to accelerate consensus building and velocity towards engagement and conversion.”
2. Start small and scale up.
“Perfect is the enemy of good” (another Heinz-ism worth noting).
Find segments of your target market or pilot ABM with a subset of your sales organization first. Matt suggests, “building some proof of concept success stories to demonstrate the before and after impact that ABM can provide.”
3. Give yourself enough time to test new ideas.
It’s crucial to allow enough time to test what works (and what doesn’t). SiriusDecisions recommends at least 3-6 months when testing your ABM pilot. So, be patient. And, give your ABM ideas enough time to run their due course.
Now, let’s talk about some ABM approaches to help you get started.
Common approaches to jump-start your pilot
Odds are you don’t have unlimited resources to launch ABM. There’s no army of industry researchers or campaign managers guiding your initial tests. You’re likely a bootstrapped team with limited resources and an emphasis on prioritization.
So, how do you run proof of concepts with a vision to one day scale ABM across your entire account universe?
Usually, marketers start with the 3 common ABM approaches:
While this is a great way to get the ball rolling, you need to go a few levels deeper to operationalize ABM. My suggestion? Take one of the three approaches and outline the following details:
1) Who are you targeting – think about the types of accounts, their tiers or how good of a fit they are, and even objectives when selecting your accounts.
Your tactics will vary based on the types of accounts and what you’re looking to accomplish.
2) What’s the offer – all successful marketing campaigns have a clear and compelling offer. ABM is no different. Focus on the tactics you want to use, channels, and level of personalization.
It’s important to note that the effort and time you invest will be based on the account fit and your objectives.
3) How do you measure performance – the metrics and KPIs you use to define ABM success will vary from program to program and across all of your accounts.
It’s important to focus on metrics spanning across engagement (defining your account relationships), journey (tracking positive outcomes), and attribution (measuring ROI and program performance).
By focusing on core metrics that can scale across all your target accounts, you can quantitatively prove business impact and improve your ABM efforts.
I put this chart together so you could see what all of this looks like in practice.
Wrapping it up
You may be tempted to jump head-first into a full-blown ABM strategy. Don’t. Start with one approach that you can adequately support. Learn the mechanics of ABM execution. Align your efforts with what sales is doing and enlist their help to test new ideas and tactics.
As Heidi Vandermeer from Uberflip says, “Make sales feedback an important and regular part of your ABM strategy. You’ll have an amazing ‘on the ground’ feedback loop for how your strategy is actually working, and get great ideas for making improvements that matter to revenue.”
Account-based thinking isn’t going away anytime soon. Start small … iterate … scale. That should be the mantra for success.