Account-based marketing: Is it all hype?
The term “account-based marketing” (ABM) is on my radar. It has turned up with increasing frequency in the past few months—at events, in webinars, on Twitter, and in my inbox—with emails from companies selling ABM automation. The term is clearly gaining momentum. The marketing world has evolved rapidly in recent years with new strategies and tactics that include social marketing, digital marketing, and content marketing. So all of this has me thinking: Is ABM nothing but hype? Or is it something marketers need to pay attention to and embrace?
What is ABM?
ABM is a strategic approach that focuses marketing activities on particular individuals within the companies you want as your customers. The goal is to optimize your marketing time and resources by tailoring your efforts to the decision-makers and buyers rather than blanketing everyone with broader messages.
Sounds reasonable. So should you adopt an ABM approach? Before you jump into a massive marketing overhaul, consider what you’re already doing. Could ABM be integrated into your existing strategies?
ABM + content marketing
Like many companies, you might have previously adopted a “content marketing” approach. Content marketing has been a key component of marketing for some time. The idea is to deliver the right content, at the right time, to the right people.
Is ABM a better approach? Before you hit the panic button and ditch content marketing for ABM, consider how the two approaches might be related.
Content marketing and ABM are like fraternal twins: They might appear to be very different at first glance, but under the skin, they share some important traits and have a close bond. For example, both ABM and content marketing are:
- Content-driven: Both approaches strive to provide helpful, valuable, personalized, and relevant content.
- Buyer-focused: Both attempt to target buyers rather than entire companies.
- Funnel-filling: In both cases, you generate content that supports a nurture process spanning multiple marketing channels and both ends of the sales funnel.
So, what if you combined the two approaches? Content marketing’s purpose is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant, valuable content to engage the target audience. Let’s say you go beyond the personas you’ve identified through your content marketing strategy and map the personas to real-life individuals at your target accounts. Take the content at the center of your content marketing efforts and deliver that content to those individuals. It could be an effective combination.
Where do you start? Create an “account coverage” matrix that identifies:
- Who you know
- Their titles
- Their roles in the purchase decision
- Their concerns and challenges
- How the company and its individuals are currently engaging (or not) with your company
Once you’ve set up this ABM matrix at targeted accounts, you can apply your content marketing efforts to the individuals at those target accounts and then start to measure its effectiveness.
ABM + social marketing
Maybe you’ve invested heavily in social marketing—still no need to jump ship. Social marketing isn’t ABM’s twin, but it is related. Think of it like the little sister who loves to share lots of info persistently, and ensures she has your devoted attention so she can engage you in her world.
Aiming your social marketing efforts at particular individuals could help you improve results. Identify where your targets are active on social networks. Then connect with them and start engaging with them. Tie this social outreach into your overall content strategy and build upon the conversation.
Transform hype into success
These are just a couple of examples that show how seemingly distinct marketing roads might ultimately converge. The key message: Don’t let hype divert you from your current strategy. ABM is about increasing targeted engagement, so all marketing tactics are relevant during the nurturing process. In many cases, you might find that adopting an ABM approach can help enhance your existing efforts by focusing more on the people who make purchase decisions.
B2B marketing is a highly account-centric activity, and purchasing decisions often involve multiple people within a company. As smart marketers, adding an ABM approach into your overall mix will help identify prospects that want to talk to your salespeople.
Making sense of all of this is the world I live in every day at the office. I’d love to hear about your experience and success bringing marketing approaches together. My email is [email protected]. Drop me a line and let’s talk ABM or other marketing strategies.