Everyone’s heard of ABM, but no one knows exactly how to start planning for it. Where do you even begin? What needs to be implemented? And once you do get the ball rolling, how do you know what is actually working? Our data has shown that companies that segment by target account have a 10% higher win rate (BrightFunnel, 2016), which means that if you’re not doing so already, you should at least start considering these questions.
Yes, it can seem overwhelming. But as with just about everything, breaking the planning process down step-by-step can help you create and execute an ABM strategy that delivers on its promises.
Earlier this month, our fearless leader, Nadim Hossain, joined experienced digital marketer Michael Deckman onstage at #FlipMyFunnel in Boston to discuss exactly that: the five steps you can take if you want to get started with account-based marketing. For those who didn’t attend, we wanted to share an overview of what the audience at #FMF learned, and offer practical advice on how you can get started on an account-based plan yourself. While we won’t give you a play-by-play of the entire presentation, these steps are important for any marketing organization that’s building out its ABM strategy:
- Define your target accounts: Although you might want to start moving quickly, it’s important that you don’t get ahead of yourself. When it comes to ABM, the first real step is deciding what your target accounts should look like. Start by building out what the profile looks like — including factors such as industry vertical, company size, and region — and identifying which types of accounts are most likely to convert to opportunities. You can start small, but keep your efforts focused by defining what your top two or three tiers should look like, and what your key verticals are.
- Locate your accounts: Once you know which accounts you want to go after, you should start looking at the specific factors that make a difference, like where those accounts are located. Location can tell you a lot about general trends, informing decisions around how to launch new campaigns directed at your targets. Instead of flying blind into your strategy development, you can analyze the marketing efforts that have worked for your organization in the past — filtered by region — and build up from that solid foundation of historical campaign successes.
- Know your audience: Where else can you look when you’re trying to intelligently plan your account-based strategy? Beyond region, you can also investigate how your past efforts have resonated with different job titles or addressed various pain points to see what has performed well and what might have fallen flat. And be sure to look at what has worked with all of the personas at the accounts you’re targeting — in many cases, though there’s only 1 contact attached to an opportunity, there were actually 13 contacts and leads who helped influence a deal from start to finish (BrightFunnel, 2016).
- Choose your tactics: This is where most people (mistakenly) kick off, without any of the previous analysis to inform their decisions. But if you’ve done your homework around the what, the where, and the who of your accounts, you’re ready to start targeting with confidence. You know which channels are available where, and which have been the most successful in your past campaigns. You know which titles have responded to your tactics throughout the entire Buyer’s Journey and across the entire account. Decide which channels to invest in based on your past successes, then continue to measure your marketing efforts so that you can see where to keep investing and where to pull back.
- Surround your targets with offers: Once you’ve decided how you’re going to deliver your campaigns to your target accounts — informed by location, persona, and other factors — it’s time to get your offers out in front of them. As you did with your channels in Step 4, consider what has resonated the most with various segments of your audience throughout the funnel in the past, and start by delivering those types of offers to the corresponding titles, regions, and funnel stages at your target accounts.
As you work towards developing an ABM strategy for your business, there are three important things to keep in mind:
First, start with the end in mind — know exactly where you’re trying to go, and what specific goals you’re trying to accomplish. Second, measure everything so that you can get the full, 360-degree picture of what’s happening at the account level. And, finally, take the time to learn from your data and then adjust your plan accordingly. Do more of what’s working, less of what’s not, and never take your eyes of the prize — winning those key strategic accounts.