Account-based marketing – targeting B2B customers specifically
Targeting and specifically addressing key accounts has long been common practice in B2B company sales. The importance that these key accounts can have for the success of a company is enormous. In line with this realization, the trend in marketing has therefore also developed in recent years to address potential key accounts directly and individually. How marketing and sales work together, what advantages result from this and how this type of marketing works is explained in more detail in the following article.
What is Account-Based Marketing?
In account-based marketing (ABM), various marketing activities are focused on individual key accounts rather than on the general public. This type of marketing is mainly used in the B2B sector, with the respective companies representing the so-called „accounts“.
Individual customers are regarded as a kind of separate market and are addressed individually and personalized. Corresponding campaigns and programs are targeted at potential key accounts. Economically, this type of marketing is worthwhile, as the targeted companies are often influential in the respective market and strategically important. The profit that can come from a single customer in this case is very high.
ABM has a long-term character and should therefore be considered strategic in companies. Because buying decisions in B2B are made less emotionally than in B2C, it can often take a long time for an actual deal to happen. An organization-wide focus is also important because different areas of the company are involved in this form of marketing.
Existing customers usually offer further potential after a purchase has been made, which is why they are often treated no differently than new customers.
Marketing and sales work together
A central aspect of account-based marketing is the close cooperation between marketing and sales. The two sub-disciplines no longer represent separate areas here, but are rather to be seen as merged. The first step is to jointly develop the strategy that is to lead to success in ABM. This involves determining which companies are to be approached, when the right time is and, above all, how the approach is to be made. The sales department is then responsible for the actual contact. This is to provide a contact person who builds a solid relationship with the target customer. Marketing is responsible for delivering the content.
In this context, precise coordination between the two areas is essential. Both must be able to understand and adopt the mindset of the other and thus ensure optimal processing of the target customers.
The many advantages of account-based marketing
Targeting a small number of customers has a number of advantages:
Since no broad mass of potential customers is addressed here, the resulting data is also clearer and success can be measured more easily. In addition, the strategic importance of the target customers means that a high ROI (return on investment) can be assumed.
The targeted approach of the selected customers allows the optimization of the marketing budget. In ABM, there is significantly less wastage than in mass marketing, so fewer resources are wasted.
In customer-based marketing, people are more likely to interact with the content because it is tailored to the relevant customers. A personal and individual approach facilitates communication.
Strengthened communication also further develops relationships. Individual dialog can thus also lead to a generally better customer experience. Consequently, customer loyalty is strengthened, which is an important success factor for key accounts.
The previously discussed collaboration between marketing and sales also leads to benefits within the company. Due to the similar mindset that must be adopted in ABM, teamwork also improves and synergies can be realized.
The process in Account-Based Marketing
Addressing selected, strategically important target customers involves various sub-steps, which will be explained in more detail in the following section.
Identify target customers
In the first step, any target customers must of course first be identified. In addition to size, which is of course an important factor, other strategic factors should also be taken into account here. For example, the profit margin or the market influence of the company is also important. Also of importance can be whether the target customer turns out to be a repeat buyer.
In line with the buyer personas otherwise used in marketing, so-called Ideal Customer Profiles (ICP) are created here. These are also used to get to know and represent the respective customers as well as possible. Needs as well as potential problems and challenges of the companies should be identified.
Locate key people
In every company, there are some selected people who have the decision-making power. So in order to communicate with the right people, the structure of the target company should be researched with its key people.
After the company and the important contacts have been identified, the next step is to select the appropriate content to be played out. It should also be taken into account that the customer may not yet know the „problem“ that is to be solved by the company’s own products or services.
The content and personalized messages can be articles or white papers, but also videos or similar.
After the target customers have been identified with important key persons and the appropriate content has been selected, it is now a matter of the actual interactions. First, a corresponding contact must be established for this purpose. However, it is much more important to maintain this contact and thus expand the relationship between the company and the customer. If there are some supporters in the target company, you should focus primarily on them. Internal support for your product or service, can have a significant impact on decision makers.
During this step, always make sure to also align the content provided with the current needs and challenges of the customers.
Measure and optimize
As usual in marketing, the last step is of course to check the corresponding activities for their success. Analyze KPIs, adjust communication (if necessary) and continuously optimize any processes. In this step, you should also question whether the content fits the customer journey of the counterpart.
A highly targeted approach to a few important key customers can bring significant benefits for your company. The important thing here is to select the right customers and match the content to their needs. If marketing and sales work together optimally, account-based marketing can be just the right promising marketing method for your company.