The strategic approach that focuses on high-value accounts in a market, often called Account Based Marketing (ABM), is not new. It is a business practice for B2B that has been around for decades.

Creating personalized buying experiences for better customer acquisition, relationship-building, and business growth solves a lot of business pain points for B2B, namely:

  • Accelerates & streamlines the sales cycle
  • Builds & nurtures relationships through enhanced personalization
  • Further aligns Sales & Marketing departments to drive business growth & ROI
  • Supports cross-sales and upselling
  • Provides opportunity to hyper-focus resources on most lucrative targets

Despite its importance, creating a successful ABM strategy and program still eludes many businesses.

Initially, the struggles are about identifying the target accounts and creating customized content for the ideal customer profiles. Those steps are followed by difficulties with setting clear goals and benchmarks that align with sales throughout the sales cycle. Finally, since ABM is an ongoing process, optimization and improvement require a regular review of the efforts and success of each initiative.

Due to the economic unpredictability and concerns of the past few years, ABM has been in the forefront of B2B companies’ sales and marketing efforts. The need to be more efficient with marketing dollars in 2023 forced businesses to focus on key decision makers and key business targets instead of trying to reach the highest number of possible targets.

graphic depicting the strategic approach and steps in inbound vs abm

The question for any business who wishes to engage in a significant ABM strategy and also employ a marketing agency is: How can the agency help our ABM strategy beyond email marketing?

There are several ways.

Paid Advertising

The obvious method an agency will use is to upload and target customer match lists in paid advertising.

This will happen primarily on LinkedIn. The channel is dedicated to working professionals and as such is in a unique position to offer the perfect fit to ABM.

Google Ads, Microsoft Ads, and Meta also offer the opportunity to upload customer lists to their platforms and Google and Microsoft provide the added ability to target individuals in search.

Google and Meta are at a disadvantage vs. LinkedIn because both channels typically carry lower match rates when dealing with business emails. Microsoft Ads will have a lower search volume, limiting the reach potential; however, because Microsoft owns LinkedIn, the platform has more access to business data than Google and Meta.

An important less-used channel in paid is the use of programmatic, e.g. StackAdapt. Programmatic platforms have access to user and business data for B2B that can greatly enhance reach across display, audio, CTV, and native.

As always when it comes to advertising, whether on display or social, the ad content must be compelling and customized to the ideal customer profile.

SEO

A less commonly used marketing strategy for ABM is SEO.

Establishing the business as an authority and subject matter expert in its field needs strategic SEO efforts to ensure the business site is fully optimized to rank organically when members of the ideal customer profiles are conducting their market research and enhancing their knowledge.

The site needs to be technically sound for search engines to find and rank the pages appropriately and for the pages to load quickly and legibly on any device. Researching, recommending, and writing the right content whether those are blogs, whitepapers, videos, etc.. to the right target at the right time is critical in generating MQLs for the business and closing sales.

Organic Social Media

Social media usually gets some attention, but it’s not typically done to the level it should be. When it’s handled internally, internal resources are often scarce or stretched too thin. As a result, goals are rarely attached to social media efforts and social calendars are set up and then ignored within a relatively short period of time.

Since most of the ideal customer profiles are engaging in some form of social media, it is imperative the B2B meets and engages with them on a regular and continuous basis.

Conversion Rate Optimization

Once the marketers, whether through paid, SEO, or social media efforts, have done their job properly and managed to deliver the right audience to the site, landing pages must be designed and tested to deliver the best outcome.

Bringing each visitor to the same generic form fill or demo page defeats the purpose of the ABM strategy and program. Each page has to be customized to the unique customer profile and where they are in the buying process which is defined in the beginning of the process.

Attribution & Reporting

Digital marketing is designed to give marketers data and insight to understand the contribution of each initiative.

Privacy limitations, multi-device usage, and different decision makers make reporting and assigning attribution to an initiative extremely difficult, time consuming, and frustrating: all things that an agency should be able to help.

While ABM is decades old, recent economic changes have created an even greater and growing need for better targeted marketing for B2B. To see long term, significant, and sustainable growth, businesses need the right mix of paid advertising, SEO, social, and CRO.

Want to learn more? Read about how AI can be leveraged for growth in digital marketing, how not to get distracted by shiny object syndrome, and the marketing tools needed to grow B2B companies.

Contact us to talk about your digital marketing challenges, from ABM to AI and growth to privacy concerns!