Account-based marketing (ABM) is all about designing a custom marketing plan for every account you are going after. If you are a company going after six-figure or more contracts, account-based marketing provides a framework for doing so. Before you dive into the tactics of ABM, however, there are important preliminary strategic conversations you need to have with your team.
To make life easier for you and your co-workers, here’s a simple checklist of things you need to decide on before you begin with account-based marketing.
How big or small is your account-based marketing operation? The scope of your ABM will determine the scope of everything else on this checklist—especially budget, team and technology. The first place to determine scope is, inevitably, gathering your list of targeted accounts. A list of 150 potential clients will produce an ABM campaign that will inevitably differ from an ABM campaign of a list of 20 potential clients. All else being equal, there's an inevitable trade off between the number of accounts you are targeting and how the amount of attention you can siphon towards each individual one.
Once you've decided on the scope of your campaign, it's time to think about budget.
Research is divided on how much of your budget should defer to account-based marketing. B2B Marketing's research shows that companies generally set aside 15% of their marketing budget for ABM, even though it outperforms other marketing strategies.
A key tenent of account-based marketing is the seamless integration of the sales and marketing teams. So how much of each team's budget should cover the costs? You may need to break down the walls between siloed department budgets.
Once you understand the scope of your account-based marketing and locked in the budget, you can determine what type of team you need to execute it. In SiriusDecisions 2016 State of Account-Based Marketing report, nearly half of all companies say they don't feel their account-based marketing teams have the necessary skills for account-based marketing and their marketing teams need more support to succeed at ABM.
There are three options, then, to build your account-based marketing team: in-house, outsourcing work to an ABM agency/specialist or a combination of the two. There are pros and cons to each, but whatever model you choose, it’s important that sales is integrated into the team. Again, alignment between marketing and sales teams is the foundation of an account-based marketing strategy. Within the ABM framework, think of sales and marketing working together as parts of an “account” team.
No matter which team you decide on, one thing remains the same: everyone needs to be on board with the goals of your account-based campaign. Is the goal of this account-based marketing campaign to generate new leads? Close bigger deals? Upsell existing clients? This goal needs to be documented and clearly communicated to both sales, marketing and leadership.
Since ABM focuses on accounts that matter most to the sales team, greater communication is demanded between the teams than most organizations and companies are used to. Luckily, teams seem to recognize this. In SiriusDecisions 2016 State of Account-Based Marketing report, 60 percent of companies say they are "somewhat" or "tightly" aligned with sales, compared to 34 percent in 2015.
Companies need to have a process for communication in place. That could be weekly or bi-weekly meetings, a CRM, a Slack channel, an email chain, a database, a combination of all of these things—something that ensures that marketing and sales stay connected.
Which, if any, automated sales platforms are you using? What other tech do you need to execute campaigns? Technology that can integrate into your sales and marketing funnel—as well as this checklist—is fundamental to any AMB campaign. Technology expenses surely factor into your budget, the size of your team and the scope of your ABM campaign.
Measuring an account-based marketing campaign is very different from measuring a more traditional leads-based campaign because it focuses on qualitative metrics per account. In fact, metrics for ABM often closely align with sales metrics. For that, you may use special analytics software or programs from automation software or Google. To really dig into that data and measure ABM, your team needs to agree upon metrics that reflects your main goals for the campaign.