In 2023, Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategies are in high demand as B2B brands are looking to cut through the digital noise with hyper-targeted marketing campaigns and personalised content. ABM does exactly this while also allowing companies to collect intent data in a very cost-effective way.
This blog explains how B2B brands, especially Professional Service and Tech companies, can utilise ABM to gather intent data, build brand awareness and increase lead generation efforts. With trends such as an increased focus on personalisation in B2B sales and marketing, new GDPR and cookie regulations, and buying journeys moving online, aligning sales and marketing in hyper-targeted campaigns will result in a bigger pipeline of prospects, more deals and ultimately a higher return on investment (ROI).
Is ABM worth my time? If any of the points below resonate with your businessmodel or goals, ABM will be worth your time:
We differ between accounts; companies and leads; people. An Account-Based Marketing strategy involves targeting companies with both sales & marketing activities (instead of targeting leads) and is often applied when a company has defined a list of ‘must-win’ prospects. The purpose of ABM is to simultaneously build brand awareness and collect intent data (brand building) and drive lead generation (sales activation) based on the gathered intent data.
ABM strategies come in various shapesand sizes, but one strategy is especially effective for B2B brands delivering professional service or tech solutions:
By having the IP addresses of an account list, brands can place display advertisements on online websites, such as media publications, that only the companies on the account list can see, creating a hyper-targeted advertisement approach. This will enable you to deliver the right content to the right people in the right accounts, track their engagement and use this data to prioritise your outreach cost-effectively.
As you only pay for advertisement space that you are sure your prospects are seeing, you end up paying less per relevant view. That, combined with personalised content, will enable you to create a high ROI on your ABM efforts.
To increase the personalisation and targeting of campaigns, you can decide upon keywords to dictate advertisement placements so that only the accounts (IP addresses) reading articles with the specific chosen keywords are targeted.
Your IP-based display advertisementswill give you insights into how each account on your list is interacting withyour brand through:
Based on this, you can calculate a leadscore and use the lead score to prioritise and personalise sales efforts:
1) Prioritise sales efforts so that the sales team reaches out to prospects with the highest intent data first.
2) Personalise the sales messaging based on which subpages and use cases prospects have visited.
By collecting lead data on LinkedIn, sales teams can then set up a sequence using Social Selling, Email marketing (1-on-1) and Telemarketing to generate high-impact touchpoints and capitalise on brand awareness to convert prospects into Sales Qualified Leads, creating a rich and predictable pipeline of prospects.
You can then decide to include Search and Social advertisement campaigns to retarget prospects that show an interest but is not yet ready to convert or continue with IP-based display advertisements.
This example shows how a consultancy can apply ABM to increase sales.
A company offering consulting services within management consulting, digital transformation and sustainability wants to target C-level executives such as SVPs, VPs, and Managers across all functions in production companies across the Nordics. These companies should have more than 100 million in revenue and more than 100 employees.
With various offerings and a typical ‘land-and-expand’ sales process, the consultancy needs to have a brand that is top-of-mind and influences both decision-makers and champions within the companies of their prospects to maximise their sales opportunities.
This ICP translates into a list of more than 1.000 accounts and an average buying centre of 20 people.
By combining IP-based display advertisements and sales outreach, the consultancy designs 20 different ad banners that mix emotional and rational messaging around their three different service areas.
The idea is to test which of the services have the highest demand and whether prospects are in the awareness, consideration, or decision stage (based on how they react to emotional vs rational messaging). To ensure that advertisements are mainly targeted at the most influential people in the company, a process of selection of keywords and publications begins.
The consultancy believes that publications around Business and Technology are read by the buying centre, so they decide to restrict advertisements to publications in that IAB category.
Moreover, given the large geographical spread, the consultancies add keywords like “Go-To-Market strategies” and “Digital transformation” as filtering criteria. The idea is that prospects consuming articles with such keywords have a higher lead score and will be more willing to buy.
Now, advertisements will only be shown(and paid for) by viewers who are using the prospects’ IP addresses to read articles in Business & Technology publications containing the keywords “Go-To-Market strategies” and “Digital transformation”.
The consultancy designs each of its advertisement banners with a personalised landing page that further elaborates on the offering and unique selling points to catch the interest of prospects. Each landing page contains a call-to-action to maximise activation rates. Furthermore, the consultancy develops e-books, and sales pitches containing relevant use cases to send out on LinkedIn and Email and use in phone conversations with prospects who show interest.
By tracking the performance of accounts, publications, keywords, and ad banners based on the number of impressions and CTR rate, the consultancy close-downs publications and ad banners that don’t perform and instead boosts efforts on the ones that show good results. These insights are used to optimise the company’s positioning and prioritise sales outreach.
Ultimately, the consultancy ends up in asituation where:
ABM should be used when brands want to build brand recognition and drive lead generation through a customer-centric approach, where decision-makers, influencers, champions, and blockers are engaged through advertisements. Brands that need a lot of connections to complete a sales cycle, typically a long one, are a good fit for ABM – examples here could be Investors, Tech, Banks, Production, Niche, Transportation & Professional Services.
ABM is a good fit when you want to influence everyone in an office or at a physical event - both the end-user and the buying centre – and want to understand more about ‘must-win’ accounts. This could be information about what media they consume, which keywords they search on and how they react to different messaging.
ABM is a very good fit for all brands wanting to do some market research and collect intent data. Strategies include testing new markets, enterprise-level sales, narrow but well-defined target audiences, geographical campaigns and retention, revenue, or revival campaigns (maintaining, upselling, or reselling to customers).
ABM increase branding, influencing the purchasing process in the early, now online, stages, so sellers can engage with buyers before they show their intent through reaching out.
- IP-based display advertisements use the IP address of companies to deliver advertisements through online publications. Employees browsing the internet from the companies’ IP addresses will see advertisements (called an impression).
- By tracking the engagement with ad banners, brands can identify which companies are in the market to buy (consideration and decision stage) and prioritise outreach efforts to convert these bottom-of-funnel leads.
- ABM is empirically based and operates with the hypothesis that we don’t know anything about the market and instead, brands should generate empirical data and then use the data to optimise performance and design strategies.
- ABA utilise programmatic advertisement to optimise value for money. Programmatic advertisement enables advertisers to only buy ad placements that are relevant to the target audience based on IP addresses. By defining a minimum and maximum spend for ad placements and buying placements at the moment, in contrast to mass marketing campaigns where ad placements are bought upfront, the programmatic advertisement can outbid other bids, but only on the placements that are shown to the right audience. As a result, advertisements are only shown to the right segment and ultimately, the price per right impressionis much lower than mass marketing campaigns which maximise the return on investment.
- With the increased focus on personalisation and online brand building as the buying journey is moving online, ABM is becoming increasingly relevant for the B2B sector.
For any questions on ABM, reach out to our team.