Account-based marketing (ABM) has become an increasingly popular strategy for B2B companies looking to land big enterprise deals. At SaaSiest 2023, Katrine Rasmussen, CMO of Pixelz, gave an insightful presentation on how ABM works, which types of companies it works best for, and why it has been so effective for Pixelz.
- Select target accounts carefully based on the ideal customer profile, potential deal size, and strategic value. Avoid trying to scale ABM too fast.
- Get tight alignment between marketing and sales. Agree on target accounts and craft integrated campaigns.
- Leverage account intelligence to deeply understand each target and create relevant messaging.
- Use both digital and in-person channels to engage targets. Email, social ads, and events all play a role.
- Develop killer content tailored to each company’s needs – case studies, guides, and webinars geared to their pain points.
- Measure success based on pipeline growth and deals closed, not vanity metrics like clicks or engagement.
- Maintain inbound marketing to attract and convert new prospects outside ABM accounts.
- Be patient. ABM can take 6-18 months to start yielding results.
What is Account-Based Marketing?
ABM is not just a marketing strategy, but rather an overarching commercial strategy that tightly aligns sales and marketing. The key elements of ABM are:
- Targeting a small, defined list of high-value accounts rather than casting a wide net
- Developing highly personalized campaigns and content tailored to each target account
- Focusing on getting face time with key decision makers at each account to build relationships
ABM represents a major shift from traditional inbound marketing. Instead of passively attracting leads, you strategically go after your ideal customers.
When and for whom is ABM ideal?
Pixelz is an AI-driven image enhancement company serving top fashion retailers and brands with 56% of revenue coming from just 1% of customers. Landing 1-2 major new accounts per quarter dramatically impacts growth.
With a small marketing team and budget, trying to acquire thousands of smaller customers through inbound tactics wasn’t feasible or worthwhile. However, with laser focus on their “Dream 100” target accounts, ABM proved to be a game-changer.
Ask yourself, Is getting one or two whales – very large accounts – going to make or break your sales target this quarter? If the answer is yes, ABM will make a big difference for you.
ABM is ideal for companies that:
- Sell high-value, complex B2B solutions
- Have a small number of customers making up most revenue
- Know their ideal customer profile extremely well
- Have tight alignment between sales and marketing teams
For most businesses, whale hunting with ABM only works if you have white whales worth pursuing.
Pixelz uses the following programs and tactics to execute ABM successfully.
Target account website personalization
Pixelz identifies target accounts via IP lookup and provides special experiences like customized chatbot messaging. This alerts sales reps to jump on live chats. Target accounts are also fast-tracked to book meetings. Though very tech-driven, these highly personalized tactics are meant to build relationships, trust, and authority between the sales rep and the account.
1-to-1 ABM campaigns
The objective of 1-to-1 ABM campaigns is facetime. Quarterly, sales reps select three priority accounts each. Marketing creates custom campaigns to get those sales reps in front of decision-makers, including VIP event invites and targeted content. For events, the marketing team often establishes the relationship first, inviting decision-makers to keynote their Flow events and building authority, trust, and goodwill. Six to 12 months after the events, sales is often able to close deals. On the content side, a lot of accounts have similar pain points, so the marketing team can efficiently produce personalized content for each account by reusing and customizing existing content.
1-to-few ABM campaigns
For the next tier of 10-30 target accounts, the sales team identifies a small number of accounts and groups them based on intent. Facetime is still the most important element of closing these deals. Marketing and sales jointly run personalized outreach campaigns, issue invites to small events, and send relevant content to build relationships and engage the decision-makers.
1-to-many broad-reach activities
For non-Dream 100” accounts that are still part of the broader VIP target audience, Pixelz runs somewhat customized digital campaigns via LinkedIn, Google Ads, email, BDR outreach, and so forth in an automated way. This “warms up” prospects to potentially enter ABM programs later.
Have patience and carry on
ABM represents a major shift in strategy and resource allocation for most B2B companies. Done right, it can deliver outsized impact and accelerate growth. But like enterprise sales, ABM requires patience and persistence. It can take 6-18 months from initial engagement to close deals. And when it works, it generates explosive growth.
Keep in mind that it’s not an either/or situation when it comes to inbound and ABM. The most effective strategy is often a combination as the two strategies complement each other.
For more insights as to how ABM is key to landing big whales that can transform your business, watch Katrine’s talk on SaaSiest TV.