Account Based Marketing’s Big Moment

December 10, 2015 J.J. Kardwell

Engagio recently published The Clear & Complete Guide to Account Based Marketing.  The ebook is not just Engagio’s big moment, it is also Account Based Marketing’s big moment—it provides the first comprehensive view of how to deploy an Account Based Marketing (ABM) strategy, and what technologies are needed to do so. I was thrilled to provide a few quotes about predictive marketing’s role in ABM for the ebook, as I routinely talk with current and would-be account based marketers who are looking for help charting the complete route to an optimized ABM strategy.

Many marketers have already discovered some of the ways ABM can increase performance for both sales and marketing, but the market did not have a high quality roadmap for ABM success, until now.

Account Based Marketing Defined

As explained by Jon, “ABM is a strategic approach that coordinates personalized marketing and sales efforts to open doors and deepen engagement at specific accounts”. In contrast to traditional demand generation efforts that emphasize a batch-and-blast approach, ABM focuses on providing more personalized engagements with the ideal target accounts.

You don’t have to be focused on selling to just named accounts or the Fortune 500 to use ABM. ABM is powerful even if you sell to accounts throughout mid-market and SMBs. In order to get the best return from an ABM strategy, you need to have a well-rounded point of view on every single account in your market, so that you can focus your efforts on the target accounts that matter most. For some larger enterprise sellers, that target account list might only be 10-20 target accounts, but for mid-market and SMB sellers, there might be hundreds of thousands or more accounts worthy of account-based selling and marketing.

Predictive Marketing and Account Based Marketing

Like predictive, ABM focuses on alignment, deal acceleration, and efficiency by shifting team effort and focus to prospects that are most likely to close. Without a targeted account approach, you don’t know whether the prospects you are pursuing are actually good-fit prospects for your product or service. By embracing a focused ABM approach, you’re spending time building relationships with those ideal target accounts that your reps dream of closing.

Account Based Marketing and predictive marketing have become close friends, as predictive marketing provides the best way to accomplish step one of ABM–target account selection. In order to be truly effective with ABM, you need to first understand your total addressable market, and then identify the ideal target accounts to pursue. As Engagio CEO (and Marketo Co-Founder) Jon Miller points out in his recently published roadmap to success with ABM, account-based audience selection is the critical first step on an ABM journey.

Account Selection: The Critical First Step to an ABM Strategy

You can’t create an Account Based Marketing strategy without first choosing the right target accounts.

In order to create your list of target accounts, you need to look at various types of data including—firmographic (the profile of a company), technographic (what technologies a company is using), engagement, and intent. According to Jon, you are looking for accounts that:

  • You have sold to effectively in the past
  • Have proven to be the most profitable
  • Are in the right industries
  • Have the right characteristics
  • Play to your unique strengths as a company
  • Deliver the most value
  • Do not have any of the traits you rule out

For most companies, distilling and drilling down into these attributes is a manual, complex, and subjective task. Many organizations rely on a group of marketers and sales people to build the target account list based on intuition and best guesses. This process is flawed because:

  • People typically only choose companies they are already aware of
  • People prioritize based on gut feel and subjective judgment of a market rather than a comprehensive view of all potential prospects

While this manual approach is often all that companies use, its inaccuracy causes significant challenges for the success of an ABM strategy. Why? Because of the importance of personalization in ABM. Personalization is the practice of sending very targeted information to your best-fit accounts. Personalization requires lots of resources (human and financial), and if you’re not spending those valuable resources on the right accounts, you’re not going to have a successful ABM strategy. The more efficient and exact you can be with account selection the better the return you will have in your ABM approach.

Data-Backed, Predictive (and Objective) Insights for ABM

Using account-based predictive marketing is the most efficient and successful way to begin your journey into ABM. Instead of manually going through company data and making educated guesses on which accounts you should target, predictive marketing provides more in-depth insights into your ideal account profile so that you can let data-science determine your account selection.

How deep is the data? Predictive marketing starts by using your existing CRM and marketing automation data combined with tens of thousands of signals of external data. With this data, EverString builds a model of your ideal account. This is the ultimate approach to obtaining an accurate and objective definition of your target accounts.  EverString then compares your predictive account model against our database of over 11 million accounts and 20,000 signals per account, in order to provide you with a point of view on every account in your entire addressable market. This is data that you simply can’t track yourself.

Additionally, predictive uses machine learning and applied data science to identify and help categorize accounts that are more likely to close. Using these technologies to get your target account selection right, you are more effectively set up for advancing an Account Based Marketing strategy.

An Account Based vs. Lead Based Approach to Predictive Marketing

Not all predictive marketing vendors are well-suited to enabling ABM success—sad, but true. Why? Because almost all predictive marketing platforms are built with a lead-based architecture rather than an account-based architecture.  The main reason for this is that most predictive marketing vendors are only optimized to provide “predictive lead scoring” on leads that are already in your funnel.  In other words, most predictive vendors created their platforms as extensions of traditional marketing automation and CRM, thereby limiting their ability to help you find new prospects outside of your pipeline.

This runs contrary to one of ABM’s fundamental missions, which is to proactively pursue selling and marketing to the right accounts, regardless of whether or not they have already made it into your pipeline.  An account based marketer doesn’t passively wait for relevant prospects to find their way into the pipeline–instead, they intentionally go after accounts that should be interested in their products and services. Then they invest the additional effort to deliver more personalized engagement, cultivating buying interest within the right accounts.

As Jon Miller so effectively points out in Engagio’s guide, “It’s called business-to-business’ not ‘lead-to-business’”. When you are in a B2B environment, you typically sell into accounts. Individuals are of course critical, but individuals ultimately are part of an account, and there are often multiple individuals involved in a sales cycle at any given account. That is why EverString was built since inception to focus on account selection before lead selection, providing users with a solution for a critical piece of the ABM process.

When executed well, ABM can be a game changing strategy for B2B marketing and sales teams. While many companies have been utilizing pieces of an ABM strategy for years, it is only now that the full promise of ABM can be realized. Through the use of platforms like EverString for target account selection, and Engagio for orchestration and measurement we can finally see the potential for Account Based Marketing.

For more information on Account Based Marketing, download Engagio’s new ebook: The Clear & Complete Guide to Account Based Marketing.

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