Benjamin Wong
Nov 18, 2016

Account-based marketing: A path to personalised customer experience

An account-based marketing approach can help B2B marketers create an engaging customer experience says Progress' Benjamin Wong.

Benjamin Wong
Benjamin Wong

Digital technologies have taken the world by storm, transforming business models, industries and different organisational functions, including the marketing field. Gone are the days of “spray and pray” where practitioners blindly blast their marketing communication to everyone and pray that someone would purchase their product.

Flyers, advertising placements and cold calling are now considered traditional. Nowadays, customised messaging and an engaging experience for customers through websites and apps is the name of the game.

The discussion surrounding personalised and engaging customer experience paves the way for account-based marketing (ABM), a business-to-business marketing strategy that enables marketers to focus their efforts on targeted, high-value accounts through messaging that is specifically crafted for them. It is also designed to promote collaboration between marketing and sales teams by concentrating on individual client accounts in driving revenue.

With an emphasis on high-value accounts rather than leads, the goal of ABM is to boost efficiency and revenue while using fewer resources. Before ABM became mainstream, marketing professionals would combine various techniques, such as integrated marketing, multi-channel program and a sales-based marketing approach, to target high-value accounts. Given the multiple elements in the marketing mix, this approach was time consuming and costly, and did not allow for data analysis to measure effectiveness. ABM changes all that.

By leveraging ABM solutions, which offer a wide range of firmographic data, such as company name, industry and audience type, and integrating these into web and mobile analytics, enterprises can easily gather user insights even on their first visit. This, in turn, allows businesses to develop content aimed at a specific customer segment and at the same time create a seamless and engaging omni-channel experience.

Driving better ROI through ABM

The ultimate goal in sales and marketing is to create an engaging customer experience that will translate to higher ROI, which is exactly what ABM can help deliver. According to ITSMA, a marketing research and consulting organisation, 80 percent of marketers measuring ROI reported that ABM outperforms other marketing investments. Additionally, another research from Alterra Group revealed that 84 percent of marketers said that ABN had significant benefits to client retention and expansion. 

When executed properly, ABM could contribute to bigger sales deals and enhanced customer win rates. This is primarily because ABM allows enterprises to reach out to the accounts’ decision-makers through content that resonates with them, in a manner that they prefer, thus creating higher chances of success.

Another key benefit of ABM is a more focused business objective driven by the collaboration between sales and marketing teams. When both business units agree on what accounts to prioritise, the more effective they will be.

Getting started with ABM

ABM indeed presents a wealth of opportunities for businesses to drive revenue – when implemented successfully. Otherwise, this can potentially damage relationships with key business targets. Here are some guidelines that companies can adhere to in developing a strategy for ABM.  

  1. Align sales and marketing teams.
    The strength of ABM lies in its ability to deliver sales-oriented messaging along with marketing-oriented value propositions that cater to individual customers. As such, ensuring tight alignment between marketing and sales is critical to success, especially on the key accounts to focus on.
     
  2. Leverage data.
    Data is critical in order to effectively propose solutions to clients’ challenges, and to create personalised content and user experience that cater to an enterprise’s target customers. The insights gathered from such data can then be utilised to identify and understand their needs and pain points.
     
  3. Utilise every available channel.
    Today, there are many different ways to connect with customers, such as social media, website, email and phone, among others. It is therefore important to know which communication channels they prefer. Companies can also look at capitalising on two or more channels to increase effectiveness of ABM implementation. For example, email can be used to send personalised content or drive website traffic. This can then be followed up via a phone call.
     
  4. Make sure to measure.
    The goal of ABM is to increase brand engagement within target accounts. Hence, it is crucial to measure prospect activity levels and website engagement through indicators such as conversion metrics and sales cycle length. Businesses can also leverage tools that allow them to link marketing activities to various stages of the sales funnel, providing a complete picture of the customer journey, from inquiry through implementation. Having such information is fundamental for refining campaigns and optimising strategy.
     
  5. Choose the right marketing technologies.
    Ultimately, the success of ABM depends on having the right technologies to execute the strategy. ABM requires careful coordination of many moving parts like lists, channels, content and data. It is critical to have platforms that complete the ABM puzzle such as predictive analytics, database management and automation, and personalization.

When done right, ABM is a marketing strategy that offers a great potential to increase revenue and further enhance existing and prospective client relationships through personalised content and engaging user experience. While ABM is comprised of various marketing elements, enterprises need to understand that the right digital technologies are at the core of a successful ABM implementation.

Benjamin Wong is the Asia managing director of Progress.

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