The shiny, not-as-new-as-you-think strategy of account-based marketing

Robin Emiliani  /  Nov 27, 2019

Account-based marketing. It’s not new to most of us B2B marketers.

Hey there, B2B marketer. Here’s your cheerful news of the month: The number of decision-makers at your target companies is ballooning.

Gone are the days where two or six or even just 10 people influenced a business purchase. Long gone are the days of a single decision-maker. Today, an average of 16 different people influence an enterprise purchase decision.

That’s right. 16.

16 cooks in the kitchen. 16 different opinions to wrangle. 16 people to sell on what your product or service can do for a client.

It sounds like a Christmas song gone all wrong. On the first day of Christmas, my boss gave to me…16 times the work.

Ho, ho, ho, Merry Workmas.

And perhaps it’s this ballooning number of purchase influencers that’s breathed new life into the words account-based marketing.

For those unfamiliar, a quick definition: account-based marketing (ABM) is a collaboration between sales and marketing to target accounts—rather than individuals. It’s a way to personalize marketing to a group of decision-influencers—both before you’ve made your first sale and along the way as you upsell and cross-sell to drive up the lifetime value of a big account.

In B2C, a more 1:1 approach is typical. After all, B2C buyers are usually their own decision-maker. No 16-person committee needed. So when Amazon looks at my buying habits and targets me with a book of Medieval practical jokes and a game called “what do you meme?” that’s a more 1:1 approach.

But for big B2B decisions, the decision-making chain is a lot more complicated than “does Robin like memes?” Which is where ABM—which personalizes for the whole decision-maker ecosystem at an account—can make a big difference.

Though the term is only about 20 years old, marketers have been doing ABM for approximately as long as marketing has been around. Time travel to the 60s and you would have found whole teams of creatives dedicated to making a single account—with its multitude of decision-influencers—happy.

Today, the big difference is the tools we have to support an account-based approach. Automation that breaks down silos. Predictive analytics that help us build up accurate customer profiles. Targeted ads on LinkedIn. Personalization and sales and marketing integration tools like Triblio and DemandBase. Tools that take the 16 influencers of Christmas and turn them into a more manageable single account. Still more complicated than your average B2C consumer, but now with analytics, dashboards, and personalization tools that turn a web of relationships into a simplified understanding of the client’s big picture.

And as the sophistication of ABM grows, so does its value. In fact, according to a 2014 study, ABM has the highest marketing ROI of any B2B tactic.

So should you be thinking about ABM? If you’re a B2B marketer, it’s probably a no-brainer. And where should you start? With a call to the experts (that’s us).


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