What is ABM?

Many seasoned B2B marketers have become very comfortable with digital ad buys over the last decade. But what if we told you that there is a better, more focused approach to digital advertising? That there is a way to more closely tie sales to marketing, reducing marketing spend, shortening sales cycles and increasing close rates?

Account-based marketing, or ABM for short, allows you to advertise directly, one-on-one, to your target list of prospective buyers. Instead of buying ads that loosely target your buyers by broad demographics, you can hone in on specific, named accounts. So rather than target marketing directors at all mid-sized manufacturing businesses in Northeast Ohio, we can instead advertise directly to the 10 businesses that we want to work with. You can still reach them with digital display ads, or whatever marketing vehicle you wish.

Why Use ABM?

ABM allows for efficiency in your marketing spend. Instead of reaching a broad base of potential customers, you are reaching only prospective clients that you feel would be a good fit. In that way, you can do some of the lead qualification efforts up-front. Thus, it becomes easier and more cost-effective to connect digital advertising to sales.

The other hidden benefit of ABM is that it forces your sales team to create a prospect list. This exercise is often fruitful on its own: It helps your business understand and articulate your ideal client and work towards identifying which contacts and leads fit that profile. Further, it helps build internal awareness for who the business wishes to convert to a client in the coming month, quarter or year.

How to Get Started

There are 5 steps to initiate your ABM program:

  1. Find an ABM tool. You will need to find a partner – depending on how much work you wish to do versus how much you wish to outsource – that can programmatically buy and serve up digital ads based on your target list. Spoiler alert: We use ListenLoop, but there are half a dozen other players on the market that can assist.
  2. Build a prospect list. Leveraging your team’s understanding of your ideal buyer, comb through your contacts in CRM or another business intelligence tool such as LinkedIn Sales Navigator to build a list of 50-100 businesses that you want to go after. (It’s easier if you have a pre-existing relationship, so CRM may be better than third-party tools here.)
  3. Develop creative. Based on what you know about these prospects and your messaging, you will want to create a bold, eye-catching ad campaign. Due to the variety of settings where ads may be served, it’s helpful to create a wide variety of sizes and shapes for your ads.
  4. Initiate campaign. Once you’re ready and you have your platform all set up, go ahead and launch your campaign.
  5. Measure and iterate. Within the first 2-3 weeks, you will want to take a look at your ABM platform to see how much engagement you are generating. Based on what you find, you may wish to adjust some of the elements in the first four steps before redeploying.

The Secret Sauce: 3 Key Ingredients

Here are 3 recommendations that will help your ABM campaign succeed:

  1. Do something to stand out. Whether it’s creating a highly personalized campaign (Hey, Law Firm XYZ!), or it’s incorporating your target’s logo in your creative, there are many ways to stand apart and win the attention of your prospective buyer.
  2. Incorporate online and offline. Relying only on digital ads to catch your prospect’s attention might backfire. Better to leverage direct mail in combination with digital advertising and email. I was nearly won over by a great package that was sent to me by an ABM platform over the summer. And even if I didn’t ultimately buy from them, it made enough of an impression for me to mention it here.
  3. Actively follow up. After users demonstrate interest and engagement, it’s time to actively follow up and provide direct outreach, even if they did not activate a call-to-action. It’s best to have one person on your team tasked with a proactive follow-up for each of your ABM campaigns.

Good luck, marketers! Let us know how your ABM journey unfolds. For additional guidance on how to set up or run your ABM campaign, reach out to Alyson Fieldman at 440-449-6800 or afieldman@skodaminotti.com, Skoda Minotti’s Strategic Marketing team.

This blog post is the first in a series of blogs focused on marketing innovation. Stay tuned for more!

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