Today, companies employ several approaches to attracting audiences and converting them into loyal customers. While inbound marketing is an effective means for attracting the 21st century consumer, account-based marketing employs a strategic, highly-effective approach as well.
Account-based marketing focuses on targeting specific accounts, using personalized campaigns to attract their attention, and establishing long-term relationships to retain their business. While ABM may not work for every organization, it’s overall value is worth exploration for your brand.
Ethan Kopit, Hubspot’s product manager for account-based marketing software, shares his experiences on the benefits of ABM.
Ethan began his career as the CEO of a startup focused on account management, which was eventually bought out by Hubspot bought that startup. Hubspot ended up adding Ethan to their team, feeling he was well-positioned to build an account-based marketing solution at Hubspot. He now helps oversee the company’s account-based marketing software.
At its Core, What is Account-Based Marketing?
Ethan believes account-based marketing can’t be boiled down as a solution simply for marketers. It's something that sales and marketing do together. And it's, basically, a go-to-market strategy where sales and marketing identify a relatively small number of high-value target accounts that they want to close for many reasons.
It could be that they want to close this customer, because that logo has a lot of value. It could be that they want to close this customer, because they're trying to get into a new geography. It could just be that they sell really high-value, complex products, or services.
“It's annoying that it has marketing in the name but, if anything, I would ask that you forget the word marketing. I have to use that, because that's what the industry calls it, but account-based marketing is really more of a go-to-market strategy. It's not a marketing strategy.”
How is Account-Based Marketing a Different Approach Than Outbound or Inbound Strategies?
Ethan believes ABM is like a farm - and customers are like things that you grow. There's certain tactics and tools that you use to grow carrots and eggplants, and there's different tactics and tools that you use to grow trees. For some companies, clients need to be treated as individuals, requiring a more targeted approach.
You're going to need a more nuanced way that you present your value proposition to different people in positions of influence. The decision-maker might want to see different content and hear different things than an end-user would - somebody who isn't the decision-maker. That’s why ABM usually works best when one targets companies as clients as opposed to individual customers.
Keys to Success When Implementing ABM
The key to ABM lies mainly in encouraging collaboration across departments. Some begin their experience with the question "Should ABM be sales-driven, or should it be marketing-driven?" This defeats the purpose of the strategy!
Everyone needs to be on the same page. Companies should agree on what the target accounts are, what the value proposition is, the content, channels, and the KPIs. There is no part of this where sales just does one aspect and marketing does the other. That's not how ABM works.
When you create a target account list it cannot live in a system that only marketers, or only salespeople have access to. It needs to be something that is shared between two teams. They have to communicate before they do things like run ads, or implement e-mails. Making sure that everybody actually knows what's going on is probably the hardest part of ABM. It's not challenging from a technology, or an implementation standpoint. But it is necessary for success.
“I think ABM is, by definition, pretty collaborative between sales and marketing and collaboration is hard.”
Learn More About Ethan’s Thoughts on ABM On Our Podcast
Ethan shares more of his thoughts on the implementation and overall keys to success of ABM. Tune in to learn more!