Account-based marketing (ABM); if you’re a marketer it’s likely you’ve heard the term. It’s a concept that’s sweeping the industry and transforming the marketing landscape.
So, what exactly is ABM? Instead of focusing your marketing efforts on lots of leads, ABM is an alternative B2B strategy that identifies and targets key business accounts with highly personalized campaigns. It’s a strategy that requires a great deal of customer and market intelligence and a strong collaboration between sales and marketing, but when done successfully, can deliver an impressive return on investment. In fact, 87 percent of companies say ABM delivers higher ROI compared with other types of marketing. To help companies successfully develop an ABM approach, this whitepaper discusses the critical steps needed to develop an effective strategy and the benefits that can prove game-changing for your business.
Inbound and Outbound Marketing
Before diving into the ingredients of a successful ABM strategy, let’s first examine the differences between inbound and outbound marketing — and how ABM fits into the mix.
Inbound marketing, while not exactly a new concept, has been garnering more and more attention as of late. Given today’s tech-consumed, buyer-driven environment this comes as little surprise. Leveraging various types of pull marketing — blogs, whitepapers, search engine optimization, webinars, social media, content marketing, etc. — inbound marketing aims to attract new prospects/leads and drive brand awareness. When prospective clients can find you in the early stages of their decision-making process and are provided relevant and useful content, it means higher quality leads for sales and marketing and better return on your marketing and lead/demand generation investments.
One critical element of inbound marketing is the conversion equation — how do you measure conversion rate success, define a quality lead and employ effective lead nurturing? (Learn more about conversion, check out the whitepaper titled B2B Lead Generation: Expectations, Data Hygiene, Lead Scoring, Nurturing and Conversions.) Inbound marketing is essentially comprised of four phases — attract, convert, close and delight — to transform leads into customers.
 Munn, David. Optimizing ABM’s Impact: Priorities for 2018 and Beyond. ITSMA and ABM Leadership Alliance, 2017, www.abmleadershipalliance.com/wp-content/uploads/Optimizing_ABM_Event_ABMLA_ITSMA_2017.pdf.
Four phases of inbound marketing:
Attract: The goal is to attract the right clients or quality leads. This is where content like blogs, webinars and whitepapers come into play, while an effective social media strategy enables you to share the data and content, and engage with prospects.
Convert: This is where you open a dialogue and convert a lead. For example, ask them to fill out and submit a short form with their information. Once you have their information you can stay connected, providing them with relevant and useful content.
Close: Now that you’ve successfully converted a lead, leverage sales tools like lead nurturing and lead scoring to help you close the deal and transform the right leads into customers.
Delight: Providing your customers with an excellent experience not only strengthens their brand loyalty and encourages them to buy more from you, but they’ll also be more inclined to promote you to others. How can you do this? Help them improve their business and address challenges through smart, relevant content and meaningful conversations.
It may seem that inbound marketing and ABM, which can mirror aspects of outbound marketing, are contradictory by nature but that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, they should be used in combination and share several key principles. For instance, both strategies rely heavily on personalized content and both require a strong alignment between sales and marketing.
That’s not to say that there aren't important differentiators. Two core differences between inbound marketing and ABM are tactics and scalability. As we’ll discuss in a moment, ABM can closely resemble outbound marketing in that it uses tactics like targeted advertising and email. But, once again, there will be several differences to keep in mind. The second differentiator is scalability. ABM marketing works best when you have a smaller target audience. In other words, creating highly personalized marketing plans for each potential account is more feasible if you have, for example, buyers at 50 companies you’re targeting versus a broad market of thousands.
Outbound marketing is the opposite of inbound marketing. With outbound marketing, companies find and reach out to potential clients (rather than them finding you) with tactics like purchased data email blasts, in-house cold calls and paid digital or display advertising.
Outbound marketing is disruptive by nature and prospects can easily feel bombarded and turned off by the number of ads and email blasts they encounter each day. Here’s something to consider: Spam messages account for roughly 48 percent of e-mail traffic worldwide and, in 2016, the United States accounted for the majority of unsolicited spam e-mails with 12 percent of global spam volume.
Outbound marketing can be difficult to target and your ROI can be hard to track. In fact, one-third of marketers think outbound marketing tactics are overrated, only 16 percent of marketers say outbound practices provide the highest quality leads for sales, and 31 percent of outbound marketers rank outbound marketing practices, such as paid advertising, as the top waste of time and resources.
If your company finds that outbound marketing is not generating the desired results, then it’s time to rethink your approach. ABM — which is not to be confused with simply targeted outbound marketing — is much more personalized and strategic. Adding it to your sales and marketing toolkit enables you to better engage with high-value clients. It may require a shift in your overall budget and/or resources, but the payoff could be well worth it.
Click Here to download the complete whitepaper: The ABC's of ABM: 8 Steps to Achieving Winning Results
 Vocell, Jeffrey. “Account-Based Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing: 4 Common Questions Answered.” HubSpot Blog, blog.hubspot.com/marketing/account-based-marketing-vs-inbound-marketing.
 “Spam e-Mail Traffic Share 2018 | Statistic.” Statista, www.statista.com/statistics/420391/spam-email-traffic-share/.