In the digital age, nobody wants to be overwhelmed with unspecified floods of offers anymore, rather everyone expects to be addressed individually with solutions that are perfectly tailored to their needs. Hence, the motto “a lot helps a lot” no longer applies for marketing activities today. While mass marketing has led to enormous wastage for decades, a new approach is now experiencing an upswing.
Account-based marketing, or ABM for short, promises to address relevant content to the right recipients at the right time and on the preferred channel. Messages that companies send out are placed exactly where they have the greatest possible impact.
At first glance, the development of scalable ABM processes presents companies sometimes with major challenges. Alone the idea that theoretically every major customer receives an individual message sounds like a lot of effort and complicated at first, but such an approach harbors a tremendous opportunity to provide customers with an experience that they have not known before.
Wouldn’t you, for example, be excited when you suddenly get offered a pair of shoes that fit you perfectly and one that you had in mind when you were looking for new shoes online – instead of getting bored again and again with shoe offers that everybody is wearing? Well, this thought is the basic principle of ABM.
If assumptions are made in inbound marketing, about which topics could move as large a number of target customers as possible, specific target persons, current company goals, and challenges are researched in the ABM and content is specifically geared to them. So, at the point where the effectiveness of inbound marketing ends, namely when placing large-volume products and solutions with enterprise customers, a new focus on ABM seems to appear for many companies.
Linking marketing and sales more closely
What sounds promising has pitfalls in implementation. The first hurdle is set up between internal departments: in many organizations, marketing and sales not only work side by side, but possibly also against each other. In ABM, it is particularly important to work hand in hand because customer profiles are developed with the help of both sides and these customers then must be addressed in unison. Over a short period of time, the interaction of the ABM marketing team and the respective account manager is therefore a central success factor for successful ABM. Marketing depends here on the knowledge and skills of the sales team. Hence, to be able to address target groups in a targeted manner, these two units, which are often understood as opposing poles, must be brought together.
Modern technologies support, with the help of appropriate automation software, to collect and bundle information about customers with high potential to develop customized profiles that serve as the basis for targeted offers. They are not only developed jointly by sales and marketing but are also constantly updated by them. The information required for this can be obtained from existing internal sources, but also from the Internet and social media.
Align content precisely to profiles
Anyone who has set up such individual accounts with the help of data can use them to develop customer journeys that do not threaten to come to nothing because of their general validity, but instead precisely address those challenges customers are currently facing. As seen in the example above, the shoes not only fit perfectly, but also meet the customers’ tastes and set them apart from others.
In addition to the content, it is also important to define the right channels, because the account analysis is also devoted to the question of where customers are most frequently on and on which platforms they want to be addressed. With the help of this knowledge, the freshly generated content can be shown exactly there.
Know and address decision-makers
In addition, it can be assumed that several people in a company are involved in decisions for large-volume orders. A professional ABM knows these decision-makers, who are in different places, and therefore may have very different interests. So, it addresses the people with different approaches, too. The buyer probably has an eye on an appropriate price-performance ratio, while important decision-makers in the respective specialist area tend to look at the specific benefits and scope of an offer.
To turn to this honey pot, Munich-based Cloudbridge Consulting has developed a seven-stage process that ranges from the analysis of the existing customer accounts to the identification of the suitable target persons for these accounts, identifies challenges for the target groups, and uses this to develop personalized portfolios that are played out in a targeted manner. The primary goal is not to implement individual projects, but rather to enable companies to implement ABM in their own processes over the long term and, above all, efficiently.
This method is effective but quite complex, requiring structures, a coordinated interaction of marketing and sales technologies as well as clearly defined processes. Especially when dealing with existing or new major customers, it pays off to take a closer look and tailor offers. Valuable and long-term customer relationships are based on individual customer management in which trust and appreciation are of great importance. If customers feel understood in their everyday challenges, and if personalized offers are proposed to them, this will have a positive effect on the quality of the relationship.
By Daniela La Marca