If marketing is like making friends, then consider account based marketing (ABM) like making best friends.
It’s the difference between making a Facebook status update announcing to your social network that you’re free to go get coffee whenever, and actually messaging someone directly and inviting them to coffee.
Even more specifically, ABM is like figuring out that friend’s favorite drink order, getting it, paying for it, and having it ready for them by the time they get to the cafe.
That’s probably why ABM is such a killer tactic in the B2B marketing landscape: it’s about fostering deep, long-term relationships between business entities, and about getting to know their needs, exceeding expectations, and nurturing trust.
Put that way, ABM sounds kind of romantic…like The Notebook of marketing tactics. (Can we be Ryan Gosling?)
- First: What is account based marketing (ABM)?
- Who should be using account based marketing?
- Account Based Marketing Strategy Examples
- Account Based Marketing HubSpot Tools
- 11 Best Account Based Marketing Tactics
11 Stellar Account Based Marketing Tactics to Try Now
First: What is account based marketing (ABM)?
Account based marketing (ABM) is a (typically) B2B marketing strategy that’s really about focusing your marketing efforts on one client. Compare that to what we generally see in B2C marketing, where you’re casting a wider net in an attempt to appeal to a much, much bigger target audience, sometimes consisting of millions of potential customers or clients at once.
With ABM strategy, sales and marketing teams essentially take everything they already know about marketing (especially inbound marketing) and create custom-tailored lead nurturing and marketing campaigns for a select few clients, with the goal of not just making a sale, but upselling, or—depending on the company size of the target—landing those Really Big Deals.
Who should be using account based marketing?
B2B companies and their sales and marketing teams should definitely be using ABM. Why? Because in B2B, you’re working with clients who will be investing far more money and resources with you than the average B2C consumer, and who have as much to lose as you do.
Just like with your most intimate personal relationships—where there’s so much more on the line compared to the relationships you have with your acquaintances (and with like that one lady at work who is super sweet but also maybe could take a break from hitting “reply to all” on literally every email, Sharon...)—without nurturing and trust, no one gains anything.
ABM is about getting to know your client, empathizing with them, showing them that you empathize with them, and meeting their needs. Consistently.
Bottom line: If your business relies on long-term relationships, selling big-ticket services and products, and if closing a deal with a client means working with multiple people in multiple different roles and departments, you should be using ABM.
Account Based Marketing Strategy Examples
Here are a few quick examples of some tried-and-true ABM strategies. (Don’t worry, we’ll dig into them in a moment.)
Examples of AMB tactics and strategies include:
- sending personalized emails to leads and contacts.
- implementing smart content (such as landing pages) in your content marketing, so when clients or potential clients visit your site, they’re seeing content tailored specifically to them.
- hosting special events and webinars your clients will enjoy or gain valuable knowledge from.
- using direct mail marketing campaigns to send leads and potential leads everything from gifts and swag to greeting cards or valuable learning resources, like books.
- custom-tailoring your social media feed to appeal to a specific client, or engaging with target clients meaningfully on social.
Account Based Marketing HubSpot Tools
One more thing. Before you try implementing the AMB tactics we’re about to get into, we suggest setting yourself up for success by leveraging the tools HubSpot and HubSpot CMS have to offer.
Why? Because while ABM can be a big, ultra time-consuming, occasionally tedious marketing tactic for B2B companies—it absolutely doesn’t have to be. There are tools out there that can decrease or totally eliminate ABM-related pain points, automate dozens of important inbound marketing and digital marketing tasks, and ultimately help you move and scale faster.
We’ll dig into these in a future article, but for now, here’s a quick glance at how HubSpot helps marketing and sales teams elevate their ABM strategy.
With HubSpot, you can:
- create and save profiles of your target clients so you can personalize emails, landing pages, and more in just a few clicks.
- see how your ABM strategies are performing at a glance so you can make adjustments sooner than later.
- create lightening-fast workflows that execute differently depending on the needs, traits, and activities of your target clients; for example, create “if/then” workflows so that “if” a client meets certain criteria (for example: high value accounts), they’ll get a specific type of email, get invited to a specific event, or see a specific landing page.
- create custom sales “playbooks” tailored to specific people, roles, or decision makers within your target client, to ensure your marketing and sales teams will know exactly what to expect when interacting with a target client, and how to influence them.
- integrate HubSpot and Slack to keep everyone on your team updated, and capable of responding to leads more quickly and tactfully.
11 Best Account Based Marketing Tactics
1. Use social intelligence to research your target and create custom marketing strategies.
Remember the coffee metaphor from earlier? If you do your research well, you’ll know their drink order before they even get to the restaurant, and impress the heck out of them.
There are dozens of social intelligence tools out there that can help you better understand your target’s values and motivations just by studying their social media activity. From there, you’ll need to develop custom marketing strategies to figure out how to approach every step of the sales funnel with them, as well as how best to maintain the relationship in the long term. (You can’t execute the next few tactics without that info, anyway!)
2. Don’t be afraid to go after leaders and c-suite executives: create special campaigns just for them.
While you’re busy with the first tactic, go a bit deeper and create profiles for c-level executives at businesses you want to target. Follow them on social media. Figure out what they like and get to know their pain points. Then, be sure they’re included when you’re executing the following tactics.
3. Leverage your whole team’s networks—not just the folks on your sales and marketing teams.
Get everyone working together. Is there someone in engineering, logistics, human resources, accounting, or even the cafeteria who might be connected with someone who needs to be on your ABM target list? Sharon might even be connected with a potentially big-deal client for you. (In which case, Sharon, has anyone ever told you how much they love how you hit “reply to all” on literally every email? Because we all love it.)
4. Personalize the heck out of every email, from the one-offs, to the drip campaigns.
This is where HubSpot comes in handy. While there will be plenty of times where a strong ABM strategy is going to require you to do some genuine “handwriting,” so to speak, when templates are suitable, HubSpot can automatically fill everything in for you. That way, you can keep everything personalized—and moving.
5. Follow and engage with target clients, including the specific accounts of decision makers, c-level executives, leaders, and other important employees.
There’s no better way to be remembered and noticed than by getting to know individual people on your target clients’ teams. In addition to making an impression, you’ll get a better idea of what sort of custom content and creative gifts will sway them and keep them interested.
6. Mention target clients on your blog and on social.
For example, if you’re creating a “listicle” blog post where you recommend certain brands or products, be sure to include your target client, and tag them. You can also tag them on social if you see content online you think they’d enjoy or find valuable. Learn more on how blogging is changing.
7. Host events, webinars, lunch and learns, and other events custom-tailored to them.
This is a great one for both new leads and established clients. Every idea here gets you and your target face-to-face, and gives you an opportunity to both provide additional value to the client by teaching them something new, motivating them, or even just entertaining them—and an opportunity to prove that you have something to bring to the table. (No pun intended if you happen to work in the food industry.)
8. Send creative gifts.
In other words, step away from the boring, cheap swag bus. Okay, pens and water bottles can be kind of handy, but what we mean here is to send gifts that are as useful as they are memorable. If you study your target well, engage with them, and show genuine interest, you’ll learn quickly what it is they need or find valuable. (And don’t forget to target c-suite execs specifically.)
9. Create and deliver custom-tailored, extra-valuable content.
What are your target account’s pain points? Write an ebook addressing them. What questions do they have—but don’t have time to research and answer? Write a white paper or report. What are some tools or skills that would benefit them? Create a blog series.
You can use some of these deliverables to set up meetings as well: for example, create and deliver a broad industry report on the e-commerce landscape, but let them know that, if they set up 1:1 time with you, you can give them an equally in-depth report on how grandmas in Texas engage with the retail e-commerce landscape. (We’d probably sit in for that one, just for fun.)
10. Customize the target’s experience on your website: think landing pages, retargeting, and stellar inbound marketing.
Again, use HubSpot for this one and save countless amounts of time. Their drag and drop custom modules and their state-of-the-art CMS make this so easy.
11. Don’t stop once the sale’s complete: check-in tactfully, follow up with handwritten cards, wish them happy birthday…
Don’t overwhelm your client once the sale’s complete with weekly “how’s it going” emails, but stay available. Keep in touch with holiday cards, or even simple social media comments like birthday wishes or “congrats” when they post good news. This is a real relationship now; treat it as such.
ABM is super effective, but really hard to go at it alone. That’s why we founded ThinkFuel; we know how amazing business success and big marketing wins can feel, and we wanted to deliver that to as many business owners as possible, while helping keep business growth exciting and fun for them—not stressful and overwhelming.
Reach out to us today if you’d like to talk more about implementing these ABM strategies in your business.