Stripped of any pretence or hyperbole, marketing is, at its core, about human connection.
Personalised or account-based marketing (ABM) techniques treat every interaction not as a touchpoint but as an opportunity to engage on a more human level. Technology may be the engine of ABM, but it’s technology with a heartbeat.
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Recent statistics paint a vivid picture of ABM’s foothold in modern marketing. According to a 2022 study by Momentum ITSMA and the ABM Leadership Alliance, 72% of global ABM leaders say an ABM approach delivers a higher ROI than other forms of marketing, with 66% saying that ABM significantly improves their marketing and sales alignment. Another study last year by Demand Spring also found that one-third of marketers saw ROI ranging from 50% to in excess of 200% from their ABM efforts.
Not all ABM approaches are created equal, however. There are a few strategic approaches that marketers should be aware of to help them target high-value accounts with personalised campaigns. Let’s look at the three main types of ABM and how you can implement the approach to achieve your goals:
The crux of one-to-one ABM is treating a single account as its very own market. In this model, every campaign, message and touchpoint is sculpted with that particular account’s needs, challenges, and aspirations in mind. The key to this approach is balance – you want to be sure you’re not stretching too thin and are always ready to adapt.
- High level of personalisation, potentially leading to stronger relationships and better chances of conversions.
- Deep dive into understanding an individual account’s pain points, desires and aspirations. For example, a SaaS company targeting a specific enterprise can curate demos, webinars, and whitepapers addressing that enterprise’s unique challenges.
- Account expansion opportunities because of deep account insights, easier ROI tracking and potential for the brand to become your champion.
- Intense personalisation can put a strain on resources, requiring detailed research and custom content creation.
- Risk of being hyper-focused on a single account and missing out on broader opportunities.
- Challenges in scaling efforts to a larger number of accounts.
Advice for marketers on one-to-one ABM
- Begin with comprehensive research to understand the target account’s industry, challenges, competitors, and decision-making processes. This will form the bedrock of your personalised strategy.
- Marketing teams must work hand-in-hand with sales teams. The latter often possess in-depth insights into the account, which can be invaluable.
- Instead of spreading efforts thin across multiple accounts, focus on delivering impeccable quality for the chosen target account.
- Post-campaign, engage with the account to gather feedback. This will not only foster a sense of collaboration but will also provide insights for refining future campaigns.
This is where marketing finesse meets sharp segmentation. In this approach, marketing strategies are designed for clusters of accounts with shared characteristics such as needs, challenges or aspirations.
- Strategic scaling that hits the sweet spot between personalisation and scale. For example, a tech solution provider might target multiple fintech startups facing similar regulatory challenges, offering tailored solutions via a unified campaign.
- Deeper connection with segments that address shared pain points and offer sector-wide solutions.
- While more scalable than one-to-one, one-to-few ABM still requires significant resources to understand each cluster.
- Ensuring that each account within the segment feels acknowledged. Two accounts in the same industry might have differing internal challenges.
Advice for marketers on one-to-few ABM
- While individual account nuances are essential, creating a cohesive narrative for the segment ensures that your campaign resonates broadly (e.g., if targeting SMEs in the e-commerce domain, you should address shared challenges like scaling or logistics).
- Using analytics and AI to fine-tune segmentations.
- One-to-Few ABM is flexible. Be sure to monitor campaigns closely, gather feedback, and be ready to pivot your strategies based on results.
This is ABM on a grand scale. While still account-centric, it uses technology to reach many similarly targeted accounts, often leveraging automation and programmatic marketing (in fact, one-to-many ABM is also known as programmatic ABM).
- The ultimate in scalability – marketers can reach a broad audience while still maintaining an account-centric approach.
- Efficiency in execution by leveraging shared attributes amongst accounts, such as ad creative or webinars, thus reducing time to market, cost and team resources needed to execute.
- The broader the approach, the easier it is to lose the personal touch, even when segmenting.
- Because handling data for multiple accounts demands robust CRM and analytics tools, mismanagement can lead to lost opportunities or misguided strategies.
- The odds of your brand being perceived poorly go up when targeting accounts with messages that even slightly miss the mark.
Advice for marketers on one-to-many ABM
- Don’t lose sight of the “account-based” in ABM. Automation is fantastic, but make sure there’s a human touch behind each campaign.
- Begin with robust data analytics. Identifying patterns, challenges, and opportunities across accounts will be the foundation of your campaign.
- The story you tell should resonate universally across your target accounts, but be adaptable to highlight sector or company-specific nuances. For instance, a cybersecurity firm’s campaign can stress data integrity for all but emphasise patient confidentiality for healthcare and transaction security for e-commerce.
ABM will continue to evolve
As with all things related to technology, innovation is inevitable. Look for more integration of AI with ABM in the near term, allowing marketers to fine-tune personalisation.
Nevertheless, no matter where technology takes us, the one thing that shouldn’t change course is the human element. Don’t ignore or diminish the emotional quotient of B2B interactions. Because if your marketing isn’t about people first, then it might as well not be about anything.