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What is Account-based Marketing and How Does it Work for SaaS Companies?

Picture this: you own a SaaS business and spend hours creating the right strategy for your marketing campaigns. You’re happy with the few leads you find and can’t wait for the deals to get locked. 

But that never happens. 

While you expected sales from five of the ten leads you received, the result is only one paying customer.  

So, what are you doing wrong?

Well, essentially, nothing. What you’re working with is a traditional marketing model, which isn’t wrong, but it may not be the most beneficial for your company. There are other marketing strategies that SaaS companies prefer, and one of them is account-based marketing. 

If you don’t know what it is, don’t worry; you’ve come to the right place.

In this blog, you’ll learn:

  • What is account-based marketing?
  • How ABM differs from traditional marketing
  • Why do SaaS companies prefer ABM?
  • Types of Account-Based Marketing
  • Importance of Sales and Marketing alignment for ABM

What is Account-Based Marketing (ABM)?

Account-based Marketing, or ABM, is a marketing strategy in which high-value target accounts are offered personalized content and campaigns that will increase their chances of engagement and conversion. 

Data from the 2021 State of Modern Marketing report revealed that 87% of respondents claim that account-based strategies gave respondents a better chance at maximizing revenue. This is if you compare it with general campaigns. 

A marketing strategy document

To better understand what account-based marketing is, here’s an example:

Let’s say that there is a SaaS business owner named Joe who hired a marketing team for traditional lead generation. However, upon their research, his team came across more marketing approaches. Joe then took it upon himself to create a survey of the market and saw potential high-value leads that fit his company’s profile. 

Upon further research, he found that those leads had more potential in investing more into his company and becoming long-term clients than those found from traditional lead generation.  He then asked his marketing team to join hands with the sales team and gather all the data related to the list of targeted leads. 

Joe worked with his team to build campaigns specific to their potential customer’s interests and searched-for services. 

The result? 

The quality of customers improved, resulting in long-term revenue.  

Of course, in an ideal world, a simple survey would do, however, finding targeted accounts is a long process discussed further in this blog. First, it’s important to look at how account based marketing differs from your traditional marketing methods.

Related:

Account-Based Marketing Tactics for Your SaaS

Best Account-Based Marketing Tools to Target Your ICP

Examples of Account Based Marketing

How to Create an Account Based Marketing Strategy

What’s the difference between Account-Based Marketing and traditional marketing methods?

Humanity works on advancements; it’s how we got to where we are today! Similarly, ABM is an advancement of traditional lead generation, which focuses on getting generic leads. 

But how are the two marketing techniques different?

"Audience" written on board

While account-based marketing is all about finding target accounts and catering to them in a way that makes sense specifically for them, traditional lead generation focuses on a large target audience and gaining the maximum number of leads through generic marketing. It uses a mix of inbound and outbound marketing techniques to build engagement. The end goal for both marketing techniques is essentially the same: sales, conversion, and revenue. The path taken, however, is vastly different and makes all the difference in how many quality leads you’ll be getting. 

Here’s a table to help you better understand:

Why do SaaS companies use Account-Based Marketing?

Before we look at why SaaS companies use ABM, it’s important to understand how to build an ABM strategy. This way, you’ll better understand what ABM looks like to analyze why B2B campaigns focus on it.

How to build an ABM strategy

Implementation of ABM is relatively simple. Remember when Joe built surveys to gather a list of related accounts in the previous example?

Well, there’s more to it. 

If we go back to the Account-Based Marketing example that we were talking about earlier, we can break the entire process down into the following steps:

Step#1: Build your team: This is important because ABM mainly works on teamwork. You need a team that can both identify the right accounts and understands how to market to these target accounts. 

Step#2: Build a Target List: Now, this is important; how do you identify target accounts? 

You need to build an ideal customer profile (ICP) which will help you identify which clients you need to target according to your company profile. You’ll need to analyze data and make a list of traits your clientele should possess – e.g., location, size of the client organization, how much they’re willing to invest, pain points, primary use case that you can solve etc.

This is where your ability to carry out customer intelligence comes into play.

Once you have that listed down, you can move on to adding the tiers, where you divide the list by which client has the highest value to the ones that don’t have much potential. Start with categorizing the most important clients and setting them in the first tier, then move on to the rest. This will help you prioritize your outbound strategy.

Step#3: Monitor Interactions at Various Touchpoints: In B2B sales, it’s important to dive deeper into the interactions of all stakeholders at different touchpoints. Identify the people dealing with the purchase and ensure their journey is seamless.

Why do SaaS companies rely on ABM?

So, you now know how to build an ABM strategy, but you’re probably still wondering why you need it. First and foremost, the question of a company’s ROI poses a major threat to businesses. Is ABM worth the investment if you don’t see the results? 

ITSMA carried out an ABM survey which showed that 72% of companies agreed that the ROI delivered by ABM was much higher than any other B2B marketing strategy they tried. Companies can also efficiently allot their resources to focus on optimized accounts. That means there would be less time wasted and more efficiency in your sales cycle.

More importantly, the marketing strategy that your team builds will be specific to the clients’ needs. Do you know what that means?

High engagement and chances of conversion.

You can easily analyze your campaign’s success by using platforms such as HockeyStack that can help you track interactions at every touchpoint including every ad view, click, engagement, and purchase. 

Want to learn how companies use ABM? Check out these examples of account-based marketing to find out how you can start leveraging ABM.

Are there any types of Account-Based Marketing?

There are, essentially, three types of ABM:

  • Strategic ABM, or one-to-one marketing
  • ABM Lite, or one-to-few marketing
  • Programmatic ABM, or one-to-many marketing
  1. Strategic ABM

This type of marketing is reserved mostly for the highest-value clients, i.e., the clients on the first tier. Your teams will be responsible for enhancing their relationships through upselling and cross-selling products. Strategic account-based marketing involves targeting 1-5 accounts using customized marketing campaigns.

Do you know what that means?

Your team should have an excellent grasp of the client’s needs by researching, engaging, and creating personas to understand them better. There’s a catch, though: this strategy can take a little bit of time to build and perfect so it’s imperative that you keep putting in the effort and wait for results.

  1. ABM Lite

Moving on to the second tier; here, the focus is a little more on a small group’s needs rather than those of an individual. The marketing campaigns are built on five to ten targeted accounts which share common goals, needs, and challenges. 

If you have flexible budgets and can add team members and tools, then this is a good strategy to adopt. That doesn’t, however, mean that you do not research this B2B group. You will have to be thorough in identifying your ideal profile and segment. 

  1. Programmatic ABM

Finally, towards the third tier, you have more leverage in building strategies. Here, your targeted group will be a set of hundreds of accounts. Here, you can use tools for account-based marketing to help you set the group and target the messages based on industry. 

You don’t need as many resources for this strategy, but you will still have to personalize your efforts as much as possible to ensure that the accounts you’re targeting will see value in your offer.

What are the pros and cons of Account-Based Marketing?

Like every strategy and approach, Account-Based Marketing too has its pros and cons. Let’s take a look at some of these:

Pros:

  • Keeps your sales and marketing teams in sync for one goal: closing the deal with the client.
  • Personalized marketing strategies mean higher ROI, more engagement, and better clients. 
  • Clear reporting and tracking of revenue.

Cons:

  • You need to invest in more resources to put in a significant amount of effort in creating specific strategies.
  • More time is spent researching the details about the targeted accounts, which means more time is needed to see an ROI.
  • Your ROI will be based only on the targeted accounts rather than a larger pool of accounts.

How important is Sales and Marketing alignment for ABM?

Teams working together

The first rule mentioned in how to build an ABM strategy is to align the sales and marketing teams, but why is this important? 

Well, the crux of ABM is personalization. This means that while marketing teams work on building campaigns, they wouldn’t know much about the target accounts without the sales team. Similarly, for sales to build a connection with the targeted accounts, you need a good marketing strategy, which is impossible without a sales team. 

Essentially,  both the marketing and sales teams need to work in harmony to ensure that you’re able to target the right target accounts with the right messaging. 

You don’t have to scatter your approach; you need to ensure the clients’ interest is retained to maximize engagement. This benefits both teams in the following ways:

  • Marketing will be able to create customized content relevant to clients.
  • Sales pitches are relevant to both the customers and what is being marketed to them.
  • Marketing and sales teams will be aligned with one goal, and less competition between the work.

Now that you have a clear understanding of what ABM entails and how it works, you can evaluate your business budget and see how account-based marketing works for you. 

Ready to take the plunge with ABM? Here are some account-based marketing tools and account-based marketing tactics that can help you streamline the process.

FAQs:

What does an ABM campaign look like?

An account-based marketing campaign consists of personalized content such as videos, emails, ads, and blog posts that cater to the pain points of decision makers that match your ideal customer profile.

What is B2B Account-Based Marketing?

B2B account-based marketing is when the sales and marketing teams work together to turn targeted accounts into long-lasting clients.

What are the benefits of Account-Based Marketing?

  • Aligned sales and marketing teams
  • Easy to measure ROI
  • Maximizing a company’s relevance amongst high-value accounts
  • Keeping customer experiences consistent
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