The alignment – or the lack of it – between the sales and marketing teams has been one of the key concerns of businesses across categories and B2B marketing is no different in facing this roadblock often.
One of the ways in which LinkedIn is resolving the challenge is by deploying tools that support account-based marketing (ABM) and making it a focused growth strategy integral to B2B marketing.
Fundamentally, ABM is an effort at creating and sustaining relationships with key accounts. Many marketers are already convinced of its importance, as LinkedIn found 87% of marketers who measured ROI said ABM outperforms all other marketing investments.
Owing to LinkedIn’s proven track record as the most trusted digital platform, it is being increasingly picked by many marketers as the foundation of their ABM strategy. To help marketers navigate their challenges LinkedIn has worked on solutions around the ABM strategy and created a robust ecosystem of marketing partners across audience data, campaign management and measurement.
The framework in the report works as a robust guide to enable more marketers in reaping the benefits of ABM on the path to success. The Drum looks at five of these steps but to see the seven steps in detail, visit The Marketer’s Framework for ABM Success.
The objectives and outcomes
The objectives of deploying this approach can be around the desired outcomes - from demand generation to account nurturing to pipeline acceleration to account penetration – and each one has its own ecosystem.
Demand generation is pivoted around generating awareness with cold or new accounts to improve outcomes for outbound marketing while account nurturing is deployed to increase conversion to sales pipeline by engaging key stakeholders throughout an account.
Pipeline acceleration is anchored around increasing pipeline velocity and win rates by engaging a wider audience of stakeholders during the sales process while account penetration hinges around increasing usage of the solutions across the account by tapping into new lines of business or folding new products into the existing portfolio.
Aligning sales and marketing
As per market data, 92% of highly successful ABM marketers have strongly aligned marketing and sales teams. In addition, when marketing and sales are tightly aligned, marketing-generated revenue increases by a significant 208%. Not just that, marketing and sales alignment produces a 36% higher customer retention rate, as per the data.
An important next step is around selecting and segmenting the target accounts and a good place to start when selecting the target accounts is by understanding the quality of data available. An effective ABM strategy relies on high-quality, consistent account and contact data – the data could be first-party data or second-party data (a publisher’s or platform’s data) or third-party data which has been aggregated across multiple sources.
Developing an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)
Developing an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) would be the logical next step in order to understand which types of companies see the greatest success with the products and solutions on offer. For instance, first-party modelling which is one way to do it involves taking the most successful customers and looking for companies with similar firmographic, technographic, and economic profiles on LinkedIn – thus identifying new companies that are most likely to match the given customer profile. LinkedIn’s first-party, user-provided data is known to be accurate and updated, and thus has the edge, because members are incentivised to keep their LinkedIn profiles fresh for their own business, networking and career opportunities.
Identifying the buying committee
One of the important pillars of this solutions-based approach deployed by ABM is around identifying the buying committee and creating the means and tools to influence them. The underlying idea is to build relationships with the larger stakeholder universe rather than restricting to only the decision makers and influencers. As per statistics, an average of 6.8 people are involved in one buying decision nowadays.
Like marketing itself, it is integral to remember that in ABM too there are no one-size-fits-all solutions. They need to be customized as per the need and the profile of the customer - from one-on-one conversations to programmatic ABM targeted approach to much in between. The approaches for different account tiers would be differently aligned ranging from, Strategic ABM to Scaled ABM to Programmatic ABM – all with varying degrees of personalization levels.
Aligning content to audience
The need to align the content to the audience and their mindset is of great importance and it is an area in which LinkedIn already has an advantage, since the members tend to be highly engaged. As per data, they are twice as intent-driven than users of other platforms, which means they visit LinkedIn expecting to learn and be informed.
Marketers typically tend to overlook one of the most important components while crafting their content – inputs from the sales team - which when deployed well can be a treasure trove of information in developing ABM content. Their first-hand knowledge can come handy in targeting the pain points and equally in devising the solutions.
From achieving executive alignment between marketing and sales leaders right up to agreeing on the joint success metrics to demonstrate the business value of the efforts, the ABM account journey is a complex one and can take many different forms.
When done right, ABM is a truly impactful strategy for B2B. 84% of marketers say that ABM significantly helps retain and expand existing relationships. Are you one of them?