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Account-based marketing (ABM) is one of the most adopted marketing and business growth strategies in the B2B world. Did you know? Approximately 94% of marketing and sales professionals say they have an active ABM program. One of the reasons businesses use ABM is its tremendous ROI. As per statistics, ABM can help with 171% growth in average annual contract value and 208% increase in revenue.
Relationship building is an indispensable part of ABM. Without developing and maintaining a lasting relationship with target accounts, it’s quite a challenge to achieve ABM goals. Besides being a necessity, relationship building takes the form of a benefit in ABM.
According to 83% of marketers, ABM helps grow engagement with target accounts. Furthermore, ABM can retain and expand existing client relationships, 85% of marketers agree. Before we look into why ABM is about relationship building, let’s understand what ABM is and how it differs from traditional marketing.
Definition of ABM
ABM is a supremely tactical B2B marketing strategy. Account-based marketers have the goal of finding and targeting specific accounts like those offering a high value or are a best fit to their business. To achieve ABM success, your sales and marketing departments are required to function in lockstep with each other.
In ABM, you directly engage and nurture target accounts and each stakeholder within them using highly personalized, tailored content and messaging. The pain points and needs of each contact within an ABM-focused account are addressed using a “high-touch” and customized approach.
ABM involves taking a high-touch approach where you build a strong bond with carefully selected, targeted prospects at a personal level. ABM campaigns are not only run to gain new business from top-value target accounts, but to also protect and grow existing accounts.
How ABM is Different from Traditional Marketing
In terms of ROI, ABM initiatives are found to outperform other marketing investments, according to 87% of B2B marketers. ABM takes a one-to-one marketing approach with heavy focus on relationship building, instead of the traditional one-to-many approach. It almost literally flips the conventional marketing funnel by proactively pursuing high-value target accounts from the very beginning.
Traditional marketing involves running blanket campaigns to draw as many leads possible and then weeding out the unqualified or less valuable ones. Contrastingly, ABM is much more laser-focused. Account-based marketers consider target accounts as individual markets. ABM kicks off by targeting the most profitable accounts and appealing to key contacts within them.
ABM moves beyond identifying high-quality leads. It focuses on specifically targeting and most importantly, building relationships with most qualified prospects who are likely to buy from you. Besides being a “zero-waste” marketing strategy, it solves the problem of “by-catch leads” that usually comes with implementing traditional marketing.
What Makes ABM More About Relationship Building
Almost every element of ABM is focused or based on relationship building. Let’s look at how different stages or parts of ABM have something to do with building relationships with target accounts.
Building a list of high-value accounts and engaging them
ABM prioritizes quality over quantity. Now, what that means is it requires you to go after handpicked, best-fit accounts that are a 100% match to your ideal customer profile. And your job as an account-based marketer doesn’t end here, because meaningful engagement is a crucial element of ABM.
You need to build a trusting, long-term relationship with high-value ABM-focused accounts by educating, nurturing, adding value to, and following up with them. The goal is to win the business of these accounts or retain existing customers. Statistics reveal that 80% of marketers believe ABM increases customer lifetime values and 86% agree it improves win rates.
Researching target accounts to better connect with them
A significant part of ABM is to effectively engage and delight target accounts as well as key contacts that influence or make buying decisions. Well, you can’t really achieve this goal if you don’t have deep insights into your target accounts to establish a strong connection with them.
In ABM, it’s not enough to know who your target accounts are. You also need to know:
Which industry or what business they are in
What their needs and challenges are
What solutions they are looking for
What their interests and priorities are, etc.
That’s why in-depth research using your internal database and also external B2B data is critical in ABM. It helps increase relevance in your ABM efforts and resonate well with target accounts. You see, even the research part in ABM is conducted keeping the factor of ‘relationship building’ in mind.
Creating personalized experiences for each stakeholder or contact
56% of marketers strongly agree that personalized content is key to ABM success. Personalized content, messaging, web, and buying experiences all play a significant role in converting ABM-focused accounts into paying customers. And one of the reasons is that they allow you to better relate with target accounts and stakeholders and boost your relationship with them.
Personalization in ABM enables you to show target accounts how your solution can benefit their business in different ways as you appeal to different stakeholders. This goes a long way toward building lasting relationships in ABM.
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Targeting channels most preferred by ABM-focused accounts
Email is not the only channel used to target high-value accounts in ABM. Not all people and companies spend most of their time or prefer brands to communicate with them on the same channel. Social media, direct mail, phone, video, webinar, and in-person events are also used to pursue and nurture ABM-focused accounts.
You need to be able to determine the best channel(s) to target high-value accounts and contacts. However, no matter what channel you choose, you’re always looking to stay top of mind with targeted prospects in ABM. You use different channels to stay connected, share content, interact, and foster your relationship with them.
Measuring ABM or relationship results
Measuring the right metrics and KPIs is essential to ensure your ABM efforts are getting the desired results. Some of the key ABM metrics to track are:
Number of deals closed
Average deal size
Sales cycle length and sales velocity
Time to close deals
Net revenue earned
Most of these metrics could be impacted by relationship building in ABM. However, the more specific or relevant metrics that relate to building a relationship with ABM-focused accounts include:
Account engagement and number of stakeholders reached
Number of face-to-face or virtual meetings earned
Event registration and attendance rates
Content consumption and sharing
Email open and click through rates
In ABM, you actually never stop forging a close relationship with best-fit, high-value accounts. Relationship building starts right after you identify ABM-focused accounts, and continues till they become your customers and even in the post-purchase stage.
Among the best strategies to develop long-standing relationships in ABM are storytelling, using buying intent data, granular audience segmentation, and assigning a limited number of accounts to each rep. Also, don’t forget to feed your ABM platform and CRM with clean, accurate, enriched, and updated data. This will not only make a difference in relationship building, but also improve other crucial elements of ABM.
At Xoxoday, we deeply understand the intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and engagement drivers of people, be it an employee, supplier, contract staff, gig, or consumer. We bring simplicity and continuity to a complex everyday problem.