Times are uncertain right now. With the spread of COVID-19, many businesses need to revise their ideas, strategies and practices. While some companies go through significant losses, the world is still turning, and there are many ways businesses and marketers can adapt to the situation. B2B sales reps and marketers can continue to take productive action toward success. Setting up an account-based marketing strategy is one of those productive actions.
Although effective, many marketers struggle with proving the ROI of account-based marketing— a problem we’d like to tackle in this article.
What is account-based marketing?
Account-based marketing (ABM) is the targeting of prospects by identifying a point of contact or persona within an organization that you believe you’ll be able to serve the best while building a lasting relationship with them. By offering an increasingly wide range of services to the account, you can increase the profit per customer.
In other words: account-based marketing is a marketing strategy in which relevant accounts are treated as individual markets by setting up specific marketing campaigns for each account. These campaigns are active through the entire sales funnel or customer journey, supported by a close collaboration between marketing and sales.
As you track how your prospects move from phase to phase in the buyer’s journey, you have the chance to create more personalized messaging, which makes it easier to collect better data and improve their experience. This will increase your customer lifetime value in the future. It will also help you shorten the sales cycle, which will enhance your lead conversation ratio.
Sounds good, right? But how do you set up a strategy like that in the first place?
Reading tip: How to develop a B2B Marketing Strategy
How to set up an account-based marketing strategy
Setting up an account-based marketing strategy is not hard. Different steps in the process need to be tackled, but all in all, it’s pretty straightforward.
There are four phases in account-based marketing:
- Plan and set ABM goals & strategy
- Identification of accounts
- Select your channels & craft messaging
- Attract contacts from high-quality accounts.
- Measure and analyze ABM results
- Convert your most satisfied customers into ambassadors
Before you start, though, it’s helpful to determine what success means to you. What targets need to be reached to call something successful? After all, the only way to know if any strategy was successful is to know which goal it has to meet in the first place. Read our blog about setting up a marketing strategy or about the marketing mix if you need help.
When it comes to ABM, start setting achievable goals and objectives which are based on your current results and your team’s abilities. Start with taking a look at your current scores from whatever marketing strategies you are using to identify the metrics and KPI’s that could use improvement.
After setting realistic goals, it’s crucial to identify whom you want to consider as your next best customers. Make sure you find enough information about them. Who are the decision-making units, and how can you best reach them? Make sure you involve the selected accounts and contacts with your brand by targeting them with specific campaigns in every stage of the customer journey. Use explicit and personalized content for these accounts and use them on your website, in your emails, social media posts, advertisements, etc. to get the right message across.
Make sure you use tools such as online success, a content management system, an analytical reporting program, an email automation tool, and a CRM platform. Each of these tools plays an essential role in executing ABM campaigns as well as track progress along the way.
When you have implemented these account-based marketing practices, make sure you turn your satisfied customers into ambassadors so that they can support your sales team. After all, word of mouth is still one of the most valuable forms of publicity any business can get.
How to measure the ROI of Account Based Marketing
Now that you have successfully set up your account-based marketing strategy, you want to know and show what exactly it is doing for your business. Measuring and reporting ROI is always a top challenge for marketing teams, but it is not impossible to achieve.
Since you have set clear goals and metrics in the previous steps, you can know the exact numbers and compare them to earlier periods. This will help you to determine whether or not ABM is proving to be more valuable than other strategies that have been used in the past.
You also need to set budgeting parameters on your strategy. Be realistic and find a balance between what you want to do and what is possible. Don’t expect million-dollar results on a hundred-dollar budget here!
After setting the parameters, assign a fixed cost to every piece of content that will make up your strategy, including billable hours for content creation. It is crucial that you are clear about the exact cost of each piece of content or marketing campaign so that you can determine an accurate ROI.
Make sure you determine relevant KPIs to track, as revenue-based metrics are not the only essential metrics to measure. Parameters such as impressions, engagement levels, and brand sentiment are, although harder to follow, just as important.
As you can see, the metrics can be broken down into two groups:
- Influence on conversions
- Actual conversions
Be sure that you keep them separate, so you have a better overview of which ones are performing better in terms of ROI, as well the impact each one has on potential sales.
One way to estimate the metrics is by tracking your content’s engagement, coverage and focus. For example, you can easily measure the number of accounts that have downloaded your e-books or followed your social accounts. Another way is to see who visited your website with a tool like Leadfeeder.
It becomes easier over time to create datasets based on consumer behaviour to see the likelihood of conversions that occur when customers follow these behaviours. This will help you to get a better understanding of the long-term influence that your ABM strategies have. Please make use of software to determine the ROI and monitor it in real-time. Keep your attention on the dashboard of the programs you use to track your metrics and make sure you adjust course whenever needed. If certain content pieces are failing, adapt and test the results until you find the strategies that work best.
Measure your overall ROI yearly and your ROI per campaign every month by indicating the monthly conversions of all activities. Don’t forget to measure the cost of customer acquisition, based on the lifetime-value, together with all your marketing and sales costs. This will give you the best insights into how profitable your account-based marketing activities have been throughout the year.