By Marketing on June 23rd, 2021
State of Account Based Marketing in 2021
Account-based marketing (ABM) is more important than ever. Now that business is primarily happening online, businesses are fighting for the attention of key business decision-makers who are already inundated with marketing messages on multiple channels. ABM allows you to focus your B2B advertising efforts by using your marketing budget to strategically target key accounts. The result is a bigger impact and a much better ROI as compared to other marketing efforts. Basically, you'll be doing more with less, and that's something every business is eager to do in this post-pandemic world.
If you've already implemented foundational ABM tactics at your organization, now is the time to kick those efforts into high gear. Take those strategies and partner them with innovative ABM techniques that will help you scale your B2B marketing plan, target those key accounts, and create unequaled ROI. These are the five trends dominating ABM marketing in 2021 that could be key to unlocking growth in your market.
5 Key Trends for Account-based Marketing in 2021
Before you decide to explore cutting-edge ABM tactics during your next marketing strategy session, make sure your organization has the tools, systems, and data in place to make it a success. It starts with alignment between your sales and marketing departments so they work together to target key accounts and share actionable insights from the market. It extends to leveraging the right technology and data sets to increase efficiency, reduce marketing waste, and optimize account-based targeting. Once you have these foundational pieces in place, start implementing the following ABM strategies.
1. Retention Over Acquisition
Business owners know that they'll spend a lot more acquiring a new customer than they will spend retaining an old one. Because the market in almost every industry is very competitive right now, there are only so many customers to go around. That's part of the reason ABM budgets will focus more on keeping existing customers loyal. This strategy gives you the ability to focus your marketing and sales efforts on the most valuable accounts while also reducing marketing waste.
Loyalty is increasingly difficult for B2B brands to earn in the digital age, especially when customers are more willing than ever to try new products and services from unfamiliar brands. By keeping your existing customer base loyal, focused, and coming back for more, you'll experience sustainable ROI from your B2B marketing initiatives. For some B2B brands, this means prioritizing brand loyalty over lead generation campaigns.
A key way to retain current customers through marketing is the effective use of first-party data. B2B brands that segment current customers in their email, social, and paid media campaigns can personalize messages, upsell additional products and services, and provide more overall value. Which brings us to our next trend…
2. First-party Data is Key
Companies are placing a premium on data, especially when it comes to sales and marketing. But all data isn't the same. While you can pay for access to third-party data, and sometimes that might be a necessity, the real ABM goldmine lies in your own data.
First-party data gives you instantaneous feedback into what your B2B customers are doing online, where they are coming from, and how they engage with your website and marketing campaigns. That information is powerful and gives you the insights you need to strengthen every ABM campaign you put in place. Ensuring you have the right technology in place to properly collect and segment your first-party data is critical. On top of this, B2B marketers must stay up to speed with shifts in data privacy regulation to make sure that the collection, storage, and usage of first-party data is compliant.
An example of effective first-party data usage is segmenting prospects from current customers in your CRM and data management systems. Once segmented, B2B marketers can do a lot of creative things. As an example, a B2B brand can “exclude” current customers from paid media campaigns focused on lead generation. That same segment of current customers can be “included” in ad campaigns focused on cross-selling and upselling current customers on new product and service offerings. Lastly, the current customer segment can be marketed to when key accounts are coming up for renewal.
3. Creativity is King
Your B2B marketing and advertising needs to be more creative than ever. That's because it's likely you aren't the only business trying to engage and convert key decision-makers in your industry. So now is the time to stand out.
Your marketing needs to be distinctive from the very beginning starting with the content creation phase. One of the best ways to achieve this is to have your sales and marketing teams work together. They can build campaigns for target industries and high value accounts within those industries. That synergy between departments will also help to eliminate waste on overlapping marketing and sales efforts.
Future articles in this series will outline “what’s new and next” for B2B account-based marketers. Innovative and cutting-edge tactics include the use of B2B intent data, technographic data, and advanced measurement tools that allow B2B brands to measure which accounts have been exposed to ad campaigns that later converted on the website. We will provide new and creative ways for you to differentiate your B2B marketing efforts. In the interim, the key is for your sales and marketing departments to collaborate, share insights, and support each other. In an effort to be creative, don't be afraid to take risks and be bold with your ABM campaigns.
4. Hyper-focused Targeting
There is another benefit to having sales and marketing work together, and that's through the ability to hyper-focus your efforts. By sharing key metrics and data, these two teams can start identifying which accounts are engaging with digital content and where they need to go next in the sales journey. Based on that information, marketing can create content specifically for those key accounts and execute it through a targeted email, social, or paid media campaign.
Personalized messaging that describes the benefits of a product or service and how those benefits solve customers’ needs are most effective at grabbing the attention of business decision-makers. Offering solutions to pain points in a concise and compelling way is sure to generate more engagement. Hyper-focused and 1:1 targeting connects back to the prudent use of first-party data that we described earlier. Without segmenting first-party data and augmenting it with proprietary third-party intent-based data, it becomes difficult for the modern B2B marketer to differentiate from the competition.
5. Authentic Outreach
As mentioned, B2B marketing is getting more personal. This means anticipating customer needs and personalizing your marketing messages in a meaningful way that adds value. This method allows businesses to specifically address the needs of target accounts while identifying how they can help.
This kind of approach would have been unheard just a few years ago when B2B marketers were doing email and direct mail blasts to thousands using a one size fits all approach. In today’s modern era of targeted B2B advertising and marketing personalization, it's a great way to build trust in a brand and cement goodwill with your business. Get personal with your content and know what your target audience needs to experience to move through the sales and marketing funnel. In the end, B2B marketers are in the people business. It’s people who end up making key decisions, and most of the time those decisions are made on who they know, like, and trust. Understand that your marketing initiatives are pivotal in building awareness, consideration, and trust amongst your target audience.
How to Prepare for What's Next in Account-based Marketing
The pandemic accelerated the trend of moving business into the digital realm, and B2B marketing is following. More focused marketing efforts are going to happen online, and more technology is available to make it happen. Businesses have an opportunity to capture first-party data and put it to work. Data can drive the decisions that your sales and marketing teams make together, allowing them to craft hyper-focused, creative B2B marketing and advertising campaigns that focus on building revenue through customer relationships.
In the next article in our series, we will explore how B2B marketers can use B2B intent data for account-based marketing to engage more key accounts in creative ways. When you use intent data, you'll engage the most relevant accounts in the most relevant ways. Not sure how to do it? Come back to read part two of this series where we'll dive deeper into the importance of data in programmatic ABM.
To learn how PrograMetrix can help you implement programmatic ABM strategies to enhance your digital advertising campaigns, schedule your free B2B advertising consultation here.
Ready to Take Your B2B Advertising to the Next Level?
We're excited to work with you!