5 Steps to an Effective Account-Based Marketing Strategy

May 16, 2017

Contributor: Chris Pemberton

Use account-based marketing to cultivate customer lifetime value.

Marketing and selling a cleantech power generator is not rocket science. Only a handful of industries such as shipping, steel manufacturing and power plants need such a product and the value proposition is clear – take waste heat and turn it into clean energy. The opportunities within each potential account are enormous – thousands of ships and hundreds of power plants make for a lucrative market if you can effectively market and sell to the handful of companies in the market.

While the goal is clear, the path requires structure and discipline. That’s a key reason Christopher Engman, CMO of cleantech company Climeon, is so focused on using account-based marketing (ABM) to win more of these “mega-deals.”

Engman joined Noah Elkin, research director for Gartner for Marketers, to discuss how B2B marketers can leverage account based marketing to grow customer lifetime value at the 2017 Gartner Digital Marketing Conference in San Diego.

“It’s time to grow the business from the inside out by leveraging existing customer relationships for growth,” said Elkin.

ABM combines B2B lead management and B2B relationship management techniques to grow LTV by engaging accounts and individuals across all stages of the buying process. B2B marketers need this type of a structured approach to generate demand at the handful of companies that deliver outsized contribution to revenue such as the 59 accounts that make up Mr. Engman’s entire sales and marketing pipeline.

5 steps to build a successful ABM strategy
  1. Conversions are just the beginning
    Even small increases in retention can lead to big gains in profitability for B2B companies. A five percent increase in retention can grow profitability by 25% to 100%. ABM drives customer lifetime value. The cost of selling to a new customer is 5 to 12 times greater than selling to an existing customer. Additionally, ABM flourishes when marketing is involved long past the purchase and well into the own and advocate phases of the customer journey.
  2. Shift to a cooperative approach
    Success depends on a coordinated and integrated approach. Solo, independent efforts undermine what would otherwise be complementary progress. “The story of the single buyer at an enterprise client who receives multiple sales calls from different salespeople and multiple marketing emails does not end well,” said Mr. Elkin. Ensure marketing and sales are in lock step during the account development process.
  3. Build a foundation of connected customer data
    Parts of the customer data landscape are under marketing’s control and other parts are controlled by sales and still more data lives elsewhere in the organization. Locate and connect customer data from across the organization to get a holistic view of customers in order to derive meaningful insights. Look beyond just firmographic data. A client who tweets to a competitor that he’s interested in a new feature or describes the new feature to a sales rep at an industry conference is providing valuable and insightful data that needs to be captured and analyzed.
  4. Find account influencers
    Derive context from data to inform outreach. Use data to uncover key influencers and prioritize “best bets” within known accounts. Use data to discover new opportunities within existing and look-alike accounts. Influencers may live in adjacent and related industries. In the case of shipping customers, shipbuilders are a valuable influencer when trying to sell into a shipping line.
  5. Sequence and personalize content
    Use personalized content to deliver progressively more contextualized experiences and raise decision maker comfort with buying decision. One cloud security company customized their home page hero image, headline and featured content by industry leading to 20% improvement in conversions. Content is the oil that keep the ABM machine running smoothly.
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