This guide helps you understand account-based marketing and provides guidelines to start on the right foot.
Advertising legend Claude Hopkins said that “platitudes and generalities roll off the human understanding like water from a duck.”
Sadly, most SaaS companies approach marketing as a platitude.
Their strategy is a cliché nobody believes.
The problem lies in generalization — trying to reach everyone, instead of a select group of key people among your audience.
Here’s where account-based marketing comes into play.
An account-based approach combines personalization with strategic relationship-building to reach a company’s decision-makers and close meaningful deals with the right people.
Let’s dive in.
Table of contents
- What Is Account-Based Marketing?
- How To Implement an Account-Based Strategy To Grow Your SaaS
- ABM Is the Future of Corporate Marketing
What Is Account-Based Marketing?
Imagine you’re reading an article in the New York Times and, suddenly, you find an article with your name on it.
Would you read it?
Of course, you would.
It would immediately call your attention.
You’d probably even share it with a few friends and family members.
If the article is good enough, you’d publish it on Facebook and LinkedIn, then call the writer to thank them for the mention.
Account-based marketing (ABM) has a similar effect on your audience. It acts as a trojan horse that gets your message across and causes a good impression.
AMB turns the traditional conversion life cycle on its head, helping you reach key accounts at the right time, and in the right context.
Instead of targeting everyone, you target a specific company.
Instead of being general, you personalize your marketing messages to key people within that company.
So, instead of taking a passive approach, hoping someone bites your marketing pitch, you take a proactive account and build meaningful relationships with relevant decision-makers.
In account-based marketing, sales and marketing work together to create a holistic experience for target companies.
We’ll cover specific strategies to implement account-based content later, but first, let’s answer a fundamental question.
What Are the Benefits of Account-Based Marketing in SaaS?
Adopting an account-based marketing approach to grow your SaaS involves a few key benefits, including:
- More targeted efforts: ABM helps you channel your energy towards specific accounts, rather than trying to convert everyone in your audience.
- Improved results: Personalizing your efforts to specific client accounts helps you produce more targeted campaigns, improving your overall results.
- Align your sales and marketing teams: ABM centralizes marketing and sales teams, helping you make better, more informed decisions.
- Build meaningful relationships: ABM helps you build stronger, more meaningful relationships with prospects and clients.
- Streamline your marketing and sales processes: Focusing on fewer accounts helps you polish your processes and streamline your most crucial activities.
Above all, account-based marketing helps you stay focused on the accounts that will move the needle, maximizing your results without compromising the input required.
How To Implement an Account-Based Strategy To Grow Your SaaS
Now that you understand the basics of account-based marketing, the question becomes: How can you actually implement it in your business?
Here’s a simple seven-step process you can follow:
Step 1: Identify Key Accounts
Let’s start with a quote from the classic Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind, by Al Ries and Jack Trout:
“To be successful today, you must touch base with reality. And the only reality that counts is what's already in the prospect's mind.”
The only way to touch base with this reality is by narrowing your target.
Specific groups present specific behavior patterns.
If your target is too broad, finding this type of pattern is impossible.
So, the first step to a successful ABM campaign is to select specific accounts. That is, prospective companies you’d like to work with.
For instance, if you offer enterprise project management software, your prospective accounts might be large corporations, like:
And any other brand that might need robust project management technology to manage large teams and projects.
Step 2: Personalize Your Marketing
Trying to reach decision-makers at large companies is pretty hard.
An account-based approach helps you differentiate yourself from the competition through hyper-personalization.
Every marketing collateral you create will be based on three elements:
- Timing: Your content must live in the present, at least initially. It must personify the prospect’s current state of mind.
- Persona: Content must be designed for a specific, real person, likely a potential client.
- Context: Content must address the problems and solutions in the context of your persona.
At this stage, you must discover:
- Current state: Where are the prospects right now?
- Desired state: Where do the prospects want to be?
- The bridge: What’s stopping them from going from point A to point B?
Your marketing must transition readers from inaction to action, positioning your solution as the bridge between their current situation and their desired situation.
So, the first step, after you define your desired persona is to deep-dive into that person’s psyche to find this information.
People with specific problems present specific behavior patterns.
A company in expansion might announce that growth through new job openings.
A company trying to improve its SEO might invest in specific software solutions.
And someone with diabetes might look for remedies on Google or purchase courses on nutrition.
By identifying these patterns, you can understand a person’s current state of mind, as well as their desired state.
Someone who’s just hired an advertising agency, for example, might be looking to grow faster or improve their ROI.
Thus, your chosen persona must possess evident behavior patterns you can use to build a persuasive piece of content.
Instead of choosing a persona and trying to learn everything about them, you reverse-engineer their behavior to understand their current state of mind.
Starting with a specific behavior you can elaborate a more solid persona profile, considering:
- LinkedIn activity
- Twitter Activity
- Actual conversations (email or phone)
- The behavior of peers (e.g., bad reviews on a product your prospect uses)
Step 3: Develop a Multi-Channel Outreach Campaign
In traditional marketing, you take a passive approach. That is, you produce content expecting people to find it themselves, whether on Google, social media, or any other 3rd-party platform.
Even if you take a semi-active approach and promote your content, not everyone who reads it is a good fit.
Account-based content takes an active, hyper-targeted approach where you distribute the content to the people you created it for.
Since you created this piece for them, not the masses, this content acts as a trojan horse, creating a wow effect among the people who see it.
Sending hyper-personalized content opens doors.
Now, we must ensure our prospective customers see the content we created for them.
To do it, we take a multi-channel approach using:
We also use proven principles to make sure our prospects actually open, read, and click/interact with our outreach attempts.
Step 4: Support Your Account-Based Efforts With Evergreen Content Promotion
Even if you don’t close the sale immediately, account-based marketing positions your brand as a leader. It also presents yourself as someone who cares about their clients; someone who takes the time to learn about their needs and concerts.
For that effect to last, you must stay top-of-mind.
This is where evergreen content comes in.
By producing relevant content for your target companies and ensuring they read it, you’ll stay relevant.
Once they’re ready to buy, they’ll be more likely to do business with you, and not the competition.
What kind of content should you publish?
Anything that makes sense for your audience.
- Is your audience on LinkedIn? Produce LinkedIn posts.
- Does your audience prefer video over long-form text? Produce videos and upload them to Youtube or Tiktok.
- Does your audience read lots of books? Maybe a long-form newsletter would make sense for you.
Again, your strategy must touch base with what is in your prospect’s mind.
By adapting your strategy to your audience, you’ll be more likely to close the deal in the long run.
Step 5: Iterate and Optimize
Remember, you can’t grow what you don’t measure.
To get the most out of ABM, you must track your progress to find what works and what doesn’t.
If a specific outreach email seems to be working pretty well, find out why. Then, templatize it and share it with your peers.
If a content angle is driving results, identify the patterns that make it work and try to replicate them in future content.
If a sales script has increased your conversions, standardize it and share it with your marketing and sales teams. The insights inside the script might help improve future campaigns.
Ultimately, it all boils down to doing more of what works and stopping doing what doesn’t.
ABM Is the Future of Corporate Marketing
The marketing landscape is becoming more and more competitive.
Billions are spent trying to reach the same companies.
To stand out, you must take a different, more personalized approach.
Account-based marketing allows you to reach the right people, at the right time, and in the right context.
Hopefully, the concepts outlined in this guide help you start your journey on the right foot.