Account-Based Marketing: What It Is and How to Use It

4 min read

Are you a B2B company that isn’t seeing results from your marketing campaigns?

If so, there’s a very good chance it’s because you’re taking an approach that is completely wrong for B2B purposes.

Instead of throwing more time and money at the problem, consider how account-based marketing could help.

What Is Account-Based Marketing? 

Account-based marketing refers to a highly-strategic form of B2B marketing.

Generally speaking, B2B marketing has shared a lot of overlap with the B2C version. In fact, many B2B companies use almost identical tactics. They simply tend to have a smaller market.

Unfortunately, these tactics almost always fall short. You just can’t market to businesses the same way you would market to individuals.

For example, companies often have multiple stakeholders. Any B2B company hoping to win new business must address their needs. Working with a handful of stakeholders to achieve this is fundamentally different than trying to sell one person, which is why B2C tactics usually disappoint, at best.

With account-based marketing, B2B companies can zero in on individual accounts – i.e. companies – and treat each of them as their very own markets.

So instead of taking a more traditional inbound approach and casting a wide net, B2B companies using account-based marketing are taking a highly-specific, targeted approach to each of their desired customers.

Broad Reach/Mass Marketing vs. Account-Based Marketing

Another alternative it’s worth comparing account-based marketing to is broad reach or mass marketing.

Mass marketing is the exact opposite of account-based marketing. If you’re taking this kind of broad approach, you’re leveraging the least amount of customization possible. Instead, you have to think about which submarket is most valuable and aim your message at them, with the hope it may still resonate with other submarkets.

In account-based marketing, you’re essentially doing the exact opposite. You’re crafting a distinct strategy for each submarket, which is essentially a single company.

3 Examples of Account-Based Marketing

There are countless ways you can leverage this marketing tactic for B2B purposes. One of the most obvious would be email marketing. If you are able to reach a potential client through email, you can customize your entire approach. Obviously, this might mean ditching email automation altogether and simply creating one message at a time.

However, another approach that can be modified for account-based purposes is a tradeshow. Usually, this would be a very-broad-reach investment. You’d create a booth and hope it would provide the most amount of appeal to garner lots of attention.

You could also think about specific accounts, though, and contact them beforehand. You could invite them to your booth and have separate marketing materials designed for each one ready and waiting. You might even assign one person to each account, so you have an “expert” ready to sell them on your business or at least set up a private meeting later.

Of course, for most B2B companies, an account-based approach will mean using ecommerce personalization, especially on their websites. This will provide them the benefits of account-based marketing without limiting the number of potential leads they can target.

The Pros and Cons of Account-Based Marketing 

The obvious advantage of utilizing account-based marketing is that your ROI should improve greatly. For example, let’s look at email marketing again. You’d be far more likely to purchase from someone who writes an email that was clearly created just for you than one that was meant for you and 50 other people.

Of course, these methods are only possible if you’re willing to invest in them. So the major drawback of account-based strategies is that they come at much higher costs than other B2B tactics.

One of the many reasons for this is that you simply need more content. Every account requires its own version and they may be wildly different (meaning you can’t simply make minor alterations to a single piece).

Still, for many companies, this is hardly a competition. B2B is a game of inches, meaning one or two new accounts every quarter – or even every year – can be a total game-changer. In that case, the increased investment is completely worth it.

3 Ways Ecommerce Personalization Strengthens Account-Based Marketing 

Finally, although account-based marketing is a compelling option all by itself, it becomes far more powerful when combined with ecommerce personalization.

1. Bringing Inbound and Account-Based Marketing Together

On paper, inbound and account-based marketing seem like opposites. The former is a hallmark of B2C marketing, so, despite its many benefits, how could it possibly be used in tandem with an account-based approach?

Ecommerce personalization can modify your website as necessary to match the unique preferences of B2B leads who visit. So you can use inbound tactics – which tend to be very affordable – to attract these leads and still leverage account-based marketing to convert them.

2. Hyper-Targeting with a Multilayered Approach

Just one example of how you can combine account-based and inbound tactics is by utilizing a reverse IP lookup whenever someone visits your site. In short, if you know a target’s IP address, your ecommerce personalization strategy can be structured to recognize when someone visits from that target and immediately modify your website as necessary. This is a huge advantage because it means that even if you don’t have any data on the unique visitor, the fact that they have a recognizable IP address means your website can respond accordingly.

3. Providing Content for Each Stakeholder

Recall earlier that we mentioned how difficult it can be to target each stakeholder within an organization if you’re using a B2C approach. While account-based marketing does a much better job, it’s an even better tool when you add ecommerce personalization.

For example, say someone from Finance comes to your site. You would want them to see content that will ease their concerns about the price and convince them of the ROI. On the other hand, if Operations shows up, you’d want to tell them about security, ease-of-use, and implementation.

Making the Switch to Account-Based Marketing

Transitioning to account-based marketing is going to be a big change for most companies, but that shouldn’t be a reason not to make the switch. Instead, try starting slow. Allocate resources to one lead while you keep the rest of your team in a holding pattern. Then, build on that success.

As soon as you can, work in ecommerce personalization and you’ll see results even faster.

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