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Account Based Marketing in 2021 – Everything You Need To Know

Take a look at this picture:

In 4 days, we set up this campaign for a client that generated 65 scheduled demos, for a SaaS Enterprise Product with C-level executives on Facebook, bringing $975,000 in pipeline deals with only $1,250.81 in campaign spend.

Or this one:

Although the target audience was smaller companies, this campaign brought in 33 scheduled demos with a total contract value of $48,510, out of which 28 closed.

And it’s not just Facebook Ads, Account Based Marketing can be applied on all advertising platforms, including Microsoft Ads (Bing):

We had to immediately shut this campaign down, the client couldn’t keep up with demo requests and had to open 70 new positions to keep up with the demand (software development client).

This is the power of Account-Based Marketing when done right with Demand Generation the possibilities and scaling abilities are endless. When you read this article, you can set up the exact same thing.

Before I get started, I have to let you know that this is my personal blog, I don’t sell ABM tools, I am not sponsored by any company and I not biased towards certain companies that provide ABM services.

In this article, I’ll cover how I’ve launched campaigns in the past 8 years with over 7-figures in ad-spend and how you can do it too.

This is going to be a step-by-step process, no fluff, no mindset strategies, no “positioning”, just a step-by-step process for your marketing teams.

Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get started.

Account Based Marketing: Difference Between Direct Response And Branding

Marketing is a very vague term. Business owners use marketing to spread the word of their business to potential customers, hoping that one day, one of them will eventually turn into a customer. This is how businesses used to advertise before digital marketing took over.

Now, it’s different.

As a business owner, it’s in your best interest to properly measure the performance of the campaigns that you are running, the internet only makes it easy to measure performance better, the rest (pricing, human behavior, demand and supply) are pretty much the same. Therefore, I would divide marketing into two separate segments:

  • Branding
  • Direct Response

Brand advertising is what we all know, it’s what’s thought in college and it’s how businesses used to advertise for decades. When you run branding campaigns, you spend a given budget and you hope that some of those who’ve seen your ad would convert into customers.

This is very hard to measure and your marketing department would love to brag how their new TV ad brought you a higher revenue when actually the ad probably didn’t perform well and people bought from you because of other reasons.

This is where Direct Response takes over.

Direct Response is a type of advertising campaign that aims at getting a response from the viewer or potential customer.

A clear, money-in and results-out formula that lets you measure your advertising campaigns much easier and lets you see if your campaigns are working.

Direct Response is not new, it’s been around for decades, but it’s only been used for direct mail or mail-order catalogs, now with the internet, we can use it for B2B campaigns.

When we combine Direct Response Ads and Digital Marketing Campaigns, we end up with:

  • Marketing to Target Accounts (Key Accounts)
  • Account Based Marketing

Account Based Marketing & Marketing To Target Accounts: What’s The Difference? Personalized Content & Inbound Marketing

In this article, we’ll cover the Account Based Marketing tactics, but before we get into that, we must cover what’s the difference between those two.

In B2B campaigns and B2B Marketers, you must make sure that your campaigns are reaching the right people, this means that you don’t want to spend your money on campaigns that are reaching the general public.

The difference between the aforementioned strategies is the audience.

Marketing to Target Accounts is when you have some basic requirements on who your prospects are.

For example, let’s say you want to run a campaign that’s going to reach:

  • Business Owners
  • In Florida
  • Employees: 10-50
  • 3+ Years Old

These are your High-Value Accounts and your Ideal Customer Profile. This is a Marketing to Target Accounts strategy and we’ve already covered it in our Demand Generation Strategy

But, let’s say that you have a clear list of people you would like to target, for example:

(These names are just an example and are not real).

  • Jim Smith, VP of Telecommunications at Apple Inc
  • Mary Kowal, Head of HR at Oracle
  • Heather Richardson, Microsoft
  • Etc…

Then, you would need to run an Account Based Marketing strategy to reach these C-level executives effectively and in this article, I’ll cover the step-by-step process I use to launch, test and optimize campaigns like these.

Why Marketing And Sales Are Interconnected? – Marketing Campaigns & Content Marketing – The Perfect Impact On Return On Investment

Marketing and Sales need to be interconnected to build a system for generating high-quality customer accounts and consistent customer experiences.

Your sales process and your sales reps will give you higher productivity if you help them with prospecting and get them to focus on closing more accounts.

Sales people and Sales Development Teams usually have commissions and the more they close the more they’ll earn.

Prospecting takes a big chunk of their team and if you can help them with that they’ll definitely reward you with more accounts.

It’s the field marketer’s job to collaborate with content marketers to deliver deeper insights to your potential prospects. Intelligent insights bring intelligent clients who make better decisions.

What Tools Are Needed For An Effective (ABM) Tactic?For Marketing Teams

Well, before starting with an Account Based Marketing campaign, we’ll need to find a way on how to display our ads to our prospects. Companies that specialize in building audiences to target are called Data Providers or DMPs.

Companies that I’ve used and recommend are:

  • Acxiom
  • Liveramp
  • Dun and Bradstreet

Using these companies, you can build an audience of your Target Accounts or Individual Prospects and send that audience to your advertising network.

We’ll cover this process in a future article.

Where Shall I Run My Account Based Marketing (ABM) Strategy? (Sales Funnel Explained)

Once you have your audience ready, you’ll need to send it to the network that you are going to advertise on.

I recommend advertising on:

  • Facebook Ads
  • DSP Programmatic

You might be wondering why not Google Ads or LinkedIn Ads?

Google Ads requires you to use their Marketing Platform which has a far higher minimum spend and high setup requirements.

LinkedIn Ads on the other hand has far higher costs than any other advertising network, LinkedIn has the data to target business owners effectively and they charge a premium for it, however, if you have a DMP ready, then there is no reason to use LinkedIn, when you can accomplish the same results on Facebook Ads for a 1/3 or the cost.

I recommend starting with Facebook Ads.

Usually, when I run Account Based Marketing campaigns, I build my prospect list to be at least 1,000 people minimum, you can use Dun and Bradstreet Hoovers to be able to build a list of your potential prospects and then build that list on Acxiom or Liveramp, then you can send that audience to Facebook Ads.

The process to set it up is simple and requires minimum effort.

Once your audience is ready, you’ll be able to effectively run campaigns and the risk of not reaching your target accounts or prospects i.e someone else seeing your ads that are not business owners, c-level executives or similar is close to zero.

Lead Nurturing With Account Based Marketing – Why Is It Important – Insight?

Direct Response is a tactic that is very hard to achieve, imagine companies spend millions to run ads, yet they don’t get any results from them.

Being able to spend a few thousand dollars and getting demos with executives in Fortune 500 companies is a dream for every company.

The problem with our tactic is that, generating the interest is harder than it looks, no one trusts anyone these days, most B2B decisions are made between friends or referred by a friend or partner.

The chances of someone looking at your websites, seeing your services, not having a need or a problem and then scheduling a demo is, well close to impossible.

It simply just doesn’t happen.

This is the reason why we need to include Lead Nurturing in our campaigns, to nurture our potential client into learning more about the services we (or you) provide, this doesn’t happen in a single day, it takes time and a huge amount of content before a potential lead is interested in scheduling a demo.

When you run ABM campaigns, your prospects are very busy people, their time is booked throughout the week, they have a lot of problems to take care of and them dedicating an hour of their time happens only when they are either in-market or have realized that they need your services.

Since we are running ABM campaigns, we are the ones generating the demand, therefore we need to set up a system that would, slowly but surely teach the prospect about why they need the services that you provide.  

How To Do Lead Nurturing on Key Accounts?

When we run ABM campaigns, we do it to get a response, the more we ask, the harder it is to get this response.

For example, if we ask for a demo on our campaigns, we are not really going to get a lot of conversions for our campaigns.

But if we ask for an email, chances are that your prospects might enter their email to get valuable information.

This is what’s called Consistent Customer Experiences. Although Customer Success Teams are responsible for customer relationships, we as marketers are responsible for the customer journey and the customer lifecycle and this is very important when it comes to High-Value customers.

Lead nurturing through email is one of the most profitable strategies compared to running retargeting ABM campaigns.

Data providers and DMPs, charge percentages on the ad-spend of the campaigns you are running through their audiences, therefore, if you are able to collect the email address of your potential client on their first visit, your lead nurturing campaign we are nearly free of charge (with the only cost being the email delivery system, which we’ll cover later on).

Email Campaigns usually have an open rate of up to 60% (if set up properly) and since sending emails is almost free of charge, it’s an easy way to communicate with your Marketing Qualified Leads before turning them into Sales Qualified Leads.

To do that with Email, you’ll need an Email Automation – Lead Nurturing System, which we’ll cover in a future article.

Revenue Retargeting Nurturing

To do that with ABM campaigns alone, you’ll need a retargeting funnel. This isn’t my ideal strategy since it requires a far higher spend to achieve the same results, if budget isn’t your problem, then retargeting clients would be a much faster and easier process than Email Nurturing.

You’ll need to set up a pixel, with Facebook Ads it’s the FB Ads Pixel, with Bing it’s the UET tag, with DSP it’s called similar as well.

This is an HTML tag that you add on your landing page that would track who visited your site.

Customer Copywriting – Why The Copy Is Important

With every Account Based Marketing strategy, there is always the ad copy. The copy is super important, since in most cases when you run campaigns you per impressions, this is the case with Facebook Ads.

When you run a campaign, you get charged per 1000 impressions, usually between $35 – $75 in the United States.

What you get out of those impressions is up to you and the copy influences this a lot.  

The ad-copy is the text of your ad.

Here is an example.

Let’s say you run the generic “Whitepaper” campaign that every SaaS, Service or B2B campaign is up these days, then you will get a 0.35-0.7% CTR. This is the percentage between the impressions and the clicks, in a platform like Facebook Ads (where traffic fraud doesn’t exist – compared to a DSP network), this number represents how engaging your ad is.

If you get a 0.5% CTR and you pay a $50 CPM, this means that when you spend $50 in a campaign and you get 1,000 impressions you would only get 5 clicks.

But if you get a 3.5% CTR and you pay the same CPM rate, then you get 35 clicks.

With just a better copy you get a 7 times cheaper results (if the conversion rates are the same).

We have an extensive article on copywriting in ABM.

Marketers & Marketing to Target Accounts Examples – Scale & Return

I know this is a bit hard to grasp, so I’ll give you some examples or cases that usually happen when companies are running ABM campaigns:

Case 1: The typical Whitepaper campaign on LinkedIn, no Lead Nurturing system that every company is doing.

Usually, companies run LinkedIn campaigns, since they don’t have a DMP. This is fine if you would like to pay more on data than running campaigns on Facebook.

So, you launch your ad and you pay a $120 CPM rate, which is the average on LinkedIn.

You achieve a 0.35% CTR and you get a CPC of $35. Your CR is 10% which is the average on Whitepaper campaigns.

You spend $10,000 and you get 28 leads out of which 0 to 1 will schedule a demo (if you are lucky).

Case 2: The typical Whitepaper campaign on Facebook Ads with a DMP and no Lead Nurturing system.

You launch a campaign on FB Ads, with a proper DMP audience. Your CPM rate is $50, you achieve a 0.35% CTR which ends up being a CPC of $14. Your CR is 10% which ends up being $140 per lead.

The campaign runs and spends $10,000. You get 71 leads, out of which 2-5 schedule a demo.

Case 3 (Best Scenario): Unique Ad Copy on Facebook Ads and a DMP audience and Lead Nurturing.

This is the best-case scenario and it goes like this:

The ad runs for $10,000 on FB Ads and gets a 3.5% CTR (the highest I’ve personally achieved on FB Ads for a B2B campaign), the CPM is $50, which means that the CPC is $1.42.

The CR on the landing page (with A/B testing) gets up to 15%. Our cost per lead is $9.32. Out of the $10,000 that we have spent, we’ve received 1,072 leads.

Why your Target Account List is Important? Marketing Automation & Customer Experience

We run Lead Nurturing on these leads and we are able to convert a big portion of these leads into demos or scheduled meetings for your sales teams. Without lead nurturing the number between leads to demos is around 1-5%. With Lead Nurturing it can go up to 10%, if we take a middle number of 5%, we’ll be able to convert 53 demos.

The difference between a chaotic ABM campaign and a well-orchestrated ABM strategy with Lead Nurturing is definitely there:

Case 1: Spend $10,000 – 1 Demo Meeting – $10,000/Demo Meeting

Case 2: Spend $10,000 – 2-5 Demo Meeting – $5,000 – $2,000/Demo Meeting

Case 4: Spend $10,000 – 53 Demo Meetings – $188/Demo Meeting

The point of this article is for you to see the difference, how small changes in the copy, the audience, the conversion rates and lead nurturing make at the end result, the more leads you receive for the lower price, the more revenue you could generate and the more your sales teams will thank you for helping them out with prospecting.

I know this article was a little bit hard to understand, I am not really a good writer.

So, I wrote more articles, even harder than this one, but it covers what we’ve covered today in more great depths.

If you did understand this article, then congratulations, you now have more understanding than a huge majority of consultants, sales executives at expensive ABM tools and even growth hacking agencies.

To your success

Marko Pargo