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A guide to ABM - and how to power it with intent data

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Oscar Pierce-Saunderson

In the following post, we take a look at ABM or Account-Based Marketing, which is a B2B marketing strategy adopted by leading businesses. We discuss:

 

• What is ABM?

• The 3 main forms of ABM

• How to use intent data to drive a successful ABM strategy

​​ABM stands for Account Based Marketing. It’s a B2B marketing strategy that inverts the funnel.

Marketing funnels generally work towards generating a quantity of leads at the top of the funnel. Of those, leads that are a good demographic fit are usually nurtured towards making a buying decision at the bottom of the funnel.

In ABM, the priority isn’t to generate a quantity of leads, but to identify those who not only meet the demographic criteria for prospecting, but also meet your “Ideal Customer Profile”.

At its heart, ABM is about delivering highly personalised content to these key accounts at the right time with the right message to position your business as the best solution in the market.

While this requires sales alignment and the time, energy and resources needed for in-depth research, it does yield terrific results. LinkedIn conducted a survey and found that 87% of marketers see higher ROI with ABM than any other type of marketing investment. What’s more, 91% of respondents reported that their ABM accounts have a bigger deal size. 

With these metrics, it’s hardly a surprise that ITSMA’s 2021 State of the Profession address found that the number one priority for B2B marketers is now ABM

What if you could not only identify those who meet your “Ideal Customer Profile” but are also currently in a buying cycle? Buying cycles include:

  1. the early “research” phase to determine the right sort of solution
  2. the “consideration” phase
  3. the “decision making” phase. 

Intent data reveals which part of your target segment is in what phase, and this knowledge can supercharge your ABM programme. But before we discuss intent data and ABM, let’s first look at the 3 types of ABM programmes.

1 to 1 ABM

Also known as Strategic ABM, this approach involves targeting 1 to 10 accounts.

Each account is treated as a market. You must have deep and relevant insights into each account—their strategic objectives, pain points and decision makers. This information is vital to informing outreach and delivering deeply meaningful account engagement that demonstrates an understanding of their business.

For this reason, 1 to 1 ABM requires the greatest amount of investment in comparison to the other ABM programmes. However, it also offers the greatest ROI, since each account comes with high-value contracts that potentially reach into the millions. Our own case studies confirm this.

1 to Few ABM

Also known as ABM Lite, this approach involves targeting small groups of accounts—each made up of 5 to 10 individual accounts that are linked by sector, a common business attribute, or similar pain points and needs.

Unlike 1 to 1 ABM where each individual account is treated as a market, in 1 to Few ABM each group of accounts is treated as a market. So, for example, if a group of accounts come under a sector (such as Financial Services), then you can create sector- or sub-sector specific content which touches upon trends and challenges (such as embedded innovation or protecting banking financial strength) and resonates with accounts in that group.

With 1 to Few ABM, both the level of investment and the ROI is not as high as it is with 1 to 1 ABM.

1 to Many ABM

Also known as Programmatic ABM, this is a scalable approach to sales and marketing efforts which involves targeting “many” accounts—the number is up to you and can go into the hundreds or even the thousands depending on the value of the accounts and the resources available to your business.

1 to Many ABM targets accounts which share a common factor within segments—horizontal or vertical. While this approach might appear to be less targeted than the other two, it’s still possible for marketing teams to accomplish personalised outreach through the use of sophisticated technologies and martech.

In comparison to traditional lead generation activities, 1 to Many ABM requires fewer marketing resources to result in better win rates. However, it comes with lower ROI per account than other ABM programmes.

Intent Data and ABM

No matter the ABM strategy you adopt, your business needs to be able to identify target accounts first. And intent data is the tool which helps you do that—and power your entire ABM campaign.

If you’d like to learn more about Cyance’s unique approach to intent data, please download our Accuracy & Intent Data eBook.

With the right platform, intent data matches prospects against your ideal customer profile to pinpoint your best-fit accounts. This, in turn, helps you to prioritise resources, reduce waste and shrink sales cycles.

"ABM + Intent Data = Success"

Intent data also provides valuable insights into account behaviour. Surging intent or heightened interest in keywords related to your business reveal what B2B buyers are looking for and where they are in the buying journey—both of which can be used to connect with prospects at the right time with the right outreach to boost conversions and achieve ABM success.

That being said, ABM is not restricted to new accounts—as ABM evolves into ABX, it places great value on nurturing existing clients. An emerging trend as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is that retention has become a top priority for B2B marketers. This is possibly spurred on by two factors: (1) marketing budgets experienced a record decline and (2) the cost of customer acquisition is anywhere between 3 to 30 times as high as customer retention.

Intent signals are a key resource in customer retention as they indicate when an existing client is re-entering a buying cycle and can identify pain points—both of which can be addressed to secure renewals and combat churn risk.

 

The Right Intent Data Provider For You

Intent data is only as good as its provider. That’s why B2B companies looking to power their ABM strategy with intent data need to ask key questions—pertaining to GDPR, data coverage and number of sources, accuracy, geographic expertise, and other issues—before choosing the best provider and ABM platform for them.

If you’d like to learn more about Cyance’s unique approach to intent data, please download our Accuracy & Intent Data eBook.

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