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14 December 2020
Why account-based marketing is more than a sales tactic
Digitas strategists Michelle Thomas and Charles Baker offer an insight into account-based marketing, a hot topic in the industry, but a subject that is not well understood. (This is an excerpt from a longer Opinion piece. Click "View more" to read the full article.)
Despite the hype, many companies are struggling to define what account-based marketing (ABM) means in the context of their business. It has often been described as a sales tactic, but the implications and responsibilities of ABM in fact reach way beyond sales.
In fact, ABM is not really a sales function at all – it really is about strategic customer management and the creation of a connected brand experience. Historically, brand marketing has been responsible for top-of-funnel awareness and sales responsible for bottom-of-funnel conversion. With ABM, there is an always-on customer-centric approach, requiring constant optimization and attention, which scales well beyond lead generation or sale conversion. Any capability within an organization who is responsible for building relationships with business customers, is part of ABM.
According to Boston Consulting Group, there are three key types of ABM:
Strategic (tens of accounts) – creating and executing highly customized marketing plans for individual accounts through online and offline tactics;
Scaled (hundreds of accounts) – creating and executing lightly customized programs for segmented accounts with similar issues and needs, mostly through online tactics; and
Traditional (thousands of accounts) – using technology to tailor programmatic marketing campaigns to the remaining addressable market by refining targeting, analytics, and personalization within online tactics.
The bulk of the requests for proposals (RFP) that we have seen recently focus primarily on traditional ABM, with very focused questions around media and lead generation. Agencies that excel at ABM have strong capabilities around connections planning – the integration of media and messaging to deliver strong audience experiences, which drive business ROI.