Capture Your Target Client with Account-Based Marketing

For as long as most marketers can remember, the goal of an integrated content marketing plan was to cast a wide net among prospective customers and hope you get one or two of those companies to become clients. But what if targeting just one large customer and putting all of your marketing efforts into gaining that company as a client yielded a better return on your investment? A blog post from Drift uses a fishing analogy to describe an emerging marketing method that has proven to be more successful – account-based marketing. Consider traditional marketing efforts to be using that wide net in an ocean of prospects, hoping that a few you’ve caught stick around and become customers. As Erik Devaney explains it, account-based marketing (ABM) is like spearfishing. You see the fish you want and aim straight for it with your spear, ignoring all of the other fish around it.

It sounds counterintuitive to everything you’ve been taught or done in your career, right? But ABM provides a higher return on investment than traditional methods. According to Information Technology Services Marketing Association’s 2017 Benchmark Report, 87% of marketers implementing ABM say it provides higher ROI than any other marketing activity. Marketo reports that number at 97%! If those statistics don’t convince you that ABM is worth the time and effort, then you must enjoy sitting out on the water, taking in the scenery and rarely catching any fish.

Turn the funnel upside-down

With traditional B2B marketing efforts, you set your sights on multiple prospects (the top and widest part of the funnel) hoping to reach the right person (the bottom of the funnel) who has the power to hire your company. Let’s say your product is geared toward law firms. You send out emails, and write blogs and white papers about issues in the legal industry and how your product can help, hoping any law firm on your contact list will reach out to learn more about what you do.

But with ABM, you identify one or two law firms you want to become a client and target key people within those firms (the narrow part of the funnel). You build marketing resources that will show how your product can solve specific problems that the attorneys/executives and firms experience. (And those problems will likely be different for each person and firm.) In turn, you build trust and relationships with one or multiple key people within the prospective clients, who will then become advocates for your company when making purchasing decisions (the widest part of the funnel).

Let’s face it, rarely are business decisions made by one or two people in a company. Those final decisions must have input from multiple employees. SAVO’s Knowledge Tree found for any given sale, 7-20 people are involved in the decision. And as the number of people involved in the purchasing decision increases, the likelihood that company will buy your product declines.

How do you counteract that stat? You target those decision-makers across the company in various departments, so when they are ready to make a buying decision, they will remember the relevant white paper your company produced or the monthly email that addressed their top pain points.

Research your target

Account-based marketing requires you to identify who those key players within the company are before sending out marketing material. ABM isn’t just about creating content; it’s about putting the emphasis on individuals within your target account. You don’t want to send out a generic overview of what you do to five people in the target account who all have different pain points. You must identify what challenges each person within that prospective client faces and tailor your message.

The idea is that you capture this targeted company as a client and as other challenges arise, you’ll be the first company it considers when searching for solutions. Marketo reported 85% of marketers said ABM significantly benefitted them in retaining and expanding existing client relationships.

Work with your sales team

The goal (of course) is to gain new business from this effort, so you must work in tandem with your sales team. Data from SiriusDecisions in eMarketer notes that 91% of B2B organizations using ABM said they were “tightly” or “somewhat or moderately” aligned with sales. In fact, SiriusDecisions found B2B organizations with aligned marketing and sales teams saw 24% faster three-year revenue growth and 27% faster three-year profit growth.

The sales team will help identify who your company should be targeting. ABM requires the marketing and sales teams are on the same page and sharing the same message with specific people across the channels each person prefers. If you know one of the key decisions-makers updates her LinkedIn page daily, then that’s the platform both sales and marketing should be using to reach and connect with her, at least until a relationship has been established.

According to the DemandGen Report, 95% of buyers chose a company that “provided them with ample content to help navigate through each stage of the buying process.” And Marketo found when sales and marketing teams are in alignment, companies are 67% better at closing deals.

Take your marketing to the next level

Perhaps you’re already incorporating some aspects of ABM in your current marketing efforts. By setting specific goals and working closely with your sales team to identify who you want to “spear,” you can start establishing multiple touch points with those clients. Over time, the relationships you build with key players will let you reel in the “big one” as a client.

Want to learn more? Check out our guide on "Next Level Content."

If you have questions about account-based marketing, email us at

Jennifer Nelson