Generate B2B leads with Account Based Marketing

13 January 2022

Account Based Marketing combines targeted content with a clearly defined target group. Curious how you can use ABM to get more leads? Then read on.

Inbound marketing continues to be one of the most efficient digital marketing techniques out there. But did you know that you can also combine the content you create for your inbound strategy with a classic outbound sales approach perfectly? Or make it even more specific for certain sectors? This technique is called Account Based Marketing, we will explain what it is and how you can generate extra B2B leads with it here.

Person with iO computer under arm

What is Account Based Marketing?

Account Based Marketing, or ABM, is a targeted approach to B2B marketing where we create targeted content and campaigns, focused on specific types of companies and organisations. Often these are organisations that match the customers your company wants to reach, in terms of activities, sector, company size or location. By making your content as relevant as possible for each (defined) group of companies, and by addressing them directly, you approach them with an important message: 'we have the perfect solution for your organisation, in your sector that is tailored to your size and needs'.

Want to generate more B2B leads with inbound marketing? Head to our whitepaper and find out how!

In short, ABM contains 3 important phases:

1. determining the most important target groups for your company and mapping their profiles, sectors and members

2. creation of personalised content and campaigns, or fine-tuning existing content for your target group

3. building and executing targeted campaigns to bring the selected content to the target audience

Marketing image iO

Inbound meets outbound marketing

ABM is a hybrid form of marketing, which combines the very best elements of inbound and outbound marketing.

What does ABM incorporate from outbound marketing and 'traditional' sales?
  • Identification of specific audiences

  • Accessing the contact details of these target groups and then contacting them

  • Developing a unique 'elevator pitch' that combines your added value with what the target group needs

  • Setting up an appointment or quotation as a target for a campaign

What does ABM incorporate from inbound marketing and 'modern' sales?
  • creating and publishing good, informative and useful content with added value

  • the ability to track views, visits and engagement on a personal and company level thanks to various marketing automation tools

  • the ability to automate subsequent communications based on the results of, and interactions with, previous campaigns

  • the ability to personalise all communications for specific individuals

Now, why would you combine those 'classic', intrusive sales techniques with non-intrusive inbound marketing? Simple, because not every organisation:

  • has the time

  • has strong SEO

  • has a potential audience that relies on search engines

  • has the budget for long-term content projects

It is precisely because ABM focuses on specific target groups that it can be deployed cost-effectively. It can be rolled out quickly because we don't have to use all possible variations of keywords. Will ABM replace inbound marketing? Absolutely not. ABM is an ideal addition to inbound marketing, or just a first step.

In the first stage you adapt 'broad' content for certain sectors (such as 'How can Inbound Marketing help generate more leads', to 'Generate more leads for your construction company thanks to inbound marketing') to target specifically, in the second stage you you can directly address your most important target group with a limited number of content pieces.


How do you successfully use Account Based Marketing for B2B?

In order for Account Based Marketing to be successful, it has to be done carefully and done well. That involves a number of important steps.

Identify key accounts

The first step in Account Based Marketing is to define your target audience: the important accounts or the people to whom you want to send your message. Often these accounts are determined based on a number of fixed parameters:

  • sectors with the highest success rate/turnover

  • companies you know will match your services

  • companies that have a clearly defined need that you can fulfil

  • companies or sectors that you want to work for

  • companies that turn a lead into a customer quickly

You can already access the input you need for this - partly - from internal, administrative systems (maybe CRM or an invoicing tool), but input from sales is essential here. They can provide you with a list of important leads or internal stakeholders that can influence the decision-making process once you have identified an important account. Input from sales is also important when developing a contact list. This might be from connections on LinkedIn, their own customer portfolio or via other contact detail collection methods techniques.

Provide the right content and distribute it through the right channels

The substance of your content is essential, but so is the form in which you present that content. Depending on the message and the phase of the buyer journey that your communication focuses on, you can consider using long-reads, explainers, testimonial videos or even infographics. If you centralise these matters in a marketing automation tool, you can map the behaviour patterns and responses to those videos, texts and images (such as clicks and views). This provides you with instant triggers for subsequent campaigns in-house.

It’s important that your content:

  • is adapted to the target group, both in terms of sector and needs

  • can always be substantiated by past relevant cases

  • is perfectly aligned with your global plan or strategy

  • doesn't feel forced in any way

  • offers sufficient added value for the person you address

Then you can distribute this content through various channels. This is usually:

  • dedicated emails

  • promoted social content

  • social ads

  • ads displayed on relevant websites

  • organic fallout due to the quality of your content

For paid promotion especially, it is important to research your target group’s interests and where they are located.

abm spread

Nurturing and Conversion

So, your message is out there. Now it's time for maintenance and conversion. The first outreach is only the beginning. After all, you cannot fully explain and share your message in only one contact moment. That’s where the right follow-up and structure come in:

  • Go for recognisable content, that’s shareable within an organisation

  • Divide content into sections, which you can share in automatic sequences

  • Link the automatic follow-up and first contacts to contact points and engagement triggers, such as mail clicks or site visits

  • Choose a number of automated triggers, depending on your target group’s answers, and put an automatic and manual follow up in place

  • Make it as easy as possible for your target audience to contact you

  • Build in triggers to motivate your salespeople to take 'human' actions at the right time

  • The structures and flows above are of the utmost importance, precisely because they increase the success of your campaigns.

Measuring ABM success

Do you want to know how well your campaigns are performing? A good start is defining your metrics in advance. These metrics are often different from the standard sales and marketing metrics. You define them yourself, but it is best to divide them into the following groups:

  • Awareness: does your target group know your company? Have they ever heard of you or have they ever looked for you?

  • Engagement: do they interact with your company? Do they read your content, do they respond to your marketing messages?

  • Quality: is your targeting right? Are you reaching the right people? Are they decision makers? Do they honour agreements?

  • Sales follow-up: are your sales people following the right processes? Do they follow all the steps of a fixed playbook?

  • Revenue & results: can we also match all the above elements with results and concrete incomes?

3 steps to build a successful B2B inbound marketing strategy

Read on to discover how to build a successful, authentic, content driven B2B inbound marketing strategy. From A to Z, for B2B.

Laptop shopping data overview

Will ABM work for my company?

Will ABM work for my company?

Good question, that depends on many factors. Based on our extensive experience with ABM campaigns, we can say with certainty that ABM will work for your company if it meet the following criteria:

  • You target a niche audience

  • Your campaign targets have limited Google search parameters

  • Many of your potential customers are unfamiliar with your brand

  • Your company has long lead generation and sales cycles

  • You want to realise more lead generation

  • Your budget is insufficient for long term marketing campaigns

How much does Account Based Marketing cost?

ABM does not have to take a large chunk of your marketing and sales budget. The main reason for this is that a large part of the required material (ebooks, mails, blog content...) either already exists and only needs some extra segmentation, or can serve multiple purposes after its creation. Another benefit is that you do not need huge advertising budgets. After all, you are addressing a very segmented target group. No more using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut with unfocused display ads.

The total cost of ABM depends on the size and complexity of your target group, but these elements also partly determine the cost:

  • Content: creation of blog posts, case studies and ebooks/brochures

  • Distribution: email on database, ad campaigns on social media and other channels

  • Nurturing: automation software with sales options

The more of the above that you already have in house, the cheaper ABM becomes.

Account Based Marketing with HubSpot, is that possible?

Well, HubSpot offers a lot of new features with ABM in mind. How do you get the most out of that? Here is a quick guide through the stages.

Define your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and identify the contacts you want automatically

HubSpot has a number of new, built-in property fields (such as new scores, Match Profile Tiers to define rankings...) and template workflows to get you off to a flying start with ABM. The workflow templates immediately give you accessible examples to start with. You can easily adapt everything to your own needs using common parameters and attributes that the contacts in your HubSpot database share. A few simple targeting tweaks are enough to compile a list of target contacts quickly and use it as the basis for your ABM.

hubspot abm

Combine your lists with HubSpot tools to personalise content

Do you already have lists? Then use these target groups in combination with HubSpot's advertising, content and mail tools to fire personalised ads on Facebook and LinkedIn - and even customised communication - to any desired audience, directly from HubSpot. By then using this data in your automated campaigns, you can personalise more.

Inform your sales team at the right time

HubSpot not only gives you the necessary ABM tools for marketing, but also for sales. The new Company Score helps sales to better understand and track the interest of their key accounts. Thanks to HubSpot's built-in Account Based sales playbooks, they are equipped with best practices from A to Z to close big deals efficiently.

score hubspot iO

Pssst, by also taking advantage of the dozens of out-of-the-box ABM reports, you and your sales team (and management) have all the valuable insights to guide your ABM strategy over time, to change and improve.

Ready for the next step with ABM?

ABM has a lot to offer. Has reading this article made you think about talking to an expert to help you get started with ABM? Please contact us. Together we will look at what your ambitions are and how we can help you achieve them.

Steven Van Duyse
About the author
Steven van Duyse
Strategy Director

Being someone who prefers the hunt over the catch, Steven is the person to talk to for result-driven solutions to operational challenges. At iO, he merges strategy with sales - leaving every organisation with a team tailored to their needs.

Related articles

Stay informed. Subscribe to our newsletter

iO respects your privacy. You can unsubscribe at any time.

 Or get updates & insights via our WhatsApp newsletter!