How to attract buyers who are ready to purchase from you

Account Based Marketing (ABM) is an under-utilised marketing strategy that isn’t new, but it is starting to gain real traction in the B2B marketing space.

One of the reasons for this are the overcrowded, competitive landscapes that most industries face. While traditional marketing methods have focused on a ‘spray and pray’ approach that reaches as many people as possible, the sheer volume of messaging that B2B and B2C consumers are inundated with each day means we’re starting to just switch off.

Depending on which study you follow, where you live in the world and the level of your online activity, you’re exposed to anywhere between 4 000 and 10 000 brand messages a day, and as algorithms become more sophisticated, this number is just growing.

B2B Buyers Choose Companies They Know and Trust

So, where does ABM fit in? In a nutshell, Account Based Marketing is a strategy that maximises your available marketing and sales resources to develop personalized campaigns for targeted accounts.

In other words, it’s the exact opposite of a ‘spray and pray’ strategy. Instead, it focuses on delivering a personalized message to a specific customer or account, increasing the probability of being seen and of your message hitting its mark.

In 2015, SiriusDecisions’ Buyer Study of more than 1 000 B2B decision-makers revealed that 71% of B2B buying decisions are based on customer experience – in other words, B2B buyers purchase from companies they know, trust and have worked with in the past.

Megan Heuer, Vice President and Group Director of SiriusDecisions stated that marketers in general spend too much time thinking about how to attract buyers they don’t know, instead of focusing on their best source of growth, which is customers the business already has.

What makes existing customers even more attractive is the simple fact that you know them – you understand their needs and challenges, and how you can solve their problems. Account Based Marketing takes the insights that the sales department has developed, combines it with effective marketing messaging and then focuses on capturing the attention of very specific client accounts.

The State of ABM in South Africa

To determine how local companies feel about ABM and whether they’re using it, we launched The Digital Kungfu ABM Survey in April 2019. Because we work with ICT companies, this was our focus. We wanted to determine whether there is a need for ABM within the local technology sector, and what marketing and sales challenges technology businesses are facing.

The results aligned with the international statistics we’ve sourced.  The number of South African companies using ABM has doubled over the past 12 months.  

Goals for ABM range from driving demand and lead generation (56%) to pipeline acceleration (46%), and importantly, ABM analytics are measured in terms of revenue growth (60%) and client engagement and relationships (36%), both critical factors in overall business success metrics.

Technology businesses need speak their customers’ language and differentiate themselves from competitors who often seem like they’re offering similar products, services and solutions, even when they aren’t. In our experience, ABM is a great way to address this challenge.

ABM is on the Rise in the Technology Sector

Gartner has been focusing much of its research on ABM, particularly within the technology landscape, largely because ABM has been the fastest growing go-to-market topic amongst Gartner’s own TSP (Technology Service Provider) clients for the past few years.

In fact, Gartner predicts that by the end of 2019, 75% of B2B TSPs with revenue upwards of R130 000 million (USD10 million) will adopt ABM as their primary marketing model, up from 25% in 2017.

While we don’t believe the South African TSP space is quite there yet, we know that our clients – and the sector as a whole – face the same challenges as their international counterparts: Capturing customer attention in over-crowded markets, cutting through the clutter of thousands of marketing messages, and delivering marketing messages that are personalized and able to build trust.

In fact, Todd Berkowitz, Gartner’s Managing Vice President, believes that ABM delivers a coordinated, targeted approach to marketing that enables an ongoing, personalized outreach to specific accounts, driving more wins, shorter sales cycles and larger deals.

Determining if ABM Will Work For You

We believe that ABM has a clear role to play within the B2B space – particularly for technology businesses. These are the top three benefits of ABM for B2B businesses:

  1. Marketing teams that understand ABM are in a powerful position to align with what the business’s sales department needs. Since only 22% of sales and marketing departments are aligned, a strategy that forces everyone to work together will build a more cohesive and successful sales and marketing approach.
  2. It is increasingly clear that marketing to large quantities of individuals does not result in quality sales opportunities, at least in the B2B space. ABM focuses teams on high-value accounts – in other words, quality (and known) leads.
  3. According to the ITSMA Account-Based Marketing Survey, ABM delivers the highest ROI of any B2B marketing strategy because it gives businesses that tools and insights to both retain and expand existing client relationships.

Any business can launch an ABM campaign, you just need to align your sales and marketing departments, determine which customers to target and leverage the technology available to you.

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