As the world economy suffocates under the brunt of a global pandemic, Account-Based Marketing, or ABM, has proven to be a relevant approach for companies to keep their heads above water.
ABM is a marketing approach and strategy in which the marketing and the sales team of a business or organization collaborate to suit the requirements and budgets of their ideal target accounts. In simple words, instead of targeting a larger audience that might not have any interest in their product or service, a company with an ABM approach targets the high-value accounts that have the budget and requirement for it.
Especially for B2B companies, ABM has become the need of the hour. With growing competition, the pressure for customer acquisition, retention, and revenue generation are increasing steadily. According to a survey by the Information Technology Services Marketing Association, 84% of companies that use the ABM strategy believe that it offers a higher ROI compared to traditional marketing campaigns. By engaging with target accounts in a customized manner, ABM not only improves customer relations but also generates higher revenues in a short span of time.
For B2B companies that have not yet made the move to adapt the ABM strategy, things might start to look gloomy. Let us look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the marketing domain in enterprises and how ABM successfully factors into it.
The pandemic has pushed businesses and companies to re-evaluate their marketing strategies and campaigns. According to a survey by Advertiser Perceptions, one-third of respondents canceled a marketing campaign in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. Moreover, 45% of respondents pulled an on-going marketing campaign. In the UK, a survey by Marketing Week and Consultancy on March 31st revealed that only 14% of marketing campaigns were continuing as initially planned, while a majority of them were being delayed and reviewed.
This is mostly because traditional marketing approaches have failed to address the changing demands of customers in recent times. Lack of targeting in a pandemic-induced economic crisis has led to a subsequent lack of quality in lead generation. These strategies that give importance to call volume have thus failed to cope with the current scenario, where most companies are facing frozen budgets.
Account-Based Marketing has been a point of discussion amongst businesses and organizations since the early nineties. In fact, in the last few decades, many B2B companies have used ABM to come up with tailored solutions for their high-value target accounts to drive increased conversions. ABM strategies are cost-effective as they value quality over quantity and only target accounts that are in potential need of a particular product or service.
However, the global health crisis brought in by the novel Coronavirus has altered the world in drastic ways, and the effect on businesses is not unknown to many. What makes ABM the perfect marketing strategy in the times of COVID-19 is its adaptability and flexibility to customer’s changing needs. In the wake of the global pandemic, ABM should factor in a few changes in its approach and efforts.
With the pandemic still in full throttle, let’s take a look at what ABM should adapt to in order to generate optimum results:
● Re-evaluate the Target List
It has now become imperative for B2B companies to re-evaluate the ideal target list on a priority basis. The unique circumstances of COVID-19 have made specific industries like travel, tourism, and hospitality suffer. On the other hand, the healthcare industry is booming. As such, B2B companies should reanalyze their target accounts, with a collaborative effort from the marketing and sales team.
Now is the time to replace the accounts whose business is underperforming at the current scenario, with new companies that fit the ideal target. Tailor-made solutions are the key to approach specific problem statements during this pandemic. Many SMEs and enterprises have faced a significant negative blowback from this pandemic, and continuing to engage with them might become a hassle. Tailor-made solutions for these cases can help these businesses derive a valued and meaningful experience with marketing campaigns.
Buyers will remember their experience with a product or service during these trying times. Now is the best time to come up with a personalized solution for target accounts, keeping in view their unique requirements as well as budget. Understanding their requirements and coming up with a tailored solution will reinforce engagement and increase revenue significantly. Delivering a personalized experience helps businesses gain long-term customers.
Personalization in an ABM strategy can comprise several components. Sending personalized and template videos and images to target accounts speak volumes about the sincerity and dedication of a company towards its customers. Instead of sending the standard text message on LinkedIn, opt for a well-articulated voice message. Account-based advertising, personalizing content on a website with the help of various tags, having a personalized URL for a company website are other effective ways of personalizing experiences for target accounts.
●   Smart Use of Tools
Account-based marketing strategies should also make use of smart tools at its disposal like SEO (Search Engine Optimization) techniques, keyword targeting, CSAT (Customer Satisfaction) scores, etc. Using SEO, along with ABM, produces enhanced results in terms of engagement and lead generation. An effective SEO campaign will target industry-relevant keywords for a company’s product or service and then analyze the user intent, based on organic search results. SEO thus helps optimize the ABM efforts by ranking a company’s website high on the Google SERPs, creating relevant content for customers based on their searches, thereby reducing bounce rates, and generating quality leads.
● Instilling Empathy
This is a unique time in history. Nobody was prepared for a crisis of this scale and intensity. As such, it is important for companies to not come across as tone-deaf as they try to sell a product or a service to customers. The situation demands a sensitive and empathetic approach to marketing. Of the 35,000 customers surveyed globally by Kantar, 74% think that brands should not exploit the situation for profit.
Companies can take special steps to make sure that customers find what they are looking for, with minimum hassle. Buyers should derive a sense of trust and reassurance from the product or service they engage with. While promoting or marketing a product or a service, one should keep in mind the possibilities of its impact in a COVID-19-affected world. Once again, collaborative efforts with colleagues can help in achieving a nuanced understanding of how to best approach the situation at hand.
Marketing has become crucial to many businesses’ survival in the present struggling economy. As of March 2020, one in four companies were ready to increase its marketing activities and investing more resources into marketing efforts.
In a post-COVID-19 world, Account-Based Marketing will find itself getting more recognition in the B2B space. The pandemic brought with it different insights into the consumer mindset. Different business entities have different problems, and it is not always obvious to communicate the usefulness of a solution. In this case, customization plays a key role by advocating for an application of the solution as per the client’s or target account’s needs. This is the need of the B2B marketing sphere in a VUCA world. Companies failing to adapt and prioritize might just see themselves fall out of favor in the long run. Thus now is the right time for companies to incorporate an ABM strategy into their vision, given its agility, accessibility, and flexibility, in a pandemic-stricken world.