Digital Transformation: Making Account Based Marketing viable for all

Less than a decade ago, if you were a small or medium sized business/organization, Account Based Marketing (ABM) was unthinkable of, owing to the challenges of cost, scaling and manpower required to achieve a high level of personalization.

Advancements in technology over the past few years have proved to be a massive boon for smaller companies, who can now leverage the power of these digital tools to implement Account Based Marketing in a cost-effective manner, while achieving the same results as that of large businesses. ABM today has become less of what your business is about or how large it is, and more of what your business model is.

“ABM isn’t about company size. If there is more than one person in the organization you need to influence to get the deal, ABM applies.”
- Matt Heinz, President and CEO, Heinz Marketing

What is ABM from a SME perspective?

To put it forth in simple words, ABM is about keeping a key target audience in mind, be it a profile of the companies you wish to associate with, or a simple list of all your prospective clients. There are two major scenarios where ABM would be an ideal choice:

  1. If you’re looking at targeting a very specific, limited set of key accounts (usually large accounts)
  2. When you are looking at targeting a large group of accounts with similar characteristics

For the former, it is usually a company that both your sales and marketing functions have a keen eye on. This can include the major retail giants in your area or the top 10 clients generating maximum revenue. Fishing for such clients can help you massively boost your revenue, should you land up with a deal.

For the latter, as the accounts share similar characteristics, it is easier to align your marketing efforts to deliver a consistent message. In such a case, the initial investment towards ABM is lower per account, as the cost gets shared across multiple accounts. Ideal targets for this type of ABM include companies that use similar technologies, key verticals, or companies focusing on a specific niche. This could include services to financial institutions, colleges or medical chains.

Let’s do some number crunching to see if ABM really works for SMEs

As mentioned earlier, with technologies that are easier to adopt, ABM has now become less resource intensive. This in turn brings down the input cost, and improves the profit margins. Several studies have shown that small and medium sized businesses who have opted for ABM have had a major growth in their business as well as revenue.

Marketo, a leading resource on ABM has released a report titled ‘The State of ABM’, in which the data given portrays a positive picture of the SMB-ABM scenario. Almost a third of the surveyed SMBs/SMOs have acknowledged that they have some or the other kind of Account Based Marketing strategy in place. While 23% of them feel they are still in the early stages of implementation, using only basic management and account-level targeting and measurement, another 7% feel they are somewhere in between, with basic tracking and account-level targeting in sync with their sales and marketing efforts. The other 3% consist of advanced ABM implementers, using account-level targeting, tracking the entire RoI for ABM and utilizing cross-channel sales and marketing efforts.

Cost Dynamics: Isn’t ABM too expensive? Actually, no!

The number one deterrent factor for small businesses in adopting Account Based Marketing is the seemingly high and restrictive costs. While this was definitely the case before the emergence of digital tools, the cost of ABM has drastically decreased over the years.

In fact, the current iterations of ABM related tech allow small and medium sized businesses to engage in ABM without spending a bomb. In fact, the cost of ABM is now equal to, or in certain cases even lesser than traditional marketing techniques such as mass marketing. All this, while giving better and more focused results than other marketing methods!

Is it easy to progress up the ABM chain?

A very common question that most small businesses have when they decide to take the plunge into ABM is that of whether it is possible to start small and then scale up. As seen from the data above, a large number of SMBs are in the early stages of ABM adoption.

However, scaling up the ABM effort is easier than most companies think. Using the right marketing techniques combined with the necessary digital tools, it is just a matter of a switchover to a more advanced form of ABM.

A big win at the starting stages would create a larger impact for a small organization than it would to a large scale enterprise. Leveraging on profits from this big win, the momentum could be furthered to scale up ABM to a more advanced level. This in turn increases business credibility, causing a sort of ripple effect, adding up more clients and ultimately greater revenues. As the number of clients grow, the scaling becomes easier and more efficient, with a larger list of accounts with similar characteristics, thereby reducing costs and redundancy. This improves the overall prioritization of accounts, campaign optimization as well as outcome reporting.

Is it absolutely necessary or rather, is it the right choice for your organization?

Often, it is easy to get carried away with all the hype surrounding a popular concept. While implementing ABM is a great idea more often than not, there are certain situations where ABM may not be the right choice for you. Making an informed decision as opposed to simply choosing it because your business buddies have chosen it, could be the difference between making big bucks and losing valuable money.

Unless your organization plans to expand into newer territories or verticals, perhaps tapping into your competitors customers, or if you have products or solutions that would be the potential answer to a client’s specific needs, it is unlikely ABM would have much of an impact.

Similarly, unless your sales and marketing teams wish to work hand in hand to generate a bigger outcome using a strategic approach, perhaps to upscale the revenues generated from your existing customers, it is not recommended to use ABM.

Changes necessitated due to digital transformation

As can be seen from the above infographic, changing times are necessitating the need for a revised outlook on your marketing efforts. Keeping this in mind while planning your ABM initiatives will go a long way in ensuring positive results.

“Historically, ABM tools were leveraged by larger enterprises, but rapid proliferation of different tools and functionalities have paved the way for even start-ups and small businesses to adopt these tools en masse. Especially in the latter case, where it is important to get the most out of your marketing investment, ABM offers an edge over traditional marketing and sales methods.”
- Virender Jeet, Senior Vice President (Sales & Marketing/Products), Newgen Software Technologies Limited.

The Bottom Line

When used in the right manner, Account Based Marketing is the best option currently available to small and medium businesses to boost their sales and revenue, without spending a lot of money or investing a huge amount of resources. In certain cases, it would be more cost-effective than other forms of mass marketing, generating better and higher return on investment.

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