ABM and Inbound Marketing: What Synergies to Boost Performance?
Based on hyper-personalisation, surgical targeting and the quest for added value, Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is an interesting lever for companies with long to very long sales cycles, a relatively high average basket and a complex offering. ABM and Inbound: what synergies are there to boost sales performance?
Account-Based Marketing (ABM), from 1993 to 2022
In 1993, a paper published by the consulting group Peppers & Rogers predicted “a One to One Future” for B2B sales efforts. Ten years later, the IT Marketing Services Association (ITSMA) coined the term Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and laid the foundations for the approach. Since then, the concept has made its way across the Atlantic before being evangelised fairly quickly in France.
Account-Based Marketing is a strategic approach that develops and executes ultra-targeted, hyper-personalised or even personalised marketing programmes to address strategic accounts and boost sales performance. ITSMA identifies three ABM variants.
- Full ABM, or One-to-One ABM. This is the “noble” form of ABM, which is aimed at a nominative account with very high potential, treating it as a unique market. This approach involves a great deal of work to develop an in-depth understanding of the target account’s business, market and needs, then to mobilise this knowledge to create content and prospecting, but also to successfully nurture and close the account, and eventually move on to the Customer Success and loyalty phases;
- ABM Lite, or One-to-Few ABM. This approach is aimed at small groups of target accounts sharing similar issues, expectations and profiles. This is the approach that offers the best balance between the resources deployed and the results expected;
- Programmatic ABM, or One-to-Many ABM. This is a form of ABM “augmented” by the company’s technological stack. The aim here is to mobilise marketing automation and personalisation solutions at scale in order to deploy relatively massive marketing campaigns (generally involving hundreds of accounts) with an acceptable degree of personalisation.
The ABM in France… a taste of unfinished business
According to a survey carried out by Tech Target and HG Insights, over 60% of B2B marketers (worldwide) are now practising some form of Account-Based Marketing. In France, the adoption rate is estimated at 55.3% by the 1st French Barometer of Strategic Account Marketing… with mixed success. In fact, only 30% of the companies surveyed said they were “more or less satisfied” with the results achieved, with a score of 6 out of 10.
ABM x Inbound Marketing: the 8 major differences
Popularised by HubSpot over a decade ago, inbound marketing is a business methodology that involves attracting prospects with content that answers the questions they ask themselves every day. It’s a bait-and-switch approach that moves away from cold, frontal marketing towards a more spread-out approach over time, leaving it up to the target audience to come to the company in exchange for high-value-added content.
ABM x Inbound Marketing: what synergies?
Companies that combine ultra-personalised approaches with more generic strategies can exploit synergies to improve sales performance.
The practice of ABM is formative, in the sense that it enables the teams responsible for content and salespeople to develop an in-depth understanding of their market. By immersing themselves in the business issues of a strategic account, working on practical cases and confronting the company’s offering with the reality on the ground, they are able to develop their skills, which translates into better inbound content fuelled by practical cases and demonstrations of expertise.
Inbound marketing and ABM can form a continuum. In fact, a lead generated in an Inbound way can be considered, a posteriori, as having strong commercial potential. The company will then start an ABM loop to maximise the chances of conversion. Here is a typical scenario of synergy between Inbound and ABM.
- The list of strategic accounts to be targeted by ABM is defined. Hyper-personalised content is then developed;
- Some of this content, which may be by name, is reworked to make it a little less specific. For example, we’ll move from personal content to content aimed at a niche or sector of activity. This content will be published as part of the Inbound strategy, on the blog and LinkedIn ;
- A few months later, a prospect sees this content via a Google search and lands on the blog. The prospect is then identified by the ABM team using a tracking tool. He is included in the ideal customer profile;
- The company adds this Inbound prospect to its list of strategic accounts to target with ABM.