How many of your SME (small/medium-sized business) leads turn into account holders or revenue opportunities? Go ahead, ask your team. If it’s anything like industry averages, it’s about 1%. The article you’re reading right now exists to crush that statistic.
B2B marketing is hard. You don’t have to tell us twice. What works for B2C falls flat in our world.
“But small businesses are our customers in this case, so your analogy is wrong!” an eagle-eyed reader like you might say. “From a certain point of view,” I’d respond.
You’re correct. In a sense, the drive to acquire SME customers is a B2C effort. However, as business entities, they operate in a B2B mindset. Decisions are made through a process involving multiple people. Typical B2C cannot focus on the different motivations at once.
Going back to that sobering statistic from the beginning, what’s happening? It’s a head-scratcher. If the success (close) rate of your marketing is under 1%, why focus so much on leads? Why spend the money on marketing? Where did the other 99% go?
These are great questions, and the right ones at that. (I have a film reference here, too, but I used it in another article already.) Financial marketers are trying to answer these questions. Some found a possible solution. What is that strategy?
Account-Based Marketing (ABM)
In this article, you can expect to learn:
- What is ABM?
- How can it help our Financial Institution?
- Why should I care?
Stuff Your Mind, Not Your Inbox. Get the info you need a couple times a month.
What is Account-Based Marketing?
Depending on who you ask, ABM (Is it ok if we use this abbreviation from here on out?) has a few different definitions. Some focus more on marketing, while others look to sales, operations, and more. To us, we see it as the culmination of all areas into one idea.
Here’s the simplest definition: ABM is the strategy of building marketing and sales efforts targeting the organizations and people who buy what you offer.
As you know, your buyer personas help to understand, well, your ideal buyer. ABM guides you to focus your attention on these target businesses’ challenges and needs, on an individual basis. Then, you can build a solution that speaks directly to each.
Sidenote: We’ll go deep into the difference between Inbound Marketing’s Buyer Personas and ABM’s Ideal Customer Profile in our 5 steps article. For now, the important point is that they’re different, and also work together.
This can accelerate your sales process while increasing closing percentages. Once deals are closed, it boosts your average business customer value. In other words, you can bring in more business, and also do more for the clients you already have.
The Rise of ABM
Concerned about adopting some newfangled marketing idea? ABM isn’t new. In fact, as a strategy (if not name), it gained steam in the 1980s as a more personalized approach to marketing. In 2004, ITSMA coined the term.
But it wasn’t until 2013 when ABM entered the mainstream and revolutionized B2B marketing…for those paying attention.
Take a look at the Google Trends for the search term “account-based marketing”:
Were you one of those searches?
Can ABM work in our financial industry?
Unsurprisingly, tech firms were among the first to adopt the ABM strategies. Leaders included SaaS (Software as a Service) companies. It’s possible your own core, LOS, or other data providers used ABM to connect with your institution and address your pains.
Can ABM work in this industry? Most likely, it already has. The longer your own marketing and sales strategies remain generic, the further behind you will be in engaging new customers.
The financial services industry is slower to adopt the personalized and data-driven approach of ABM. Let’s be honest; the industry is slow to welcome change. It’s high time to step forward, because who has more data than you? Almost no one, that’s who!
What problems can ABM solve?
ABM can address many of the challenges financial marketers like you struggle to overcome:
- Allocate marketing budget more efficiently
- Dedicate resources only to best-fit accounts and potential customers
- Implement proactive targeting and messaging
- No more waiting for phone calls or form completions
- Outperform your competition
- Align sales and marketing efforts towards a common goal: More clients and revenues!
- Understand the success of your marketing
- Use real-time data to focus on campaigns driving the most activity and subsequent revenue opportunities
Results of ABM
Understanding the problems ABM can address is one part. Realizing the benefits of this approach are also important. Know what to expect from your work:
- Get more business in areas you want
- Win new accounts with less effort
- Raise your success ratio well above the standard 1%
- Improve SME customer retention rates
ABM versus Inbound Marketing
Seasoned modern marketers like you, especially after reading our own Marketing content, may have a great question: How does ABM differ from Inbound Marketing?
I’ll be honest. This was what I wondered after setting out to create this article. They are related, so I’ll give you that. However, when engaging SME prospects, ABM has some advantages. Let’s take a look.
How ABM and inbound marketing differ:
- Inbound marketing focuses on marketing to individuals (leads). ABM focuses on marketing to entire buying groups within accounts.
- Inbound marketing casts a much wider net than account-based efforts. This is intentional. Inbound is about driving lots of leads, of which only a few will become customers. ABM narrows the focus, targeting fewer, yet higher-quality, accounts.
- ABM is personalized. Inbound is not. This makes inbound easier to scale, but less efficient.
- ABM takes your inbound content and personalizes it further. This lets you treat your target buyers as a single “account”. Then, you engage them as if it is 1:1 targeting. Inbound marketing puts content out and lets prospects navigate.
Despite their differences, they can work together. In fact, most successful marketing teams take a hybrid approach, using both inbound and ABM. It’s what we do!
Take Your ABM Journey Further
Congratulations on learning what ABM is and how it can benefit your institution. Keep going on your journey! Make ABM a crucial part of your marketing and sales strategy. We just so happen to have an article for you coming soon!
When available, view our 5 actionable steps for attracting small business customers to your financial institution with Account-Based Marketing. Learn how to decide on outreach channels, target audience, and more.
Don’t stop there! Get our latest guidance on Marketing, Social Media Strategy, both organic and paid, and much more. Be sure to Subscribe to the Learning Library so you get targeted content for your position. Yeah, that’s ABM in action. 🙂
This article was composed with the assistance of Baillie Ward.
Blogger. Speaker. Part-time Jedi.
Focused on helping your bank or credit union grow in the face of emerging challenges.