Traditionally, B2B healthcare marketing shops design their campaigns to cast a very wide net, seeking to get their companies’ solutions in front of as many potential customers as possible. Today, more marketing teams are considering a much more concentrated alternative — account-based marketing (ABM). The automation software company Marketo defines ABM as a strategy that “concentrates sales and marketing resources on a clearly defined set of target accounts within a market and employs personalized campaigns designed to resonate with each account.”
Rather than target “hospitals and health systems,” ABM marketers identify specific provider organizations—the Cleveland Clinic or Intermountain Healthcare, for example—as markets of one. In other words, rather than organizing marketing and PR efforts around such broad areas as industry, product or channel, ABM harnesses those efforts and customizes them for individual accounts.
According to SiriusDecisons, 92% of B2B marketers worldwide say that ABM is “extremely” or “very” important to their overall marketing efforts. And more than 70% of those respondents say their ABM budgets will grow this year. According to the analyst firm Forrester, only 0.75% of generated leads become closed revenue using traditional marketing tactics.
While ABM has seen expanding influence in increasingly commoditized industries, there is evidence that ABM could enjoy widespread application. So what are the advantages of ABM over traditional marketing campaigns?
- Alignment. Companies can unify their marketing, sales, public relations and implementation teams around an account’s buyer journey—from online research to purchase to brand advocacy and loyalty—and work from the same set of goals and metrics.
- Analytics. Marketing has become much more customized in the era of machine learning and digital commerce. By leveraging research and analytics to individual accounts, engaging with those customers through highly customized campaigns, and making evidence-based adjustments to strategies and tactics based on data, healthcare companies can develop more focused lead-gen programs than funneling potential leads from a broader audience to the sales team.
- Adaptability. ABM complements other marketing strategies, such as inbound marketing. For example, both ABM and inbound marketing rely on personalized strategies that push value over products.
Getting Started with ABM
ABM does require front-end research and developing a methodology for identifying potential accounts, including company size, location and annual revenue, market influence, etc.
It also requires sales and marketing teams to get together to discuss the ABM framework that includes corporate marketing activities, account-specific communications, and detailed research into not just the target organization but also its key players, influencers and decision-makers.
Once the target research has been completed, the next task is creating the customized content for outreach. It’s important to remember at this juncture that you are not marketing for a broad audience. Speaking to generalized pain points won’t work. Use your research into each account to create content that meets that specific target where they are.
With content in the hopper, the next big decision is choosing the right channels of distribution. Your research into the target organization and its primary influencers should shed some light on which digital and social platforms will best bring your message to the potential client.
Once the campaign is up and running, measuring the success of your campaign is critical. And that can be trickier than you think. The ROI of ABM uses a mix of qualitative and quantitative measures. For example, is your list of decision-makers and influencers within a target account growing? Has there been an uptick in engagement from the account? Has revenue increased for specific accounts?
ABM is a perfect-storm mix of art and science. However, well executed, this species of marketing can help break silos between corporate sales and communication, engender greater loyalty and interest from customers, and help your organization better meet the needs of clients.