If you have been doing a bit of light marketing reading lately, you have probably encountered the omnipresent acronym ABM behind which lurks the increasingly popular concept of account-based marketing. Today, we will be focusing on whether social media can be utilized in account-based marketing and how it can help marketers who do it achieve more success.
Account-Based Marketing 101
Before we dive into how social media can aid marketers who do ABM, it would probably be a good idea to provide some basics for those people who are not yet familiar with this marketing approach.
Account-based marketing, as its name would suggest, focuses on a limited number of accounts that are outreached with a marketing campaign tailored specifically to them. This is diametrically different from traditional marketing where you target as many people as possible with your campaigns, hoping that wide exposure will bring enough people to justify the expense of the campaign. With ABM, the focus shifts to certain accounts and leads that are then targeted with extreme precision.
Of course, this kind of marketing does not work for just about any company and it is far more present in the B2B arena where companies can land a couple of huge clients and be perfect providing their service or product just to them without even bothering with new clients.
A subtype of ABM is agency-based marketing where a company targets a certain government agency in order to win a lucrative contract. Thanks to agency-based marketing, such a company increases their chances of persuading the government officials into giving them the contract, ensuring that the money they spent on advisers, a mountain of paperwork, insurance, bid bonds and everything else is not wasted.
Where Does Social Media Come In?
The majority of account-based marketing will still use the “traditional” marketing channels such as printed material, trade shows, email and the like. There will be a number of modifications made, but in general, ABM will follow the same routes as conventional marketing.
That being said, there are a number of idiosyncrasies that will make ABM very different from conventional marketing and this is where social media might show its strengths.
For instance, in account-based marketing, a great emphasis is put on the decision-maker. It is an old and tried concept that has been part of the B2B marketing arena since times immemorial, denoting a person or a number of persons that make a decision on the behalf of the customer company.
With ABM, targeting the decision-maker is taken up a notch and it involves some serious research and outreach that is incredibly individualized.
Identifying the Decision-Makers
The first use for social media in doing ABM will definitely be in the process of identification of the decision-makers. Various social media platforms can give you a fantastic insight into who fills what role in your target accounts.
This is where LinkedIn can be especially useful, providing you with a Sherlock Holmes-like map of connections and hierarchies, allowing you to have a great grasp of the company in question. On Twitter, you can find out who these people talk to and follow, which can identify people in similar positions in other companies, perhaps opening up new avenues.
Learning about Decision-Makers
The next step will be learning more about decision makers because they are the people you will want to influence with your account-based marketing. Social media can be a fantastic insight into their opinions, their preferences, and interests. With some analysis, you can start to get a grasp of the kind of people they are and how your future ABM efforts should be sculpted.
You can also learn quite a bit about the target companies on social media by following company profiles and perhaps even employees’ social media profiles. You never know where you might be able to find out nuggets of data that might help your ABM efforts down the line.
Doing the Prep Work
Down the line, the majority of your ABM efforts will be more direct and more traditional, but this does not mean that you cannot lay down the groundwork on social media.
Once you know what your target decision-makers are all about, you can start working your way into their social media world, positioning your company as someone who knows what they are doing and why just happens to have the solutions to the problems that you think those decision-makers might have.
This is perhaps best illustrated with a hypothetical example. Let’s say that you run an IT support company. It comes to your attention that your city government will be looking for a new IT support contractor the next year. You find out who the decision makers are. You also find out that the part of the contract will be to switch city the government computer system from Windows system to Linux. Over the course of the next few months or even more, you use social media to talk about your solutions for switching to Windows to Linux, especially in larger organizations.
This is just a single example of something that can grow in the back of the decision-makers’ minds and actually influence their decision once the time comes. They may not even be aware of what happened.
In short, there is always room for social media in marketing, be it account-based or not. It may be mainly used for preparation and some support work, but it can also easily be a deciding factor when the time comes.
James D. Burbank has spent more than a decade and a half in both traditional and digital marketing. He is the editor-in-chief at BizzMarkBlog and a huge NBA fan. He spends his time between Australia and Europe.