Account-based Marketing framework for SAAS Companies

Ever wondered how big enterprises market their solution?

If you are a founder or marketer with a B2B product-led company operating in a niche, reaching your target customer is always a challenge. You focus on fragmented activities like social media and paid advertising, and some kind of email marketing (cold or otherwise). 

You create loads of good content and focus on SEO but nothing seems to hit the target in the immediate near future. The sad result is, most founders stop believing in the need for a dedicated marketing function ( The concept like product-led growth or PQLs emerged from this frustration) 

Account-based marketing framework is successful in the immediate short term and builds a foundation of long term organic growth.

The Account Based Marketing flips the traditional funnel on its head. 

What is Account based Marketing?

Account-based marketing is a targeted marketing campaign that starts with a focus on selected target accounts. You start with a focus on identifying the accounts which you want to convert immediately. To ensure quality leads you to map the personas within these accounts and create messages and content tailored for each micro-segment within the power users and buying center.  

Stages of account based marketing

Identify your target accounts and audience 

You have to start by building a list of target enterprise customers. It’s a joint effort between the sales and marketing teams and we use all insights that sales teams have on target accounts, personas, and decision-makers. The list of target accounts should take into account 

  1. The sales target for this year ( with a quarterly breakdown) 
  2. Your ideal account profile (factors such as number of employees, geography and sector, etc)
  3. Your conversion rate. 

To illustrate with an example, if your target is to close 400 enterprise clients in the year 2021, and your final conversion rate is 5%, the list should contain more than 8000 accounts.

Segment and expand the buying center and power users

This list of 8000+ accounts is your sphere of focus in the next one year. A typical enterprise buying center would consist anywhere between 5-15 employees depending on the company size and a buying center would consist of 50+ odd users. The overall strength of your list would be approx 400000 contacts.

You map personas with real users and segment them into buying centers and power users. It’s time to replace hypothetical personas with real users ( contact information, LinkedIn profiles, internet presence, and intelligence data)

Segment ProfileValue proposition/Aspirational goals (Examples)
Buying CenterConsists of decision makersHow does your product solve their problem
How does it do better than your competitors.
Power users Consists of regular users of your product Does your product reduce or increase their work? 
Does your product get them recognition in the eyes of their supervisors, reporting managers, among other teams? 
Map your target personas with ‘the value propositions

While the buying center is the primary decision maker group, your power users have a say in decision making. The power users need a day to day handholding and close coordination with your customer success team for long term retention and account growth. 

Build intelligence with Intent Data

Suppose, you are a b2b marketer looking for a new email marketing software for your team. What’s the first thing you will do? Do some google search, read a few articles on best email marketing software, compare features, read more about email marketing strategy. All this would indicate your intent to purchase, this data will be very helpful for any B2b marketer who is selling an email marketing solution.

How is intent data collected?

  1. Based on their interaction with your content (Served through the website, email, webinar, video, etc). 
  2. Based on their digital footprints ( reading, writing a particular blog, sharing a particular content in your niche, writing a case, or anything that falls under our gambit). Almost every platform creates buyer intent data, even Google’s in-market audience is a form of buyer intent data only ( not as neatly targeted as you would like it to be)

Tools for collecting buyer intent data

Collecting and utilizing the intent data is perhaps the hardest part of your ABM strategy. There are a host of tools you need to rely upon. As I said earlier, there are two sources of intent data. One, you collect on your own website using behavior tracking tools, mapping, and tracking onsite behavior in the CRM; many CRMs have an inbuilt lead scoring mechanism.

Start Engaging with the prospect

Once you have the required intelligence on your target accounts and personas and start building the content which strikes the cord, it’s time to devise an omnichannel marketing and content distribution strategy to reach these target audiences. The omnichannel strategy has a few crucial components 

  1. Create multiple lead magnets followed by email sequences (drip campaign which distribute the content based on engagement) 
  2. Reach organically on Linkedin (start with a connection request) and lead magnet distribution. 
  3. Create a retargeting strategy which follow your target customer across the internet ( IP based advertising, cookies, following a target list etc) 
  4. Create unique webinars and virtual events; invite thought leaders, influencers which your target market admires. 
  5. Build case studies, success stories of marquee clients that reduces the friction. (Hope you heard the phrase – nobody is ever fired for hiring IBM)
  6. Offer extended free trials, demos, in person meetings. 
  7. Keep improving the content and message based on the feedback from initial interactions. 

Note- This is the stage which sales and marketing teams need a close collaboration. A clear definition of MQLs and a handover process from marketing to sales is crucial. 

Build advocates and cheerleaders 

This starts when your sales team successfully closes a deal and moves on to the next account. The product teams work closely with the customer to take their suggestions for improving the product. 

Make your product their success story and they take you to the world. Build case studies and use cases that help your target personas excel at their job. The word of mouth generated from here will help expand the funnel beyond the initial 8000 accounts. 

Measure and optimize 

For long term success, a clear KPI of both marketing teams is crucial. Define MQLs, SQLs, discover your optimum conversion rate, and lead quality metrics. A clear and unbiased measurement is important for a long term foundation of successful ROI driven ABM strategy for your SAAS product.

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