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Should Account-Based Marketing be the Next Step for Your Startup?

Why consider “flipping the funnel?”

Understandably, choosing to limit the number of potential customers your startup reaches out to could be a frightening idea. But wouldn’t you rather focus your energies on accounts with the highest likelihood to close a deal? With technology platforms becoming increasingly cheaper, startups can now target hundreds and even thousands of potential buyers with a strategy called Account Based Marketing and enjoy higher ROI. So what is it?

Account based marketing moves away from traditional marketing, which focuses on adding more leads to the top of the sales funnel and instead focuses on highly targeted accounts. It is particularly effective in the B2B tech sector, where purchase decisions are not made by a sole consumer but rather by a team of professionals within the company.


“ While Account Based marketing was once a tool for enterprise brands with a few highly valuable accounts, big data has made Account Based Marketing useful to companies of all sizes“ -Harvard Business Review


Creating an Ideal Customer Profile or Buyer Persona

Sooner or later, you will come to the realization that there are good customers and there are bad customers. The bad customers will waste your time, money and other resources. Armed with an Ideal Customer Profile or Buyer Persona you will be able to better assess which potential customers are worthy of your attention.

B2B tech startups may want to start by identifying accounts according to their firmographics, which encompass company attributes such as tier level, number of employees, revenue for the year, etc. Solutions such as dun & bradstreet can assist this type of categorization. Keep in mind though that you are not just marketing to an account but to specific people within it. Tools like LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator can be helpful in identifying key decision-makers. For example, if you're selling marketing software, you may want to target the VP of Marketing, Director of Marketing and Digital Marketing Manager.

It is advantageous to further define the decision-maker roles using demographics and psychographics. For demographics use criteria such as age, gender, education, occupation, and income. While customer demographics are essential in determining your target audience, they will not help you capture their motivations. Psychographics help interpret behaviors and beliefs. Some questions include what are the customer’s hobbies and interests, what values do they hold and where do they find their information.

Pay special attention to the specific pain points the person holding the distinct role in the company has that differentiate him from other key decision-makers. For example, just think how the finance person’s pain points are different than the marketing person’s pain points with regards to your solution. Furthermore, understanding what anxieties a potential customer might have with implementing your solution is important to overcoming those barriers. The next step is to customize their experiences with relevant content and calls to action.

Target Account Tactics

When you know the where the buyer personas find their content, you can plan a content agenda to tailor your messaging to these channels. Personalization goes on a scale from highly customized to generic. You can take a broad piece of content and tweek it into super-relevant pieces just by changing the opening and closing and referring to targeted landing pages. For example, you can expand your account by engaging your customer through an industry forum with a case study that shows how another division within the same company utilizes your solution. Another way to utilize content is to use targeted advertising, email and social media to drive your contacts to a content hub[1], where they find the right content for them.

Using website personalization, you can target accounts even when the visitors are anonymous.[2] The person surfing your website can be identified by position and company and will receive a recommendation for downloading relevant content that is different from a download recommendation to a company in a separate industry. With A/B testing you can further test each piece of content and tune it for improved engagement. Additional target tactics often used include live events, free evaluations or consultations, webinars, email, direct mail, and social media.

What to Measure Account- Based Marketing puts less emphasis on the number of leads gained and places the spotlight on increasing the engagement level of your focused set of potential customers. Make a clear plan to capture their level of engagement from website traffic (specific engagement on selected pages of your website using reverse-IP mapping), participation in your webinars, opening rates on communications and every part of your communications strategy, so you can analyze and further optimize. Ultimately, with a higher degree of engagement, you will deepen the relationship with your customers, which will encourage buying and advocating.

More on this Subject:

Making Personalized Marketing Work/Harvard Business Review

5 Examples of Ideal Customer Profile/Aero Leads

[1]The Clear & Complete Guide to Account Based Marketing/Engagio

[2] Marketo Real-Time Personalization