B2B marketing has evolved since the inception of Account-based-Marketing. According to Forrester, by 2025, the term ‘Account-based Marketing’ will disappear, and ‘Account centric' will become the way most B2B companies will identify, plan, manage, and measure buying and post-sale motions.
Marketing teams of the billion-dollar giants were the early adopters of ABM. They have invested heavily in their ABM processes and tools over the years. The practice just worked for them beautifully. Their business dynamics made them the best candidature for ABM practice - Long sales cycles, Large deal sizes, and Multiple decision-makers in the buying committees, and so forth. Since then, they have long come to realize that the notion of “Shoot in the dark and let’s see what works" is not the best way to build a sustainable GTM process for their organizations. And this prompts them to wonder if they should continue to invest in their inbound marketing strategies. Or abandon it completely!
On the other hand, smaller firms are laggards when it comes to ABM adoption. They are aware that their current spray and pray practices are inefficient and it needs an urgent upgrade. The constant chatter on the benefits of ABM and the greater good it can unlock for their company is impossible for them to resist. And yet, they are unsure when to get started. And how to integrate ABM into their existing marketing processes. They live within a state of constant dichotomy, the Fear Of Missing Out and the risk of prematurely rocking the apple cart (the switch to ABM). The limited marketing spends and resources at their disposal don't help their cause in quick decision-making.
Therefore, for marketing teams (big and small), it comes to one fundamental question, "Should I do away with Inbound marketing strategies and focus exclusively on ABM ?”
The answer is, Absolutely not!
Stay with me as we dig deep together and crack the puzzle.
Why do marketers feel inbound marketing strategies are ineffective?
Because the current inbound B2B marketing practices are siloed and have a generic approach, thereby attracting the wrong kind of Leads. A wide array of digital touchpoints and each consisting of data silos, the insights are scattered all over the place, thanks to multiple native dashboard management and data collectors.
What's behind the inbound funnel?
Inbound Marketing vanguards content that primarily focuses on bringing in users/customers to your organization’s offerings. The defined inbound funnel has three stages, Attract, Engage, and Close. It enables the marketers to deliver value-based communication to each of these segments. And this is where things get tricky. The various digital touchpoints used in inbound marketing practices like Search Engine Optimization, Social Media Marketing, Digital, and offline branding, etc., create decentralization of insights.
- Marketers use Social Media and landing pages to work on engagement.
- The Sales team uses email campaigns for lead generation.
- Client Relationship Managers use automated content management systems for responses.
Since the touchpoints are decentralized, the challenge lies in making the communications coherent and personalized across the different account segments. Here is where ABM steps in and does its role gracefully.
What's behind the ABM funnel?
Marketers have the usual misconception that an ABM funnel and an Inbound funnel are polar opposites. They can't be more wrong!
ABM and Inbound marketing strategies are not mutually exclusive. In fact, they are better together. They complement rather than contradict. They are both sides of the same coin.
This notion comes from the fact that on one side, content does not reach the target accounts on a personal level. This challenge is because there is no narrow targeting possible through Inbound marketing. Conversely, in ABM, the targeting is cut-sharp and so narrow that it runs the possibility of losing out on good-fit prospects.
ABM & Inbound - the coming together of the funnels
When the two processes are combined, Inbound marketing should do the job of bringing leads. And Account-based Marketing should focus on personalizing and delivering one-on-one communications and engagements to the target accounts.
Continue to optimize your inbound marketing process to attract the best leads possible across the channels. Setup your ABM funnel so the qualified leads so generated from your Inbound processes seamlessly feed into your ABM funnel for personalized and highly targeted marketing.