On the surface, inbound marketing and account-based marketing (ABM) can seem like two very distinct approaches. While inbound marketing involves engaging a wider audience of potential buyers, ABM is tailored to building relationships with a specific group of high-value accounts. Taking a closer look reveals that both approaches share personalization as a key component. B2B marketers have found that combining both personalization focused strategies can generate better results than using either strategy on its own. In fact, HubSpot suggests that “inbound marketing lays the foundation for a strong ABM strategy.” We’ve put together some tips on how you can use a combination of inbound marketing and ABM strategies to help you more effectively reach your B2B tech buyers.
A Review of Inbound Marketing and Account-Based Marketing
With inbound marketing, marketers attract new buyers through the creation of valuable content that speaks to specific buyer pain points. Marketers use the content to actively “pull” potential buyers to their websites. With its targeted, insightful messaging, inbound marketing helps you attract leads who are more likely to be interested in your solutions and your future follow-up.
An ABM strategy involves targeting your best-fit, highest-value accounts. This approach recognizes that your target leads aren’t just a single person, but a team of individuals from various departments who will make the buying decision together. Marketers create personalized content that is designed to engage and build relationships with the buying teams.
Benefits of Combining Inbound Marketing and ABM
The B2B tech buying process already known for being lengthy and complex, is unfortunately taking even longer these days. Driven by an increase in tech complexity and buying team members, tech sales cycles have grown “from 4.9 months in 2019 and 6.2 months in 2022 to 6.5 months in 2023” (MediaPost). While using an ABM strategy to target your high-value accounts is a highly successful approach, because the tech buying process is lengthy with a long research and education stage, there will be several prospects who may not be ready to connect with a sales rep at that time. Inbound marketing is a great way to engage with those prospects who are still in the research stage, educating them about your brand and solutions and moving them along their purchase journey. When paired together, inbound marketing and ABM have many benefits:
- Delivers a continuous flow of potential ABM leads: By using inbound marketing on an ongoing basis to attract new leads, marketers have a continuous supply of potential high-value accounts to select from for targeted ABM campaigns.
- Provides a seamless buyer journey: Nurturing selected inbound marketing leads with a well-defined ABM program helps marketers provide these prospects with a more holistic experience along their purchase journey.
- Optimizes content usage: Targeted content that was created for inbound marketing purposes can be further personalized and used for ABM campaigns. For example, a case study could be shortened and included as part of an executive door opener for an ABM campaign.
- Encourages marketing and sales alignment: By working together, marketing and sales teams can develop content that addresses the pain points of their target audience, increasing the chances of attracting more qualified leads.
- Increases buyer retention: Using both inbound marketing and ABM, marketers can gain a deep understanding of their targeted buyers. Combined, they help increase content personalization, build connections, and encourage loyalty.
Tips to Successfully Blend Inbound Marketing and ABM
To be successful at attracting the best-fit prospects with inbound marketing and using ABM to provide them with an amazing purchase experience, you need to have a solid plan.
- Use data to build your primary buyer personas.
What does your ideal buyer look like? In addition to using demographics, psychographics, and intent data to build your buyer personas, review your sales statistics to uncover key insights. Are there specific industries or companies that you have more success with? Which accounts are your most profitable? Talking to your salespeople who deal with IT decision makers day in, and day out is also a great way to uncover strategic information about buyers and the problems they face.
- Develop a cohesive content strategy.
Map out your buyer journey to help you understand the process your buyers go through. Ensure your content is valuable and relevant at each stage of the buyer journey to help successfully guide prospects along the way. Determine the types of content and the best channels to use for your target buyer personas, taking into consideration both your target accounts and the wider target audience.
- Create valuable, personalized content.
Both inbound marketing and ABM strategies need high-quality content to be effective. Valuable content is driven by having a deep understanding of the key challenges and pain points of your target buyers. Develop content that addresses the specific needs of your target accounts and content that will engage your wider target audience. For example, you can develop a case study that addresses the specific needs of companies in a particular industry, then repurpose the content into an infographic by expanding the focus to address the more common challenges faced by your wider target audience.
- Optimize your website for performance and analytics.
Your website is the ultimate destination for the recipients of your content, no matter if your content is part of an inbound marketing campaign or an ABM tactic. As a result, it is critical that your website is optimized to ensure all visitors have a great online experience with your brand. Confirming that your website is at peak performance will also help you accurately track and measure engagement with your content, so you can gain important insights and adjust if needed.
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