What is Account Based Marketing and What Does It Mean for SEO?

Account Based Marketing is the next stage in the natural evolution of marketing, especially for B2B marketers reaching out to enterprise-level brands. Learn the basics of ABM, and how it’s going to impact your SEO and content marketing strategy.
Nate Dame
Nate Dame
CEO and Founder
Nate is the founder and CEO of Propecta, a results-oriented SEO consultancy trusted by forward-thinking companies, including a few of the world's largest B2B and technology brands. Propecta builds holistic SEO strategies, supports internal teams, and offers full-service execution to create an organic search presence that generates significant revenue.
January 4, 2016

If there’s one thing that every marketer can agree on, it’s that marketing is always changing. Core concepts about communication and relationships may stay the same, but as our tech advances it reshapes how those strategies are expressed.

Engagio eBookPerhaps no one knows that better than Jon Miller. The former CMO and Co-Founder of Marketo (and a friend to Propeta) is leading the future of marketing technology once again with his new company, Engagio. With marketing automation becoming mainstream in marketing departments, Jon sees account-based marketing as  the new frontier (and $10 million in funding suggests he might be right).

Jon recently sent us a copy of Engagio’s new ebook, The Clear & Complete Guide to Account Based Marketing, and I have to say: this is exciting stuff.

As buyers continue to self-educate, and as sales and marketing departments continue to work more closely, many marketers—especially those reaching out to buyers at large companies—are recognizing their need for a more holistic, efficient strategy. Account Based Marketing is going to be the answer that most of us need, and its implications for the future of SEO are equally compelling.

What is Account Based Marketing?

Account Based Marketing is a modern marketing strategy that targets an entire organization as one account—and communicates with each decision maker at varying levels of personalization—rather than considering each influencer within the company a unique lead or prospect. ABM is the natural next step in the evolution of marketing, especially for brands targeting enterprise-level clients.ABM Miller


Account Based Marketing is a strategic approach that coordinates personalized marketing and sales efforts to open doors and deepen engagement at specific accounts.
—Jon Miller, Engagio

 

It’s the marketing epiphany you get when you realize that your brand is business-to-business, not business-to-lead; and that the sales team doesn’t talk about closing leads, they talk about closing accounts. Account Based Marketing addresses the reality that each purchasing decision at a large company involves more than a dozen people, and your marketing strategy needs to speak to all of them (differently).

Why Account Based Marketing?

If your B2B company targets enterprise clients, you may find yourself moving in this direction already. (And it may have seemed like uncharted waters until now, but fear not.) ABM really is the natural progression of marketing, for several reasons, according to Miller::

  • The ROI on inbound is leveling off. This is especially true for brands targeting big accounts. Inbound is not enough for the big, complex business deals.
  • Marketing and Sales are finally friends. The digital marketplace, self-educating buyers, and marketing automation platforms have finally torn down the silos of Marketing and Sales.
  • The tech is ready. CRM, marketing automation, and analytics platforms and programs are established and capable of scaling up with ABM strategies.
  • The data is available. Marketers can get their hands on more data than ever, as more vendors make customer data available and easy to use.
  • The analytics expertise is mature. The rise of data has also required the maturation of analytics. Teams and tools know how to interpret the data to provide the detailed insights that ABM needs.

It makes sense. The sales team has always used an account-based approach, and as Marketing and Sales continue to work more closely, it makes sense that our strategies would merge. ABM is not a fundamentally new and different marketing strategy; it’s where our technology and our market are taking us.

Engagio’s new ebook, The Clear & Complete Guide to Account Based Marketing, points out eight core benefits of moving forward into ABM:

  • Greater efficiency
  • Bigger wins
  • Increased close rates
  • Acceleration of deals
  • Alignment between Sales and Marketing
  • Improved sales excellence
  • Best-in-class customer experience
  • Account penetration and expansion

Another benefit is that you might still be able to get ahead of the competition, but probably not for long. Already, 41% of B2B brands consider ABM a top priority. It’s not a passing fad.

Account Based Marketing and SEO

What does this next phase of marketing evolution mean for SEO? Is SEO finally dead?! Far from it. The shift toward an account-based approach for marketing to the enterprise reinforces the need for a strategic, modern SEO strategy.

As B2B marketing expands in focus, the scope of SEO expands with it. Instead of targeting user intent research and content creation at a small handful of personas, an account-based approach to SEO targets a dozen or more influencers at each account, in various industries. Your SEO-based content, for an account-based strategy, needs to consider:

  • Keyword + User Intent is different for each decision maker.
  • Content tone/voice varies from the cubicle to the C-suite.
  • Each decision maker has different pain points and priorities.

ABM is considered an outbound marketing approach, so SEO and content marketing won’t speak to the highest levels of personalization.

the content personalization spectrum

The Content Personalization Spectrum, from The Clear & Complete Guide to Account Based Marketing

Building the relationships that allow those personalized communications to be best received, however, still starts where that influencer is self-educating into the sales funnel. An effective, account-based SEO strategy will expand current practices to target each decision maker at the target account.

Start by reviewing your current personas:

  • Which decision makers aren’t represented?
  • How can you personalize them to target specific industries?
  • What new keywords might you need to add—and research—as your strategy expands?

As you fill in the gaps, you will start to see what additional SEO research and work your strategy needs to better target an entire enterprise account.

Get Started with ABM and Expand Your SEO

Account Based Marketing is driving the way marketers think about lead generation and lead nurturing for enterprise-level prospects. It’s also driving expanded SEO strategies as user intent considers new decision makers, and content strategies widen their audiences.

Don’t forget to check out Engagio’s new ebook, The Clear & Complete Guide to Account Based Marketing, to get started with ABM. When you’re ready to expand your SEO to an account-based strategy, start by reviewing your current personas and looking for gaps. If your brand is marketing to enterprise-level accounts, Account Based Marketing is the next phase of your maturing strategy.

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