Account-based marketing: What influences budget requirements - and how to secure more investment

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Understanding budget requirement is a key factor when building the case for any marketing strategy.

Campaign objectives, goals and expected ROI are drivers that influence every marketing budget, including for account-based marketing campaigns.

Yet as every organisation (and each ABM campaign) is unique, we would expect a range of considerations to impact on the budget required for ABM.

Influencing investment factors include:

  • The level of activity you are already undertaking. Are you already actioning a level of ABM? Or, are you conducting an inbound marketing strategy (which can be used as a foundation for quality lead gen and nurture and work as a pool to identify ABM opportunities)?
  • The number of accounts the ABM campaign will engage. How many accounts will the campaign focus on? Do you have a process in place to identify ABM opportunities - and are you aware of the resources required to create bespoke campaign assets for each?
  • Expected ROI. Does your expected target account spend justify ‘market of one’ ABM investment?
  • Any required technology investments. Do you need to invest in marketing automation, a CRM, or other platforms and tools?
  • Any required staff investments. Can you implement ABM activity in-house, or should you outsource to an experienced agency? Do you need to invest in your marketing team? Do you need to invest in your sales team?
  • Other required resource investments. Have you accounted for the time and budget needed to plan, develop strategy, manage the campaign, create bespoke account-targeted content?

How to secure account-based marketing budget

To secure ABM budget, it is important to have a comprehensive, actionable plan that is backed by data, to help cement internal understanding and secure business buy-in. To achieve this:

Define ROI

ROI for ABM is not as linear as traditional lead-volume-driven marketing, as campaigns work instead to grow awareness, enhance mindshare and develop long term relationships with specific, high-value accounts.

When considering an ABM investment, assess expected return on investment by:

  • Considering if the target account, as a market of one, justifies the investment that ABM requires to generate a return on investment.
  • Clearly defining your ABM account selection criteria; this is an important factor when determining potential ROI.
  • Managing expectations by building the business case on a foundation of clear metrics and commercial KPIs.

Identify the benefit to the business

Outline the business challenges that an ABM investment would address. Typically ABM campaigns work to:

  • Generate leads with specific high-value, high propensity organisations.
  • Expand the organisation’s footprint to middle-tier customers.
  • Maximise share of wallet from existing customers.
  • Differentiate and position your business as the optimum service provider to your specific account audience.
  • Differentiate your organisation in your specific niche.
  • Grow the business and increase revenue, as ABM is not just about leads, but about valuable, long-term client relationships.

Prepare your organisation for ABM

Before you can consider budget, your organisation must be ready to conduct an ABM campaign. Before you can start an ABM campaign, you must: 

  • Align your sales and marketing teams. Both sides of the business must have clarity on precise account focus, campaign goals, responsibilities and more if they are to run successfully. 
  • Be sure you can access the data you need. Data insight is integral to ABM success, from account selection to developing account bespoke propositions and content. Consider your ABM tech stack and check you can access the intricate insight you need.
  • Be prepared to create account specific content.  Unlike persona-focussed marketing, ABM is account specific, meaning every aspect of your campaign (and particularly content) should be created with specific individuals (decision makers) from your target account in mind. Repurposing / refocusing existing content to add an additional layer of personalisation and relevancy can be a way to reduce the bespoke resource requirements of ABM. But be aware that some laser-focused new assets must be budgeted for.
  • Be sure you can measure everything. In addition to accessing the data you need, identify the metrics to use to measure your campaign. Remember, as ABM does not focus on lead generation, but on expanding relationships with quality accounts, defining metrics to measure may include audience growth, customer perception, customer engagement, revenue growth, and the value of marketing to sales.

Start a pilot

What’s the best way to secure budget for ABM? Run a smaller, focused pilot campaign first to prove results and help the wider organisation shift into the mindset of marketing in a different way. ABM pilots focus on a small number of accounts to prove initial success and highlight the benefits investing in ABM when appropriate. Using an experienced ABM agency partner can help you achieve results here.

Get these steps right and your organisation will not only be ready to invest in ABM, but will have a wider understanding of the benefit and impact that incorporating ABM within your wider strategy can have.

As every organisation is different, ABM budgets can’t be assessed on a ‘one-size for all’ basis. Instead your approach should focus on building a case based on value and ROI impact to your organisation.

James Self is an inbound marketing strategist at Strategic Internet Consulting

A version of this article originally appeared on the Strategic blog

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