Let’s not beat around the bush here: For most MSPs, generating new leads isn’t a problem.
After all, so many marketing channels – content, SEO or paid advertising, for example – can help your IT company attract new customers.
The challenge you face is connecting with those selected, ideal, highly-targeted buyers, people with whom you’d absolutely love to work.
Think about it. Those leads rarely engage with your content (or at least, the chances for that happening are slim.) They seldom search for MSP companies in Google either. And under no circumstances, they would answer your sales calls.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t connect with them.
Quite the opposite, in fact.
And in this post, you’ll learn about an amazing strategy called Account Based Marketing that will help you reach out to and engage with those high-value leads.
Intrigued? Let’s get started then.
What is Account Based Marketing?
Account-based marketing (ABM for short) takes an unusual approach to generate leads.
Traditional marketing strategies focus on casting a wide net. Your content, for example, aims to attract as many readers to the site and introduce them to your brand.
By continuously increasing rankings and search visibility, SEO strategies allow you to pull many potential leads from Google.
Your paid advertising campaigns are no different. They help drive as many targeted visitors to your site too.
Account-based marketing, on the other hand, focuses your efforts on a clearly defined list of target companies (in ABM they’re referred to as accounts, hence the name, account-based marketing.) And then, uses personalized strategies to connect with and engage those people or companies.
All those target accounts share a common characteristic. They offer the biggest possibility to generate revenue or help achieve other strategic business goals.
They could be companies in a highly-specific vertical that you’d like to target. For example, healthcare or education.
Or decision makers in companies who you know are responsible for buying IT services.
They could also be people at a certain point in their buying journey or share a combination of all three characteristics.
That’s why we often refer to Account-Based Marketing as a bridge between sales and marketing.
ABM aims to generate leads, just as marketing would. But it does so by identifying personal needs of the target account and connecting with them, in a similar way your salespeople do.
Another similarity between ABM and traditional marketing is how you approach each account.
In ABM, you treat each target company as a separate market. What this means is that, before engaging them, you understand their needs, just like you would analyze any new market or industry. And then, tailor your marketing approach to them specifically.
And it’s that high level of personalization and focus is what makes ABM so powerful.
According to the data from ITSMA, a leading B2B marketing community, and the ABM Alliance, 87% of marketers focused on ROI admit that ABM outperforms other marketing channels.
What’s more, a third of those marketers say that the difference is significant.
Also, according to the same source, the longer you run an ABM campaign for, the better results your MSP will receive.
But that’s not all. A SiriusDecisions’ study revealed that 92% of B2B marketers consider ABM crucial to their overall marketing efforts.
According to another source, Demand Base, after only one year of running an ABM campaign, 60% of marketers confirm a 10% revenue growth. 19% of them, however, report a 30% boost in revenue at that time.
Finally, the benefits of ABM extend beyond just generating new business. SiriusDecisions reports that 84% of marketers believe ABM helps retain and strengthen current client relationships too.
Needless to say, ABM works. It’s no surprise, therefore, that 61% of businesses using ABM already plans to invest in the strategy further.
But how does ABM work?
Account-Based Marketing campaigns involve five steps.
Step #1. Defining High-Value Accounts
We’ve already discussed how ABM focuses on targeting highly-specific companies only.
And typically, these are organizations, who, if become clients, would help your MSP company achieve its goals – increase revenue, gain a wider market share, etc.
Needless to say, then, to launch a successful ABM campaign, you must define those targets first.
The simplest way to do this is by correlating them with your business’ goals. For example, let’s pretend that you want to expand into the healthcare vertical. You’ve identified it as a viable market for your MSP. And you’ve developed a strong positioning to highlight the benefits you offer to those companies.
So, your ABM targets could include local (or national) healthcare companies. Furthermore, you could also identify businesses of specific size or revenue that you want to engage first.
Step #2. Define Personalized Messaging
Account-based marketing strategy relies on engaging those high-value accounts with personalized content. Depending on those companies’ stage of the buying cycle, these could be case studies, blog posts, white papers and much more.
With target accounts selected, the next step is to collect available content assets you’d use to engage your potential leads with.
Here’s a simple process to help you do it:
Make a list of all your existing content assets. Include all content types you’ve produced, from blog content to landing pages, web pages and everything else in between.
Map them to target audience characteristics. Identify which content assets relate to your target audience specifically. Using our example above, when targeting the healthcare industry, you want to use content that offers advice for that industry.
If you have none, consider which assets you could edit to make them relevant to your target accounts.
A lot of IT advice transpires across industries. And so, perhaps you could rewrite an eBook focusing on education to offer advice for healthcare too?
Finally, select content to use to engage specific accounts. Remember, ABM is about an individual approach to every account. And so, to succeed, you must ensure that you send highly-specific information to every prospect.
Step #3. Define Channels and Touchpoints
Next, you need to plan how to engage your target accounts.
But because you’re targeting a list of highly-specific accounts, you need to use different channels than what you utilize in other inbound marketing campaigns.
For one, these channels must give you direct access to those accounts. And so, SEO or Adwords, for example, might be not specific enough to drive results.
On the other hand, running LinkedIn ads, sending personalized email outreach or even a direct mail allows you to connect with the target audience directly.
LinkedIn offers incredible ad targeting tools helping to ensure that your content reaches the right people.
Email lets you share your content with them directly. And personalized direct mail might ensure that your message catches their attention.
Similarly, partnering with your target industry influencers could also help position your content in front of target accounts.
Step #4. The Campaign Execution
This is when you begin reaching out to individual people in your target accounts through the channels you’ve specified to send them messages relevant to their needs.
Using the healthcare example above further, you’ve identified a list of people responsible for hiring firms like yours in target organizations.
You’ve also identified their main pain point and edited an existing eBook for their industry.
You’ve also decided to use email to engage them.
And so, as the first step, you send them an email offering the eBook and pointing to the benefits of reading it.
Note, you do not send the actual eBook, just a message offering to send it for free if they’re interested.
You might have to follow up a couple of times before you get a response. But whoever requests the publication confirms that:
- They have the problem your eBook describes, and
- Are eager to solve it.
Based on this information, you can start sending them personalized follow ups to engage and nurture, until they’re ready to buy.
Step #5. Tracking Results and Improving the Strategy
This is, in fact, an ongoing step that allows you to monitor:
- Your response rates – how many prospects engage with your messages
- Follow-up rates – how do you manage to engage those people further, and
- Close rates – how many of them become customers over time.
Based on this data, you can fine-tune your strategy to improve your results continuously.
And that’s it.
You’ve just learned in a nutshell how ABM could work for your business.
What’s left is to go and start building Account-based Marketing campaigns to attract highly-relevant buyers to your MSP.
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