Account-based marketing is a useful way for software-as-service (SaaS) companies to foster better leads and, ultimately, drive revenue. Involving input from both the sales and marketing teams, ABM for SaaS is a more personalized way to onboard those businesses who are most likely to purchase your product.
So, how can you implement it successfully? We’ve got you covered.
Also, To read about our in-depth article that covers it all on digital marketing for SaaS, click here.
1. What is ABM for SaaS and Why Is It Important?
Perhaps the simplest way to think of ABM is to take the traditional sales funnel and invert it. Instead of trying to create broad awareness and then narrowing down interested parties, ABM for SaaS involves hyper-focused targeting primarily on B2B-centric audiences, so identifying the customers who are most likely to use your product first, then targeting them with a broad array of personalized material to attract them. Once you know what works, you can then expand your marketing efforts to attract similar companies.
2. Benefits of ABM for SaaS Businesses
2.1 Quality Over Quantity
By creating campaigns aimed only at the individuals most likely to need your SaaS, ABM cuts out the cost and energy involved in less targeted initiatives. That means fewer but better leads.
2.2 Sales-Marketing Alignment
For ABM to succeed, sales and marketing teams need to communicate on strategy, breaking down the barriers that can sometimes arise between the two and reducing the wastage of resources.
2.3 Better Personalization
While all marketing involves creating several different sales journeys for different types of customers, the smaller pool of leads means you can get even smarter and more niche with your customization.
3. Types of ABM
- One-to-One Marketing.
As the name suggests, one-to-one marketing is the most personalized type of ABM for SaaS. Devoting a chunk of resources per prospect is risky, but it can be worth it if you’re targeting a large organization that will potentially buy many seats or licenses of your product.
For example, you might decide to target a specific role, like a head of HR or project manager, within a specific enterprise organization, personalizing your marketing interactions based on the data you have gathered on that person and that business.
- One-to-Few Marketing
While one-to-few marketing can often involve just as much, if not more, time and effort than one-to-one marketing, it also spreads the game, designing a campaign that targets a handful of companies with the same profile and in the same industry.
In this instance, you might pinpoint finance teams in medium-sized businesses as the most likely to purchase your offering, particularly those that work in manufacturing or engineering fields.
- One-to-Many Marketing
One-to-many marketing casts out a wide net but still uses the same principles of identifying customers before embarking on a campaign. This requires the least resources as it’s much less personalized, but can also be less effective because your messaging will not be as individualized.
If, for example, you had a SaaS platform designed for customer experience, you would target any decision-making individual in both large and small companies that could utilize a CX solution with the same ABM campaign.
4. What Mistakes Can SaaS Companies Avoid for ABM?
- Cold-Call-Style Sales
Just because ABM for SaaS means you’ve pre-qualified leads to a certain extent doesn’t mean your first contact should be selling them the product. In some respects, these leads may need even more nurturing than other ones, especially at the start, because you are approaching them from scratch, rather than after they have previously interacted with some of your emails, paid ads or content.
- Relying Too Heavily on ABM Software
What is an ABM platform going to do for you if you don’t have a strategy in place? Zilch. These programs can be invaluable for implementing a unified sales and marketing plan, but the plan comes first, otherwise you’ll end up with poor ROI.
- Budgeting Badly
One of the beauties of ABM is that you can adapt your practices for high-value targets. If the potential revenue from one customer is several magnitudes higher than another, it’s only logical to assign more budget to convert and retain that client.
- Missing Out on Omnichannel
This is true for all types of marketing: make sure you are utilizing an omnichannel approach to reach your prospects. By creating an interlinked web of customer interactions that interact with one another, you’re increasing the chances of engagement.
- Failing to Adapt
After you begin to implement your ABM strategy, you may find that some of your original assumptions about your high-priority customers are wrong. This happens all the time and is not a problem. The problem comes when you fail to adapt your customer profiles to reflect the new data.
5. 10 Strategies to Build an Effective ABM Campaign
5.1 Create Your Customer Persona
The first step is to figure out exactly which companies you’re targeting. This can be done through a combination of interviewing existing key customers and talking to people in the sales team about the most profitable (and easiest to onboard) clients, in order to compile similarities into an ideal customer profile.
This is the springboard for all ABM for SaaS products, as it creates the foundational list of the accounts you wish to market to and acquire.
5.2 Reach the Right Target Customers
In addition to identifying the right companies, you need to segment the job roles that will be involved in the purchasing decision. The exact titles will vary depending on your SaaS solution, but broadly speaking they will probably be divided into everyday users, managers, and check signers. What does each care about and how can you convince the different stakeholders that your product is right for them?
By doing this, you can create individual marketing flows to target the different segments, leading to more personalization and a greater chance of a conversion.
5.3 Build a List of ABM Contacts
Now you have created company and customer personas, the next step is building a list of people to contact. This can be done by purchasing data from a service like Leadfeeder or using LinkedIn Sales Navigator to identify businesses that match your personas.
While this process can be time-consuming and expensive, once it’s completed, you’ll have a solid list of prospects to begin targeting with your marketing materials.
5.4 Make Relevant Content for Engagement
For each of the stakeholder profiles you’ve identified, you should create useful content to appeal to their concerns and needs. This can include a mixture of blog posts, landing pages, product pages and testimonials.
Content will form the basis of your marketing communications, so make sure you have the ideal mixture of information, whether that’s thought leadership pieces addressing industry-specific trends or defining how your specific SaaS solution solves particular business problems.
5.5 Select the Right Messaging Channels
Make sure each piece of content is reaching your personas through the optimum medium. When it comes to ABM for SaaS products, LinkedIn is usually the go-to channel because it provides the best framework for directly engaging potential customers with personalized messaging in a professional capacity.
Direct email is also useful for ABM. On the plus side, it doesn’t have the character limits that LinkedIn does; on the negative side, it’s easy to get lost in the B2B marketing scrum or even directed into the spam folder.
5.6 Guide Prospects to a Buying Journey
Remember that your emails and LinkedIn communications should form a path for potential customers, from awareness to consideration and eventual conversion. For each stage, the content will be different, as they travel through your sales funnel.
Ensuring you’re sending out the right message at the right time in the buying journey is essential if you want to keep individuals engaged and interested.
5.7 Utilize Retargeting Strategies for Top-of-Mind Recall
Using ad services from companies like Google and Facebook, you can essentially remarket your product to your prospects continuously. Pixels track the sites they visit and deliver your content wherever they go.
The obvious benefit to retargeting is that it keeps your solution top of mind. The downside is it can irritate people if they feel your ads are becoming intrusive, a problem you can avoid by ensuring you are serving up the right content for wherever they are in the sales journey.
5.8 Send Email to Nurture Prospects
Another way to nurture prospects is to enroll them in an email marketing campaign. This can be done by creating must-have content, such as industry white papers or statistical research relevant to your field, and requiring individuals to register their details before they can gain access.
One of the great aspects of this approach is you can create a very streamlined series of messages that methodically take potential customers down the sales funnel. Additionally, if they’re trying to access your content, it means you’ve already successfully engaged them at the initial stage.
5.9 Let the Testimonials and Referrals Get New Customers
Around 72% of people say testimonials increase trust in a company. This is especially true in B2B because the testimonials are usually coming from your target customers’ peers. If you can get one of the more recognizable brands who use your SaaS product to praise your solution, all the better.
Referrals are also a handy way to obtain qualified prospects. You can encourage some of your existing top customers to become advocates of your SaaS products through incentives, such as access to additional features or limited-time free usage.
5.10 Engage on Social Media Platforms
Using social listening tools, you can monitor your brand reputation as well as key topics and conversations going on around your industry. The data from this can then be utilized to further hone your ABM strategy and create targeted advertising.
Part of this should involve following your leads and engaging them more organically by responding to their posts and sharing content that will get them involved with your brand.
6. Examples of ABM for SaaS
Qlik used ABM to properly qualify their leads, align their sales and marketing teams and, ultimately, reduce resource wastage. The data analytics platform was able to decrease time spent sorting leads by more than 30%, allowing them to focus only on the most profitable prospects.
Payment processing software BillingTree used ABM to narrow its potential clients down to just 100 high-value customers. They then went after C-level executives with a personalized campaign that resulted in 60% engagement and a 700% ROI.
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