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Account-Based Marketing vs Inbound Marketing
April 29, 2021

You have probably heard about account-based and inbound marketing, but maybe you still are wondering: how does it work – and which one do I need? The simple answer is that you will need both and in this article, we will explain why.

We agree that it is not easy to familiarize yourself with two marketing methods and make a decision about what is the right approach for your business. But before you make a choice, it is important to understand that both account-based marketing (ABM) and inbound marketing (inbound) must work together to create the most optimal results. The reason? Both strategies are based on the same foundation: getting to know and understanding your potential customers that well, that you know exactly what type of content creates value for the targeted group, and how to reach it with it to arouse interest and build a stronger relationship.

So you should not think “either or” but “both and”.

Is it expensive? Absolutely not, probably it is cheaper than your other marketing methods.

Hard? Maybe a little, but soon it will clear up.

Once you have mastered the definition of the different concepts and how they can work together, you will know how to set up your strategy.

So, what exactly is the difference between account-based marketing and inbound marketing?

ABM is about syncing marketing and sales to create a unified and personalized buying experience for your selected prospects. You are targeting a defined company – an “account” – which would be an ideal match for your offer. To do this, you need to choose which accounts you will most probably invest in the future.

Inbound is about attracting and converting leads by creating content with high quality and relevance for the target group. You define the individual you want to reach – your buyer persona – and map the target group’s needs. By creating value in all parts of the buying process and by offering the right content at the right time, you will help a potential customer further towards conversion and finally purchase.

In other words, with ABM, you target a company’s defined stakeholders at the individual level within given frameworks for that particular account. So you see the company itself as its own market. With inbound, you treat each lead as an individual where you target many people in a selected target group – with a buyer persona.

ABM – tailored marketing to selected companies

The biggest purpose for ABM is to process a number of selected companies that you would like to have as customers. An easy way to get a quick picture of this is with the “80/20 rule”. Does 20% of the companies you have as customers account for 80% of your turnover? Then it is probably right for you to invest in an ABM strategy!

The customer

The first step is that the marketing and sales jointly select the accounts you are to target. The overall strategy is set per account. This is your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). When it’s time to dig deeper, you will identify the key people who make the purchasing decisions. Which people are they? What titles do they have? What are their unique challenges and needs? Where are they located?

The content

The goal is to personalize the communication as far as it’s possible in all contact areas with the unique stakeholder. Overall, maybe what you want to convey is the same, but the key is to tweak your content and your communication. You have identified the content that is of interest to the company. But while a CFO cares most about pricing, perhaps a CTO thinks most about safety – now you see what we mean.

The way of working

Rule number one in ABM is that sales and marketing must work together. To succeed in implementing the strategy, you need to create activities for both teams (if you are already ONE team – congratulations!) Keeping one look and feel with all messages, content, channels, and customers are crucial to get that really personal overall experience that makes ABM create magnificent results. ABM strategy will allow you to align your marketing and sales teams from the get-go to promote long-term business growth, delight customers, and boost your overall revenue.

Inbound – personal marketing to individuals in many companies and its purpose

The purpose with inbound is to convert potential customers from interested visitors to ready-to-buy leads by educating and guiding them throughout the entire buying journey.

The customer

In inbound, your potential customers are identified by mapping your most important target groups – your buyer personas. You get to know the customers’ challenges, issues, and success factors to be able to meet their needs.

The content

You produce unique content that creates value for each person’s purchase journey through insights from the buyer persona.

The channels

You make sure to meet your target audience on the right platform at the right time. In inbound, you use both organic channels such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Google (SEO content), and email combined with advertising to create the right content.

The way of working

Inbound is a strategy that also succeeds best when marketing and sales work together. Once a potential customer has become a lead, it’s time for sales to take over. A close dialogue is needed to evaluate the quality of leads and optimize the content.

This is how you should work together

Every growth journey needs value-created content and a well-thought-out publishing strategy combined with visibility on Google and social media channels to be discovered by the target audience and generate leads. Inbound lays the foundation for a strong ABM strategy while ABM builds off of inbound by allowing for targeted and efficient resource allocation of high-value accounts. With this combined approach, you will attract a broader group of prospects than you would while using just one method and catch any opportunities the other strategy may have missed.

All content that you create with inbound can be reused for ABM. You can make small or large adjustments to personalize the content to make it even more relevant for your account and key people. Inbound helps you attract the right customers, while sales and marketing can use ABM to streamline the processing of high-value accounts and create a maximum customer experience. Both strategies work together to bring home the customer.

For your ABM to be successful, you need to have an inbound mindset: provide your target audience with valuable content and build the best possible customer journey for your most important accounts.

How do I adopt it to my marketing plan?

If you already have an inbound strategy in place, it’s quick to hook it up with ABM. Much of what you are already working with can be further developed and adapted. As we mentioned earlier: it’s about adding, not replacing.

If you are new to both inbound and account-based marketing (ABM), it is a smart idea to start both in parallel. Remember to make a balanced decision about whether ABM is right for you, it is an incredible way of working.

Do you want to discuss this with us at Advedro? We are happy to help you in the right direction as our mother company is all about inbound! Let us help you grow your business.