ABM has become the dominant GTM strategy for enterprise marketers. Despite this, large organisations that sell into small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have largely been left out of the conversation—if not outright rejected from it.
Take a 2018 article for B2B Marketing, in which one contributor stated, “Put simply, ABM is most appropriate for targeting a company’s largest and most valuable customers and prospects, and clearly, small businesses are never going to fit this description.”
What this perspective fails to recognise, however, is that SMEs make up 99.9% of the business population and that their revenue impact in aggregate can be substantial.
The key to making ABM work for SME marketers is reaching the right accounts through personalised buyer journeys at scale. And although this hasn’t been possible in the past, new technology has the potential to make ABM truly accessible to SME marketers for the first time ever.
The State of SME Marketing
The way businesses buy has evolved. Not only do stakeholders expect a certain level of personalisation at all stages of the buying process, they’re taking increasingly complex, nonlinear paths through it, as illustrated in Gartner’s B2B buying journey map:
ABM facilitates omnichannel personalisation across these varied channels by allowing enterprise organisations to define their target audiences upfront, and then build campaigns around them.
By contrast, SME marketers usually take a channel-first approach to demand generation—setting up individual initiatives like Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads, and direct mail campaigns, and then pouring accounts into them.
Unfortunately, siloing marketing efforts in this way leads to several challenges:
- Because the channels aren’t joined up in parallel—and because each channel effectively owns its own audience—it’s very difficult to follow someone with the same messaging online and offline.
- The messaging itself ends up being generic, as it can’t be tailored to what is known about individual businesses.
- It’s difficult to drive sales activity based on engagement across marketing channels—let alone know how much should be spent to acquire individual accounts.
An ABM-driven process, on the other hand, would allow SME marketers to identify high-fit accounts, segment them using genuinely relevant, interesting attributes—such as potential spend and shared cultural attributes—and design tailored multi-channel journeys to warm them up, before passing the right opportunities over to sales.
Why ABM Hasn’t Worked for SME Marketers
SME marketers understand the power and potential of ABM. But until recently, their tools haven’t allowed them to do it at scale in a way that’s effective, sustainable, and profitable.
The Data & Technology Gap
One major factor limiting the effectiveness of ABM tools for SME marketers is a gap in the availability of granular company and intent data for different-sized organisations.
It’s easy to determine when website visitors from IP addresses associated with Microsoft or Google engage with specific content or offers. But compare their behaviours with those of small business employees, who may work out of shared coworking spaces or from home with dynamic IPs.
The noisy nature of this data makes it nearly impossible to determine what content an individual SME is engaging with—let alone using this information to select the right accounts to target.
The Challenge of Personalisation at Scale
Even if SME marketers could access this type of data, they’d still struggle to run highly personalised campaigns using existing ABM tools.
The level of personalisation and coordination across channels that drives traditional ABM is hard to do. When you’re only dealing with a handful of accounts—as most enterprise marketers are—it’s doable. But when you’re targeting hundreds of thousands of accounts at a time, it’s just not humanly possible.
Not only do SME marketers need to reach a wider audience, their success rates have to be higher as well—and there’s a real risk of wasted time and budget if they fall short.
Although SME marketers can use methods such as propensity modeling to increase their odds of success, even these more advanced techniques often fail to explain the nuanced reasons why businesses buy.
As a result, truly expanding ABM to the SME scale hasn’t really been possible—until now.
Stretching the Traditional ABM Pyramid with AI
The advanced artificial intelligence (AI) technology developed by Growth Intelligence makes it possible to stretch the ABM pyramid to include a new type of ABM: one-to-SME (or as we like to call it – ABM to SME).
Here’s what a one-to-SME campaign using Growth Intelligence’s ABMxSME technology looks like in practice:
- First, we use AI to ingest and unify a greater number of data points on SMEs than ever before. This may include location and text-based intelligence, technographic and firmographic data, and imagery, as well as the digital and phone engagements recorded within your CRM.
- We then apply our prioritisation engine (Fit AI Ⓡ) to create a single view of your ideal potential customers, sorted by their fit score. These customers are then micro-segmented into smaller cohorts by potential spend (Value AI Ⓡ) and likelihood to respond to specific messaging (Persona AI Ⓡ) to make the audience more manageable for one-to-SME marketing.
- Finally, we help you orchestrate highly targeted digital and offline marketing campaigns that leverage bespoke messaging to surface engaged prospects within specific niche audience segments. At this point, prospects can be passed over to sales for a warm outreach call as part of a fully joined-up brand experience.
Customers like American Express and Vodafone are among a select list of high-profile beta users already leveraging Growth Intelligence’s ABMxSME solution to create personalised buyer journeys for millions of potential customers.
Not only are these organisations able to bring sales and marketing teams together through a fully integrated acquisition process, they’ve also significantly lowered costs whilst improving lead conversion rates.
In fact, early results suggest that digitally warmed-up accounts targeted by ABMxSME convert at a 42% higher rate than those engaged through traditional marketing initiatives.
Buyer attitudes have changed. Marketing has changed. Technology has changed. Account-based marketing must change as well, and the way forward lies in harnessing the power of big data and advanced technology to make ABM accessible for all companies.
At Growth Intelligence, we’re committed to democratising access to the power of account-based marketing. We hope you’ll join us on the journey.