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Account-based Marketing Vs. Marketing Automation — What is best for you?

You’ve probably heard about ABM (or Account-Based Marketing) by now. Or maybe you’re already caught in a battle between account-based marketing vs. marketing automation.

We’ll help you figure this one out.

They say ABM is one of the hottest trends in B2B marketing. Just look at the promising results of companies who have implemented ABM:

The trend is here to stay. 

But you might be asking yourself, “Is it too late for your company to begin?”

According to Terminus, 43% of companies are in the early stages of adoption. So you’re just in time should you start to adopt ABM today.

Source: Terminus

In today’s blog, we’ll help you evaluate which of the two marketing approaches can give you a better guarantee of success. Or maybe you can make ABM and marketing automation work together, so you don’t have to scrap your existing marketing strategy? Let’s find out!

What is Account-based Marketing?

Account-based marketing or ABM is a marketing strategy where you treat the account of a single organization as an individual. You provide them with highly personalized content and experiences. 

Since marketing efforts and resources are focused on a specific list of similar accounts, sales efforts are directly supported. And because of this, the sales cycle is shortened. 

What is Marketing Automation?

On the other hand, marketing automation refers to your general strategy where you acquire and nurture leads using automated and unified messages. It involves using automation tools like Encharge, CoSchedule, and Zapier to automate repetitive marketing tasks.

This approach subtracts the manual, repetitive tasks you marketers do, such as:

  • Email marketing
  • Creating weekly newsletters
  • Landing page building
  • Blog publishing
  • Social advertising

Why do I need to automate again?

If you are not yet automating your marketing tasks, you’re falling behind your competitors. The benefit of automation includes:

  • Executes complex workflow to boost engagement. For example, you can segment a group of users to go to the nurture funnel that’s right for them.
  • Automatic nurturing of captured leads. You can track their activity then send only relevant messages — automatically. 
  • Encourage your team to think creatively. For instance, if your team is not too caught up with distributing content, then they’d have white space to think and innovate.

So back to our original question, “If these 2 are both marketing strategies… Which should I use? What’s the benefit of one over the other? Should I allocate a budget to do both?

Let’s clear this up. 

Key differences between account-based marketing vs marketing automation

The best way to differentiate the two is through the following examples:

With account-based automation, you start small, and you target a group of highly profiled prospects. This is how it looks like:

  1. Build a list of your dream clients.
  2. Study each lead (a little bit like stalking, but professionally). Then, you nurture them with personalized messages.
  3. You qualify them further by asking them questions or doing additional research.
  4. Finally, pitch them when the time is right.
  5. Congrats, you made a sale! (It’s usually a bigger-sized deal.)

For marketing automation, it’s like you cast a net to get as many fish as possible. This is how it usually goes:

  1. Collect the email addresses of 1000’s people who downloaded the lead magnet from your website
  2. Nurture the people who downloaded your lead magnet with emails or social media posts on their feed.
  3. If you have a lead scoring system, you can segment a group of engaged leads.
  4. Sell after a while — whether it’s selling your low-ticket offer, getting them to try your free trial or product, or inviting them to a call. 
  5. Congrats, you made a sale! (It’s usually low-priced products or services.)

To make the distinction even more clearer, take a look at the illustrated funnels for each strategy below.

The pros and cons

You’re probably weighing your marketing options now. This pros and cons comparison between ABM and Marketing Automation will make it even easier for you.

Marketing AutomationAccount-based Marketing

They improve your marketing efficiency — no need to do redundant tasks that take up time.

They target a broader audience due to its lead acquisition nature. As a result, lots of top-funnel leads are suitable for the company.

It’s automated. The whole acquisition process works in the background 24/7.

It’s timely — messages are sent at the right time when leads are most likely to engage with them.

Can track easily if your campaign works or not (thanks to automation software)

• Most marketing automation tools integrate with your native apps

Aligns sales and marketing, making your overall strategy more effective

Highly personalized, manually crafted messages are good for your brand — clients will feel that you care

They can be an excellent opportunity to upsell or cross-sell multiple products and services

You’re talking to stakeholders or decision-makers directly

You build a deeper relationship with your customers

Your messages are not as personalized as manual outreach and may not resonate with everyone.

It could be costly. You’ll need to pay for several tools and extra resources to implement them.

It doesn’t build deep relationships

You will need a strong content team that can craft account-centric copy for every target customer profile.

Requires dedicated time, budget, and energy (you have to be patient)

A narrow pool of target customers

So, which marketing approach is best for me?

To know which approach will work for you, answer these questions first. They’ll be essential in determining which will fit you best.

  1. Do you have a B2B or B2C business?
  2. Do you have high-ticket products or services?
  3. Is your content team capable of producing personalized messages for different accounts?
  4. Does it take you months to close clients?
  5. Can you directly access the decision-makers of your target market? 

A. If you’re marketing for a B2B business and answered yes to most of the questions, chances are you’ll greatly benefit from ABM. If you’re selling costly packages, have a specialized offer, and have a long sales cycle, it would be ideal to focus on a few critical target accounts and nurture them.

B. Meanwhile, if you’re marketing a B2C or B2B product with a smaller average order value or customer lifetime value and answered no to most of the questions, marketing automation will work perfectly for you. Since you’re marketing a low to medium-priced offer and your lead volumes are high, you can use a marketing platform to close multiple sales at once.

Here are some cases that can be helpful for you. 

Applications of each approach

Case 1: My paid ads agency is catering to large manufacturing corporations in SEA. Their plans are priced at the more expensive side, from $3k-$10k monthly. 

It is best to target the best accounts or organizations that will benefit the product’s value, thus, will justify the price. In this case, account-based marketing.

Identify their target organization. Know the decision-makers. Reach out to them with personalized content.

Case 2: I have a coaching business, and I want to sell my productized info products. They’re all priced less than $500 because I’m targeting small business owners who want to start their online store. 

In this case, marketing automation is best. 

Account-based marketing vs. marketing automation: a quick comparison

Marketing AutomationAccount-Based Marketing
Top of the funnel targetingBroadNarrow (niche market)
Common acquisition channelsOrganic traffic, Paid ads (Facebook, Google Ads)LinkedIn or cold emails
Means of nurturingEmails, social media, or adsDirect mail, LinkedIn, emails, meetings, phone calls, text messages, SMS
Sales cycleShort to mediumLong (months to years)
The price point of products/services Low-ticketHigh-ticket
Resources neededAutomation tools, automation specialistCopywriters to create outreach messages

With this comparison, you can pretty much identify which kind of marketing strategy is for you, but there’s another significant thing to consider in your decision: budget.

Cost of each approach — account-based marketing vs marketing automation   

There is no definite answer on how much you will spend. On average, ABM gets 27% of the company’s marketing budget. At the same time, it is believed that most companies reserve 40-50% of their revenue on marketing automation.

But here’s the thing.  You don’t have to choose one. You can do both. 

How marketing automation and account-based advertising work together

Marketing automation and ABM are two different strategies, BUT they can work together. Here is the perfect scenario for that:

Say your business caters to both B2B and B2C audiences. When you decide to target a new market or sell a new and expensive product, you start with ABM.

Once you capture their interest and sign up with your clients, you nurture them through marketing automation. See the harmony there? Marketing automation complements account-based marketing.

A solid example is a SaaS company selling both software and managed services. For its low-tiered plans, you can use marketing automation to nurture and sell to those prospects. For the managed services (where the tool is bundled with consultation and implementation), you can use ABM.

Using both shouldn’t be such a struggle. You can still use automation to fortify your account-based marketing efforts. Here’s how:

Account-based marketing made simple with automation

Nowadays, marketing automation tools have evolved into ABM platforms as well. Look at these:

  • Marketing automation tools segment the accounts according to company details, activities, and past purchases. They’re so sophisticated that you can drill down into narrow sets of segments. This segment could be that ABM group that you want to nurture.
  • When you start targeting a particular segment, you can craft behavior-based automation to move that group further down the funnel. 
  • Automate how you group that segment. Then, as soon as a prospect becomes qualified, they will join an evergreen but specific campaign. 

Now that’s a specialized and automated approach at the same time!

Tips in automating your account-based marketing strategy 

Imagine nurturing highly targeted accounts without having to create additional work for your marketing and sales teams. This is a sweet strategy for marketers.  

But before you close this post and jumpstart your automated ABM journey, here are a few tips to help you get it right.

  1. Ask the sales team for help. They know the customers best. Identify the hot accounts to target, ask for the objections, know the trigger questions, and the non-negotiable qualifications. Ask for a copy of the sales call if possible.
  2. Re-create marketing automation from different accounts and re-use them if needed. Change the copy to address the various markets — no need to start from scratch. 
  3. Segment prospects into sub-groups according to your set of rules. Be as specific as you like.
  4. Update the target account audience over time when new prospects are added.

Without automation, this manual process can eat up weeks of your time.

Final say — account-based marketing vs. marketing automation

When it comes to marketing automation vs. account-based marketing, you don’t have to choose one. Depending on your business and strategy, you can always, always utilize both to your advantage. 
And there are already advanced automation tools that could make this marketing magic happen. Like Encharge — it’s where behavior emails meet marketing automation.

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Meet your new marketing automation platform

Customer messaging tools don’t automate workflows outside your product and marketing automation tools are bad at behavior emails. Encharge is the best of both worlds — a marketing automation platform built specifically for B2B SaaS businesses

“Encharge helped us visually redesign our onboarding flow resulting in a 10% increase in our trial activation rate."

Camille Richon
Founder Payfacile
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