Although you may think so, inbound marketing and account-based marketing are not mutually exclusive. Both, when done correctly, have as a core principle to provide personalized, relevant messaging and high-value content to prospects. But there are differences. When you are targeting a large, widely diverse group of companies, it may make sense to use a less targeted inbound strategy. If however, you are targeting a shorter list of specific large accounts, account-based marketing will deliver more results. That doesn’t mean you won’t do both.
Inbound marketing in B2B selling has been around for over a decade. Despite its popularity due to interactions starting with the customer, it doesn’t really do much to target and reel in your prioritized accounts. That’s because you’re essentially “appealing to the masses,” which leads us to our current frustration in the world of B2B marketing: who are these buyers? Buyers today are more independent and anonymous than ever before. Figures suggest that 57% of the purchase decision is complete before a customer even talks to a supplier (CEB).
And to turn up the frustration-notch a little higher: there’s an increasing number of competitors and limited possibilities to stand out when you’re waiting around to be noticed – if you do get noticed. And when you are actively trying to stand out, you’re spending resources on creating generic content rather than personalized messaging for the customers that you’re really trying to score.
So where do outbound strategies, and account-based marketing (ABM) in particular, fit in with all of this?
ABM is a strategic B2B marketing strategy based on treating customers as singular markets. Some of its most powerful features are the alignment of Sales and Marketing and the analytics used to exercise an account-centric approach. This cooperation and “hyper awareness” allows you to:
- Identify the most important contacts and decision-makers
- Obtain the data needed to create highly personalized content
- Nurture anonymous visitors with tailored, sequenced content
Inbound and outbound marketing strategies both have their obvious strengths and weaknesses. But one common challenge for both strategies is that often times, no one cares about your brand because they are simply looking to ease their own pain-points.
Generally it’s better to take control and pave the path for your own success. Educate your buyers on your view of the world, but in the way they want to buy. In order to do this, you need to implement your marketing efforts through the lens of your valued customers.
Adopting a hybrid approach and implementing both account-based and inbound marketing strategies gives you the best of both worlds. And when you are looking to win a list of highly targeted companies, ABM shows higher results. You can market your products and services to everyone, but your highest valued customers should get that extra attention that they deserve. So split your budget accordingly.