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Building Trust with Account-Based MarketingBy Kevin Bobowski
CMO, Act-On Software
Marketing has always been a more dynamic discipline than most — its gaze often trained on techniques and technologies at the cutting edge — and certainly this is true of financial services marketing. The banking industry as a whole has shifted shape quite a bit in the years since the 2008 financial crisis, as pressure and scrutiny from various watchdog groups and regulatory agencies have forced banks to break with old habits and forge new paths forward. Between stiffer requirements for capital and the current squeeze on net interest margins, today's financial services marketers face an increasing number of obstacles in courting corporate clients, and their best hope for clearing these hurdles, it seems, is to look forward at the trends shaping the broader marketing discipline.
Specifically, it's time they rethink their respective approaches to the purchasing process and put in place strategies that are tailored to the unique journeys their B2B buyers travel. More to the point: It's time they take account-based marketing (ABM) seriously.
Why B2B financial services marketers benefit from ABM
ABM gives financial services marketers a framework for prioritizing larger accounts ahead of individual contacts (and consolidating opportunities in the process). It allows banks to zero in on the customers and prospects that are likely to bring them the most consistent business, and gives them a way to enrich and expand these relationships.
It's a methodology that ensures the financial services a bank may offer (loans, lines of credit, 401k matching, debt relief) cater to the particular needs of its most valuable (and often its most loyal) corporate clientele. And it's plenty lucrative as a stream for revenue: According to ITSMA, a research and advisory organization serving B2B service marketers, 80% of marketers report that ABM outperforms their other marketing investments in ROI.
But better still, it's one of the rare banking strategies that considers the long-term projections on a customer's health and growth, which, as this Bain & Co brief notes, is crucial as a mode of outreach: "Any strategy should take into account the starting point and the customer, competitive, technological and regulatory trends affecting a bank and its markets. It should also ... be explicit about the risk exposures decided and how to adjust those exposures throughout the cycle."
Some of the immediate benefits of the approach in broad strokes:
ABM delivers efficient and cost-effective marketing. When you have the means to structure your outreach around predetermined profiles of your customers — personas you've built over time based on the pain points, habits and behaviors you've observed in your average client — you're bound to be more productive in your outreach. You'll know, after all, who your buyers are and where to find them, and this, in turn, can save you time and money that might have otherwise been wasted on seeking out potential customers individually and responding to their queries manually. You'll be able to anticipate, for instance, when a business with a corporate account at your institution might require an additional line of credit, or perhaps a commercial loan.
ABM drives higher retention rates on average. By focusing on accounts rather than contacts, you're sure to attract a particular and consistent type of customer — someone for whom your services are essentially tailor-made. This is because ABM eliminates much of the guesswork that can come with identifying your ideal customer, while also standardizing many of your usual communications and processes for engagement. It yields a customer base made up of businesses and individuals with needs, attributes and pain points in common — businesses you've pre-screened based on, say, rounds of funding they've raised previously, their financial valuations and their interactions with other financial institutions (if, for instance, they've open accounts with or loans from competing banks). These are businesses likely to thank you with their renewals in the long term.
ABM guarantees more revenues per individual customer. Using an ABM strategy, you'll be quicker to spot and capitalize on opportunities for cross-sell and upsell within your customer base — situations where a particular action (a financial investment of some kind) warrants follow-up and possibly access to a different service in your arsenal, if not a higher tier of service. It's behavior-based upsell, loyalty programs built around customers' specific needs and constraints.
What this might look like, in practice: You might be alerted to a customer in good standing (a business with a history of regular payments and activity) that has suddenly made a sizable deposit in their account — a lump sum indicating recent financing, or perhaps an acquisition. This might indicate to you that the customer is a strong contender for another of your services (access to your trading networks, perhaps, or localized cash management to support the business's growth) and might encourage you to send along compliments to the customer for their continued business, with the tailored offer attached.
Organizing for success
Like any mode of outreach, however, ABM requires tight alignment across the organization to be successful. There must be consensus within your organization on the accounts and assets worth prioritizing, a collective effort on a bank's part (from management down) to track and continue communications long after an account is won. This is where a technology like marketing automation is crucial, serving as an ABM command center of sorts that can orchestrate customer touch points across the customer lifecycle
With marketing automation driving their ABM efforts, marketers can strengthen and streamline their messaging for more tailored, timely and relevant content, and can track engagement over time for a clearer picture of buyer preferences — something of a necessity today, given buyers' tendency to evaluate offerings on their own time, via social media and elsewhere.
But most importantly, a marketing automation-driven ABM strategy ensures that marketers still market to individuals, albeit within a given account. The technology gives marketers the ability to score accounts and leads on predetermined actions and attributes, and this, in turn, can help to indicate an account's overall health and readiness to purchase.
If ABM constitutes the oars that convey your business' ship across uncertain waters, marketing automation is the sail buffeting challenging headwinds and gathering the ship's momentum. Together, they make your company's journey successful.
About the Author
Kevin Bobowski is the Chief Marketing Officer of Act-On Software, a marketing automation company. Kevin is responsible for shaping the company's go-to-market strategy and leading its global marketing effort: building the brand, driving demand, and expanding customer relationships.
FPS develops, manages and distributes custom business content on behalf of banks and other financial services marketers. We specialize in marketing consulting, e-newsletters, conference presentations, client meeting editorial support, white papers, case studies, multimedia demos and tutorials, and bylined article writing and placement services.
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