Standard broad-range marketing tends to leave a disconnect between the marketing team (tasked with driving initial interest) and the sales team (tasked with turning that interest into conversions). ABM, or account-based marketing, allows for perfect alignment between the two, all while using the rich resources of digital technology to achieve exceptional personalization.
Ecommerce, meanwhile, is steadily taking over the retail world, offering superior pricing, convenience, and flexibility. By 2021, the number of people buying online throughout the world is expected to hit 2.14 billion. Legacy businesses, even those reluctant to go online, must adapt to these new standards or be left behind.
The former provides exceptional retention rates and ROI, while the latter lowers operational costs and allows superior scaling relative to traditional selling. Each is changing the world of business in a major way. Let’s take a closer look at how this is happening, and why the aspiring entrepreneurs of today benefit so much from having access to these options.
ABM and the advent of custom online funnels
Account-based marketing has always been an option, particularly in industries favoring long-term and high-value business relationships, but the move to digital operations initially made it much harder to handle. This is because there’s so much to think about. When you’re maintaining not only your dedicated client communication channels but also your main website and various social media profiles, it’s tough not to resort to generic materials at times.
But as online business techniques matured, and people got to grips with potential of things like A/B testing, granular analytics, and cross-channel integrations, they started to see that the internet is perfect for ABM. It allows you to devise complex custom sales funnels that can function perfectly well without any need for human intervention — you set them, then simply let them run, driven along by triggered sequences.
Provided a client receives a cohesive message, tailored content has been found to boost willingness to buy by a whopping 40%. For an example of a company that deployed ABM to spectacular effect, look at telecommunications company O2: in 2017, it rolled out a fresh ABM-driven strategy which yielded 325% of the targeted business.
The entrepreneur’s perspective
Returning to the perspective of the budding entrepreneur, it’s easy to see how ABM is an exciting prospect. It flies in the face of catch-all marketing, trying to find a message that will resonate with everyone to a reasonable extent — you don’t need to cast a net that wide. You can establish and maintain personalized business relationships, all while tweaking elements of your platform and marketing strategy to suit.
Now, it obviously takes more work to customize every marketing campaign, but the financial incentive is there. B2B arrangements are less common because they’re financially impactful: instead of brief exchanges, they’re long-term commitments at great scale. B2B ecommerce alone is worth $10.6 trillion, dwarfing the $2.8 trillion of its B2C counterpart (and ecommerce perfectly suits ABM, as we’re discovering).
Even if you deal exclusively in the B2C world, though, there’s still significant crossover through the rising interest in things like customer success and lifetime customer value. Instead of considering customers solely on aggregate, notable only collectively, brands are recognizing the immense value that the right customer at the right time can offer. Influencer marketing is a great example of how this can prove effective.
Ecommerce and the lowered barrier to entry
The early days of ecommerce were challenging, certainly. Most people were still getting to grips with dial-up connections, and shipping infrastructure was highly limited — it was a pursuit for the adventurous and the early adopters. But it’s astonishing how quickly it became standard practice once broadband became the norm and Amazon started its ascent to retail dominance.
We must then add two other ingredients to the mix: firstly, there was the rise of smartphones, fundamentally changing how we approach not just online connectivity but our lives in general. As that was happening, so too was the SaaS industry getting off the ground. With connections then reliable enough to sustain business-suitable performance, and people everywhere tired of needing to commit so much time to software setup and tweaking, the move to the service-based model was a practical inevitability.
The entrepreneur’s perspective
Consider the perspective of the aspiring small business owner today. Ecommerce is an increasingly-prominent part of the retail world, steadily rendering brick-and-mortar retail a niche occurrence. For someone who’d rather not spend a lot of money on renting premises, this is a good thing. Smartphone owners (over 2.5 billion people) take them everywhere they go, so you don’t need a location to sell locally — you just need to know how to manage local SEO.
And through SaaS, the practical costs of getting off the ground are hugely reduced. Anyone with some semblance of tech savvy (however slight) can use a store design tool to set up a basic storefront, then take advantage of free apps, integrations and on-demand production (e.g. print on demand) and fulfilment (e.g. dropshipping) services to quickly get results without needing to spend much. It’s led to the growth of lots of small-scale online-first retail brands like GymShark, Harry’s, and countless other online subscription businesses.
Bringing automation to the forefront
One thing these two facets of online business have in common is that they’re both perfectly suited to fresh automation tools. Ecommerce brands already rely extensively on smart software to do everyday tasks — to update offers, distribute content, track financial activity, monitor sentiment, manage payroll, and recommend products — and the rate of adoption continues to rise. 49% of companies now use email automation software, for instance.
ABM too is using automation software to achieve great things. Anyone interested in adopting it can programmatically reach key buyers, and bring in broader tools such as IFTTT to set up cross-channel funnels with the right messages reaching the right people at the right times. The more of the everyday work you can handle without manual intervention, the more time you can commit to devising creative threads.
And with detailed analytics solutions ready to be customized or handled automatically through SaaS support, plus options like Google Data Studio making it easy to produce attractive reports, even the tricky work of updating clients on results (potential or actual) can be made easier.
Wrapping up, ecommerce is changing business through raising accessibility and convenience for everyone, while ABM is part of a broader move away from indifferent marketing and towards viewing individual customer satisfaction as vitally important. Together, they’re taking us towards a future in which anyone with a compelling business idea can implement it, and every consumer can enjoy a catered buyer experience.
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