Account-based marketing (ABM) is one of the largest growing trends in digital marketing in 2017.

But while ABM has gained a lot of traction and attention, it's not a new strategy. Businesses have sold to other businesses for years before the phrase “account-based marketing” was coined.

ABM is built on one primary theme — the idea of focusing all your marketing and sales actions around companies, not individual contacts.

The Evolution of Account-Based Marketing

Business-to-business marketing, particularly in enterprise companies, has traditionally involved long, complex sales cycle with multiple decision makers.

As more companies grow, the number of people involved in their buying processes grows, alongside an increased need for a tailored strategy to target companies and their decision makers.

One person used to make the buying decision in many businesses, but as companies become less silo-ed, those decisions impact more than one department. This results in multiple contacts from different business units being involved.

Considering the complexity of purchase processes, having an understanding of the motivations and needs for each person in the buying decision helps companies close more business.

Doing ABM the Inbound Way

A primary function of most account-based marketing methodologies is “landing and expanding,” meaning getting one conversion at a targeted company and using that single known contact to expand the number of known people at a targeted account.

Once that initial conversion is made, the focus shifts to growing the number of known contacts at the targeted account through delivering helpful, tailored content that the initial contact would feel compelled to share with colleagues.

This is when some ABM marketers consider moving to outbound tactics like direct mail or hosting expensive events, inviting all the names at the target account they can find (or buy).

But there is a way to use an ABM model without selling your soul. One part of this is taking an inbound approach to expanding your reach at a targeted account through running helpful paid ad campaigns focused on generating new conversions of unknown contacts. 

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Why Use Ads for ABM?

Ads are essential to any ABM strategy because they help extend your company’s reach during the "landing and expanding" phase of ABM. Ads give your company the opportunity to use firmographic and demographic information to send highly personalized and targeted messages to your target accounts — even if the contacts within the target account are unknown to you or outside of your current database.

Another reason ads are a vital part of any ABM strategy is they help you ensure you're reaching your target companies throughout different stages of the buyer’s journey with relevant messaging. Before any purchase, a user is exposed to multiple touch points — whether that be on a Google search engine, a friend’s LinkedIn post, or a pricing landing page.

Ads allow you to be present at multiple points during a target account’s buying process. 

How Facebook Ads Help Your ABM Efforts

Your HubSpot database is a great place to start creating audiences to serve your Facebook ad content to.

To start, build a smart list in HubSpot for the specific criteria you want to target with your ad campaign. In the example of using ads for an ABM model, it would make sense to start with a list of known contact at target accounts. 

Then, use this list to build a custom audience in Facebook. If you have the HubSpot ads add-on, it can be done straight from the ads add-on by selecting that list for one of your HubSpot lists to be used as a Facebook Audience (this is currently in beta). If you do not have the ads add-on, you can build your list, export it as a CSV, and upload it into Facebook to use as the basis for your lookalike audience. 

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From there, you can also use that CSV file to create a Facebook lookalike audience, which is exactly what it sounds like. Facebook takes a list of contacts (like the one we just uploaded from our target account list) and then finds a list of people who are similar to the list you provided (the smallest lookalike audience you can create is 1% of your target country).

The smaller the lookalike audience you choose, the more closely it will match your source audience, but a larger the lookalike audience will increase reach potential.

The benefit of using lookalike audiences for an ABM model is that Facebook can find additional contacts at the target companies and also find similar contacts at similar companies, potentially expanding the target company list you already built.

Lookalike audiences look for similar people to the list you uploaded, so there's no guarantee that it will target people at existing target companies or related companies, but it will be part of the criteria Facebook evaluates when identifying lookalikes to the original audience.

Using Lead Ads in HubSpot

HubSpot’s new integration with Facebook Lead Ads makes it even easier to use paid Facebook campaigns to grow the number of known contacts at a target account.

Lead Ads are an ad unit from Facebook built to capture leads. The ad shows in Facebook and Instagram news feeds, on mobile and desktop, and pre-populates with information you’ve already shared with Facebook. This makes the user experience for submitting a form on mobile much easier and quicker, leading to a higher conversion rate.

Running a targeted lead ad campaign for a lookalike audience based on the contact list from target accounts you uploaded earlier is a great way to expand the reach of your marketing to additional contacts at your target accounts. 

The Facebook lead ads integration in HubSpot is available for HubSpot Marketing Free and the Marketing Hub paid tools, and with the integration, you can create lead ads directly in HubSpot.

All leads that are generated through ads created in HubSpot are synced directly to your HubSpot database along with the form submission data, like any other HubSpot form. This data can be used for segmentation or enrolling in automation to nurture these leads immediately. 

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To make this task even easier for HubSpot users, in the initial launch, there's an option in the audience tab where you can add the Facebook tracking pixel to your HubSpot code. This is only available for Marketing Hub users and lets them build a retargeting audience in Facebook without having to change or update the code to their site.

This helps you ensure that if you can get a contact at a targeted company to the site, you’ll have a mechanism to bring them back if they don't convert on the first visit. 

By using Facebook lookalike audiences and lead ads as part of your inbound account-based marketing approach, you can target contacts at the companies your sales team wants to sell to and easily report on how well you’re doing in HubSpot. 

Demo HubSpot's Ads Add-on for Free

Originally published Nov 6, 2017 11:00:00 AM, updated December 01 2017