How To Choose An Account Based Marketing Agency

April 13, 2022

When it comes to SaaS growth, you want to make sure that you are putting your best foot forward. This means working with the best account based marketing agency possible. How do you choose?

Get Started With Account-Based Marketing

When it comes to SaaS growth, you want to make sure that you are putting your best foot forward. This means working with the best account based marketing agency possible. How do you choose? Many agencies are claiming to be the best. In this guide, we will walk you through selecting an account based marketing agency and help you make the right decision.

Surprisingly, account-based marketing is still not a standard growth approach for most companies, so implementing a program now can give you a competitive edge. Agencies offer a proven track record of success and can get you started on this new path immediately.

Start With a List of Criteria

When choosing an ABM marketing agency, there are many factors to consider. But with the proper criteria in hand, the process can be much easier. Here's a look at what to include on your list.

Experience 

First and foremost, you'll want to consider the agency's experience level. How long have they been in business? What types of digital marketing campaigns have they successfully executed in the past? Do they have a portfolio you can review?

Industry Expertise 

Next, you'll want to ensure the agency has experience and expertise in your industry. They don't need to be experts in your specific niche, but they should understand the best marketing strategies for your industry.

Strategy 

What type of marketing strategy are you looking for? Are you interested in a more traditional, offline approach? Or are you looking for a more digital, online-focused campaign? Or a mix of the two?  The agency you choose should be able to articulate a clear strategy that aligns with your goals and budget but also make recommendations for account based marketing strategies you may not have thought of.

As you can see, there are many types of digital and non-digital programs an agency can offer.  Make sure your agency can do both.

Source: Drift.com

Services Offered 

What services are you looking for? Many agencies offer a wide range of services, from search engine optimization (SEO) to pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, social media marketing, and integrated direct mail. Make sure the agency you choose can provide all the services you need, and again, recommend ones you didn’t know about.

Budget 

How much are you willing to spend on account based marketing services?  Does the agency have a range of services that fit within your budget?

Once you've created a list of criteria, it's time to start shopping around.

Researching ABM Agencies

There are several different paths to take when finding agencies.

  1. Get referrals. Ask other contacts in your network if they use an ABM agency and get an introduction.
  2. Google search. Enter search terms like 'account based marketing agency' or other terms that may be relevant.
  3. Use agency directories like Clutch to search for ABM agencies.

First and foremost, you'll want to consider each agency's services. Obviously, for ABM, make sure they offer ABM services on their website. Start with agencies that feature account based marketing services under their ‘offerings’ section.

Take a look at the agency's track record. Have they successfully delivered results for other clients like you?

Narrow down 5-10 choices based on your research and start reaching out to them via email, phone, or the form on their website, whichever is best for you.

Create buyer personas

Before contacting an agency about running an account based marketing campaign, it is essential to understand your target audience and Ideal Customer Profile. 

Whom are you trying to reach? What are their interests? What motivates them to make a purchase? By answering these questions, you can create what is known as a buyer persona.

Here is an example:

Source: Brightspark Consulting/Marketingprofs

Your agency will be able to reach your personas with different tactics. It helps to frame the discussion with each agency if you have your personas in mind beforehand. It enables the agency to understand whom you are targeting and the strategies they can use to reach them.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer for account-based marketing. Still, there are some key considerations that all businesses should consider when formulating their strategy and working with an agency.

If you have ideas about programs and channels you like, share this information with the agency. For example, are the targets active on social media? Do they respond well to email marketing? Once you understand your audience well and which channels they are most likely to engage with, you can help direct your agency for the final digital marketing strategy.

Map Out Your Goals

Before you begin discovery in selecting an agency, the next step is to define your goals and demand generation budget.

 

  • What do you want to achieve with your digital marketing campaigns? 
  • Are you looking to generate leads? 
  • Build a qualified sales pipeline?
  • Increase brand awareness?
  • Boost sales? 
  • Do you need to create a solid social media presence? 
  • Develop targeted ad campaigns? 
  • Create informative content? 

Once you understand your goals and which tactics will be most effective in achieving them, you can start to develop your account based marketing strategy.

What are the agency's methodology and practices?

Every business has different goals and needs, so that the best digital marketing strategy will be tailored to your specific situation. However, all ABM agencies should be able to explain their methodology and practices in detail.

If you're implementing an ABM strategy, ask about their digital and offline marketing approach. Find out how they develop strategies, what tools and platforms they use, and how they measure success. 

By clearly understanding their methodology, you can be sure that you're working with an agency with the experience and expertise to help you achieve your account-based goals. 

The best way to learn about an agency's methodology and practices is to ask them directly. Here are some questions you can ask:

  • What is your process for planning and executing ABM programs?
  • What strategies do you use to reach and engage our target accounts?
  • What platforms do you use for digital marketing?
  • Do you have offline tactics you can use?
  • What is your process to create targeted campaigns and run them
  • What kind of data do you collect, and how do you use it to inform your decisions?
  • How do you measure the success of account based marketing campaigns? 

These are just a few questions about an agency's methodology and practices. By asking these questions, you will better understand how they operate and whether or not they are the right agency for you.

What are the agency's size, scope, and focus?

It's important to consider their size, scope, and focus. For example, depending on your needs, you may want to work with a large, international full-service marketing agency that can handle all aspects of your ABM campaigns. However, this also requires you commit to a budget starting in the mid-six-figures.  Or, you may prefer to work with a smaller, boutique agency specializing in account-based marketing programs.

There's no right or wrong answer here. It just depends on your specific needs. If you're unsure what kind of agency you need, it's always good to start by outlining your criteria and requirements, as stated above. Then, start talking to a few different agencies, large and boutique, to better understand their size, scope, and focus.  And the required minimum budget.

What are the agency's core services?

In addition to considering an agency's size, scope, and focus, you'll also want to ask about their core services or strengths. For example, some agencies only work with more prominent consumer brands. Other agencies may have a more B2B focus and do well with SaaS startups. 

Most agencies offer a range of services, but not all of them will be a good fit for your business. For example, if you're looking for help with social media marketing, you'll want to work with an agency with a strong track record in social media. Or, if you're looking for help with search engine optimization (SEO), you'll want to work with an agency specializing in SEO. 

The same for ABM.  An agency that focuses on ABM is probably your best choice to start. 

Be sure to ask about an agency's core services before you decide.

What is the agency's clientele like

Another important consideration when choosing a digital marketing agency is its clientele. Look at their online portfolio and ask about an agency's past and current clients.  Are you a SaaS marketer, but the agency’s portfolio is mostly e-commerce?  That’s probably not a good fit.

Make sure they have a list of clients that contain companies in a similar industry as you.  Here is an example of some clients listed on the front page of our ABM agency SaaSMQL:

Source: Featured Clients - SaaSMQL

References

And of course, always ask for some client references so you can get a better idea of what it's like to work with the agency.

What are the agency's rates?

We’ve talked about budget, but you'll also want to ask directly, in the first call, about what an agency's rates are. And also how they bill. 

The two main categories are project-based, where you pay a fixed fee for what is being delivered. And hourly, where the agency bills by the hour. 

Ask about their pricing structure and see if they offer any discounts for long-term contracts or specific budget commitments. It's also a good idea to get an estimate for the total cost of a project during discovery before you commit to working with an agency. 

By asking about rates upfront, you can be sure that you're getting a fair price for the services you need.

Now that you know how to choose an account based agency, it's time to pick a finalist and begin work!  Be sure to keep the considerations we've discussed in mind, and you'll be sure to find an agency that's a good fit.

Monitor the results of your campaign and make changes as needed

Once you are in the execution phase and your ABM programs are running, here are some broad metrics to understand if you’ve made the right decision.  Two to three months is a reasonable time frame to start seeing results.

  • Increased website traffic from target accounts
  • More interactions by sales with key decision-makers in target accounts
  • A higher number of lead generation opportunities in your sales pipeline
  • Shorter time to close due to better targeting

To start, make sure you have clear goals and objectives for your account based marketing programs. What are you hoping to achieve? Once you understand your goals, work with your account based agency to create KPIs (key performance indicators) that will help you measure progress. These could include website traffic, leads generated, or conversion rate. Track these metrics regularly - at least monthly - and compare them to your goals.

Experiment and Adjust ABM Campaigns

If you do not see the results you want, don't be afraid to make changes. Perhaps you need to adjust your budget or change your ABM list. Maybe you need to tweak your messaging or offer more compelling content. Whatever the case may be, don't be afraid to collaborate with your agency to experiment until you find what works.

The bottom line is this: a successful ABM campaign requires hyper-focused effort and collaboration between you and the agency. By monitoring your campaign closely and making changes as needed, you can ensure that your digital marketing agency is helping you achieve your desired results.

Communication With Your ABM Marketing Agency

When it comes to coordinating ABM strategy with your agency, clear communication is critical. Beyond a clear idea of your goals, target audience, and budget, you need to set realistic expectations for the project timeline and manage it.  After all, rushing a project can lead to subpar results. 

Whether big or small your digital marketing agency may be, there will always be many moving parts when coordinating projects. As a result, it can be challenging to keep everyone on the same page, from dealing with vendors to managing team members. However, there are a few key things that you can do to help ensure that your projects run smoothly.

Project Management Communication Tools

First, clear and concise communication is essential. Make sure that everyone involved in the project understands their role and what is expected of them.

Second, create a detailed plan and timeline for the project. Lastly, be flexible and willing to adjust the plan as needed. Things will inevitably come up during a project that needs to be adjusted.

As digital marketing becomes more and more essential for businesses, it's crucial to have tools to help you manage your digital projects. Here are some of the best communication tools to help you keep your digital projects on track:

  • Asana is a project management software that helps you keep track of tasks and deadlines. It also allows you to share files and communicate with team members.
  • Basecamp is another project management software that includes features such as to-do lists, file sharing, and messaging.
  • Trello is a visual project management tool that uses boards and cards to help you organize tasks. You can also add comments and due dates to each task.
  • Slack is a messaging app that allows you to communicate with team members in real-time. It's great for sharing files and getting quick answers to questions.
  • Airtable and Zapier are no-code tools that allow you to build custom workflows for your digital projects. You can track project owners, budgets, timelines, and deliverables to match your specific workflow.
  • Stacker allows you to create custom interfaces to your Airtable apps, including features like login screens and data entry forms to make the experience friendly to non-technical users.

Knowing which communication tool is right for your project can be difficult with many options available. The best way to decide is to try out some basic tools like Slack and Asana and see how those work.  You can add more tools to the stack as you get more comfortable with your workflow needs.

Conclusion To Selecting An Account Based Marketing Agency

It's time to get started on your ABM campaign!  If you're feeling overwhelmed, don't worry.  Agencies have experts who can help you every step of the way. 

Narrow down your choices to two or three and sign a contract. Then, work closely with them to create a strategy to reach your buyer personas and campaigns targeting these personas. Finally, monitor the results of your campaign and make changes as needed. 

Thank you for following our guide on selecting an account-based marketing agency.  Let's talk!  We are experts in helping enterprise marketers run ABM marketing campaigns.

Reach out today to info@saasmql.com and let’s talk about ways you can fuel your growth with an ABM program.

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