What is Account-Based Marketing (ABM)?

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategic approach that focuses marketing efforts on a clearly defined set of target accounts. Rather than casting a wide net to generate leads, ABM narrows in on high-value accounts and tailors campaigns and messaging to resonate with each account’s specific needs.

The key principles of ABM include:

  • Identifying and prioritizing a small number of key accounts
  • Gathering insights on target accounts to understand their needs
  • Personalizing messaging and content for each target account
  • Coordinating campaigns across channels to engage accounts
  • Measuring success based on account engagement, not individual leads

ABM represents a shift from traditional inbound marketing. While inbound marketing aims to attract a broad audience, ABM focuses solely on landing target accounts. ABM also entails much more personalization and one-to-one marketing tailored for each account’s interests.

The role of personalization and targeted outreach is central to ABM. Rather than blanketing the market with generic messaging, ABM relies on research and customized campaigns relevant to each target account. The goal is to take a consultative, tailored approach to engage and convert high-value accounts.

Why Implement an ABM Strategy?

Account-based marketing (ABM) has become an increasingly popular B2B marketing strategy due to its ability to deliver greater ROI, align sales and marketing, and enhance the customer experience.

Compared to broad-based demand generation efforts, an ABM approach allows marketers to focus budget and resources on a targeted list of high-value accounts. This personalized attention leads to higher conversion rates from those accounts. According to ITSMA research, ABM delivers close rates nearly 2x higher than other sales methods.

ABM also fosters closer alignment between sales and marketing teams. Sales has crucial insights into high-potential accounts that can inform ABM strategy. Meanwhile, marketing provides the content, messaging and campaigns tailored to those priority accounts. This collaboration allows both teams to work together toward shared revenue goals.

Finally, an account-based approach improves customer experience by providing relevant, personalized messaging and offers. Buyers feel like they are receiving tailored solutions for their unique needs, making them more likely to engage with the brand and ultimately convert.

How to Identify Target Accounts

Identifying and selecting the right target accounts is a crucial first step in developing an effective ABM strategy. The key is to define your ideal customer profile (ICP) based on factors like industry, company size, revenue, and other attributes that make accounts a good fit. Once you have a clear ICP, you can start researching specific accounts that match it.

When selecting target accounts, look at both quantitative and qualitative criteria. Quantitatively, focus on accounts with revenue, growth potential, and deal size that align with your ICP. Qualitatively, prioritize accounts where you have existing relationships, there is a clear need for your product, or you can provide unique value.

Conduct thorough research on your target accounts to identify the key stakeholders and decision makers you need to reach. Look for contacts on LinkedIn, visit the company website, and leverage tools like ZoomInfo to build out your target account list. The more you know about an account, the better you can personalize messaging and engagement.

Aim for a targeted, tiered approach – go after your dream accounts first, then expand to a second tier of strong-fit accounts. Keep the initial target list relatively small and focused before scaling your ABM strategy further.

Building an Effective ABM Strategy

A strong ABM strategy begins with research and planning. The first step is developing detailed buyer personas and account profiles. This involves identifying the key decision makers and influencers involved in the purchase process for your target accounts. Gather insights into their demographics, challenges, goals, and content preferences.

Next, map out the typical buyer’s journey for your target accounts. Understand the different stages prospects go through and what information they need during each stage. Use this to create relevant content tailored to where they are in the journey.

With your personas and buyer’s journey mapped out, you can start selecting the right channels and tactics to engage your accounts. Email, social media ads, and account-based display ads are commonly used for awareness. As prospects move down the funnel, outreach via phone, direct mail, and sales reps help create deeper connections.

Events and webinars are great forums for interacting with multiple stakeholders from an account in one place. Look for channels where you can deliver personalized, relevant messaging to accounts at each stage. Experiment to see which perform best.

Key ABM Tactics and Channels

There are several proven tactics and channels that can be leveraged for effective account-based marketing campaigns:

Advertising and Retargeting

Account-based advertising allows you to serve highly targeted ads to your key accounts across channels like Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more. You can create customized ads and landing pages tailored to specific accounts. Retargeting helps keep your brand top of mind by remarketing to accounts that have already engaged.

Personalized Email and Direct Mail

Sending personalized emails and direct mail to key decision makers allows you to deliver custom messaging and offers. Make sure to research and include relevant details in your outreach. Using compelling subject lines and avoiding a “one-size-fits-all” approach is key.

Social Media and Employee Advocacy

Social media platforms provide opportunities to engage your target accounts. Join relevant LinkedIn Groups, connect with decision makers, provide valuable content, and leverage employee advocates at target accounts. Just remember to maintain a helpful, not salesy approach.

Events and Account-Based Experiences

In-person events and account-based experiences like dinners, sporting events, and office visits allow for valuable face-time with your target accounts. Get creative in providing VIP access and exclusive invitations to build relationships.

Integrating Sales in ABM Execution

For account-based marketing campaigns to be truly successful, sales teams need to be closely aligned and enabled to execute personalized outreach to target accounts. This requires close collaboration between marketing and sales to develop coordinated strategies.

Marketing should provide in-depth training to sales representatives on the targeted accounts, buyer personas, value propositions, and messaging. Equipping sales with account insights allows them to have more contextual and relevant conversations. Sales enablement ensures reps understand the goals of ABM and how to leverage marketing’s efforts.

In turn, sales can feed valuable account intelligence back to marketing, such as key decision makers, pain points, and competitor landscape. Marketing campaigns can then be further refined based on sales’ experience engaging with target accounts. Reps may also have existing relationships that can provide shortcuts to influencers at an account.

By bringing marketing and sales together around a shared ABM strategy, both teams are empowered to execute personalized, account-centric experiences. Marketing generates high-quality leads and opportunities, while sales closes deals through tailored outreach. This level of alignment is critical for ABM success.

Measuring and Optimizing ABM Success

Defining the right KPIs and metrics is crucial for tracking the performance of your ABM campaigns and identifying opportunities for optimization. Instead of vanity metrics like impressions and clicks, ABM requires an account-centric approach to measurement focused on pipeline and revenue impact.

Start by establishing your key performance indicators (KPIs) aligned to your ABM objectives. Typical ABM KPIs include:

  • Account engagement rate
  • Target account conversion rate
  • Revenue and pipeline generated from target accounts
  • Win rates for deals associated with ABM accounts

Tools like account engagement scoring and intent monitoring allow you to track the progression of target accounts through the funnel. Analyze this data to identify high-performing and low-performing account segments.

Regularly review your ABM analytics to uncover optimization opportunities. Look for trends in the types of content, campaigns and channels that resonate best with target accounts. Identify any gaps in your coverage of key stakeholders within the accounts. Use these insights to refine your ABM strategies, personalize messaging, adjust account priorities and drive continual improvement.

By constantly monitoring performance and iterating based on data, you can maximize the return from your ABM investment and unlock the full potential of account-based marketing.

ABM Campaign Examples and Case Studies

Let’s look at some real-world examples of successful ABM campaigns across different industries to understand what worked and how common challenges were overcome.

Technology Company Drives $8 Million in New Pipeline

A B2B technology company wanted to increase pipeline generation from their existing customer base. They launched an ABM campaign focused on cross-selling to 100 target accounts. The 6-month campaign included:

  • Targeted ads and content to highlight new product capabilities
  • One-to-one emails informing key contacts of new features
  • ABM-specific landing pages with special offers

Results: $8 million in new sales pipeline generated from the target accounts.

Software Company Increases Engagement by 42%

A SaaS company struggled with low engagement from key accounts. They implemented an ABM campaign to increase product usage and renewals among these customers. Tactics included:

  • Account-specific usage reports and recommendations
  • Targeted in-app messages driving feature adoption
  • Customized email campaigns by account size/type

Results: 42% increase in engagement among target accounts.

Manufacturer Wins Back Lost Accounts

A manufacturing company wanted to regain market share by winning back lost accounts. Their ABM campaign focused on:

  • One-to-one outreach informing key contacts of new capabilities
  • Invitations to VIP events and plant tours
  • Targeted social media ads promoting their operational excellence

Results: Successfully won back business from 3 former key accounts.

Key Takeaways:

  • Leverage existing customer data to identify promising target accounts
  • Get creative in finding ways to provide value to each account
  • Combine digital tactics with high-touch, personalized outreach

Integrating ABM with Other Initiatives

While ABM campaigns are extremely targeted in nature, they don’t exist in a vacuum. To maximize results, ABM strategies should be integrated within the broader context of your marketing technology stack and initiatives.

Demand generation remains a key component of any B2B marketing strategy. Lead nurturing and traditional inbound tactics help attract and engage new accounts outside of your targeted list. ABM and demand generation efforts can work together to provide sufficient pipeline and opportunities.

Tight alignment with sales teams is critical for ABM success. Sales reps provide on-the-ground intelligence for mapping accounts and contacts. In turn, ABM provides personalized and relevant messaging for sales teams to have more strategic customer conversations. This creates a powerful synergy.

Marketing automation, CRM, and sales enablement technologies provide the backbone for executing ABM campaigns. Robust tracking and analytics capabilities allow you to measure engagement and optimize interactions. Integration between platforms gives both marketing and sales a unified view of the account.

While ABM focuses on select strategic target accounts, it doesn’t mean neglecting your existing customers. Customer marketing, retention and loyalty programs help strengthen relationships. ABM strategies should ultimately align with customer success efforts.

The key is ensuring data, insights and messaging flows freely across sales, marketing, and customer engagement teams. With the right technology stack and alignment, ABM can amplify results across the entire customer lifecycle.

The Future of Account-Based Marketing

Account-based marketing is an evolving field, with new trends and innovations constantly emerging to help B2B marketers adapt to changing buyer behavior and market dynamics. Here are some of the key developments shaping the future of ABM:

Hyper-Personalization Through AI

Leveraging artificial intelligence and machine learning will enable marketers to deliver hyper-personalized messaging and experiences to target accounts. AI can help analyze data to identify customer pain points and deliver tailored content that speaks to each account’s specific needs.

Account-Based Advertising

Tools like Terminus allow B2B brands to serve display ads to key decision makers across the web. Targeting display ads to specific accounts makes advertising more efficient and drives increased engagement.

Enhanced Predictive Analytics

Sophisticated analytics tools are emerging to help marketers model different outcomes and scenarios when targeting accounts. This allows for greater optimization and smarter account selection based on propensity to buy.

Scaled Execution

New platforms are making it easier to scale ABM execution across hundreds or thousands of accounts. This expanded reach allows businesses to drive greater revenue while maintaining personalization.

Omnichannel Orchestration

Orchestration engines enable automated delivery of omnichannel campaigns across multiple touchpoints. This helps coordinate highly personalized messaging as prospects move through their buyer’s journey.

As ABM continues to evolve, marketers who stay ahead of the latest trends and technologies will be best positioned to adapt their strategies to the changing B2B landscape. The future of ABM is bright for marketers willing to embrace innovation.