How to Brew a Bold Blend of ABM and Inbound

Account-based Marketing (ABM) is the hottest trend in B2B, but rest assured, this isn’t just another over-hyped acronym. According to SiriusDecisions, more than 70% of B2B companies have staff that are fully or partially dedicated to driving ABM-specific programs.

Why? ABM tackles today’s top B2B marketing challenge: Delivering quality leads. In our 2017 State of B2B Digital Marketing Report, marketers named lead-quality as both the top goal and challenge of their digital marketing efforts.


This shift in focus from lead volume to lead quality naturally lends itself to account-based marketing. When done right, ABM fosters sales and marketing alignment, higher average sale prices, more upsells, and less client churn.

Yet, ABM’s success leaves many marketers asking, “Where does this leave inbound marketing?”

Despite the ABM buzz, the two are not mutually exclusive. For most B2B marketers, it shouldn’t be a question of ABM or inbound marketing, but instead, a matter of defining the right blend of both to yield more qualified leads and revenue.

Let’s cover how to craft a balanced account-based marketing recipe.

First, align with sales to re-evaluate your go-to-market strategy and target accounts.

Every company’s target market is different and therefore requires a unique approach to ABM. When deciding which level of ABM investment makes sense for your team, a great place to start is by asking:

Does our organization sell to a select number of logos, a wide-range of customers, or somewhere in between?

TrackMaven details a great framework Joe Chernov, VP of Marketing at InsightSquared, built to guide marketers on prescribing where their brands fit on the ABM to inbound spectrum:


Organizations selling to a finite list of buyers, like the Fortune 500, could opt for an ABM-heavy approach, while those selling to let’s say, the Fortune 500 Million, could rely heavily on inbound.

It makes sense for a manufacturer in the aerospace and defense industry, for example, to take a primarily account-based approach. In this case, the organization most likely has a limited list of potential clients that is unlikely to drastically change or grow.

On the other hand, a digital marketing analytics software could, in theory, sell to any organization with a website and the right budget. In this scenario, we’d want to blend the benefits of both ABM and inbound by giving special attention — or, in other words, allocating more budget and resources — to key accounts with a high likelihood of becoming large customers, while balancing a steady flow of ready-to-buy, inbound opportunities.

Second, harness the power of cross-channel marketing with a tier-based approach to ABM.

A common misconception about ABM is that it’s solely an outbound strategy. While outbound is no doubt an essential component, ABM’s effectiveness is hugely strengthened with a coordinated, cross-channel content marketing strategy.

Need evidence? Look no further than the difference in response between a cold outreach and a relevant follow-up message to an engaged account. In a perfect world, our target accounts would already know and love our brands, but alas, sometimes we have to start at awareness. Just like in “traditional” demand generation, marketers need to employ the right blend of tactics – account-based content marketing, account-based advertising, account-based sales outreach, etc. – to attract, engage, and convert key accounts.

However, many marketers struggle to scale the account-based approach. How do we build a team to support a content marketing plan personalized to the account level?

Engagio provides a fantastic example of how to balance account selection and marketing tactics with a tiered ABM strategy based on company resources and priorities.



In this example, the ABM approach is segmented into three account levels: The first starts with a highly-personalized plan to target 20-50 individual companies, the second is persona or industry-based with cross-channel touch points for hundreds of accounts, while the last level takes more of an inbound method as it’s meant to target thousands of qualified accounts for a particular solution.

Of course, the account numbers and tactics will vary according to your organization’s target market and resources, but this methodology will help you find the right balance between ABM and inbound.

Ready to brew a bold blend of ABM and inbound? Let’s talk over coffee at the Marketing Innovation Summit. Swing by the DemandWave booth to book a discovery meeting with our team. We’ll share how to win more qualified leads and revenue with a fresh blend of account-based and inbound marketing, plus a $20 gift card to Blue Bottle Coffee. We hope to see you there!