Let’s Get Real: 18 Months of Account-Based Marketing

For many, “doing” ABM equates to buying a tool or running a campaign versus wrapping their entire strategy and way of life around account-based selling and marketing. Too often, marketers get a flawed list of accounts from Sales only to see their programs underperform. To avoid this pattern, marketing teams must ask themselves this fundamental question: do these accounts really represent the best revenue opportunities?

Starting with targeted ads or social campaigns is a fine way to get an ABM program off the ground but too many marketers stop there. Here are 5 steps the marketing team at LookBookHQ took to create a highly agile ABM strategy that’s constantly evolving.

1. You call that a target account?

Our first crack at ABM started with a deep dive into what Sales considered a target account. The marketing team noticed that many of the “Top 25” accounts each Account Executive had selected weren’t ones we could (or should) actually sell to. What’s more, the sales team wasn’t even focused on these “coveted” accounts in any meaningful way.

Marketing stepped in and ran a slew of regression on our customers and past opportunities. From there, using a proprietary formula, we built out an ideal customer profile (ICP) model to see how that would compare to the sales selected accounts.

Once we knew who fit our ICP, we tagged this cohort and tracked their conversion compared to other accounts–an experiment aimed at defining a better target account universe.

2. Heat ‘em up!

After tracking our ICP cohort, it was clear it was outperforming the control group (i.e. all other accounts, include the sales-selected Top 25s). So we took it one step further…

The marketing team decided to run some slightly more targeted campaigns to this group. We invested in some targeted display and social programs–but we held off on customized messaging and assets for this group (for now). Until this point, we’d been doing what I’ll call “ABM Light.”

3. Don’t boil the ocean

Over the next 6-9 months, we implemented more and more ABM ideology. All signs pointed to a better, more efficient path to revenue… but something was still bugging me.

There was a lot of variability within our target account universe. I had the nagging sense that our target account cohort was way too large. We hadn’t done enough work to whittle it down to a core set of accounts that truly represented the best path to revenue. As long as this was true, we would continue to deal with inefficiencies in our marketing and sales process and fail to foster long term, profitable customers.

We needed to narrow the beam on our ICPs. The next iteration of our target account selection helped us hone who we considered to be an ideal customer. We scoured every list and considered a million different angles and data points–we had to be brutally honest about who we should and shouldn’t try to sell to.

4. ABM starts with sales

We whittled our target account universe from about 4,000 accounts to 1,200. We developed a entirely new selling model focused exclusively on this new group. These accounts represented the best revenue opportunities so the obvious next step was to pour all our energy toward turning them into customers! Marketing worked hand and hand with Sales to drive these changes (yes, you read that right).

5. All in on ABM

Fast forward a year and half, and we’re a million miles from where we started. Our entire marketing and sales process is now designed around this target account model. We’ve continued to get even more refined. They are broken down into specific use cases, and we’ve built content, scripts and campaigns customized to each play. Our entire approach to how we prospect, market, and sell to each cohort is now customized around accounts.

The ABM beast continues to evolve: we make pretty major changes on a quarterly basis, from swapping offers and changing messaging to rethinking resource alignment and goals.

The bottom line: ABM isn’t just a thing you do, it’s a construct you live in. Approaching it in an agile way ensures you don’t paint yourself into a corner and you’re able to constantly react to the situation you’re in. The world of B2B marketing is always changing and you have to adapt in order to survive.