What is Account-Based Marketing (ABM)?

Mastering Account-Based Marketing (ABM): Best Practices for B2B Success

The styles of ABM (account-based marketing)

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) your way

B2B marketers have developed three distinct types of account-based marketing (ABM), and companies are working to develop tools, programs, and competencies in all three types. Ideally, the different types of account-based marketing align directly to growth potential and sales coverage for different types and tiers of existing customers and prospects.

One-to-one Account-Based Marketing
A dedicated, senior-level marketer works in full partnership with the account team to create a highly customized marketing programs for “markets of one.”

One-to-few Account-Based Marketing
Takes the research-based principles of One-to-One and applies them to larger target audiences made up of groups of accounts. This approach typically brings together clusters of 5-15 accounts with similar business issues, often in the same industry.

One-to-many Account-Based Marketing
Emphasizes personalization at scale. This approach typically addresses a strategically curated target account list of several hundred (or more) named accounts. To achieve this level of scale, technology needs to play an important role.

Mix and match to suit your needs
The good news? You don’t have to choose. The highest-performing companies implement a blended approach — and benefit from an optimal balance between breadth and depth.

Few, if any, companies can afford to do true One-to-One ABM to even a fraction of their individual accounts. But most companies have at least a handful of absolutely critical high-value accounts. Relying on a One-to-Few or One-to-Many approach, without doing One-to-One for those key accounts, could mean missing a great deal of opportunity or risking future revenue by failing to deliver an appropriately customized experience.

Read more about blended ABM in Raising the Game in B2B Marketing: 2018 ABM Benchmarking Study >

"Driving an account-first approach to marketing has been a fundamental game changer with sales. My team is able to show tangible marketing impact in the accounts that matter to sales and provide actionable insights on where to dial up marketing investment. It’s no longer a question of 'what has marketing done for me lately?' but more 'how can marketing do even more of these things to help my sales team exceed their quota?'"
Emma Chalwin SVP, AMER Marketing, Salesforce

Ready. Set. Go.

Begin with the basics of ABM

Most marketers understand the importance of focusing on accounts but struggle to implement and get buy-in for their program. Sound familiar? We recommend starting with the fundamentals of ABM and then moving forward from there.

Get the basics

Move to the next level

Been doing account-based marketing for a bit? Have a formalized plan in place where you’re executing against a target account list for your outbound and inbound marketing efforts? Take your marketing strategy to the next level by investing in new technology to automate and scale your ABM efforts.

Go beyond

Become an ABM expert

It’s the fast way to dive deep into account-based marketing. Get the hands-on knowledge to really make ABM work for you, your team, and your organization — whether you’re a novice or an experienced ABM practitioner. If you’re looking to get up-to-speed on account-based marketing best practices quickly, this is where you’ll get what you need.

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What makes account-based marketing so irresistible?

Aligns sales and marketing
Account-based marketing is a collaborative endeavor between sales and marketing. Shifting the focus to customer accounts, rather than individuals, bridges the gap by focusing everyone on a list of target companies.

Focuses on marketing & sales strategy
While “spray and pray” campaigns may work for B2C, they don’t cut it for B2B’s limited number of potential buyers. With ABM, you spend your time and money on the accounts and decision-makers that matter most.

Measures what matters
Implementing an ABM program requires shifting away from traditional lead generation metrics and focusing on account-specific data. Measuring by accounts makes you an active owner of the revenue chain, moving from inquiries and click-through rates to pipeline and close rates.

Starts before the form-fill
With ABM and an investment in the right tech, you don’t need to wait for a form-fill. You can identify unknown visitors’ companies and focus on the ones that matter most.

Narrows the playing field to the juiciest targets
ABM campaigns are hyper-targeted on your account list, which means the leads you generate are top-notch. Each and every one.

Optimizes the customer experience
With ABM, you speak directly to stakeholders at specific companies, giving them relevant messages at the right moment to keep them moving through the funnel. Account-based marketing also plays a starring role in customer retention, cross-sell, and upsell.

Six steps to ABM success

1. Identify

Build your target account list

With account-based identification technology, you can spot the high-value accounts most likely to buy, based on a variety of signals that go beyond traditional firmographic data, such as product usage, business fit, culture, budget, interests, investments, and a network of business relationships.

2. Attract

Draw target accounts to your website

Reach your target accounts and the right stakeholders wherever they are online. Drive interest with personalized messages and focused, account-based advertising that speaks to their specific pain points and solution needs.

Engage target accounts icon

3. Engage

Create relevant, personalized experiences

Personalize content and calls-to-action with relevant messaging and imagery specifically for your target segments.

4. Convert

Convert target accounts to sales opportunities

Execute an ABM strategy directly in your marketing automation platform to run account-based marketing campaigns, all while driving better quality leads with shortened forms.

Handshake icon5. Close

Help your friends in sales close deals

Discover the right individuals to contact within your target accounts and gather insights to personalize outreach and maximize the quality of your conversations.

Measuring tape icon6. Measure

Show off your impact across the funnel

Use a mix of leading indicators (e.g., downloads and MQAs) and lagging indicators (e.g., win/loss rates, funnel velocity, and annual contract value) to determine the effectiveness of your campaigns and overall ABM strategy.

Extending ABM across channels

ABM can be applied to every part of your marketing mix. The result? More efficient and higher performing channels.

Display advertising is often thought of as a top-of-the-funnel tactic, focused on driving awareness and generating website traffic. Under an ABM umbrella, account-based advertising campaigns become more strategic, and cover the whole funnel, zeroing in on specific accounts to increase impact and reduce spend.

ABM your advertising by purchasing ads just for your target account segments and then use personalized messaging. Measure how each campaign results in both increased website traffic and engagement from those key accounts. Discover more about optimizing account-based advertising. Consider measuring “cost per engaged account” to determine the effectiveness of your ABM ad budget.

Web marketing
Your website is one of your most important channels. Delivering a one-size-fits-all experience means you’re missing out on some of your biggest potential sales. In an ABM world, you can identify the accounts visiting your site and tailor the experience to their needs. Personalizing almost every word, if you choose.

ABM your website by incorporating your target segments for metrics, as well as user experience. Add them to your analytics to isolate high-value visitors and study their behavior, engagement, and conversion patterns. Optimize their experience with segment-based personalization, driving quickly to relevant content. Start by tweaking existing content and messaging while you build out a library of custom-made assets.

Events and webinars
These channels cast a wide net and fill your funnel, but applying an account-based strategy gets more high-quality leads to your sales team faster. The end result: Higher-value events and increased ROI.

ABM your events by evaluating events and webinar opportunities with an eye toward high overlap between attendees and your target account lists. (TIP: If you’re evaluating something new, ask for a previous event’s attendee list.) Make sure sales has event leads as soon as you get them and create CRM reports that show registration of their target accounts. As much as 30% of webinar opportunities can come before the event even happens.

Field marketing
Just because field marketing is aligned with sales doesn’t mean it’s account-focused. All too often plans are made based on sales or regional requests rather than focusing on your overall ABM strategy.

ABM your field marketing by mapping the locations of your target accounts and using this as a way of proactively building your strategy. Create a list of cities you can reasonably cover based on your budget and headcount, and tier the list based on account density. Craft your programs in conjunction with sales to help establish a consistent presence within your key cities. Run programs that provide momentum and satisfy pipeline generation.

"All parts of the marketing organization have changed with our shift to ABM. The biggest has to be demand generation / growth team. They’ve gone from scale to impact, have a whole new set of stakeholders weighing in on their work, and measurement models have changed (though still based on revenue)."
Dave Rigotti VP Marketing, Bizible

Set yourself up for success

Advice on aligning sales & marketing from Matt Heinz, President, Heinz Marketing

What is the best advice for selling ABM internally?
Step 1: Make sure sales understands what you’re trying to do with account-based marketing.

“Know why you’re doing it and think about the vested interest for each of the people in the organization that have to say yes to that…And start small.”

How do I align sales and marketing?
Now that everyone knows what you’re planning, it’s time to go beyond personal relationships and formalize your alignment.

“We committed to these numbers. Who’s going to do it? And where is the money going to come from? And who’s got content for this?”

Why is organizational alignment a must?
Marketing and sales go out for a beer… No, that doesn’t mean the teams are aligned. Matt reminds us that alignment must go deeper than personal relationships and shared strategies.

“It’s more than just strategic alignment on what are our objectives and who are we targeting together. You’ve got to move from a strategic alignment to operational alignment.”

See how ABM could work for your org

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