Getting Started: Account-Based Marketing

How to turn your ABM strategy into an ABM program.

Getting Started with Account-Based Marketing

Now that you understand the concepts behind Account-Based Marketing, it's time to put those ideas into action. But where do you start? Do you have to adopt every element of ABM to be successful? Do you have to spend a lot of money? Does everyone in Marketing and Sales have to be an ABM expert? The good news is getting started with ABM can be done quickly. Many B2B marketers approach their first program as a pilot program to prove success, refine processes, and identify areas of opportunity. Here are some best practices for getting started.

Getting Started Checklist

1. Define Your ABM Program

It's a bold new ABM world so when embarking on your first ABM program, start small, learn and then scale. Take the time to articulate the problem you're trying to solve, the marketing tactics you will use, the program duration, and how you define success. Asking yourself these questions can be a good starting point to identify where you will benefit most from your first program:

Are you strategically attracting your top-target accounts?
Are you engaging your audience with relevant content?
Are you converting and closing the right accounts?
Are you measuring the impact on your business goals?

2. Set Baseline Metrics

It's time to set baselines. You will develop a set of comparison metrics and in the process, identify data gaps and collection issues. Take your time during this step so you avoid completing your first ABM program only to find you can't measure it.

Gather results for the metrics you've identified in your program definition. Be sure to include a few business outcomes such as opportunity generation or pipeline to what you may already be tracking. Setting these baselines through an account-based lens helps you measure the impact on target accounts versus non-target accounts once your program begins.

3. Identify your target list

Keep it simple for your first program and pick one list where you can focus your attention to gain the greatest impact. There's no right answer to how big or small your list should be -- it really depends on the needs of your business, what you can handle for your first program and what marketing tactics you plan to use. Programs like advertising can support larger list sizes whereas programs requiring high-touch, specialized resources should have a much smaller list. (Check out the section below on how to select the right accounts.)

4. Market to your Accounts

You've done the heavy lifting and now it's time to put all that planning into practice. As you get ready to deploy your programs, stop to ask yourself, "Have I tuned this to be as account-based as it possibly can be?" For example, it's a great first step to target display ads to your key accounts. But did you personalize the ads by calling out the company name or tailoring the creative for different industries? This can be done programmatically with minimal effort and can significantly increase campaign success.

5. Evaluate your program

Congratulations! You got started with your first ABM program. After taking a moment to celebrate this huge accomplishment, turn your attention to monitoring your metrics and starting the evaluation process. Since you've followed this checklist and have already established your baselines, you are confident in your ability to collect and analyze the account-based metrics you need to demonstrate success. Traditional marketing focuses on immediate gratification -- CTR, web traffic, lead generation -- where this program is focusing on accounts. Some of your success metrics will show immediate results but these will also strengthen as your program matures. If you're adding business outcomes to define success, remember these take time to emerge. How long will depend on your sales cycle.

Upon completion of your program, do a thorough analysis. What you achieved is important but evaluating how you got there is equally important. Take a close look at the entire process from planning to analysis. Celebrate your accomplishments and identify areas for improvement. ABM is a journey that is different for everyone. Each program will build on the last, making your marketing more and more efficient.

Susan Campbell
Group Marketing Manager, Panasonic
If you look at the end game, and think how am I going to get there, it's going to be so big, you'd really just have to start and it evolves. The first step's the hardest. And then once you take it, you find your way.

Tools for Getting Started

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Getting Started with ABM

Not sure where to get started? Need a bit of inspiration? Use this guide to help define your Account-Based Marketing program. Get tips on how to start executing your program with details on building your target account list, advertising, personalization and measuring success. And learn how other B2B marketers started on their ABM journey.
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7 Planning Activities to Drive ABM Success

7 PLANNING ACTIVITIES TO DRIVE ABM SUCCESS

Embarking on your first Account-Based Marketing strategy or is it time to optimize your current one? Before creating great account-focused programs and tactics, you need to lay a good Account-Based Marketing foundation. Be sure your ABM strategy planning addresses the fundamental questions which will help you determine if you’re set up for success.
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ABM Tactics: Identifying Accounts

While many companies have a target account list, it is often created by sales and thrown over the wall to marketing. But having a list is not enough. Since the target account list at the center of Account-Based Marketing, it’s crucial that the list contains the right accounts.

You will likely want to keep things simple and start with a single list. But as you gain confidence and look to optimize or expand your ABM program (and your list size is big enough), consider breaking your list up into segments. The segments you select require discrete business objectives that marketing can use to build specific programs to support.

There are a few ways to approach the list-building process:

Evaluate Current Customers: Use your current customer base and create a lookalike model

Leverage Named Accounts: Include verticals and strategic accounts

Use Data: Generate a list of companies based on your data parameters

Use Account Identification Technology: Determine the high-value accounts most likely to buy and best individuals within those accounts

Getting Real with ABM

DocuSign's Multi-Channel ABM

For DocuSign, Account-Based Marketing means doing the work upfront. DocuSign’s marketing team identifies the most opportunistic accounts, which allows the Sales team to have informed, relevant conversations with their top accounts.

“Most of our ABM programs are integrated where we're leveraging multiple channels. We're advertising, retargeting and doing webinars across third party publishers. ”

Smashfly delivers high-touch ABM

Smashfly realized they primarily do business with large, enterprise businesses so they pivoted from traditional marketing to a high-touch ABM model focusing on differentiation. They needed to go beyond awareness and develop a relationship with their target accounts.

“We're focusing on high-touch engagement as opposed to just "spray and pray." Our strategy can be summed up as 'know us, trust us, buy us.' ”

ABM Tactics: Demonstrating Success

Don’t waste your time adopting Account-Based Marketing if you can’t adequately measure. It’s simply not worth the effort to identify your accounts, gain alignment with sales, and market to a select group of accounts if you can’t pivot from quantity-based channel metrics to quality-based account-focused metrics. Demonstrating success is rooted in the ability to tie your ABM programs with business outcomes.

Leading and Lagging Considerations

In order to demonstrate success, you need to set a baseline for each of your key metrics. Consider setting a few in each type of indicators—leading and lagging.

Leading indicators: Metrics that help you determine the effectiveness of your campaigns.

  • % of accounts on site
  • % of accounts engaged
  • # of Sales Accepted Leads (SALs)

Lagging indicators: Metrics that show business outcomes; maybe the most important since you’ll use these to determine the overall success of your ABM strategy.

  • # of accounts in Pipe
  • Average funnel velocity
  • Average contract value
  • Average close rate

Communicating Wins

Creating a dashboard to share across your ABM team—Marketing, Sales, and Operations—is a great way to communicate overall impact and ROI of your campaigns, maintain alignment, and identify areas of opportunity.

Disciplined measurement can provide data that helps the business recognize emerging market trends and opportunities that might prompt changes not just in marketing strategy but in overall business goals.

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