Account-Based Marketing

Account-based marketing (ABM) offers organizations a significant return on investment (ROI) as they are faced with the need to acquire, retain, and grow high-value accounts.

What is account-based marketing, or ABM?

Account-based marketing is a focused approach to B2B marketing in which marketing and sales teams work together to target best-fit accounts and turn them into customers. In the age of information abundance, marketers are always fighting for the attention of potential customers. Because of this, companies that want to focus on the highest possible ROI need to place their attention on high-value accounts, keeping account penetration, marketing penetration, and logos in consideration. To reach their goals, marketing teams must employ strategies that meld the expertise of sales and marketing to locate, engage with, and close deals with high-value accounts that matter the most.

Capturing the attention of buyers today looks a lot different than it did just a few years ago. In the engagement economy—an era where everyone and everything is connected—new and evolving channels, strategies, and technologies allow marketers to connect with customers on an entirely new level. It’s an exciting time! But this new horizon comes with a host of challenges as we sort out a growing abundance of information, increased buyer expectations, and struggle to be heard among a cacophony of competitors. To reach their goals, many companies seeking high-value customers often find that an ABM strategy serves them better than casting a broad net.

Account-based marketing is not a new concept, but it has recently experienced a resurgence due to evolving technology and a changing landscape. The implementation of an ABM strategy can help improve marketing ROI, drive attributed revenue, generate more conversions and qualified leads, and align sales with marketing. In general, B2B marketers tend to target leads more generally in order to appeal to as many companies as possible, but that doesn’t result in the best ROI. In the past, it was difficult and expensive to scale ABM initiatives due to the high level of personalization it requires. With today’s new and improving technology, it’s now easier and more affordable to scale ABM to a variety of organizations, and marketers across the board are implementing an ABM strategy within their team to drive higher value outcomes.

“Marketing is no longer a one-way street—you cannot simply shove promotions to your prospects. You need to engage in an active dialogue and ABM lets you do that with unparalleled precision.”
- Shari Johnston, SVP of Marketing, Radius

Common problems that ABM can solve

A broad marketing approach may make sense at first in the B2B space, but it can drastically reduce your ROI compared to a targeted approach. A successful ABM initiative can boost revenue, optimize your efforts, and provide in-depth metrics that would be otherwise inaccessible. 

  • Problem: I’m not able to show clear ROI. One of the main goals of account-based marketing is to prioritize ROI, resulting in clear business results. In fact, compared to other marketing initiatives, the 2014 ITSMA Account-Based Marketing Survey found that “ABM delivers the highest return on investment of any B2B marketing strategy or tactic.”

  • Problem: We’re wasting a lot of time, staff, and budget resources. Since account-based marketing is focused on investing time in promising, high-value accounts, it allows marketers to focus their resources more efficiently and run marketing programs that are specifically optimized for target accounts.  

  • Problem: I’m not seeing engagement with my audience anymore. Since account-based marketing is so personalized, targeted customers tend to be more likely to engage with content. Since it is geared specifically to them, their business, and their specific stage in the customer journey, buyers are more likely to interact.

  • Problem: I’m not sure what goals and metrics I should be tracking. Account-based marketing makes it easier to analyze the effectiveness of your campaigns because you’re measuring a smaller set of target accounts across email, ads, web, and events. The data you collect will also be more detailed and can deliver insights you couldn’t collect otherwise.  

  • Problem: Our marketing and sales teams are not aligned. If your sales and marketing teams aren’t syncing up, ABM is one of the most efficient ways to get them on the same page. Account-based marketing runs similarly to sales, putting marketing and sales teams in the same mindset so they are thinking both in terms of accounts and how to target them, bring them to the table, and close the deal.

Learn more about how to solve these problems at your organization with our guide: Jumpstart Your Account-Based Marketing.

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Components of ABM

Account-based marketing consists of targeting, engagement, and measurement. Build these aspects into the foundation of your program and you’ll set your marketing team up for success.

  • Targeting and managing the right accounts: ABM allows you to use technology to target and manage accounts that are worth your time and will result in the highest ROI. This gives you the ability to centralize account targeting and management rather than managing and syncing accounts and lists between several apps. The type of accounts you target depends upon your organization, but the following parameters are a good place to start: high yield, product fit, quick wins, strategic importance, competitors, and territory.

  • Engaging across channels: Design and run coordinated and personalized campaigns across each of your marketing channels from a single platform rather than managing each individually. This requires an account-based marketing solution that knits each channel together and provides a foundation for you to deliver informed and comprehensive cross-channel campaigns to your target accounts.

  • Measuring and optimizing programs:Your ABM strategy must be measurable in order for you to demonstrate success and improve over time. To do this, you should find a solution that helps you to build account dashboards that look at specific accounts, programs, and targets, and provides coherent revenue-based account analytics—all in one place.

Learn more about the key to implementing a successful ABM strategy in our ebook: The 3 Essential Components of an ABM Solution.

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ROI of a successful lead generation program

The ROI of a successful lead generation program depends upon determining qualified leads and moving them along the sales funnel at their own pace. 

  • ABM drives ROI. 97% of marketers achieved higher ROI with ABM than with any other marketing initiatives according to Alterra Group.

  • ABM is superior to other marketing efforts. 84% of marketers say account-based marketing strategies outperform other marketing investments.

  • ABM results in higher revenue. Marketing generates 208% more revenue in companies that have aligned their sales and marketing teams.

Planning, implementing, and optimizing your account-based marketing program

The foundation of a successful ABM program is a list of carefully chosen high-value accounts. Once you define your targets, your marketing and sales teams can come together to craft and deliver personalized campaigns through the right channels to produce the best result. 

  • Step 1: Discover and define your high-value accounts: Use all the firmographic data and business intelligence you can find to help you identify and prioritize your high-value accounts. Consider revenue potential as well as other strategic factors, like market influence, likelihood to make a repeat purchase, and potential for higher than average profit margins. 

  • Step 2: Map accounts and identify key internal players: Identify how your target accounts are structured, how decisions are made, and who the decision makers and influencers are. 

  • Step 3: Define content and personalized messaging: An effective ABM initiative employs valuable content that addresses clear and significant business challenges that the target account faces. Think about how your messaging and content can address the target account’s specific pain points. 

  • Step 4: Determine optimal channels: Communicate with your audience on the channels they leverage, including web, mobile, and email. Consider which channels will be most effective for the specific roles or industries you might be targeting and consider things such as opt-in rules and other restrictions in your region. 

  • Step 5: Execute targeted and coordinated campaigns: It's critical to coordinate your campaigns across channels and align the marketing and sales teams’ efforts for maximum impact. Modern technology allows marketers to coordinate and execute ABM campaigns at a much greater scale and efficiency than was once possible. 

  • Step 6: Measure, learn, and optimize: Be sure to test, measure, and optimize your ABM marketing campaigns to ensure that they are effective and that your results will continuously improve. Be sure to analyze the results of individual campaigns as well as trends at the account level and in the aggregate (all target accounts) to get a more accurate picture. 

Learn more about how to get ABM working for you in our Definitive Guide to Account-Based Marketing.