Everyone is Talking About Account Based Marketing (ABM).  Should You Be Listening?

By Gail Walls, Senior Funnel Management and Certified ABM Strategist

You’ve undoubtably heard of Account Based Marketing, or even considered it.  Maybe you’ve even started to implement an ABM program.  After all, ABM offers a distinct value proposition for most B2B companies – when done well it can absolutely impact your ability to drive relationships and revenue from specific accounts.  

Account Based Marketing used to be called “Strategic, Large, or Key Account” Marketing, which sounds a lot like today’s Wikipedia definition of ABM:

Account based marketing (ABM), also known as key account marketing, is a strategic approach to business marketing based on account awareness in which an organization considers and communicates with individual prospect or customer accounts as markets of one. Account based marketing is typically employed in enterprise level sales organizations.”

But today, ABM has come of age, thanks to marketing technology that makes it possible to implement and sustain the type of targeted and personalized communication that used to be too time-intensive and difficult for all but a handful of large accounts

The secret sauce of an ABM strategy is customizing campaigns to foster engagement within an account with the multiple stakeholders who require a unique twist or focus on various forms of content.  Personalization of the message helps drive relevancy.

MA platforms offer functionality specifically designed for executing strategies on both the individual and account level.  Since the objective of an ABM approach is to impact a targeted account, you want to look at the data as it relates not only to an individual contact record, but data that is rolled up to reflect engagement activity within the entire account.

While we, as data-driven marketers, can manually roll-up this type of data; it is far and away easier to utilize the account level functionality available within a marketing automation platform.

For an effective ABM effort, you must begin with a multi-channel approach.  Every possible marketing channel should be considered as you begin to think through your messaging and content strategy.

Following are the seven steps to consider when developing and executing an ABM strategy:

1) Identify the target accounts; accomplished by:

  • Input from sales and marketing or
  • Reviewing your top revenue-generating accounts in your CRM or
  • Utilizing predictive modeling tools that help identify the accounts most likely to convert.

2) Research the target accounts.

  • Firmographic details: industry, annual revenue, # of employees, location etc.
    • Based on the industry represented, what are the main issues/pain points
    • Are there specific companies that have their own unique issues/pain points above and beyond industry considerations that might warrant a targeted piece of communication.
  • A list of all the contacts associated with each account including name, title, email, location, address, phone number.
    • Provide a list of pain points for each type of contact
  • Provide explanation of the sales personnel assigned to each account.
    • Assigned by geography? More than one per account? Etc.

3) Begin developing a critical mass of relevant content to support the campaign.  This is content that is specifically targeted to various roles such as:

  • The economic buyer
  • The technical buyer
  • An internal champion
  • And more 

4)  Identify the various channels appropriate for your targets.  Examples of possible channels include:

  • Outbound email and/or direct mail as a drip campaign to the targeted list.
  • Programmatic display advertising to reach ideal contacts at targeted accounts via appropriate ad networks.
  • Paid social advertising on LinkedIn and other appropriate social media outlets.
  • Paid search advertising on Google.
  • Telemarketing outreach that is either scheduled to coincide with campaign touches or triggered in response to campaign engagement.
  • Real-time web personalization to deliver account or industry-specific content on dedicated campaign landing pages.

5)  Establish quantitative goals for the overall campaign.  How will you measure success?

  • How much revenue has been generated from these targeted accounts? [Is it increasing?]
  • For existing customers, is the amount of revenue per account growing?
  • Are we growing our list of known individuals within the target account?
  • Have there been changes to the way these accounts are engaging with our brand?
  • Are our close rates improving?
  • Is the time to close decreasing?
  • Is the deal size increasing?
  • Are upsell/cross-sell opportunities increasing within accounts?
  • Are we adding new companies to our list of targeted accounts?

6)  Put in place the appropriate marketing and sales alerts within the marketing automation platform, based on campaign engagement.

  • Do you want to know when a key contact downloads specific content?
  • Do you want to be able to see the click path of your key contacts in terms of where they’ve been on your website, what content they have downloaded, whether they have engaged with your emails and landing pages?
  • Do you want to get an alert when either your key contacts or the overall account reaches a designated lead score?

7) Finalize a campaign calendar to organize the various touches along with the associated offer and creative development.

  • Produce a 6 month editorial calendar that maps out content topics as well as various format options such as ebooks, videos, checklists, webinars etc.
  • Carefully think through the buyer journey from a content consumption standpoint and map out an initial email workflow consisting of 5-7 touches.
    • Be sure to always fold in A/B testing for your email campaigns to ensure constant learning and real-time adjustments to maximize results.

People – and their companies – arrive at buying decisions in unique ways for unique reasons based on unique needs.  Because of its individual relevance to these unique variables, ABM is becoming an important arrow in the B2B marketer’s quiver.  So, with everyone talking about ABM, it might really be time to listen.

Feel free to be in touch if you have any questions on the above or would like assistance with your own ABM strategy.


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