Account-based marketing (ABM) is recognized as a critical B2B marketing strategy, and its importance continues to grow. In fact, 94% of B2B marketers have already embraced ABM as a key strategy in their marketing arsenal.
This surge in adoption is driven by the tangible benefits that ABM delivers, such as improved win rates, client retention and customer lifetime value. ABM offers a higher return on investment (ROI) compared to other marketing initiatives, leading to significant increases in sales revenue, average deal size and annual contract value.
In recognition of its ability to drive new business generation, companies are maximizing its potential by dedicating an average of 29% of their marketing budget to ABM strategy. As ABM continues to gain traction, it’s clear that this personalized and strategic approach to B2B marketing is here to stay.
In this blog, we’ll discuss what ABM is, delve deeper into its benefits and explore its challenges. We’ll also examine different approaches to ABM, outline steps for implementation and provide best practices to help you maximize the effectiveness of your ABM strategy.
What is ABM strategy?
Account-based marketing is a strategic approach in B2B marketing that focuses on targeting and engaging specific high-value accounts rather than casting a wide net. It entails personalized and tailored marketing efforts directed towards key decision-makers, influencers and gatekeepers within those accounts.
Account-based marketing strategies emphasize the alignment of sales and marketing teams to create a cohesive and targeted approach, aiming to build strong relationships with individual accounts and drive business growth. By understanding the unique needs and challenges of each account, ABM enables marketers to deliver highly relevant content, nurture relationships and increase the likelihood of converting prospects into loyal customers.
Benefits of using an ABM strategy
Implementing an account-based marketing strategy offers businesses a range of benefits, supported by compelling statistics:
- Increased sales revenue: ABM efforts can lead to revenue growth of up to 208%.
- Enhanced marketing ROI: ABM delivers a higher return on investment than other marketing strategies, as confirmed by 97% of marketers.
- Improved customer experience: By tailoring content and engaging specific roles within targeted accounts, ABM improves customer engagement, customer retention and customer lifetime value. Research findings validate this claim, as 85% of marketers say ABM significantly benefited them in retaining and expanding their existing client relationships.
- Better sales and marketing alignment: ABM fosters improved alignment between sales and marketing teams, with 82% of B2B marketers reporting enhanced alignment.
- Deeper customer insights: ABM focuses efforts on specific accounts, enabling marketers to gain a more comprehensive understanding of their target audience. In fact, 83% of marketers say ABM increases engagement with target accounts.
- Competitive advantage: ABM outperforms other marketing initiatives, providing a competitive advantage as recognized by 87% of ABM marketers.
Different approaches to ABM
The many different types of ABM offer organizations flexibility in selecting the most suitable approach based on their goals, account characteristics and available resources. These include:
One-to-one (1:1) ABM: The 1:1 approach focuses on creating highly personalized and tailored experiences for individual target accounts. It involves deep research and customization to meet the specific needs and challenges of each account. The goal of 1:1 ABM is to establish strong relationships, drive engagements and win new business from high-value accounts.
One-to-few (1:few) ABM: The 1:few approach targets a small group of accounts that share similar characteristics or attributes. It allows for more scalability compared to one-to-one ABM while still providing a personalized approach. The goal of 1:few ABM is to deliver targeted messaging and experiences to a select group of accounts, nurturing them towards conversion and building long-term relationships.
One-to-many (1:many) ABM: The 1:many approach, also known as programmatic ABM, involves targeting a larger set of accounts with similar characteristics or industries. It utilizes automation and scaled personalization to deliver relevant content and engage multiple accounts simultaneously. The goal of 1:many ABM is to generate brand awareness, educate the target audience and drive interest and consideration among a broader group of accounts.
ABX (account-based experience): ABX is an approach that focuses on delivering a cohesive and personalized experience across all touchpoints and interactions with target accounts. It goes beyond traditional marketing and extends to sales, customer success and other teams involved in the customer journey. The goal of ABX is to create a seamless and consistent experience that exceeds customer expectations, drives satisfaction and builds long-term loyalty.
RBM (role-based marketing): RBM targets specific roles or job titles within the accounts. It tailors messaging and content to address the unique challenges and interests of individuals in influential positions. The goal of RBM is to engage a target account’s key decision-makers, influencers and gatekeepers with relevant and compelling communication that resonates with their specific responsibilities and objectives.
OBM (opportunity-based marketing): OBM focuses on targeting specific sales opportunities or deals within the accounts. It aligns marketing efforts closely with the sales cycle and focuses on nurturing and influencing key opportunities to move them towards successful closure. The goal of OBM is to support the sales team by delivering tailored content, insights and support that accelerate the progression of opportunities and drive revenue growth.
The 9 steps to building a successful ABM strategy
Implementing a successful ABM strategy requires following a set of proven steps that encompass industry best practices. These steps guide businesses in effectively driving engagement, nurturing relationships and achieving their ABM goals. Let’s explore these steps in more detail:
Step 1: Set clear goals
The first step to any successful marketing or campaign strategy is to understand how it will help you achieve your business objectives and marketing goals. This means defining clear and measurable goals for your ABM initiatives, whether it’s revenue growth, customer acquisition or account expansion. Align your strategies and tactics to these goals to stay focused and track progress effectively.
Step 2: Identify target accounts
Thoroughly research and analyze prospective customers to identify target accounts based on criteria such as revenue potential, industry, company size, growth potential and strategic fit. Utilize market research, customer data and sales intelligence tools to gather data and insights for account selection. Ensure alignment with business objectives for a higher likelihood of conversion.
Step 3: Build personas and messaging
Develop detailed buyer personas for key decision-makers and influencers within the target accounts. Conduct interviews, surveys and data analysis to gather insights into their roles, pain points, motivations, goals and preferences. Create messaging frameworks and content that address specific challenges, objectives and preferences. Tailor messaging to different stages of the buyer’s journey.
Step 4: Choose which approach to use
Evaluate and select the appropriate ABM approach based on goals, resources and audience characteristics. Consider factors such as target account quantity, personalization level and scalability. Account for available budget, team expertise and technological capabilities to make an informed decision.
Step 5: Choose channels, tactics and tools
Analyze preferred communication channels and content consumption habits of target accounts. Select effective channels and tactics such as personalized emails, social media targeting, webinars and account-specific landing pages. Leverage marketing automation platforms, data management tools and analytics to streamline and optimize ABM efforts.
Be sure your channel tactics include paid advertising and utilize diverse channels:
- Account based advertising (ABA): Leverage ABA platforms as part of your ABM strategy to deliver personalized ads to specific accounts or decision-makers. Use data-driven insights to create personalized ad campaigns across various digital channels and increase brand visibility.
- Multi-channel engagement: Utilize a mix of channels and tactics to engage your target accounts. Combine personalized emails, direct mail, social media, events, webinars and targeted advertising to create a cohesive and integrated ABM experience.
- Omnichannel engagement: Better yet, embrace an omnichannel approach to engage your target accounts. Integrate multiple channels, both online and offline, to deliver a cohesive and seamless experience across touchpoints. Combine personalized emails, direct mail, social media, events, webinars, account-specific landing pages and targeted advertising to create a consistent and unified ABM experience throughout the buyer’s journey.
Step 6: Integrate sales and marketing
Promote collaboration and alignment between your sales and marketing teams by establishing a shared CRM, such as Salesforce or HubSpot, as the single source of truth for customer data. This not only enables a seamless and well-defined lead handoff process but also facilitates the alignment of shared goals. Implement regular communication and feedback loops to exchange valuable insights and optimize account engagement. This unified approach fosters a cohesive and successful ABM strategy, maximizing its impact and driving enhanced results.
Step 7: Launch campaigns
Develop account-specific campaign plans based on personas, messaging and chosen channels. Create personalized and targeted content addressing unique needs and pain points. Utilize marketing automation for efficient campaign execution and lead nurturing. Monitor performance, track engagement metrics and adjust campaign strategies and tactics in real-time for optimal results.
Step 8: Measure and optimize
Establish key performance indicators (KPIs) to track ABM success. Analyze data to gain insights into account engagement, conversion rates, pipeline velocity and revenue attribution. Continuously optimize strategies, messaging and tactics based on data-driven insights. Conduct regular A/B testing for refinement.
Step 9: Nurture and expand
Develop account-specific nurture programs to provide ongoing value and personalized touchpoints. Leverage customer advocacy programs, referral campaigns and account-based cross-selling and upselling strategies to expand ABM efforts within existing accounts. Continuously analyze impact and refine approaches based on customer feedback and objectives.
Common ABM challenges and mistakes
Achieving success through account-based marketing strategy requires a combination of expertise, meticulous planning and access to the right tools. Without these crucial components, businesses risk falling short of their desired outcomes.
The following ABM mistakes and challenges can significantly impact the success of your ABM strategy:
Lack of alignment between marketing and sales teams: Successful ABM isn’t achieved solely through marketing efforts. Instead, it requires close collaboration and alignment between marketing and sales teams. Failing to establish a unified approach and shared goals can result in ineffective ABM campaigns.
Inadequate data and targeting: ABM heavily relies on accurate and comprehensive data to identify and target the right accounts. Using insufficient or outdated data can result in targeting the wrong accounts or missing out on valuable prospects.
Failure to personalize content and messaging: ABM emphasizes personalized interactions with target accounts. Mistakes occur when marketers fail to tailor content and messaging to individual accounts, resulting in generic or irrelevant communication.
Ineffective technologies: ABM is a digital marketing strategy that uses data, automation and omnichannel tactics, all of which are facilitated by ABM platforms and marketing automation tools – ABM facilitation tool blog. It can be difficult to choose the right tool—one that has the capabilities to meet your goals, an interface that your team can work with together that integrates seamlessly into your martech stack to enable the continuous flow of data.
Overemphasis on technology: While ABM is made possible through technology, it also involves personal interaction. Relying too heavily on technology without considering the strategy and human touch can lead to ineffective campaigns.
Lack of scalability: ABM can be resource-intensive, especially when targeting multiple accounts. Scaling ABM efforts without proper planning and infrastructure can be challenging and result in a loss of efficiency.
Insufficient measurement and attribution: Measuring the success and impact of ABM campaigns can be difficult. A common mistake is not establishing clear metrics and attribution models to accurately assess the effectiveness and ROI of ABM activities.
Failure to involve key stakeholders: ABM success relies on collaboration with various stakeholders, including sales, marketing, customer success and executive teams. Neglecting to involve key stakeholders throughout the ABM process can hinder alignment and impact campaign effectiveness.
Ineffective account selection: Choosing the wrong target accounts is a significant mistake in ABM. It’s essential to conduct thorough research and analysis to identify accounts that align with your ideal customer profile (ICP) and have a higher likelihood of conversion.
Lack of ongoing account nurturing: ABM is a long-term strategy that requires continuous engagement with target accounts. Neglecting to nurture relationships beyond the initial outreach can lead to missed opportunities and limited success.
Inability to adapt and iterate: ABM is an iterative process that requires constant monitoring, evaluation and adjustment. Failing to adapt strategies based on insights and feedback can prevent optimization and limit the effectiveness of your ABM campaigns.
Choosing the wrong approach: An inappropriate ABM approach, such as adopting a broad-based strategy instead of a targeted one, can result in wasted resources, diluted messaging and diminished impact on key accounts, undermining the overall effectiveness of your ABM efforts.
Choosing the wrong ABM team: Account based marketing is a B2B approach that requires an intimate knowledge of your business, your audience and your industry. Many businesses struggle to get results when they work with B2C marketing agencies or ABM agencies that don’t understand their unique needs.
Expecting immediate results: ABM success takes time. It’s an ongoing process that requires dedication, flexibility and constant monitoring, measurement and optimization.
Partner with ABM experts
Building and implementing successful account-based marketing strategies requires a combination of expertise, deep audience knowledge and proficiency in leveraging strategic tools. Begin your ABM journey by choosing an account-based marketing agency equipped to create meaningful connections, drive revenue growth and position your organization as a leader in its industry.
If you’re ready to get started, partner with Elevation to drive your ABM success to new heights. Let our expertise and proven strategies empower your journey towards impactful B2B marketing outcomes. Contact us today and unlock the full potential of ABM for your business.