Account-based marketing, or ABM, is a strategic approach to marketing that focuses marketing and sales teams on specific, target accounts.
In this article, we will:
- Provide a bit more of a definition for account-based marketing
- Compare ABM to other approaches.
- Share tips and best practices for using it effectively.
What is account-based marketing?
ABM is a strategic marketing approach that focuses on target accounts rather than the random spray and pray method of other forms of outreach like email or social media-based marketing.
With ABM, the sales and marketing teams (and customer success) collaborate and align around a specific set of target accounts that the overall business considers high value.
Note: ABM is often used in combination with other marketing approaches (e.g., inbound marketing, direct mail, social media, and so on) and does not need to be an either/or decision.
Consider listening to this video to learn more.
Tips for success with ABM:
In theory, ABM sounds easy. Select high-value accounts and focus your sales and marketing efforts on these target accounts.
In reality, nothing is ever that simple. Here are a few tips for anyone new to building an account-based marketing strategy.
Agree on the criteria
The ABM strategy requires that the business agree on selecting the key accounts that marketing campaigns and sales efforts will focus on closing.
You will build these criteria upon commonly used standards, such as revenue potential, brand recognition, and expected return on investment.
Your key executive decision-makers (e.g., Chief Marketing Officer, Chief Revenue Officer, VP of Sales) agree on the definition for choosing the target accounts, then hand the criteria to the sales and marketing teams to select the target accounts.
Build the account list collaboratively
With the criteria in hand, marketing, customer success, and the sales team meet to nominate the accounts they feel should be used for this approach.
This is not a one-team decision.
Your marketing team does not get the final call.
Neither does customer success nor your sales team.
These groups should meet and then bring their recommendations to their executive team for sign-off on the higher value accounts you will go after
For a successful ABM approach, sales, marketing, and customer success must operate as one team.
Pilot, Test, Improve, and Iterate
Start with a tiny number of accounts to work through your process, frameworks, messaging, and technology.
Companies often make the mistake of creating ABM campaigns for the entire list right out of the gate.
Sales and marketing start their outreach, quickly lose alignment, and the benefits of this approach are never realized.
- Pick two to three target accounts.
- Marketing, sales, and customer success agree on what personalized content will be needed for this account and who will create it.
- Marketing, sales, and customer success agree on what personalized messaging is needed and who will create it.
- The marketing campaigns and sales outreach against these target accounts is started.
- Use daily check-ins, at least initially, to ensure the marketing and sales process efforts are rolling out as agreed upon. This check-in should identify problems arising in their actions, needed tools, data gaps, or inconsistencies.
- Adjust daily, and repeat.
Once you complete your ABM efforts against these initially targeted accounts, add additional target customers and continue.
Note: You will be creating personalized messaging and content for each target account. Generic content will not work for ABM as you MUST speak to each account’s real pain.
If you have a small go-to-market team, ABM can provide you with a better approach for maximizing your investment.