Anyone who’s been in B2B marketing for a minute is familiar with account-based marketing (ABM) and the benefits it brings. Nevertheless, there are still misconceptions around ABM, and allowing those to continue leads to a flawed ABM strategy.
Five ABM Errors to Avoid
#1: Looking at account-based marketing as just technology
ABM is sometimes assumed to be just another technology, a misconception not helped by confusion in the B2B marketplace from an overabundance of tools and data. It’s not surprising that some marketers still don’t get ABM.
First of all, ABM isn’t a technology; it’s a strategy, and there are many variations. All those ABM technology tools just help make ABM implementation easier, but they are just a piece of it. ABM completely turns the table for the entire marketing approach. It flips the funnel and starts at the account level.
In traditional marketing, you create a sales pitch and marketing messages and go on to find the right clients and channels to reach them. With ABM, it’s completely the other way around. You first find your potential clients, decide on appropriate channels to connect, and then craft personalized messages to deliver accordingly. Technology will help with these goals, but technology alone isn’t account-based marketing.
#2: Assuming account-based marketing is only for enterprises
Not true at all. To be clear, ABM does require a commitment of workforce and resources, but that’s just one part of the story. If you’re a small business with just a few sales representatives and marketers, it actually makes sense to focus on a few quality accounts with higher success rates, rather than depending on a strategy of shooting mails and calls to a broad list.
One difference between large and small businesses in account-based marketing strategy is the number of accounts they can handle simultaneously. Large companies may handle hundreds of accounts at once, while smaller ones may manage only ten. Technology does play a role in helping B2B brands of all sizes scale ABM. However, the strategy and desired outcome remain the same.
#3: Prioritizing the wrong accounts for ABM
Selecting suitable accounts is a pillar of ABM success. Any blunder at this point will deflate the whole process, and, ultimately, the entire ABM strategy could come crashing down.
Here’s the nightmare scenario: You research clients for months, spending hours creating customized content, and making significant investments for engagement — only to find out accounts aren’t buying, because they were never a good fit for your business.
Shortlisting the right accounts requires effort. It involves analyzing numerous data points such as technographic, firmographic data, engagement and intent information. For example, if a prospect matches the ideal client profile based on technographic and firmographic data, but hasn’t shown any intent to buy, it’s better not to pick them. That’s why it’s crucial to have a stack of accurate data in your marketing engine. Intent data shows who’s in-market and what they’re interested in. It can monitor account-level activity. With intent intelligence tools, there’s no excuse for not prioritizing accounts properly.
#4: Choosing too Many accounts for account-based marketing
After choosing bad accounts, the next worst thing for ABM may be choosing too many good accounts. If you bite off more than you can chew, you end up creating a mess that’s hard to recover from. Overenthusiastically selecting accounts causes several major problems.
If you have many targets, you’ll have to cut down on personalized content and create more generalized content to reach that many accounts. As a result, you deviate from an ABM fundamental. Secondly, deviation from personalized content results in poorer conversion rates due to less engagement with each client.
Third, and most crucial, if you pick too many good accounts and end up exhausting them in one cycle, you’ll have few quality accounts left for the next quarter. One unspoken rule of B2B marketing is that once you lose a client, there’s no use prospecting them for a while.
One ABM approach is to pick a mix of accounts. For example, select five large accounts, twenty medium accounts, and thirty small accounts instead of just grabbing 25-30 large accounts at once. This gives you space to prioritize large accounts at the cost of smaller accounts if the sales team can’t handle the workload. But try for balance up front, so you’re not wasting time restarting or misfiring.
#5 Not using the full potential of intent data for ABM
More and more B2B brands have turned to intent to prioritize accounts for ABM. Intent intelligence also gives marketers the means to identify members of a buying group within a target account, or others from that account who are in-market. With so many ways to access and activate it, not taking full advantage of intent intelligence is a serious ABM blunder.
The Essence of Account-Based Marketing
Data, content and focus are three important ingredients of account-based marketing. With the right proportion of data quantity and quality, you can select the right accounts to target. Personalized content helps brands reach out to those accounts more efficiently. Last but not least, the more focused efforts on good accounts, the higher are the chances of success.
Learn more about ABM with these popular articles:
6 Tips: Lead ABM Engagement with Attention-Getting Content
How to Make Content Work Harder in ABM
Truth Matters: 4 ABM Truths for B2B Marketers