The Do’s and Don’ts of Account Based Marketing

The popularity of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) has been skyrocketing of late as more sophisticated data analysis tools, practices, and possibilities emerge. ABM is among the B2B trends with the largest disconnect, however, between appealing potential and actual, realized benefit. That’s because it takes data to turn ABM ideas into revenue-generating reality.

ABM has tremendous sales-enabling potential for B2B marketers, and many businesses are adjusting or even overhauling their existing marketing strategies around it. But just as with any new opportunity, there are those making the right moves to capture it and those who… well, aren’t. We’ve seen companies at both ends of the spectrum and everything in between.

Based on our observations, there are three key areas that can either catapult or trip up a business when it comes to ABM: planning, teamwork, and execution.

Here we’ve put together a few recommendations for each in this list of account based marketing best practices.

Design your ABM plans with your accounts’ businesses in mind – and your own

Do start by evaluating your own business. Take a close look at your current sales figures. If there are a few types of accounts generating the majority of your turnover, focus your ABM efforts on developing them and acquiring new accounts like them.

Make sure that your selection of targeted accounts is in line with your overall business strategy. Are you prepared, for example, to pursue a new account if winning it will mean entering a new geographical market? Could you be chasing an easier win with another account, based on your existing relationships and positioning? Do you have the resources to develop a unique campaign for one account (a one-to-one approach) or is it more realistic to spread your bets with one campaign for several similar accounts (a one-to-few approach)?

Do a deep dive into the business of your target account(s). That means being familiar with their market, their challenges, and how they go about solving their problems. You need to be able to say first what makes the account’s business tick. Then you can nail down which of your products or services will help make their business tick better. And that, of course, will play a key role in the types of information included in your messaging.

Don’t ignore inbound or accounts you haven’t targeted (yet). On the surface, ABM may appear to be all about outbound. After all, it involves choosing the accounts you want to develop and then going after them, right? Yes it does, but it doesn’t stop there. ABM can be a powerful component of the content strategy behind your inbound marketing.

Your inbound content can, for example, be developed to establish trust with buyers from the accounts you identified in the initial stages of your ABM planning. That content will likely draw interest from buyers in similar roles from other accounts you have not targeted or maybe even identified yet. You can measure their interest with intent data.

Intent data is browsing information logged on websites – yours or a third party’s – that signals potential buyer interest in your product or service. If, for example, the topic of endpoint security is getting traffic from an IP address on both your blog and another publisher’s site, it likely means that whoever is behind that IP address is a prospect for your endpoint security solution. The key, of course, is interpreting the browsing records and tying them to an actual company or person.

Sales and marketing are both on the ABM “dream team”

Do involve sales in your ABM planning process- a best practice– especially when it comes to your initial list of targeted accounts. Sales reps have a wealth of knowledge from being in the trenches and they already know the logos they want to land. Sharing the legwork on your list early on tends to eliminate standoffs and miscommunication between departments in the later stages of the campaign.

Because of this initial teamwork that goes into a successful campaign, ABM is often billed as a “bridge between sales and marketing”, however:

Don’t give up ownership of ABM processes to sales. Reps have a natural tendency to focus on the leads they like and can be somewhat prickly when it comes to others’ opinions as to what constitutes a “good” one. Stick to your guns (or rather your data) and don’t pass over an account simply because a rep said so. Following a properly designed ABM strategy may require more patience than simply going with a rep’s gut instinct, but collaboration can pay bigger dividends at the end of the day.

ABM execution is about relevance and measurement

Do personalize your account’s messaging as much as is feasible. If you are targeting multiple decision-makers in different roles at the account, tailor content for each and utilize their preferred distribution channels. Coordinate your timeline with sales so that rapid follow-ups are possible. Keep in mind that in the first stages, the goal of messaging is not to close a sale; it is to establish a dialogue. That usually means setting up a meeting with a sales rep.

Above all else, make your messaging relevant. Examples of relevant content might be surveys about an account’s industry, specific insights you can share about the account’s marketplace, or new ideas for their future growth. This type of information gets decision makers’ attention, and they will focus on the message first and the messenger second. So make sure your message is professional, on point, and a natural segue into a follow-up meeting.

Do measure as much of your ABM campaign as possible, wherever you can. Technology is expanding your possibilities here by, for example, allowing you to leverage intent data across your entire ABM campaign.

Don’t stop at “yes.” You want multiple sales – not just one – from an account. That means taking care of existing accounts just as much as chasing new ones. With the first sale you’re just getting warmed up.

In conclusion, remember that while ABM is a big topic (of which we’re just scratching the surface here), it is data that ties the Account Based Marketing framework together.. Simply put, you need to decide which data to use and how to measure its effectiveness. Even if you start with nothing, with enough time, measurement, and willingness to improve, you can’t help but make progress. You’ll figure out the above recommendations on your own.

But why take the slow route? We’re here to help get you there faster.


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