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Marketing

A Beginner’s Guide to Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Rahul Danak
Published:
September 29, 2021
Updated:
February 27, 2024
Table of Contents

The ideal scenario for every business is to sell to high-intent customers and not waste time on unqualified leads. This is achievable through ABM - Account-Based Marketing.

ABM helps weed out companies that do not fit a business’s ICP (Ideal Customer Profile). Doing so ensures that the efforts of marketing and sales teams align to convert best-fit customers.

In 2022, Foundry conducted an ABM & Intent Benchmarking Study. It revealed that 94% of the 500 B2B technology marketers surveyed rate ABM as extremely important in their overall marketing objectives.

TL;DR

  • Account-Based Marketing is a strategy to identify high-intent accounts and target them with personalized campaigns.
  • ABM helps find best-fit customers, enabling sales and marketing teams to build and nurture relationships with them throughout the sales cycle.
  • Take into account factors such as ACV, TAM, product category (is it a new product or an established one) and organization size of your target accounts (SMB, mid, or enterprise) when deciding if ABM is the right strategy for your business.
  • Streamline your ABM efforts, measure and analyze their effect on KPIs, and optimize your strategy based on your results.

What is ABM?

Account Based Marketing (ABM) is a marketing strategy focusing on a specific set of target accounts to build awareness and engagement amongst them and eventually convert them into customers.

Types of ABM

There are broadly 3 ways to execute ABM: One-to-One, One-to-Few, and One-to-Many. For each type, we have listed the top engagement programs & metrics used for tracking

Different types of Account-based marketing

1. One-to-One ABM

In this highly customized approach, the engagement is focused on a small set of accounts (Average: 39, Median: 14)* with the highest revenue potential. Existing customers are mostly targeted here (~80%).

Engagement Programs

  • One-on-one Meetings, Workshops, Lunch and Learn Meetings to build relationships
  • Highly personalized content via emails, advertisements, and dedicated microsites
  • Extensive and consistent research on account for gathering actionable insights

Key ABM Metrics 

  • Pipeline
  • Revenue
  • Number of Target Accounts engaged meaningfully (showed high intent such as demo request).
  • Number of Accounts where a specific Persona (say VP, Finance) has been engaged.

2. One-to-Few (or Sales Addressable Market)

In this approach, the engagement is performed in a segmented fashion by grouping accounts with similar characteristics. The average number of accounts in this list is 177, with a median of 50*. Both new and existing accounts are targeted here at an equal share.

Engagement Programs

Key ABM Metrics

  • Pipeline
  • Revenue
  • Number of Target accounts engaged meaningfully.
  • Average Number of Contacts Engaged within a Target Account.
  • Number of Accounts where a specific Persona has been engaged.

3. One-to-Many (or Total Addressable Market)

In this approach, the engagement takes place at a larger scale, with hundreds to thousands of accounts having the lowest revenue potential. The focus is greater on new customers (70%) than on existing ones (30%).

Engagement Programs

  • Virtual events and roadshows
  • Targeted demand-generation campaigns with lower customization levels

Key ABM Metrics

  • Pipeline
  • Revenue  
  • Number of Leads from ICP.
  • Number of ICP accounts engaged.
  • Number of Touchpoints from ICP Accounts.
  • Average Number of contacts engaged within a Target Account.
  • Number of Accounts where a specific Persona has been engaged.

Advantages & Benefits of ABM

Advantages

  • Focuses on a specific set of target accounts only, making it more quality-focused
  • Aligns Marketing and Sales teams efficiently
  • Utilized to accelerate pipeline through strategic engagement with accounts.
  • Gives a better Customer Experience with the level of personalization throughout the engagement.

Do Consider:

  • ABM requires a significant amount of investment and patience before you begin to see results.
  • Identifying a contact and relevant stakeholders within a target account is a difficult task, especially when the account size is large.

Benefits of ABM

1. Personalized marketing

Account-based marketing focuses on providing personalized campaigns that directly address the pain points of high-value accounts. This personalization helps empathize with the prospects and show that the business understands their challenges and can provide valid solutions. 

2. Build and nurture relationships

ABM also involves engaging prospects with customized messages at each stage of the sales cycle. By engaging with them at every stage, businesses can build a deep understanding of their needs and challenges and provide more personalized solutions. 

By doing so, businesses can build strong and credible relationships with their prospects.

3. Align marketing and sales team

With ABM, the marketing initiative will be more targeted and purposeful for the sales team to align directly with marketing goals.

By doing so, both teams can keep each other accountable for their specific goals. Additionally, this allows them to identify the purpose-driven activities that address the unique needs of each account.

For example, the marketing team will be responsible for creating and distributing highly customized content that speaks directly to the needs of the target accounts. At the same time, the sales team will be accountable for developing and nurturing relationships with key decision-makers. 

4. Higher ROI

ABM focuses on a set of high-value accounts that meet your ICP criteria rather than focusing on a broader audience. And by targeting these high-value accounts with personalized campaigns, ABM can reduce the overall marketing cost and increase the likelihood of converting these accounts into paying customers.

Therefore, the ROI of ABM campaigns is higher than traditional marketing campaigns that focus on a wider audience.

Is ABM the right marketing strategy for you?

The various factors that need to be considered to decide ABM

Even though ABM has been trending for some time now and many organizations have seen success using it, you should always take a step back and analyze where your business stands before moving forward. Here’s a small checklist for you:

Annual Contract Value (ACV)

Since ABM involves a significant investment, calculate the ACV for your target accounts and determine the resulting ROI. Then ask yourself, is it worth the effort? 

In case you’re at crossroads and have only 3-4 high-value accounts, you can also follow a mixed approach wherein you adopt ABM for those accounts and other strategies like Demand Gen for others.

Total Addressable Market (TAM)

Your TAM is the revenue opportunity available for your product in the entire market. If you have a small TAM, ABM might be a good fit since you can easily personalize your engagement strategy for the target accounts. 

In case you have a large TAM, consider using ABM. You will need to put in more effort to narrow down target accounts and, thereafter, create personalized engagement strategies.

Established vs. New Product Category

Similarly, if you have a product in a new category for which the initial demand is bound to be low, ABM will be a good strategy for you. 

You can identify the key accounts and engage with them with tailored programs. In case your product belongs to an established category, you can still use ABM to target the top 15-20 accounts generating the most revenue for you.

SMB vs. Mid Market vs. Enterprise

If your target market is SMB, Inbound marketing rather than ABM might be a better fit for you. It is based on the assumption that the ROI from this market for ABM is lower.

If your target market is Mid-Market, ABM can be considered for high-revenue potential accounts while using Inbound as one of the primary channels.

If your target market is an Enterprise, you should definitely adopt a highly tailored ABM plan for each account in the target list. Converted accounts should be given equal focus to improve retention rates and advocacy.

You may experiment with ABM and then scale based on your results. However, the key to ABM is patience. It may take a significant amount of resources, both in terms of time and people, before you actually see the results (depending on your sales cycle). Therefore, it is worth gauging all metrics before beginning with ABM.

4 Steps to Streamline Your ABM Efforts

ABM is all about connecting with the right buyer at the right time with the right message. You can increase the efficiency of your ABM efforts by following a few steps. 

  1. Gather your data sources for a complete view of account activity from the visitor's very first interaction. It will enable you to make decisions on account-level customizations.
  2. Prepare a list of target accounts based on revenue potential and intent data.
  3. Develop a concise engagement plan (content, ad communication) for all the accounts/segments. While planning, consider how advanced the account is in the buyer funnel.
  4. Measure and analyze the impact of ABM on your KPIs and plan the next steps based on the results.

Conclusion

This brings us to the end of this article. It’s quite easy to get lost in the discussion of what ABM is, its various advantages, and its benefits. The key objective of ABM is to show that you empathize with your target audience's pain points and provide a solution that alleviates their pain. 

ABM analytics software such as Factors can help you identify various high-intent accounts visiting your website. It can also track their journey on the website and provide insights into how they engage with the content. Sales teams can use this information to tailor email campaigns, sales calls, and other efforts to target those accounts individually and improve engagement and conversions. 

Engage with high-profile accounts regularly as they progress through the buyer journey. Monitor your metrics and optimize your ABM efforts based on the revenue generated. Continuously engaging and putting effort into building meaningful relationships with your visitors and leads will make your ABM strategy more effective and efficient.

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