What is Account Based Marketing (ABM)?

Rahul Danak
September 29, 2021

Account Based Marketing (ABM) is a marketing strategy that focuses on a specific set of target accounts with the objective of building awareness and engagement amongst them and eventually converting them into customers.

There are broadly 3 ways in which ABM can be executed: One-to-One, One-to-Few and One-to-Many. For each type, we have listed down the top engagement programs and key metrics to be tracked below:

  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, dedicated microsites
  • Extensive and consistent research on account for gathering actionable insights
  • Key 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

  1. 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 at 177 with a median of 50*. Both new and existing accounts are targeted here at an equal share.
  • Engagement Programs:
  • Tailored outreach campaigns
  • Key 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

  1. 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 existing ones (30%).
  • Engagement Programs:
  • Virtual events and roadshows
  • Targeted demand generation campaigns with lower customization levels
  1. Key Metrics: 
  • 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, Pipeline, Revenue

                * ITSMA and the ABM Leadership Alliance’s 2020 ABM Benchmark Study

Advantages of ABM


  • Focuses on a specific set of target accounts only making it more quality-focused
  • Aligns Marketing and Sales teams efficiently
  • Can be utilized to accelerate pipeline through strategic engagement with accounts
  • Gives a better Customer Experience given 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

Is ABM the right marketing strategy for you?

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 you’re business before moving forward. Here’s a small checklist for you:

  • Annual Contract Value (ACV): Since ABM involves 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 cross-roads 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 prove to be a good fit since you can easily personalize your engagement strategy for the target accounts. In case you have a large TAM, ABM can be considered. You will need to put in more effort to narrow down on 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. This is assuming the ROI from this market for ABM will be 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 Enterprise, ABM should definitely be adopted with a highly tailored plan for each of the accounts in your target list. Converted accounts should be given equal focus to improve retention rates and advocacy.

You may find yourself wanting to experiment with ABM and then scale based on the results you get. However, the key with 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.

How to go about ABM?

  • Gather your data sources to have a complete view of account activity right from the very first interaction with your business. This will enable you to make decisions on account-level customizations.
  • Prepare a list of target accounts based on revenue potential and intent data.
  • Develop a concise engagement plan (content, ad communication) for all the accounts/segments. While planning, take into consideration how advanced the account is in the buyer funnel.
  • Measure and analyze the impact of ABM on your KPIs and plan the next steps based on results.

ABM is all about finding the right buyer with the right communication at the right time. Once you’ve nailed this, measure the results and plan the next steps of engagement.

Factors helps you get a complete view into user journeys and measure key metrics!

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