What is Account-Based Marketing?

Jacob Brain


Account-Based Marketing is a term that is floating around sales and marketing conversations as the latest trend in B2B lead generation. But how does it work, and is it worth it? In this post, we’ll dig into the details.

What is Account-Based Marketing?

The simplest definition of Account-Based Marketing, is explained in contrast to traditional marketing: rather than crafting a message and applying that message to a market in order to get a few clients or accounts to raise their hand in interest, we rearrange the process to treat each account like its own market, and craft messages for each account.

How Is Account-Based Marketing Different than Lead Generation?

So account-based marketing removes the focus from lead generation towards lead conversion. You already start in the account-based marketing approach with a list of potential targeted client accounts. You enter the entire engagement with a known universe of possible candidates for your product or service. The big focus of account-based marketing is to attract and convert those accounts into customers through a series of engagements.

What Activities Go Into Account-Based Marketing?

The activities for  inbound marketing, or demand generation, are the same in account-based marketing, but they’re done with a different focus and volume. You might still create articles, yet instead of focusing on SEO value, you would focus on applying industry value to the targeted consumer. When this potential customer is on your website, they’ll see content that will help them along the buyer journey.

Similarly, the website is still critical to your ABM, or account-based marketing strategy. Instead of applying or creating pages for a vertical, you might make a page for a particular account using customized tokens, or landing page generators to help customize that experience. Again, you are treating each account like an individual market on its own.

So you can imagine the funnel of activities moving from initial engagement, (call or emails, or targeted ads), to nurture (email, webinars, offers, consultations), to close ( quotes, consultation, case studies, etc). All the same basic pieces of an inbound campaign, yet focused on the account, rather than the persona or buyer type.

Does ABM, or Account-Based Marketing, Require the Sales Team?

In short, yes. An ABM approach to marketing requires a deep consensus between marketing and sales as to which clients are the right ones to target, as well as what value they could possibly have for the company as a whole. Without this, marketing is operating in the dark, and sales is unaware of the steps or progress achieved in reaching an account for sales nurturing.

The best case scenario is for sales and marketing to create an ABM campaign around a market segment they would like to enter or grow in geographically. Create the list of potential customers, rank them in value and difficulty, and plan out the campaign. This needs to be done with sales and marketing together to create the right touch points and coordinate the messaging so the campaign can run as smoothly as possible.

Do You Need ABM Software?

Although all marketing metrics are helpful and there are many pieces of software to track your ABM campaigns, they are not all needed to implement a successful campaign. I would highly recommend using an automation platform for ABM that will allow you to track the connection between your channel activities.

Here are some reviews of ABM Software, and also a link to some of the more popular ABM Software Solutions.

But doing a basic campaign does not require more than a spreadsheet and a CRM to get started. I would generally recommend that as you go forward in your initial campaign.

Why Does ABM work?

The reason ABM works in the short term is that it allows a cohesive link between marketing and sales to achieve a deeper focus on landing bigger accounts. In the broad sense, the approach is as old as time, but technology and competition have created an environment where the focus on landing bigger accounts has created a high-touch, high-customization, high-personalization opportunity. Modern technology and communication channels are opening the door to a business method that everyone needs to participate in.

When we ask “does something work” what we are really asking is, “Is it worth it?”. And that is truly the question. For any marketing approach, we need to understand the ROI or return we expect from the expense. ABM (account-based marketing), is a high-cost campaign because it puts a lot of money into a few accounts each quarter or round, and gives a limited reality on return.

One could say that all marketing has a limited reality on return, and that would take us to a whole other article. Yet the truth remains that understanding what the outcome would be is how you would determine if it is worth it. Would spending 90K on landing 2 clients with a LTV of 1.2M be worth it? Some companies might say yes. Some might not. Either answer is feasible.

Either way, you’ve got to do the math to really answer this question.

Does ABM work for all businesses?

No, ABM is not going to work for all business because the pool of potential clients needs to be small enough and focused enough to drive revenue. In addition, the businesses themselves need to be able to capture and compete at a level of business to sustain the approach. A one-time campaign of 50K to reach 3 new accounts worth 1M in sales for a company that did 200K last year might actually break the company if it worked. Or, if they don’t, because the expense is so great, they might go under.  So discretion has to be used in determining if it is the right approach for you and if the cost is sustainable over the long run.

Additionally, the focus works really well if you have a sales team. If you do not have a sales team, the approach will miss a few key components and will misfire on some needed face-to-face interactions and phone calls. It is a high-touch method of marketing and sales alignment and needs someone in the sales or BDR role to really succeed.

Is Account-Based Marketing, ABM, Right For You?

If the answers above did not answer the question, it would help to take us up on our free consultation on ABM to discuss the realities around a campaign like this for your company. We’d be happy to have a no-pressure conversation around a free marketing review to discuss this with you.

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