ABM, or account-based marketing, is a tricky subject that frequently gets misinterpreted as the end all and be all of marketing. There’s very little doubt nowadays that the days of lead generation and the traditional sales funnel are slowly coming to an end. But, while it’s true that account-based marketing has a lot of potential, it also has a lot of pitfalls that need to be avoided. 

So, to shed some light on exactly how to improve ABM, we went to the experts. These are the marketers who are at the top of the field when it comes to making ABM work, and they certainly can teach us all a thing or two.

If you’re interested in hearing their opinions within the wider context of ABM, be sure to check out our full guide: Account-based Marketing – A Practical Guide. It includes even more expert opinions, plus worksheets, ROI calculators, and much more.

 

Without further ado, here are 18 ABM ideas to help you do ABM better…

Stay one step ahead of everyone else…

‘According to Forrester Research, fewer than 1% of leads turn into revenue-generating customers. Traditional lead-based tactics simply don’t work anymore because everyone is doing content marketing and employing the same demand gen tactics, and it has all become noise for the buyer.’

Kristen Wendel, Director, Marketing Ops, VersionOne

 

ABM shouldn’t be your only tool, but it should definitely be in your toolbox…

‘Traditional demand gen methods are good for some potential buyers, but there is almost always a set of people in target companies who will be the best fit for a company’s products. To maximize revenue and growth, B2B businesses need to focus coordinated and personalized marketing efforts on that subset of their potential market.’

Jason Seeba, VP, Marketing, BloomReach

 

Speak to your customers the way you’d like to be spoken to…

‘If your big deals are 10–20 times bigger than your average deals, you need to concentrate your efforts on elephant hunting. To do that, you need to identify your target accounts and work the entire buying team inside each one. ABM is about selling and marketing the way your big accounts actually buy.’

Doug Kessler, Creative Director and Co-Founder, Velocity Partners

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘If your big deals are 10–20 times bigger than your average deals, you need to go elephant hunting.’ #ABM” quote=”‘If your big deals are 10–20 times bigger than your average deals, you need to concentrate your efforts on elephant hunting.'”]

Speak to each of them and speak to all of them…

‘Using intelligence to build a picture of the decision-making unit (DMU) within an organization, and having real-time information to treat that DMU as a series of individuals as well as a “corporate body” so they can be targeted with tailored communications that drive specific outcomes, is key to successful B2B enterprise business development.’

Caroline Hodson, Managing Director, WoolfHodson

 

Don’t go at it alone, work with your sales team…

‘The success I’ve seen with any outbound marketing strategy ultimately comes down to the necessary outbound sales component. Without sales partnering with marketing to drive that interest, there’s no B2B ABM strategy that would be successful.’

Lindsay Becker, Senior Marketing Programs Manager, LogMeIn

 

It’s challenging, but it’s definitely worth it…

‘Working in silos offers little benefit to the customer or their teams. Businesses that embrace the challenge of integrated sales, marketing, and customer success strategies, as ushered in by the rise of social, understand that working together creates revenue growth and will win out.’

Andrew Yates, CEO and Founder, Artesian Solutions

 [clickToTweet tweet=”Businesses who embrace the challenge of integrated sales, marketing, and customer success will win out. ” quote=”Businesses who embrace the challenge of integrated sales, marketing, and customer success will win out. “]

ABM is a long play, make sure you can measure engagement along the way…

‘We look at the level of engagement in target accounts. As a leading indicator, we measure the success of our marketing programs based on the number of the right people in target accounts who engage, rather than on raw MQLs.’

Jason Seeba, VP, Marketing, BloomReach

Measure engagement externally as well as internally…

‘To do ABM, you’ve got to track coverage (how much of the target account you’re reaching into), awareness metrics (whether target accounts are coming to your site or opting in to emails), and engagement metrics (how much time they are spending with you). There are some internal indicators to watch too: How much time are your sales and marketing folks spending together every week? How often are you swapping out target accounts for new ones? (Too often means you’re probably giving up too soon.)’

Doug Kessler, Creative Director and Co-Founder, Velocity Partners

 

Is your target database big enough and accurate enough…

The quality of your target database is a critical leading indicator of success. Companies should be clear about what contacts they need to develop, what they need to know about these contacts, and the breadth and depth of their coverage of the target audience in their prospecting database.’

Bob Apollo, Founder and Value Selling Expert, Inflexion-Point

Measure your outcomes to find out if it’s worth the investment…

‘ABM is about quality, not quantity—outcomes, not outputs. The key metrics that matter include: Financial outcomes such as revenue, deal velocity and conversion rates, opportunity, and pipeline metrics; Engagement: account coverage and decision-making unit completeness, as well as engagement scores across different functions; and ROI—level of marketing investment clearly tied back to financial outcomes—defining levels of success across different marketing tactics’

Caroline Hodson, Managing Director, WoolfHodson

[clickToTweet tweet=”‘ABM is about quality, not quantity—outcomes, not outputs.’ #ABM #accountbasedmarketing” quote=”‘ABM is about quality, not quantity—outcomes, not outputs.'”]

 

ABM is nothing new, but the technology that has come out is…

‘While ABM has been around awhile now, it has only been allowed to flourish due to new technologies in the market that enable it. These new solutions include tools for market and customer segmentation, identification of ‘look-alike prospects,’ campaign tools, and B2B analytics tools, but even more advanced is technology to search and transform unstructured web and news data into clear, account-based alerts for the marketer and salesperson.’

Adam Leslie, Head of UK Sales and Marketing Solutions, Dun & Bradstreet

 

ABM isn’t a set it and forget it program…

‘A common mistake that I see companies making with display is just having one campaign running for all accounts, and they set it and forget it. If your ads aren’t cool, personalized, and relevant to the audience, your display program won’t be successful.’

Kristen Wendel, Director, Marketing Ops, VersionOne

 

Issue-based content is far more effective…

‘You’ve got to intrigue your target audience and give them a reason to want to engage with you. Issue-based materials are far more effective as offers than product- or company-centric pieces.’

Bob Apollo, Founder and Value Selling Expert, Inflexion-Point

 

People appreciate being appreciated…

‘If a prospect knows they are one of the 20 people you’ve identified as the best fit for your product (instead of spamming the universe), they are much more likely to take notice. That also means your SDRs need to take the time to understand prospects, not only at the account level but on a personal level as well.’

Jason Seeba, VP, Marketing, BloomReach

 

Custom content is key to driving revenue…

‘Instead of delivering a one-size-fits-all content marketing campaign to every user on the mailing list, marketers can now use ABM to send personalized marketing communications to the 20% of customers who create 80% of revenue.’

Andrew Yates, CEO, Artesian Solutions

[clickToTweet tweet=”You should use ABM to send personalized marketing to the 20% of customers who create 80% of revenue. #abm” quote=”You should use ABM to send personalized marketing to the 20% of customers who create 80% of revenue. #abm”]

 

Your content needs to be good, really good…

‘Content marketers will find themselves in demand with outbound as well as inbound teams as businesses realize that, in ABM, a single well-researched, beautifully written, and highly personalized email to a sweet-spot target can be just as—if not more—important to their revenue as a newsletter to 10 thousand subscribers.’

Tom Gatten, CEO, GrowthIntel

 

ABM is getting easier and easier…

‘Over the past few years, we’ve seen a steady blossoming of ABM capabilities, both in the more generic marketing automation and CRM systems and in the emergence of specialized ABM platforms. And we’ve also seen increased account intelligence in platforms like LinkedIn and the specialized information providers. Taken together, it’s become progressively easier to identify more of the right sorts of contacts and to monitor their levels of interest and engagement.’

Bob Apollo, Founder and Value Selling Expert, Inflexion-Point

 

It’s also easy to just phone it in and believe that it doesn’t work…

‘It’s easy to do a few basic things and say, “We’re doing ABM”. But if you don’t commit to doing the real thing, the returns may not be there, and you’re likely to give up too soon. If big deals matter to your business, invest some time in really learning what best-practice ABM looks like. Then get senior sales and marketing leaders to drive this sucker.’

Doug Kessler, Creative Director and Co-Founder, Velocity Partners

 

Conclusion and Next Steps

Account-based Marketing is definitely the future of marketing. Who can argue that taking a precise, data-driven, personal approach to marketing isn’t the right way forward? But, there is a lot that goes into ABM. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with where to start, we can’t recommend enough starting by reading this E-book that Econsultancy wrote with us. It has worksheets, an ROI calculator, as well as checklists and other ABM ideas that will help you wrap your head around this incredibly important topic.

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