The Ultimate Guide to Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Did you know that 97% of marketers who used account-based marketing reported a higher ROI from it compared to other strategies? With success rates like this, it’s no wonder why so many B2B enterprise-level marketers are adding this strategy to their approach. Here, we’ve detailed what account-based marketing is, its primary benefits, and how to get started. Keep reading to discover some helpful examples and tools to help you fully optimize your ABM strategy. 

What is account-based marketing (ABM)?

In everyday marketing, businesses attempt to reach both their existing audience and potential new customers. Even if they have a target market, niche, or persona in mind, the goal is to appeal to a certain number of people no matter who they are. Account-based marketing, on the other hand, is far more specific. 

Account-based marketing (ABM) zeroes in on one set of accounts or people at a time. Typically, this group is determined to be a great fit for the product or service and can afford a higher price point. Whether they’ve never heard of the business, have shown interest before, or are a current customer at a lower tier, ABM is a strategy used to communicate with that highly targeted group through personalized content. 

Wondering how big the group should be? The amount of effort and budget dedicated to account-based marketing varies. But to give you a general idea of how many accounts or people ABM marketers target at one time, here’s what HubSpot determined via DemandBase: 

  • 13% of ABM marketers target 1–100 accounts
  • 38% of ABM marketers target 101–1.000 accounts
  • 49% of ABM marketer target 1,000+ accounts 

This data makes even more sense when you consider that ABM is most often used by enterprise-level B2B companies with large sales teams. 

What are the benefits of account-based marketing?

Companies who use B2B account-based marketing in their strategy commonly see benefits such as: 

  • Improved customer lifetime value
  • Exceeded revenue expectations
  • Measurable positive impact
  • Increased win rates
  • High performance compared to other marketing initiatives

In fact, 69% of teams who try ABM find it so effective that they now have a dedicated leader for their ongoing campaign. Overall, the primary benefits of account-based marketing include winning more sales and growing revenue across the board. 

How to get started with ABM

Here’s what you’ll need to do to build your account-based marketing strategy regardless of your industry, company size, or other marketing strategies: 

Step 1: Get everyone onboard

The marketing department needs to get buy-in from sales teams and stakeholders. Not sure how? Start by outlining current business objectives and ABM objectives side-by-side. Note where they overlap. Highlight how ABM benefits these current objectives as well as long-term development. 

Be clear on what your expectations are for sales and stakeholders. List responsibilities such as research, goal setting, check-ins, and ongoing support. Finally, outline a proposed communication plan so that everyone is on the same page about how they’ll be involved. 

All of this information will give partners two very persuasive decision-making tools: 

  • A realistic idea of the commitment they’re making.
  • All the reasons why this strategy is important for the organization as a whole.

Step 2: Determine your targets

Decide who your dream client is in this scenario. If you already have accounts with great customers, take a look at their primary characteristics (industry, purchase volume, fit, etc.) to discover patterns. Use those patterns to determine the other companies you should target your ABM campaign toward. 

Step 3: Identify decision-makers

Create buyer personas for your new campaign. Use information such as key pain points and sales triggers as your guide. The sales department can help you better understand what makes customers decide to buy, which may also influence who you aim to reach. 

Step 4: Get set up 

Like any marketing campaign management effort or cross-departmental project, it’s important that you sort out three key areas before moving forward: communication, file sharing, and marketing project management. Ideally, all three of these areas will be organized in one central location so that everyone can stay on the same page at all times. Project management solutions like Wrike offer features such as tasks that allow team members to catch up and chime in on conversations more easily than with email, which is usually private or hard to organize. 

Step 5: Plan out campaigns

Outline the buyer’s journey with content that ties each funnel marketing stage together with its own leakproof strategy. Keep in mind that account-based marketing tactics rely on personalized messages. That means your team will have to sort out what each individual group is interested in. Look for the ways in which each target group differs and create unique messaging based on that. 

Step 6: Create strategic content

ABM content can be shared online or offline. The channels you pick will largely be determined by the preferences of your chosen group. Assist sales with persuasive and informative content they can use to add value to their conversations with leads. And make sure you have content that at least touches on all stages of the sales funnel. 

Step 7: Launch your marketing

Like any other campaign, it’s important that you actively track results and adjust as you go. Beware of oversaturating your audience with repeat messages, content types, and offers. Also, remember that you’re not just targeting one decision-maker at a time. Although this research should be factored into what you do, your job is to appeal to the entire company, not just one individual. Otherwise, you run the risk of losing your lead over time once they’ve been promoted or change jobs. 

Step 8: Review performance

While reach is one of the most important KPIs for the average marketing campaign, the success of an account-based marketing strategy relies on engagement. Use whatever channels you’ve chosen to monitor, analyze, and increase the rate of engagement with your target audience. Keep in mind that as you shoot for the moon, you might land among the stars, i.e., other high ROI leads may appear that you might not have considered before. Make a note of any discoveries like this as your campaign goes live. 

What are common account-based marketing strategies?

Use any of these well-known and successful strategies to increase the quality of your interactions with high-value leads: 

  1. Try coat-tailing to reach specific accounts
    Growth marketer Jeff Duetsch defines coat-tailing as “using other people’s attentive audience to grow yours.” Once you know your target audience’s interests and where they spend time, you can easily build a relationship with them through their communities. 
  2. Market to your existing customers
    Use the information you already know about your clients to upsell their accounts on upgrades, new features, and packages that reflect how they’ve grown with your brand over time. 
  3. Target individuals with content made just for them
    For example, you can include the recipient’s name in an email subject line. Or better yet, create a video cold message for them and DM it through LinkedIn. 
  4. Create target personas based on your top customers
    Save time reinventing the market research wheel by simply analyzing the customers you have and what works for them. “Look at which bring the highest ROI and which have sent the most referrals,” writes content marketing specialist Kristen Hicks of Kuno Creative for their blog. “If working with a certain customer has raised the profile of your business and helped you get more clients by association, consider that as well.” 
  5. Use retargeting to re-engage past leads
    Lukewarm leads can turn red hot once they’ve gotten to know your brand over time. Use Google and social media paid ads to reintroduce your offers to a target audience that you have built a relationship with in the past and fits your current ABM account-based strategy campaign goals. 

Tips for running an ABM campaign (with examples)

Learn from these and other real-world, account-based marketing campaign examples to find what works best for your team. 

  • Take a multichannel approach with both in-person events and paid ads online to 10x YoY revenue as LiveRamp did. 
  • Copy the Thomson Reuters approach to win 95% of targeted accounts by dividing prospects into multiple tiers and creating a unique account-based marketing funnel for each. 
  • Build credibility by swapping gated content for free resources with retargeting ads to follow up on leads. Tech brand Snowflake used this to build meaningful engagement with leads in every stage of the sales funnel. 

Are there account-based marketing best practices to bear in mind?

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that an ABM strategy needs to include new sales funnels. Whether or not you’ve interacted with this lead before, you must have a plan in mind that includes each of the following: 

  • A unique offer created based on their needs
  • Content that is geared towards where they are today and where they hope to be in the future
  • Multiple touchpoints to ensure higher close rates
  • A strong relationship with your sales team, brand, or both

Second, reassess what marketing tools you will need to pull off a successful account-based marketing campaign. Although you can upcycle templates for design and formatting, your team may need to develop new materials. For example, a dedicated landing page with language that speaks directly to this newly defined audience segment can increase conversions. 

Finally, carefully consider who should be the main point of contact for lead groups, individual accounts, and existing clients. Although your team may have shared these responsibilities in the past, ABM works best when teams use social territory proximity planning. Use your CRM to decide who is the best, most engaging choice to interact with each new account. 

Account-based marketing solutions and tools

According to Martech Today, the best account-based marketing solutions and tools “automate many of the data and workflow processes that enable this approach.” In other words, they make the complex work of ABM simple. 

Most ABM tool companies offer an all-in-one product that can be accessed by sales, marketing, and management. A comprehensive platform that functions as a touchpoint for all communication is ideal since there are many moving pieces involved in account-based marketing. This is especially true if your team plans to launch or continue other marketing campaigns at the same time. 

Pro tip: Look for communication features such as resource management, internal messaging, and reporting so everyone on your team can win over new sales with ease. 

Can I use Wrike for ABM? 

Yes, you can use Wrike for account-based marketing. Here’s how: 

  1. Centralize communication
    In addition to in-platform messaging with @mention capabilities that notify and loop team members into important conversations, Wrike also offers useful integrations with third-party services. The two most important integrations for ABM include email and chat integration. Create, edit, and edit tasks right from the tools you use every day. Changes you make within your preferred platforms update in Wrike automatically, which saves you time and keeps everyone on the same page. 
  2. Monitor real-time progress
    With Wrike, managers from each department get a birds-eye view of all active enterprise projects in the form of spreadsheets and Gantt charts so that team leads can always stay aligned. Plus, everyone who uses Wrike gets their own personal dashboard. The dashboard displays all current assignments, @mention notifications, and task and approval status updates. All these features and more make it easy for everyone to stay on track no matter what challenges are faced along the way. 
  3. Use proven templates
    Wrike comes loaded with a wide selection of project templates, covering everything from Agile teamwork to project scheduling. One of the biggest challenges of ABM is that it’s a time-consuming and complex process. With Wrike’s templates, a lot of the guesswork is taken out of the equation. This means your team can spend less time planning and more time doing. 
  4. Get insightful reports
    In Wrike, reports are completely customizable, so you can see which of your ABM funnels are most effective or what offers are selling better than others as they happen. For account-based marketing, getting insights fast is key, so you can adjust strategy as you go. That’s also the difference between account-based marketing and inbound marketing: with ABM, every touchpoint counts. With fewer leads and more effort put into each one, speed and insight are critical for success. 

Get up and running today

As you know by now, account-based marketing is a strategy that is jam-packed with benefits, including increasing lead engagement, ROI, and revenue. If you need a simple yet sophisticated tool, check out Wrike today via our free two-week trial. See how easy it is to communicate across teams with on and off-platform features, organize multiple teams and projects all at once with visual charts and stay on top of progress with smart reports, all in one central location.

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