Sales Intelligence

How to Run the Ideal ABM Campaign (+ Examples)

by Sarah Mehlman , Sr. Marketing Intelligence Specialist 7 Min.
March 3, 2022 | Updated October 11, 2022

When planned and executed strategically, an ABM campaign can help your business close more big deals, increase revenue, and add valuable new logos to your book of business.

If you’re a skeptic of account-based marketing, don’t take our word for it. These statistics speak for themselves:

  • 87% of marketers say their ABM campaigns outperform other marketing activities
  • 91% of marketing teams that use ABM close larger deals
  • 25% seeing their deal sizes grow by more than 50%
  • 86% say it boosts win rates
  • 80% say it increases lifetime customer value

So, how can you achieve these stellar results in your own organization? How can you take ABM as a concept and transform it into a sustainable marketing and sales strategy?

What is ABM and why should sales care about it?

ABM is a B2B sales and marketing strategy in which stakeholders from both departments work together to target, engage, nurture, and convert a predefined list of high-value accounts.

Compared to traditional lead generation tactics, which usually start by creating campaigns and then aiming them at a generalized list of customer personas, ABM starts by identifying prospects with the biggest revenue potential. The next step is developing content that speaks directly to those prospects and launching campaigns.

Traditional lead generation inbound marketing activities can be likened to trawling, or using a large net to catch thousands of fish. You build extensive campaigns with the goal of attracting thousands of leads in one go. But just as a trawler will catch many types of fish in their net, your campaign will generate many leads – relevant and irrelevant. You not only pay to acquire those leads, but also to weed them out!

ABM is more like using a fishing rod to catch fish – except you use a special kind of bait designed just to attract your target account. Only the desired fish (or prospect) will bite.

AMB is visualized as “fishing” for customers, catching one customer at a time.

Marketing and sales teams should care about ABM because it allows them to reduce the time and energy they spend bringing in irrelevant leads. It also shortens the sales cycle, increases deal value, and makes it easier to engage, nurture, and convert more strategic accounts.

What is an account-based marketing campaign?

“Account-based marketing campaign” simply refers to the methods you use to attract and engage the accounts you have deemed the highest value to your business.

An ABM campaign can consist of many different types of content and approaches to outreach, including:

  1. Organic social media posts
  2. Paid advertisements
  3. Email marketing
  4. Webinars
  5. In-person and online events
  6. Blogs, eBooks, and whitepapers
  7. One-on-one sales outreach
  8. Consultative selling

It’s not necessary to include every single one of these methods in your ABM campaign. But to be effective, you’ll want to target and engage your prospects on multiple fronts. Most likely, your campaign will include some combination of social media, email marketing, and sales outreach.

How to run an ABM campaign

Ready to start building your own account-based marketing campaign? Check out these steps to help you get started.

1. Choose the right type of ABM

There are three types of account-based marketing that are categorized by the number of accounts you pursue.

The three main types of ABM campaigns.

  • One-to-one ABM: Focus on 1-5 individual accounts that you’ve determined would yield your business the greatest value, and dedicate your entire ABM budget to them.
  • One-to-few: Focus on 10-30 accounts within a specific sector.
  • One-to-many: Target over 30 lower-value accounts with customer-centric messaging.

To choose which ABM strategy is right for your organization, consider elements like typical sales cycle length, deal size, and lifetime customer value. A one-to-one approach carries much greater risk than a one-to-many approach. You may want to test the waters with one-to-many or one-to-few, and then slowly increase your specificity.

2. Build alignment between marketing and sales

Your ABM campaign will never get off the ground without close alignment between sales and marketing. While each department will work independently on certain tasks (such as actually building campaigns and sales outreach) it’s important that sales and marketing share an equally deep understanding of who they’re targeting and how.

To achieve a highly coordinated and synchronized ABM campaign, bring stakeholders from marketing and sales together to determine:

  • What type of ABM strategy you’re pursuing
  • Which accounts to target
  • What kind of key messaging and content
  • How to measure performance
  • When to begin one-on-one sales outreach

3. Establish KPIs

Both marketers and salespeople should already be well-acquainted with KPIs. Without them, it’s impossible to monitor progress, measure campaign success, or identify opportunities to course-correct.

Some of the most important KPIs to measure during your ABM campaign include:

  • Campaign duration
  • Budget spend
  • Engagement rate across channels
  • Number of outreach attempts by sales
  • Quality of sales calls
  • Length of sales funnel
  • Conversion rate
  • Deal value

4. Build out a list of accounts to target

The next step is determining which companies meet your ICP standards and would be a good fit for your ABM campaign. The question is, how do you choose?

Attempting to choose and research the most relevant prospects manually is time-consuming and prone to error. Dedicating valuable sales and marketing resources to vetting hundreds or thousands of companies pretty much undermines the resource-saving benefits ABM offers.

But with the right tools, you can zero in on your ideal prospects almost instantaneously, and with great precision. With Similarweb Sales Intelligence and the Lead Generator feature, you can effortlessly build a list of high-value accounts that have a clear need for your product or service.

There are four ways to find new leads with Similarweb Sales Intelligence and the Lead Generator.

Pro Tip: The Lead Generator allows you to customize a wide range of criteria (including 50+ web metrics, company name, industry leaders, topic leaders, and your competitors’ customers) to create a hyper-relevant list of prospects.

5. Create personalized content

Once you know who you’re going to target, you need to know what you’re going to say, and how. One of the defining attributes of ABM campaigns is that they’re highly personalized. This helps ensure they resonate with decision-makers within your prospect list.

An example of a ABM campaign that Similarweb did for Shopify.

Using the Insights Generator and Account Review features, you can easily tailor your ABM campaigns. These tools give you an inside look at your target accounts’ goals, challenges, and pain points so you can think of ways to address them and provide value.

The how part comes into play when you decide which mediums to use. As we mentioned before, virtually all ABM campaigns use a cross-channel approach. But don’t just choose your methods randomly. Consider who you’re targeting and how they prefer to engage with marketing materials. Do they read their emails? Do they use LinkedIn? Do they read eBooks?

6. Launch your ABM campaign

Once you’ve covered your bases and developed a well-planned ABM campaign, it’s go time. Launch your campaigns and keep tabs on engagement.

Meanwhile, prepare your sales reps to begin outreach and provide. If your campaign is doing its job, prospects should already have a basic understanding of who you are and what you offer by the time reps call them and provide demos.

7. Continuously assess and iterate

From the moment you launch your ABM campaign to the moment you pull the plug, you should continuously evaluate how it’s performing according to the KPIs you defined. By assessing its success along the way – instead of only at the end – you can identify opportunities to make changes that will improve the campaign’s performance and yield better results.

Both marketing and sales should take an active role in assessing their performance and identifying improvements. It’s also a good idea to get their feedback on the operational side of executing ABM campaigns: What elements of the process could be more efficient? How can the teams work together more cohesively?

8. Keep building relationships

ABM campaigns are all about understanding what drives your individual prospects and tailoring your marketing and outreach efforts to them. But that’s not all. Instead, ABM campaigns allow you to build the foundation upon which to build long-term, personalized relationships with customers.

By treating each deal as a relationship, you’ll be positioned to increase conversion, customer retention, and lifetime customer value. Following up with relevant content, ensuring the account is maximizing the value of your product or service, and checking in at the right intervals all help you maintain long-term relationships with customers.

2 ABM campaign examples to guide you

To help clarify what an ABM campaign looks like in practice, here are some account-based marketing campaign examples you can reference.

ABM campaign example No. 1

After careful consideration, your ABM team leaders select a one-to-few ABM strategy, which involves targeting C-suite decision-makers from 25 health systems across the United States. Here’s what your ABM campaign looks like.

  1. Merge marketing and sales stakeholders who will work on the ABM campaign to align on the strategy and refine the list of prospects.
  2. Use the Lead Generator to build a list of carefully curated, relevant prospects.
  3. Glean key insights and differentiators on each prospect’s pain points, challenges, and business goals with the Insights Generator.
  4. Build an email marketing newsletter that aggregates relevant news stories and your blog posts on these topics.
  5. Host an industry event and invite target executives to speak on panels.
  6. Write whitepapers featuring insights from key healthcare analysts and give your prospects exclusive access.
  7. Launch multi-touch SDR strategies and take a consultative selling approach.

ABM campaign example No. 2

In this example, imagine your ABM team has chosen to pursue a one-to-one approach, which involves targeting four CIOs at Fortune 500 SaaS companies. Building your ABM campaign strategy would look something like this:

  • Carefully select the four CIOs you will target by narrowing down a list of top results using the Lead Generator.
  • Conduct in-depth research on them, including their personal backgrounds, career history, and any news articles or interviews they might have appeared in.
  • Mine their social media accounts to gain insight into their personalities, which topics they think about on a daily basis, their tone of voice, and what platforms they prefer to communicate on.
  • Target them with a series of blog posts and ads that resonate with their challenges, pain points, and perspective.
  • Have a relevant executive leader from your company engage with them on social media, such as by commenting on their posts. Then, refer the prospect to a sales executive.

Elevate sales success with ABM campaigns

ABM isn’t magic, and it doesn’t mean you should suddenly drop all of your current inbound marketing campaigns. But it can be extremely effective when planned and executed correctly.

At its best, an ABM campaign supplements your existing, “conventional” campaigns. It helps you ensure your most valuable and strategic prospects get the extra attention and oomph they need to convert. And, it sets the foundation for a long-term, mutually beneficial relationship.

Not only are ABM prospects more likely to convert, but they’re also more likely to become brand champions. That’s the beauty of personalization — it enables your customers to get the most value out of your product or service, and encourages them to give back.

If you’re ready to launch an ABM campaign of your own, don’t dive in too hastily. Consider the eight steps we covered above and refer to the two examples as possible directions you can take it. There are endless possibilities, but with the right strategy, tools, and approach, you can maximize sales success and boost your ROI.

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