Guide to account based marketing with actionable tips and examples
Sales Intelligence

The Ultimate Guide to Account-Based Marketing

by Sarah Mehlman , Sr. Marketing Intelligence Specialist 10 Min.
February 24, 2022 | Updated October 11, 2022

To say the world of digital marketing is crowded is an understatement. Today, the average person is exposed to a mind-boggling 6,000 to 10,000 ads per day. If you want to get your most valuable prospects to engage with your content — let alone notice you — you need to take a direct, tailored approach.

Otherwise, your ad campaigns, emails, and content are sure to get drowned out by the myriad of other businesses vying for consumer attention.

Representation of how much marketing noise consumers try to drown out that marketers have to breakthrough.

In the age of information overload, account-based marketing (ABM) is one of the most effective strategies for reaching and converting high-value accounts and boosting marketing ROI.

In this guide, we’re going to cover the ins and outs of account-based marketing and provide practical guidance on how to develop your own strategy.

What is account-based marketing?

Before we go any further, we ought to clearly answer the question, what is account-based marketing?

ABM is a type of B2B marketing in which marketing and sales coordinate their efforts to target, engage, groom, and convert specific high-value accounts.

ABM is a type of B2B marketing in which marketing and sales coordinate their efforts to target, engage, groom, and convert specific high-value accounts.

Unlike traditional in-bound marketing, which focuses on creating ads and content and then aiming it at relevant audiences, account-based marketing begins with identifying prospects with the biggest revenue potential, and then launching marketing campaigns that are tailored to them.

With an ABM approach, marketers attempt to engage decision-makers within these accounts on their desired channels, while salespeople perform outreach to the same individuals.

There are three key components of ABM:

  1. Target strategic accounts: The primary trait of account-based marketing is that it’s extremely targeted — you only pursue accounts that you’ve determined will generate a high ROI or lend specific strategic value to your book of business.
  2. Execute campaigns across channels: The “omnichannel” imperative is nothing new, but it’s particularly important to ABM. Your goal is to run coordinated, highly tailored campaigns across all channels that maximize user engagement.
  3. Monitor ongoing performance and optimization: Like everything in marketing, monitoring KPIs is integral to ABM. By keeping tabs on metrics such as spend, campaign runtime, conversion rate, and deal value, you gain important insights on how to optimize campaign performance and improve outcomes even more.

3 Components of ABM

6 ABM benefits

A well-planned account-based marketing strategy will garner you many benefits. The top ABM benefits include:

6 ABM Benefits

1. Better utilization of staff, resources, and budget

Traditional lead generation tactics require lots of resources and high budgets. Because they involve casting a wider net, you inevitably spend money on leads that don’t end up being relevant or desirable. With ABM, you can eliminate this waste by only targeting specific accounts. Marketers and salespeople on ABM teams can focus their time and budgets more efficiently, while producing a higher ROI to show for it.

2. Increased engagement among audiences

Because ABM campaigns are personalized to your target accounts, it’s easier to get them to engage. Ads, content, and events that feel super relevant to their unique needs and challenges are far more likely to catch their attention and influence them to take action.

3. Shorter sales cycles

Traditional inbound marketing tends to have longer sales cycles because campaigns often attract leads who are at a lower level in the organization. They themselves don’t have the decision-making authority to close a deal, and therefore multiple stakeholders must get involved. With ABM, you can directly target decision makers to speed up the process and shorten the sales cycle.

4. Less need for cold calling

Although there’s still a place for cold calling in sales, it’s safe to say it’s not the most time-effective or pleasant part of the sales process. When you narrow your focus on a select list of high-value accounts (which you’ve determined will produce a higher ROI), there’s far less need to prioritize cold calling.

5. Simplified performance tracking

Monitoring the performance of your campaigns and outreach is much simpler for account-based marketing because there are fewer accounts to manage across each channel. With fewer prospects being targeted, those responsible for measuring progress have the chance to gather detailed insights that are not usually possible for large-scale campaigns.

6. Enhanced alignment between marketing and sales

To run a successful account-based marketing operation, marketing and sales must work closely together. They need to align on key components, such as which accounts to target and on which channels, key messaging and content needs, how to measure performance, and when to begin one-on-one sales outreach. And, with greater alignment between the departments, all of your campaigns will become more effective.

Who should use ABM?

ABM boasts phenomenal success rates. More than three-quarters of marketers (87%) say ABM outperforms other marketing activities. Eighty-six percent say it boosts win rates, while 80% say it increases lifetime customer value.

More than three-quarters of marketers (87%) say ABM outperforms other marketing activities.

More than three-quarters of marketers (87%) say ABM outperforms other marketing activities.

Given these successful outcomes, it’s safe to say ABM is a good idea for most companies. Because it’s quite agile and requires less budget than large-scale campaigns, the only true constraint is having the headcount to work on it. For companies with small marketing and sales teams, prioritizing ABM could be a challenge.

To succeed, ABM can’t be treated like a side project or be relegated to one or two people. It requires a team spanning lead gen, product marketing, marketing operations, and sales folks who can dedicate substantial time to ABM activities.

As long as you have enough hands on deck to prioritize ABM activities, it’s well worth the effort.

How do you build an account-based marketing strategy?

When building an ABM strategy, take these key steps:

Step 1: Assemble your ABM team

Some companies have the headcount to establish teams that work exclusively on ABM activities. Others employ a blended approach, in which certain sales reps and marketers split their time between ABM and regular marketing and sales efforts.

Regardless of your approach, it’s essential to have both sales reps and marketers involved. Reps should be experienced and well-versed on your prospects’ needs and business objectives, as well as your product or service. From the marketing side, you’ll need individuals who work on each channel — email, social media, content, webinars, product, and paid ads — as well as marketing ops.

Since ABM is a highly strategic approach, aim to involve individuals who are strategic thinkers, creative, and performance-driven.

Step 2: Determine who you’re targeting

If you haven’t already done so, the next step is to define your ideal customer persona, or ICP. Once you’ve determined the traits of your ideal prospects, the next step is to identify the highest-value accounts. To determine which companies to include, consider these parameters: product fit, sales funnel length, strategic value, competitors, and territory.

With the right tools, it’s possible to pinpoint your ideal prospects with unmatched precision. With Similarweb Sales Intelligence, you can leverage the Lead Generation tool to build a list of high-value accounts that have a clear need for your product or service. The Lead Generator allows you to easily customize your criteria to produce a hyper-relevant list of prospects using more than 50 web metrics, as well as company name, industry leaders, topic leaders, and your competitors’ customers.

Similarweb Sales Intelligence Lead Generation tool

You can also use the Insights Generator and Account Review features to identify key insights about your prospects, which will give your ABM campaigns and sales outreach a major leg up. With detailed and specific insights that provide your prospects value, it’s much easier to capture their attention and keep them engaged throughout the sales funnel.

Step 3: Identify key decision makers and influencers within target companies

The beauty of ABM is it allows you to reach decision makers within your target accounts, as well as top influencers. However, reaching these individuals isn’t always easy, unless you can uncover their contact information.

  • Pro Tip: With the Contacts feature of Sales Intelligence, you’ll get direct access to any prospect’s contact information, including their business email, phone number, and more.

Step 4: Establish content needs

After you understand who exactly you’re targeting, as well as their goals, pain points, challenges, and needs, you’ll have a clear idea of what your content should focus on.

We’ve already established that a cross-channel approach is fundamental to ABM, but decision makers in different positions tend to favor certain channels over others.

For example, high-level executives might be more inclined to engage with email newsletters, which deliver concise, valuable content straight to their inbox. They might also be more likely to interact with LinkedIn ads vs. ads on other social media platforms. A mid-level manager might have more time for attending webinars, which could give them insightful tips to put into practice among their teams, as well as in blog posts and on Twitter.

On any channel, the key is ensuring your content focuses on topics that are most relevant to your prospects’ needs.

Step 5: Launch your campaigns

When you’re ready to launch your campaigns, make sure marketing and sales stakeholders are totally aligned on elements like key messaging in your campaigns, which channels are being used, and when sales will begin reaching out to prospects.

Marketing and sales activities supplement one another in an ABM strategy, which means making sure your campaigns are highly coordinated from beginning to end is essential.

Step 6: Monitor performance and optimize campaigns

Throughout the duration of your ABM campaigns, you should monitor key metrics to assess progress and performance, and inform both marketing and sales on how to optimize their efforts.

Some of the most important KPIs to focus on

Some of the most important KPIs to focus on 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

Based on outcomes and prospect feedback, you can edit your campaigns to improve their relevance and impact.

What are the top account-based marketing tactics?

There are many B2B account-based marketing tactics to utilize in your strategy. Here are some of the top tactics to try:

1. Technology that delivers sales intelligence. Tools that enable you to identify high-value, relevant accounts.

Pro Tip: Similarweb Sales Intelligence save you valuable time and effort and empower both marketers and salespeople to focus on the highest-potential accounts.

2. Social media. After identifying the right individuals to target within your list of ideal accounts, mine their social media accounts to get a glimpse into their pain points, challenges, and questions. Also, directly engage with them by responding to their posts and opening a dialogue.

3. Email campaigns. Email marketing spoon-feeds relevant content as well as invitations to events and webinars to your prospects. It’s also one of the greatest ways to connect with prospects today.

Pro Tip: Enhance your outreach with data and insights from the Insights Generator, to create compelling messages that capture your prospects’ attention.

4. Events. By hosting events that center on topics that are relevant to your prospects, you can provide them with valuable experiences while creating opportunities for sales to establish connections.

5. Webinars. With webinars that provide tactical guidance on your prospects’ key pain points and challenges, you can establish your brand as a source of valuable information. Plus, you can open up new dialogue in the form of webinar follow-up.

6. Blogs and eBooks. Another effective — and faster method — of offering helpful information is by writing types of long-form content that focus on your prospects’ top challenges and goals.

7. Sales calls. After a bit of grooming on the above-mentioned marketing channels, your prospects will be ready to hear directly from a sales rep who can explain how your product or service will benefit their company specifically, and answer their questions.

The top account-based marketing tactics

Account-based marketing examples

Here are a couple of account-based marketing examples, so you can get a sense of what this looks like in action.

1. After generating a robust list of high-value accounts with Similarweb Sales Intelligence, identify several key pain points that many of them have in common via the Insights Generator. With this information, you can develop a new campaign that includes:

  • A series of blog posts
  • New visuals and copy for paid social and retargeting ads
  • A new email newsletter dedicated to providing resources on this topic
  • A webinar featuring a panel of industry experts who can provide actionable advice to deal with these pain points
  • Sales outreach via email and phone calls to establish rapport and serve as a trusted consultant on the matter

2. After creating your list of strategic accounts and uncovering insights about their needs, identify individual contacts within each target company. From there, you:

  • Launch an email marketing campaign that delivers your prospects relevant content
  • Plan a conference on the subject and invite individual prospects to serve on a panel
  • Request to interview prospects for your company’s thought leadership content
  • Lead one-on-one sales calls to learn more about their challenges and goals, and explain the benefits of your product

Shift your marketing and sales efforts into high gear with ABM

By employing account-based marketing tactics, you will achieve a wide range of benefits, from closer alignment between sales and marketing to higher ROI and optimal resource allocation.

The key to maximizing your success is with a carefully planned sales strategy, the right ABM tools, and buy-in from all of the relevant stakeholders. By taking the time to coordinate efforts between marketing and sales, you can work together to ensure each department’s activities complement the other and lend your most strategic prospects real value.

FAQ

What is account-based marketing?

ABM is a type of B2B marketing that aligns marketing and sales to target, engage, groom, and convert specific high-value accounts.

How does ABM work?

It starts with determining prospects with the biggest revenue potential, identifying specific decision makers to target, locating their contact information, and then launching marketing campaigns that are tailored to them.

What are the three key components of ABM?

  • Target of strategic accounts: Only pursue accounts that you’ve determined will generate a high ROI or lend specific strategic value to your book of business.
  • Execute campaigns across channels: Your goal is to run coordinated, highly tailored campaigns across all channels that maximize user engagement.
  • Monitor ongoing performance and optimization: By keeping tabs on KPIs like spend, campaign runtime, conversion rate, deal value, and more, you gain important insights on how to optimize campaign performance.

Why is ABM important?

  • Better utilization of staff, resources, and budget
  • Increased engagement among audiences
  • Shorter sales cycles
  • Less need for cold calling
  • Simplified performance tracking
  • Enhanced alignment between marketing and sales
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