It’s no secret that personalization has become central to marketing. I’m always happy to get a birthday coupon or product recommendations that fit my interests. However, it can be hard to build personal relationships with other companies. You might struggle to attract leads or connect with decision-makers.  

That’s where account-based marketing (ABM) comes in. This business-to-business (B2B) marketing strategy targets specific accounts. It lets you focus on reeling in a few big fish instead of trying to lure as many fish as possible into your net. That way, you can develop personal partnerships with high-value accounts. 

ABM may sound intimidating if you’re used to attracting leads organically. However, adding this strategy to your marketing toolkit can help you increase sales. This guide covers everything you need to know about ABM solutions. Read on to learn about ABM benefits, frameworks, and tools. 

Understanding account-based marketing (ABM)

What is account-based marketing? This strategy focuses on marketing to specific businesses. Marketers create tailored content for each account, such as personalized landing pages. They use this content to grab the attention of key decision-makers. 

Suppose your company sells menu software to hospitals. You could use market research to find hospital systems that don’t use this technology. Next, you’ll create personalized content for each account to highlight the value of your product. For example, you could host a private software demonstration for their key decision-makers. You could also share testimonials from similar hospitals that use your software. 

ABM is effective because it reverses the conventional marketing funnel. Traditionally, marketers created content for broad audiences to attract leads. For example, creating a blog post about a common pain point and hoping potential customers find it. But many of these leads don’t become paying customers. ABM streamlines marketing by targeting specific accounts from the get-go. 

Types of account-based marketing (ABM) solutions   

According to Momentum ITSMA, there are three types of ABM programs

  1. Programmatic ABM uses technology to personalize marketing for many accounts. Marketers aim to generate new leads and repurpose content for each account. Programmatic ABM often involves email marketing, direct mail, and blogs. 
  2. ABM Lite involves marketers creating lightly customized content for groups of similar accounts. This method focuses on developing relationships and identifying opportunities. Common tactics include email marketing, one-on-one meetings, and executive engagement plans. 
  3. Strategic ABM involves creating custom content for individual accounts. Each marketer focuses on building relationships with one to four accounts. Key tactics include private events, thought leadership content, and one-on-one meetings.

A brief history of ABM 

ABM is a relatively new marketing method dating back to the 1990s when B2B companies realized they needed to provide more personalized buying experiences. As a result, some businesses started to focus on one-to-one marketing techniques. But this approach didn’t catch on with most marketers at first. In fact, the term “account-based marketing” didn’t even appear in Google Trends until 2013.

Despite this slow start, ABM has exploded in popularity in recent years. It’s easy to see the appeal. This approach is one of the best ways to engage key decision-makers. It can also save money and time by allowing marketers to target specific accounts. 

Benefits of account-based marketing

Here are nine benefits of creating an account-based marketing (ABM) program.  

1. Align marketing and sales (“smarketing”)

Many businesses have separate marketing and sales departments. ABM lets you combine these areas to make the most impact. Marketers and sales professionals can work together to choose the best target accounts. They can also use their expertise to create the most effective content for each audience. 

2. Maximize relevance to high-value accounts

Companies may get dozens of sales calls and emails a month. Most of this content won’t be relevant to their challenges and needs. You can stand out from the crowd with value-based marketing. Focus on creating personal content that speaks to every account’s specific pain points and goals. 

3. Create consistent customer experiences

ABM lets you develop relevant and specific messaging for every account. This approach helps your marketing and sales teams collaborate more effectively. That way, customers have a consistent experience when interacting with your company.

4. Measure return on investment

Measuring the impact of traditional inbound marketing can be challenging. You might wonder if your emails and social media posts attract leads. Measuring ABM’s return on investment (ROI) is more straightforward. You only need to track a few metrics, such as account engagement and revenue. This immediate feedback also lets you adjust your approach quickly.

5. Streamline the sales cycle

Simplify your sales cycle with ABM. You won’t need to write dozens of blog posts or cold email every company in your industry. Instead, you can focus on a handful of accounts that may become paying customers. This process boosts efficiency and can lead to faster sales. 

6. Expand business through account relationships

ABM lets you build deep and meaningful relationships with every account. You’ll learn about their goals, pain points, and values. This personalized knowledge helps businesses see you as a long-term, trustworthy partner. They may even recommend your company to other accounts with similar needs. As your relationships flourish, so will your business.

7. Make more efficient use of your marketing budget

Because ABM prioritizes quality over quantity, you can maximize your marketing budget with this approach. You’ll invest your resources into crafting tailored content for several high-value accounts. This strategy costs less than mass-producing content for hundreds of leads. 

8. Create successful sales conversions

According to a Momentum ITSMA survey, 76% of marketers had a higher ROI when they used ABM than other methods. Target accounts are more likely to convert to sales when you personalize interactions. ABM also lets marketing and sales teams unite their talents, boosting their effectiveness. 

9. Improve the buying and customer experience

AMB takes the buying and customer experience to the next level. You give accounts customized and relevant content that fits their needs, delivering the most value and engagement. 

Account-based marketing framework and strategy

Creating an account-based marketing strategy doesn’t have to be stressful. Follow this simple framework to get started. 

Marketing-sales alignment

Bring together your sales and marketing teams to develop your ABM strategy. The teams should create common goals and ideal customer profiles. This planning phase ensures everyone is on the same page.

Account qualification

The sales and marketing team should work together to define a “high-value account.” This step will help you identify the best target accounts to begin your ABM strategy. Consider these factors: 

  • Revenue potential 
  • Spending patterns 
  • Opportunities to offer extra products and services in the future 
  • Relationships with competitors 

Go-to-market approach

Sketch out your go-to-market approach before you contact potential customers. This preliminary step lets you map out how a new account would move through your sales process. You can use this plan to find and fix problems beforehand. For example, you may notice that your plan doesn’t include a product demonstration and add that step. 

Securing organizational ABM alignment

Set yourself up for success by getting the full support of your organization. Get leaders on board by explaining the benefits of ABM and how it fits the company’s goals. You should also clearly communicate the strategy to everyone who interacts with accounts. This may include account managers, customer service representatives, and other client-facing employees. 

Building an ABM team

Start with a small ABM task force that includes marketers and salespeople. This team will develop outreach strategies and create personalized content. They’ll also build relationships with accounts. 

Researching and identifying target accounts

Conduct market research to find the best target accounts. Look for companies with pain points you can solve. You can also analyze your competitors to find gaps in the market. 

Additionally, you could review your existing leads for potential targets. Maybe a company has sent a representative to one of your webinars but hasn’t bought anything yet. They could be an excellent target for ABM. 

Research and rank prospects within target accounts

Depending on your market, you may find dozens of potential target accounts. Create a ranked list so you can focus on the best options. Consider revenue potential, scalability, and any pre-existing relationships you have with the companies. Then, choose one or two of the highest-ranking accounts to launch your ABM program. As you gain confidence, you can work your way down the list. 

Creating personalized content

Developing a steady stream of personalized content for your accounts is essential. Identify key decision-holders and brainstorm content that will add value to their lives. This content could include educational resources, case studies, personal emails, and more. 

You should also research the best ways to share content with your audience. Younger professionals may prefer a blend of social media and email marketing. Meanwhile, seasoned executives may enjoy listening to a thought leadership podcast. 

Measuring and analyzing ABM results

Analyzing these metrics can help you measure the success of your ABM strategy: 

  • Account-level engagement 
  • Revenue from target accounts 
  • Click-through rates 
  • Customer lifetime value 

Account-based marketing tactics

You can use many tactics to improve your B2B account-based marketing strategy, including: 

  • Customize your value proposition for each account
  • Create custom content to engage different stakeholders in an organization
  • Design personalized landing pages with custom content and calls-to-action
  • Use social media platforms to engage with target accounts 
  • Tailor paid advertisements for key decision-makers 
  • Organize exclusive conferences, webinars, and other events 
  • Craft targeted content for each account 

Essential ABM tools and technologies

An ABM platform can help you personalize content and build relationships. Look for tools that fit your budget and scale to your ABM program. 

Constant Contact is an affordable and comprehensive ABM solution. This platform helps users create email marketing campaigns, landing pages, and other content. It also has advanced features, such as behavior-based marketing automation.

You should also choose a customer relationship management (CRM) platform like Constant Contact. This software allows you to manage deals, organize contact information, and more.

Real-world examples of account-based marketing

HealthLink Dimensions advertisement created with Acclaro.
A HealthLink Dimensions advertisement targeting healthcare providers. Image source: Acclaro

Researching ABM success stories can help you develop your strategy and gain inspiration. Here are two case studies: 

  • HealthLink Dimensions: HealthLink Dimensions and Acclaro developed advertisements tailored to healthcare providers. Their ABM strategy grew HealthLink Dimensions’ new customer pipeline by 234%
  • Henkel: The adhesives manufacturer launched an ABM program targeting Cisco. They designed bespoke web platforms for Cisco accounts and contacted 800 decision-makers. This campaign led to four new sales opportunities.

LinkedIn’s role in account-based marketing

LinkedIn company targeting graphic
LinkedIn’s Company Targeting offers many benefits for B2B companies. Image source: LinkedIn 

LinkedIn can help you identify and connect with key decision-makers at target accounts. Additionally, the Company Targeting feature lets you run ABM campaigns. You can upload a list of target companies and design tailored advertisements. 

Challenges and considerations

B2B companies often struggle to adapt their ABM strategies for different sectors. For example, your marketing team might excel at picking target accounts and personalizing content. However, your customer service representatives may struggle to understand each account’s needs. Clear communication can help you bridge the gap between these sectors and align your team. 

It’s also challenging to personalize content for multiple accounts. Artificial intelligence (AI) and automation tools can speed up content generation. You can also outsource some of the production to freelancers or content agencies. 

Future of ABM: Trends and predictions

Expect more exciting developments in account-based marketing as technology continues to develop. Marketers have already begun using AI-powered tools to generate and tailor content. As these platforms become more sophisticated, marketers can create hyper-personalized content. 

Additionally, companies will increasingly expand their ABM efforts across many channels. You could leverage email, social media, and in-person interactions at the same time. This multi-pronged approach can help you make the most significant impact. 

Elevate your business with ABM best practices

Account-based marketing has taken the B2B world by storm. This approach lets you focus on building relationships with high-value accounts. You can create highly personalized content demonstrating how you’ll meet their needs. It’s one of the best ways to establish trust and attract loyal customers. 

Try ABM by picking one target company. Identify a few key decision-makers and generate personal content for them. For instance, you could create an email newsletter addressing specific challenges they face. From there, you can slowly build your ABM campaign as you gain experience and pinpoint the most effective tactics.