Account-based marketing is now a priority tactic for many B2B tech companies. With in-house ABM experts, we’re often asked multiple questions about ABM from how it works, to how it’s possible to scale, and the more complex questions around how to measure ROI.

We’ve compiled our most frequently asked questions (FAQ) into one blog post. Check them out below!

What is Account-Based Marketing (ABM)?

Account-based marketing (ABM) is an alternative to traditional wide-casting marketing techniques that focuses on seeking out and homing in on specific targets that are the most likely to respond to – and benefit from – tailored marketing messages that meet their very specific needs and resonate with their corporate preferences.

ABM is effective because it assembles and trains the best of the available resources to win over a select group of high-value accounts. This targeted approach ensures that marketing efforts always keep the most promising prospects in focus, engaged and, ultimately, converted into loyal customers.

How does ABM differ from traditional marketing approaches?

ABM is far more personalised that traditional, broad-based strategies. It is effective because prospects are more likely to respond to an approach that resonates with their perception of their current requirements but may also – through careful advance research – serve as the catalyst for interest in a product or service that may not have initially been on their radar. A highly tailored marketing campaign for each target account can include personalised messages, content and offers that align with the unique characteristics and challenges that your research has identified as being of value to each account.

Although the personalised approach is good for individual companies, it can also be a great way to win over entire business sectors. The basic strategies are largely similar to what you would do for individual businesses but are scaled up from one-to-one to one-to-many. That does not dilute the focused personal touch. It just means that it is designed to achieve results on a broader scale while retaining its smaller, more intimate values. It’s a fine line, but a distinctive one

Why should a company consider implementing ABM?

ABM leads to higher ROI, more efficient use of marketing resources and requires a closer alignment between sales and marketing teams to achieve it. This is because both teams need to collaborate far more closely to identify specific targets, develop strategies that are equally specific and use that information to execute personalised campaigns. When they are in sync, they greatly improve their chances of account engagement and conversion.

How do we identify target accounts for ABM?

Identifying target accounts for an ABM campaign is typically based on revenue potential, strategic fit, their perceived overall market influence and other criteria relevant to their business and yours.

This is where the research aspect of an ABM campaign comes into play. Research is a too-often-overlooked component of any marketing campaign, let alone an ABM-style undertaking.

Where has your company been successful in the past? Why are you not having as much success in other markets that are of interest to you? Where is the data that will support a more informed way of building a target shortlist and, crucially, what’s important to you as a company? How do you measure success?

In short, you must identify the personas of your prospective customers and what solutions they need, and then devise a carefully targeted campaign to ensure they want yours.

What’s the role of content in ABM?

Content is still king, and it’s essential for ABM. New and personalised content (usually both) tailored to the specific needs and challenges of target accounts fuels the engine room of engagement. Providing that engagement enables you to assist those customers as they make their way along the sales funnel.

How does ABM align sales and marketing teams?

ABM requires a closer alignment between sales and marketing teams. This is because both teams need to collaborate far more closely to identify specific targets, develop strategies and use their shared information to execute personalised campaigns. When they are in sync, they greatly improve the chances of account engagement and conversion.

The fact that both marketing and sales see the same results relevant to their goals, is a result of them working in close harmony, which in turn flows into future initiatives to the benefit of their departments, their customers, their employer, and the bottom line for each.

What tools are essential for ABM?

The most common ABM tools include CRM and account intelligence platforms, marketing automation and personalisation tools, all of which are readily available in a range of formats that, while user-friendly, may require professional assistance to ensure their best and most efficient deployment.

This is particularly true for some ABM tools that typically target ads to a specific company’s IP address. These can be highly effective if you want to reach a large percentage of the employees at that company, but to ensure it is implemented properly in the highly personalised way it needs to be, it may be best to secure professional assistance, or even hire an external agency to manage or organise the automation of that process for you.

How do you measure the success of an ABM campaign?

The key metrics to measure ABM success includes account engagement, an assessment of the sales pipeline created, the amount of revenue generated as a direct result of the campaign, and account penetration, i.e., how many existing or prospective customers were reached and ultimately became invested in the exchange.

These fundamentals alone will give you a very good measure of the degree of success of your ABM campaign. There are many more measurement tools, but this will depend on the goal and level of detail required.

Is ABM only suitable for large enterprises?

ABM is an equal opportunity concept, regardless of the size of an organisation considering it. Yes, large enterprises may, unsurprisingly, have a larger proportion of resources to devote to an ABM campaign, but they typically have a much larger constituency to reach. ABM is very scalable, which means that with a properly planned and focused budget it can be tailored in a way that is economically viable and ultimately beneficial for businesses of any size. The approach might differ in terms of scope, but the principles are identical. In fact, it is entirely possible that a carefully constructed budget, coupled with a highly focused campaign, can generate disproportionately good results for mid-sized companies because the campaign can have a profound impact on converting a higher percentage of a relatively small number of targets.

How is ROI calculated in ABM?

ROI in ABM is typically calculated by measuring the revenue generated from targeted accounts against the costs of the campaigns targeting them. Again, this calculation is similar regardless of the size of the company. It’s a straightforward process that, done properly, provides a very clear-eyed view of what is working, and what needs improvement.

How long does it take to see results from ABM?

Many companies start seeing results within a few months. However, long-term benefits may take longer to materialise.

You also have to factor in the time it takes to set up and implement an ABM campaign, which is a key part of the investment. How fast you see results is largely a factor of the scale and tactics used for the campaign; the demographics of its target audience; and the resonance the message has with those targets. Near-term results are always welcome, but an equally beneficial “long tail” response is not uncommon. Patience and persistence can be key to ABM.

How do we ensure data quality in ABM?

This is a key question. Data integrity is everything for an ABM campaign, as it increasingly is for many modern business operations. It is imperative that digital databases are regularly and thoroughly updated and cleansed. It is also essential that reliable data sources are researched and validated (best done in conjunction with the sales team), which can then be integrated with your specialised marketing applications to minimise the possibility of data discrepancies.

What challenges might we encounter with ABM?

Common challenges include the aforementioned data accuracy issues; alignment – or a lack thereof -between sales and marketing; identifying the right accounts to target; and achieving the most appropriate scaling of the strategy.

Importantly, it’s also a case of being brave enough to allocate a significant portion of the marketing budget to go after specific prospects. That’s because ABM is often, rightly, designed to target the hardest companies to win over. In such cases, where there is a lot of competition vying for their attention, an understanding of the personas you are trying to reach and where they are in their respective customer journey will clearly distinguish you from the competition.

Can you use non-digital content for ABM?

Definitely! Many ABM campaigns still use physical mailings. Getting promotional items on the desks of key decision-makers at the target companies can still have a huge impact. Also, one of the beauties of the ABM approach is it allows for spending on more expensive physical mailers as you are typically targeting a smaller number of accounts. That makes it practical and affordable to engage in promotional items that may be more of a direct match, more personal and will be retained for longer. There is still a place for good swag in ABM.

What role do ads play in ABM?

Targeted advertising can be used to engage specific accounts, raise awareness and drive them to personalised landing pages. They are signposts to what you really want to get across, so make sure they are compelling and memorable.

Should you set up a landing page for each company in an ABM account?

Yes. You should always personalise a campaign as much as possible, so setting up personalised landing pages is important. In fact, a lot of ABM campaigns are built on the basis of outbound email and personalised landing pages, and it can be very effective. It is entirely possible – and even preferable – to create personalised landing pages at scale using marketing automation tools.

Can ABM and inbound marketing coexist?

Absolutely! In fact, ABM should be part of inbound marketing. While ABM is account-specific, inbound marketing still generates leads and should not be ignored or abandoned. The strategies complement each other.

How frequently should we review and adjust our ABM strategy?

At Napier, we schedule frequent check-ins with our clients to review the metrics of their campaign and adjust as needed, but a comprehensive review every quarter or bi-annually serves as an essential benchmark that we rely on to ensure the best possible outcome.

How do we handle accounts that don’t engage?

We must be upfront and say that ABM often targets the hardest companies to win. So, it might take quite a bit of time to achieve the ideal level of engagement. Playing the long game is therefore very important. ABM is very often not a “one-and-done” proposition.

It could also be that you’re not providing content that resonates with your target, which means it’s time to refine your approach by trying new content and running smaller tests to determine what is the best approach.

If all that fails, frankly, you need to reassess the account’s fit with your organisation or consider that your approach isn’t working. It’s then time to rethink your strategy.

Is ABM expensive?

How long is a piece of budget? Costs can vary widely largely based on the size of the company and the scale of the campaign required to reach the proposed target audience. The irony is that the highly focused approach of even a large ABM campaign often means that resources are used more efficiently and are therefore less expensive to run overall than traditional campaigns. Moreover, they achieve better results, either in isolation or in tandem with traditional inbound marketing initiatives.

How do we integrate ABM with our existing tech stack?

The vast majority of marketing technology tools for ABM now integrate very well with existing CRM, marketing automation and other in-house platforms. The key is in how you configure and ultimately use those new tools. Napier is highly experienced in setting up ABM tools and it’s often best to take advantage of that expertise to prevent early misfires.

Should all accounts be treated equally in ABM?

To paraphrase George Orwell’s Animal Farm, all accounts are equal, but some accounts are more equal than others.  Accounts must be prioritised based on potential revenue, strategic fit and likelihood to close. It’s important to note that the data that indicates the likelihood of closing will move potential targets up and down on a prospect viability graph. The data will show interest in some targets ebb and flow over time. Surprisingly, however, targets that have inactive for some time can suddenly flare up into highly attractive opportunities. That’s why it’s important to maintain some degree of engagement and not fully disregard unresponsive targets. That doesn’t mean they all have to be given the same amount of attention at all times, just that you have to be prepared to shift your emphasis when the data shows that the time is right.

How do we scale our ABM efforts?

If you are new to ABM, the best way to scale your efforts is to start with a pilot program, refine it based on results and then extend it to include more accounts.

It’s a good idea to test your campaign ideas by targeting one or two companies (usually smaller ones deliver the best and quickest results) for a relatively short time to ensure your approach is the correct one for that market before you scale up. This will avoid wasting time and money. Starting small is particularly relevant if the product or service you are offering is purchased on an annual basis. However, if a short-term campaign indicates that a smaller account is ripe for profitable development (and could perhaps even grow with your help) it’s the perfect reason to suggest that a low-level ABM programme should continue. You can readily find this out from the early results, but it’s best to discuss this with experts to ensure you are making that suggestion based on verifiable evidence.

What are some common misconceptions about ABM?

Some believe that ABM is a new concept that is hard to understand, difficult to implement and so expensive that it’s best left to the big companies. It’s not, and doesn’t have to be, any of those things. It’s quite simple. ABM is about refining and focusing existing strategies to make them far more targeted. It’s a far more efficient way of converting the spray-and-pray approach into rich, colourful and highly focused digital pixels.

Can PR be a part of an ABM campaign?

Yes. PR campaigns occasionally include elements that they hope will grab the attention of a specific company, but the goal is often to influence an entire market. PR is generally more broadly targeted than ABM, but the two disciplines can work together to ensure a comprehensive approach that leaves no opportunity unnoticed and no sale unconverted…

…. at least that’s the ultimate aim.

So how do I get started in ABM?

The best way to start is by contacting the experts at Napier!

Find out more about ABM here and check out how we’ve supported other clients with ABM via our case study.