4 Account-Based Marketing Best Practices to Follow

Written by Gerry Dapergolas

May 14 2018

ABM best practice

From defining campaign goals to deciding a go-to-market approach, or running an ABM pilot - we list a few best practice activities that ABM campaigns should include. 

Account Based Marketing is a strategic approach that coordinates personalised marketing and sales efforts to open doors and deepen engagement at specific accounts. - Jon Miller, CEO and Co-Founder, Engagio

Understanding The ABM Process: Best Practice Activities

With the potential to create stronger, more valuable customer relationships and enhance retention, selecting an Account-Based Marketing approach can be an effective way to build traction with your highest-value, highest propensity accounts.

To be successful, an ABM strategy requires intricate focus, personalisation and relevant engagement. But what activities should a typical campaign include?

The precise activities any specific campaign includes, will depend on an organisation's starting point or level of ABM maturity; which in turn is shaped by the level of account-focused insight available.

However, regardless of whether an organisation is able to target at a specific individual (1-to-1) level, at a company account or vertical level (ABM Lite), at an inbound to ABM level, or are simply starting with an inbound foundation, the following steps can help your ABM process see best results.

4 ABM Best Practice Steps To Follow

  1. Set Clear Campaign Goals

ABM is gaining traction because it provides a clear goal for your campaigns and direction you need to grow accounts. Ultimately, while you may have wider marketing goals and are monitoring progress by reviewing pageviews, engagement, clickthrough etc., with ABM, KPIs will usually come down to net-new target account generation, new decision-maker relationships (account DMU & contact increase), and commercial goals such as revenue growth within accounts.

Focus on progressing the accounts you’re targeting as a measure of success.

To succeed you need to make sure campaigns are focussed towards securing quality account relationships, and that you are closely monitoring how effectively your team progresses with, and converts those ABM relationships - or you’ll never achieve revenue goals.

2. Start With an ABM Pilot Campaign

An ABM pilot programme is an ideal way to test and adapt process prior to full investment, prove ROI, assess timescales, build internal buy-in, outline expectations; and will help to develop the resources, insight and process foundations needed for full ABM programmes. If you are considering running ABM in conjunction with more traditional demand gen, choosing a pilot first (rather a full blown campaign) is crucial to secure executive buy-in and establish realistic goals.

A pilot campaign will enable you to:

  • Establish the starting point and frameworks that best suit your organisation
  • Align sales and marketing prior to full investment; a crucial step to ensure the campaign is supported across every stage of the customer lifecycle
  • Set realistic timescales, test process and adapt accordingly
  • Identify the technology required
  • Develop initial campaign content and messaging required
  • Define KPIs and metrics to measure

A fully developed ABM strategy enables marketers to engage key personas at target companies, which is why more than 80% of marketers say that ABM outperforms other marketing initiatives - ITSMA

3. Select The Right Approach

There are multiple choices when choosing how to target your ABM approach. Which you choose will depend on your organisation's ABM maturity level; not all organisations will have an immediate focus on who their highest propensity accounts are, or have enough insight to engage individual stakeholders.

Before starting with ABM, it's important to outline your organisation's level of ABM maturity, and select an appropriate programme type. ABM maturity can be defined by answering a number of questions;

  • Does your organisation already have a defined ABM strategy?
  • How well does your organisation understand the specific challenges that you solve for your customers?
  • Do you have content in place that conveys your organisation's unique value to customers?
  • Do your marketing KPIs measure across the entirety of the customer lifecycle?
  • If you currently have an ABM process, how do you select the right accounts?
  • Are your marketing and sales teams aligned on opportunity /approach to engaging important accounts?
  • Are you personalising content for specific customers?
  • Do you have an understanding of crucial ABM metrics to monitor?

The answers to these questions can them help to inform the best strategy for your maturity; whether you select and build on an ABM 1 to 1, ABM Lite, Inbound to ABM or Inbound level of starting precision. 

You can read more about Strategic's four defined tiers of ABM and starting points here.

4. Align Marketing & Sales

Successful ABM relies on consistent communication and alignment between marketing and sales departments. Both departments must have the same vision of who your target accounts are, your revenue goals, and the activity required to secure those goals.

Companies with aligned marketing and sales departments on average generate 208% more revenue for their marketing efforts - MarketingProfs

When planning and implementing an ABM campaign, make sure everyone involved has a clear idea of their unique ABM role and responsibilities, such as creating the right content or implementing promotion and nurture tactics. To keep track, hold regular sales/marketing catch-ups to review tasks, monitor how accounts are progressing and brainstorm new ideas.

As it’s unlikely that your teams will win every account targeted, it’s wise to use these meetings to review and learn from any lost deals. It’s the best way for all sides to learn and progress your ABM approach.

Defining Your ABM Process

Each ABM programme will have unique goals and success criteria, depending on overall business goals, any current ABM success, maturity levels and more. However, following the points above can help to ensure campaigns are well prepared, planned and are able to achieve the results required.

B2B Marketing Zone