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Whether you're new to Account-Based Marketing (ABM) or already running campaigns, it's crucial to avoid these common errors if you're to stay on track.

ABM is an increasingly popular strategy; allowing us to target our highest-value, high-propensity prospects precisely, directly, and effectively.

As Matt Heinz of Heinz Marketing points out, ‘account-based marketing is simply instead of fishing with nets, we’re fishing with spears.’

However, whether you’re new to ABM or have already run a few campaigns, there are likely a few ways you can improve your approach to boost results.

We’ve already outlined some common ABM errors in this previous post. But as there’s always room to optimise, here are five more ABM mistakes to be aware of, plus how to solve them.

5 Account-Based Marketing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Mistake 1. Assuming that ABM won’t work for SMB accounts

ABM used to be more expensive and time/ manual-resource heavy, making it feasible only for enterprise companies. However, as technology has evolved, it’s now more straightforward to manage and scale, making it more accessible for smaller and medium businesses.

Whether or not ABM is useful to your organisation or not depends largely on your business model rather than company size; ultimately, any business can choose best-fit accounts to target using an ABM strategy. According to ITSMA, ‘in any company that generates significant revenue from existing customers, ABM can be a powerful strategic initiative.’

Mistake 2. Working in Silos

In our previous post, we touched on how misalignment between sales and marketing can be damaging to ABM strategies. However, a seamless ABM strategy requires commitment and collaboration from your whole organisation, not just your sales and marketing teams. After all, if different parts of your organisation are working in silos, this will prevent the sharing of Target Account contacts and relationships - or lead to misaligned information on account progression; causing campaigns to fall short.

To ensure the success of an ABM campaign, make sure that you have a strong internal communication process in place to keep your whole organisation abreast of ABM developments. This will ensure unified alignment in your approach to the Decision Making Unit (DMU) of the account you’re targeting and prevent confusion.

To achieve such internal alignment; schedule regular ABM progress meetings, outline company-wide ABM goals, and make sure ABM is considered as a company-wide initiative.

Mistake 3. Neglecting Profiling and Mapping

If you aren’t targeting the right part of an organisation then your ABM strategy is unlikely to be successful. Rather than relying on assumptions, it’s important to base your strategy on research and data to focus campaigns in the right direction.

Once you have decided which accounts to target, there are several things you can do to ensure you’re building relationships with the right members of the DMU:

  • Build a plan to profile target accounts. It’s important to hone in on the right people in the organisation to make sure you’re speaking to decision makers.
  • Conduct research into the target organisation and account individuals; look at business initiatives, personal developments, active communication and social channels and identify the structure of the target organisation to be sure of decision-making hierarchy.
  • Use accumulated insight - data gathered both online and offline, such as from real conversations as well as online profiling. This is where communication with your broader team is key; you need to be aware of any prior contact your organisation has had with each account.
  • Aim to expand your contacts within target accounts and ensure you have included all the appropriate influencers and decision makers.

It’s important to hone your focus and get your research right in order to profile the right people, and reach them with relevant messaging. 

Mistake 4. Failing to deliver personalised, ABM-specific messaging

It comes as no surprise that delivering generic messaging without personalisation will fail to maintain the interest of target accounts. Remember that the main aim of ABM is to focus your energy on specific, high-value, high-propensity prospects - so you want your messaging to be personalised.

Tips for delivering personalised, ABM-specific messaging include:

  • Base content on your prospect’s behaviour, job role, known challenges and preferences to ensure relevancy. Use your persona research to leverage the most relevant channels to deliver content. Note that combining digital and analogue marketing here can be powerful: you might mail a relevant offer package to a target decision maker (e.g. - an invitation to their favourite restaurant - or other, dependent on the individual), as well as creating personalised digital content for them uniquely.
  • Make sure that your messaging incorporates your target contact’s problems and offers solutions that your organisation can provide.
  • Create content mapped to your target account’s position in the buyer's journey (and further through the funnel).

While creating personalised, account specific messaging may seem complex, remember that you can repurpose (relevant) existing content assets to suit a specific account/ individual’s known challenges.

Related: 4 Considerations for your 2018 Content Strategy

Mistake 5: Not creating A scalable strategy

As we’ve explored in previous posts, it is possible to use technology to scale certain aspects of ABM. Establishing an ABM process that is as repeatable as possible will help to make the most of your resources.

However, it’s important to always keep in mind the importance of human judgement and unique account engagement - balancing that with scalability - to keep campaigns truly account-focused.

Related: Can You Scale ABM Success With Tech?

As inbound and ABM have evolved, a few main approaches have taken off. Knowing the best approach for your campaign (ABM 1-to-1, Inbound to ABM or Inbound Marketing) will help you to create the right processes and identify the right tech to scale, for the right accounts, at the right stage. For example in a 1-to-1 campaign, you’ll want every individual to receive highly personalised content. But further down, you may be personalising by company, or at an Inbound level, by persona.

Defining Your Process

All organisations are different and no two ABM strategies will be identical. However, it’s important to remember that planning is key to ABM success. Having a defined process in place to profile and target relevant accounts with the right content (and via the right channels) will help you achieve greater ABM success.

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