What Timescale Should An ABM Pilot Follow?

Written by James Self

Jul 17 2018

How long does it take to plan, develop and execute an Account-Based Marketing strategy, and how long does it take to see results?

Assessing ABM timescales can be tricky - particularly if you’ve not run a campaign before and need to secure internal buy-in, resources and insights. Because of this, running an ABM pilot programme is a best practice ahead of full campaign investment, allowing you to;

  • Develop campaign structure,
  • Build a foundation of resources and insight,
  • Assess likely campaign timescales,
  • Test outcomes and benchmarks,
  • Establish expected ROI.

Related: Why Invest In An ABM Pilot?

How Long Should an ABM Pilot Run For?

When it comes to ABM pilot timescales, what’s realistic will vary. The time it takes for a campaign to see results is dependent on multiple factors, such as:

  • The size of your sales team,
  • The amount of internal resource available,
  • The organisation’s insight maturity / ABM starting point,
  • Whether the campaign has executive and sales team buy-in / alignment.

To see best value and results, an ABM pilot should run for at least 6 months, though organisations who start with a high level of Account-Based Marketing maturity (with in-depth account insight, team buy-in and existing resources) may be able to achieve results from around 3 months.

Related: Understand Your ABM Maturity Level

It’s important that you develop a strong idea of what timescale is realistic for your organisation uniquely - many campaigns fail as a result of failing to manage internal expectations. Your team must understand both the time and resource requirements of ABM in order for your campaign, pilot or not, to see success.

Factors That Impact ABM Pilot Length

Those organisations with advanced insights and resources may run effective campaigns in as little as three months. But, to deliver real value, we suggest that ABM pilot programmes run for at least six months.

There are multiple factors that impact ABM pilot length. Of course, every organisation and campaign is unique, but some top-level considerations that may affect ABM campaign timescales include:

  • Time taken to secure internal buy-in. Does your team understand the potential value of ABM for your organisation? Do you have the internal support and resource needed to execute an ABM campaign, or must you first take the time to secure buy-in?
  • Ability (or inability) to set realistic goals. Regardless of your ABM starting maturity, taking the time to accurately plan and set realistic goals is crucial to ensure campaign accuracy, achieve on timescales, and meet internal expectations.
  • Sales and marketing alignment. Are your sales and marketing teams aligned on ABM activity requirements, responsibilities, goals and KPIs? If not, you will need to focus on alignment, before executing activity.
  • Level of ABM maturity. As mentioned above, ABM pilot length will depend on your organisation’s existing level of ABM maturity. Are you already conducting ABM activity? Do you have in-depth account insight to base targeting on, or does this need to be developed? Do you have any existing content resources that can be tailored for your campaign?

Regardless of your starting maturity, taking the time to accurately plan and set realistic goals is also crucial to ensure campaign accuracy, achieve on timescales, avoid common errors and meet internal expectations.

Related: Are You Making These Account-Based Marketing Errors?

If your team struggles with any of the above or if you’re new to ABM, you may need to consider longer campaign timescales. However, with a foundation of proper planning and internal alignment, alongside continual campaign monitoring and optimisation, it’s possible to achieve great ABM results over the space of a few months.

B2B Marketing Zone