Marketer Pointing to ABM Strategy

Have you decided that account-based marketing (ABM) is right for your organization? If so, the next step is deciding which ABM approach to take. (Need an ABM refresher? Check out our previous post, Account-based marketing: What is it and is it right for your brand?)

ABM “walk” vs. ABM “run”

As with many marketing initiatives, an ABM strategy can follow a walk (entry level) or run (advanced) approach. Both methods depend on four key elements:

1. Sales and marketing team ABM alignment

Both teams must commit to ABM and its potential to achieve your company’s goals. In the ABM walk approach, team alignment might be limited to a shared belief in ABM, coordinated selection of target accounts, and collaboration between the two teams on one ABM initiative. In the ABM run approach, account-based marketing becomes part of your company’s go-to-market strategy. Sales and marketing teams collaborate on planning, share metrics, and share goals (beyond ad hoc campaigns).

2. ABM target accounts

The ABM walk approach might target an account based on a good firmographic fit to your own company. As the name implies, firmographics are to companies what demographics are to people. Firmographic fit refers to identifying organizations that resemble your best customers. Ideally, historical customer data is analyzed to uncover the key characteristics, such as industry type, organizational size/structure, revenue, or location to segment and target the right companies. Firmographic data often comes from third-party sources such as ZoomInfo or Dun & Bradstreet. Another ABM walk approach is targeting based on customer stage, such as new account acquisition, existing accounts, and accounts with previous quotes that haven’t closed.

The ABM run approach goes beyond firmographics, incorporating data on the target account’s intent and engagement. Intent data comes from a variety of third-party sources, including traditional B2B data companies like ZoomInfo, intent-data-specific providers such as Bombora, or ABM technology platforms such as Demandbase. Engagement data is first-party behavioral data from such sources as your website or app. Intent and engagement data helps identify and prioritize target accounts based on in-market buyer signals those accounts exhibit.

3. ABM strategies 

Complexity and automation are the key factors here. The ABM walk strategy might use fewer channels and pieces of content. This could be a LinkedIn post, a piece of direct mail, and a targeted landing page. The performance data from these tactics would be collected and analyzed manually through ad hoc reports.

In contrast, an ABM run strategy would incorporate automation tools and technology to scale the program and enhance account engagement. Some of those tools might be ABM platforms like Demandbase, a content experience platform like Pathfactory, or a trigger-based program like Sendoso direct mail. Integrations would also be made with CRMs and marketing automation platforms in order to eliminate manual work and provide real-time intelligence to the marketing and sales teams.

4. ABM measurement

In an ABM walk approach, marketing and sales share common goals and KPIs for a single campaign. In this instance, a simple Excel spreadsheet might be all that’s needed to measure the success at the end of the campaign. In contrast, in an ABM run approach, marketing and sales share business outcomes. The increased operational alignment supports the creation and automation of more formal account-based dashboard reports to enhance and speed up decision-making.

Developing a framework: ABM campaign types

Regardless of your ABM approach and level of ABM maturity, developing an account-based marketing framework is important. In the book "No Forms. No Spam. No Cold Calls", Latané Contant outlines these three common types of ABM campaigns to include in your go-to-market strategy:

Tier 1 – Think “shock and awe.” They’re appropriate for major initiatives like a product launch, or maybe a big trade show. It should have its own brand. Tier 1 campaigns take a lot of effort, so you’ll be limited in the number you can manage in a year — maybe it’s just one. Make sure your campaign is unique, is heavy on content, and advances your company’s brand.

Tier 2 – These campaigns occur at a single point in time, such as a webinar. They’re more bite-sized and easier to handle than a Tier 1. A Tier 2 campaign doesn’t necessarily have its own branding (although it can), and content creation requirements depend on what’s already available. These campaigns are typically connected to a subset of specific accounts.

Tier 3 – These campaigns keep running on their own after they are created, but they still need to be constantly monitored and refined as needed. These campaigns run programmatically to build and accelerate the pipeline. A good example of a Tier 3 campaign is your company’s online presence. Like with Tier 2 campaigns, content creation requirements depend on what’s already available. A Tier 3 campaign ties into master account segments.

Campaign mandatories

If you’ve decided on a walk or run approach and a campaign type, there’s one more thing to do: Answer these three questions.

1. Does your campaign have a business objective?

2. Does your campaign tie back to an account segment?

3. Have you examined data to inform your approach and benchmark your progress?

If you answered “yes” to all three, congratulations! You’re ready to put account-based marketing to work. Want an ABM expert to guide you? Contact us to get started.