While account-based marketing (ABM) has gained a lot of traction among B2B marketers, there isn’t much consensus in the industry around how to get started. We’re still seeing ABM strategies develop and mature, so the account-based playbook isn’t as clear or as widespread as the lead gen funnel was. That’s why in episode 2 of “Ask an ABM Expert”, Andrew Mahr, our Chief Customer Officer and host of the mini-series, tackles the five steps that we encourage practitioners to take when launching an ABM program. Andrew has helped launch thousands of successful ABM campaigns using this tried and true process, and today we’ll be diving into why each of these steps is foundational to fueling pipeline growth.
Step 1: Select Accounts
The first step in getting started with ABM is selecting the accounts and contacts you should target based on your ICP (ideal customer profile). While traditional parameters for selecting accounts typically include sales input, revenue potential, and firmographics, an account-based approach will also consider intent-based criteria. That includes website, CRM, and buyer activity on 3rd party websites. Combining these disparate sets of data plays a huge role in selecting the right accounts.
Why it’s important: If you don’t start with target account selection, you’ll end up wasting a lot of time and spend. Teams that pursue a strategic account selection process in their early stages of ABM planning are setting themselves up for success.
Step 2: Define Tiers
When we talk about account tiers, we mean segmenting your accounts into those that will get one-to-one outreach, those getting one-to-few, and those that will be getting one-to-many segmentation. Taking a tiered approach to ABM aligns the way your marketing and sales teams prioritize target accounts. It helps define the scope of your campaigns, how much to invest in each one, and which roles marketers and sales reps will play in the execution.
Why it’s important: With clearly defined account tiers, you’ll allocate the right amount of budget to each opportunity. Accounts with smaller potential deal sizes will be grouped into segment-based campaigns, while high-value accounts will get highly personalized attention.
Step 3: Develop Insights
The third step in launching an ABM program is developing insights about the account. According to Andrew, account insights represent the collective knowledge that your business – between marketing, sales, and operations – has about the accounts that are in your program. Account insights can include both first-hand information you know about the account as well as insights gathered via intent data, web activity of both known and unknown accounts, and actions recorded in your CRM.
Why it’s important: Developing account insights is a necessary step because the right insights will allow you to define, with accuracy, how you should be messaging into those accounts, when you should be reaching out, and who the right contacts in those accounts are to target.
Step 4: Plan & Execute
Building a plan is essential to growing awareness and maximizing influence within each target account tier. No two account-based marketing programs are alike, so determining whether you’re looking to focus on ads, web engagement, or sales activation is important.
Most commonly, we’re seeing practitioners start with a component of sales outreach, where sales has very defined expectations about which accounts each rep is responsible for and the messaging they should be using to do that. Additionally, account-based advertising provides brand awareness and aircover for those activities, while website personalization allows you to nurture the entire buying group consistently, regardless of how they choose to interact with you initially.
Why it’s important: ABM campaigns are multichannel in nature, so the timing and orchestration of each campaign component can become highly complex. By taking the time to draft a holistic plan, and then executing on that plan, you’re making sure that everyone’s on the same page, and you’ll have a higher chance of success.
Step 5: Measure & Optimize
The last step in executing your ABM program is measuring and optimizing the results. Measuring ABM for new practitioners can be a big challenge because it’s not just about trying to report on what’s happening in your campaigns and what’s working. You’re also introducing new metrics and coaching the rest of the organization on those metrics and why they’re relevant.
Unlike the old lead gen model, which focused on delivering marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) to the sales team, ABM shifts marketing efforts to metrics that really matter. ABM programs track target account interest and engagement across the purchase journey, which allows marketers to deliver potential opportunities for your sales team to follow up on.
Why it’s important: When marketing and sales teams focus on the same account-centric metrics, then they work towards the same goals. Marketers can measure their impact on pipeline, and sales reps don’t have to deal with unqualified leads.
At the end of the day, it’s about creating opportunities for sales and making an impact on pipeline and revenue growth. By following these 5 steps, you are enabling your company to run successful campaigns that track account progression from initial interest through the sales pipeline. If you haven’t already, make sure to tune into “Ask an ABM Expert” episode 2 for Andrew’s take on the topic.