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26th October 2023

Your Complete Guide to Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Did you know Salesforce found that 92% of all B2B Marketers have an ABM program? 

With so much ABM noise in the B2B space (literally everywhere!), perhaps that statistic isn't too surprising to you. However, ABM best practices are continually changing and as a B2B marketer, you need to keep up with the latest trends.

Even if you've run multiple campaigns in the past, it's essential to stay up to date with the latest ABM tactics and developments. As a privacy-first world puts necessary pressure on companies to put consumers' data privacy and security first, Account Based Marketing is evolving. 

There are two things at the heart of any successful ABM strategy; high-quality data and relationship building. So, if you trust the data you're using and put genuine B2B relationships at the center of your ABM campaigns, you'll be starting on the right track.

Whatever your ABM marketing experience, you've come to the right place to learn more. As the name suggests, this guide contains everything you need to know about Account-Based Marketing!

In this Guide to ABM, we'll explore: 

  1. What is Account-Based Marketing? And what is a target account list?
  2. The benefits of Account Based Marketing. 
  3. Effective ABM tactics.
  4. How to measure ABM effectiveness.
  5. How to choose an Account-Based Marketing agency.
Headley Media staff working

What Is Account Based Marketing?

Before we dive in, let's answer an important question: What is ABM marketing?

Account Based Marketing (ABM) is a collaborative B2B Marketing approach between Sales and Marketing teams. ABM marketing involves identifying best-fit companies and creating target account lists (TALs) for your marketing campaigns to focus on. 

Within an Account-Based Marketing campaign, your TAL is used to ensure you only reach prospects at the companies on your list.   

And, What Is a Target Account List (TAL)? 

Compared to more traditional marketing methods, ABM targets your best-fit companies and accounts directly. So, to do that, you'll need to identify the companies and accounts you want to target and create your Target Account List (TAL).

A TAL enables you to identify the exact accounts you want to reach, making your marketing campaigns more targeted with ABM.

Using TALs is an excellent way to identify potential customers and create tailored and personalized marketing campaigns based on the information you already have about them or their company. 

A TAL is most commonly used in ABM to target the accounts on your list, also known as inclusion. However, you can also use a TAL for exclusion.

For example, your TAL may contain a list of current customers or clients that you don't wish to target, or it might contain accounts you've identified as a poor fit for your products or services. Therefore you don't want to waste your marketing budget on them. Don't worry; they won't take it personally.

As ABM campaigns rely on high-quality data, creating your TAL using reliable data sources is essential. Therefore, when creating an ABM campaign, it's common to work with a reputable ABM specialist, as they will be able to help you create or expand your target account list if required.

Professionals shaking hands

Benefits of Account-Based Marketing

ITSMA reported that 80% of B2B marketers found ABM outperforms all other B2B marketing tactics. That's a pretty impressive stat. But why? What are the benefits of Account-Based Marketing? 

There are many Account-Based Marketing benefits that B2B marketers can take advantage of when creating an ABM marketing strategy.

ABM benefits include:

  • Increased budget efficiency. 
  • Building long-term relationships.  
  • Aligning your Sales and Marketing teams. 
80% of B2B marketers found ABM outperforms all other B2B marketing tactics. ITSMA

ABM Benefit #1 – Increased Budget Efficiency

ABM increases the efficiency of your budget by enabling you to be a lot more strategic. By identifying your best-fit accounts upfront, you can create campaigns that only target those companies and accounts. The good news for your marketing dollars is that you won't waste your precious budget on targeting companies and prospects that aren't a good fit for your business.

Plus, identifying your target audience on an account or company level means you will already know how your solutions can help them achieve their goals - or fix their problems. 

Combining your lead generation with Account-Based Marketing is a great way to increase efficiency by only focusing on the key accounts you want to reach. The chances are the accounts you've identified are likely to be the most lucrative for your business and, ultimately, the accounts that will drive the highest ROI.

If you're unsure where to start with ABM or don't have a TAL, you should work with a specialist ABM supplier to help you create your campaign.

A reputable ABM specialist or agency will get to know your ideal customer profile (ICP) and help you build out your ICP into a Target Account List.

Plus, if you already have a TAL but you want to expand it, an ABM lead generation specialist will help you develop your list with lookalike audiences if required.  

ABM Benefit #2 – Building Long-Term Relationships 

When planning your ABM strategy, you should focus your efforts on building genuine and long-term relationships with your prospects and your existing client base. After all, 84% of marketers said ABM provided significant benefits to retaining and expanding existing relationships (Alterra Group).

ABM campaigns take a strategic approach by focusing on the exact accounts you need to reach. With leads delivered that match your Target Account List (TAL), you have the opportunity to follow up with each lead in a more personalized way.

Addressing your prospects' pain points or how your solution benefits them is a great way to cut through the noise and provide value from your first interaction. 

By identifying your best-fit accounts upfront, you'll already have considered what makes them a good fit for your organization. And that gives you an excellent opportunity to send more personalized comms to your leads. From the start of your ABM lead generation campaign to nurturing your leads, you can share relevant insights and content to warm up your prospects, ready to pass on to your Sales team when the time is right.

When using ABM tactics to generate B2B leads, you should consider combining your ABM campaign with additional targeting.

For example, at Headley Media, we can enhance your ABM lead generation services with additional audience intelligence strategies or Intent Data Targeting.

Enhancing your ABM lead generation with further targeting can help you generate highly targeted leads from your Target Account List.

Plus, it provides you with additional intelligence to help you create more personalized nurture campaigns to build long-term relationships with your prospects. 

Account-Based Marketing is continually evolving because savvy B2B buyers expect more from brands. B2B buyers can see through a company's 'batch and blast' email comms, posing as a personalized email.

Plus, they have a wealth of information at their fingertips to explore during the research phase of their buyer's journey. Therefore, to create a successful ABM program, you need to build long-term and genuine relationships with your ideal clients and customers.  

ABM Benefit #3 - Aligning Your Sales & Marketing Teams 

81% of B2B Marketers work with their Sales teams on ABM programs (Salesforce).

Account-Based Marketing is a collaborative approach between Sales and Marketing teams. It first involves working with your Sales team to identify your ideal customers, best-fit companies, and accounts to target.

Once you've identified your ideal accounts, you'll work together to create a Target Account List based on those 'ideal customer' companies. Aligning with your Sales team helps you focus your marketing campaigns on the accounts your Sales team also wants to reach.

It might sound like a simple concept, but in reality, Sales and Marketing teams are often not aligned, and communication can be poor, so ABM is a great way to collaborate to achieve shared goals. In fact, 82% of B2B marketers said that ABM greatly improves the alignment between Marketing and Sales at their company (LinkedIn).  

Woman working at desk on the phone

Account-Based Marketing Tactics  

Account-Based Marketing tactics will vary depending on your objectives. However, the principles of a successful ABM strategy will apply to any ABM marketing campaigns you run. 

Looking at ABM lead generation as an example, your objectives will be to reach the accounts on your list, generate genuine interest in your company, and secure marketing permissions to contact each prospect again in the near future.

With ABM lead generation in mind, let's explore the following Account-Based Marketing tactics:

  • Expanding Your Target Account List (TAL) 
  • ABM Using Content Syndication  
  • ABM for Inclusion or Exclusion 

ABM Tactic #1: Expanding Your Target Account List (TAL)

Using a target account list is essential when running an ABM lead generation campaign. However, creating a TAL containing high-quality and up-to-date data can be challenging and time-consuming.

If you don't have a TAL or are unsure where to begin with your ABM strategy, working with an ABM lead generation specialist is the best place to start.

An ABM agency will help you turn the high-value accounts you've identified into a target account list.

You might also consider expanding your list to reach lookalike audiences you've not previously considered. Lookalike audiences can help you expand your ABM marketing campaign, targeting even more companies that are a good fit for your products or services.

ABM Tactic #2: ABM Using Content Syndication 

You can use many ABM tactics to maximize your Account-Based Marketing effectiveness.

One strategy that works particularly well is using syndicated content.

Content syndication is a strategy which involves publishing a piece of content, for example, a white paper or research report, on platforms you don't own.

When you work with a reputable lead generation agency, your content will be hosted on content syndication platforms they own, and your campaigns will generate 1st party leads.

For example, at Headley Media, we syndicate content for our clients via our portfolio of in-house brands, spanning over 250 content library websites in 60 countries.

Our websites enable us to distribute our clients' content to our global audiences of technology decision-makers and influencers. When running an ABM campaign specifically, we only target our readers that match our clients' target account list (TAL), using transparent methods to generate high-quality leads.

With an ABM content syndication campaign, your content will be gated, so readers must enter their professional details to access it. Once they enter their information, they will be eligible to become a marketing lead that you can nurture.

Combining your ABM lead generation with content syndication helps to maximize the number of relevant leads generated. In turn, your ABM leads will also respond positively when you nurture them and be more willing to trust your messaging, having previously downloaded content from you.

ABM Tactic #3: Account-Based Marketing for Inclusion or Exclusion 

You can use ABM tactics to either include or exclude accounts, so let's explore both of these Account-Based Marketing tactics in more detail.

ABM for Inclusion: 

Most commonly, ABM and target account lists are used for inclusion, whereby you directly target the accounts on your list. For example, you might choose ABM for inclusion to target:

  • Companies and accounts your Sales and Marketing teams have identified as an excellent fit for your products or solutions.
  • Accounts similar to your existing client base.
  • Accounts using a competitor's solution, so you can target them with personalized comms explaining how much better your solution is (clever!).
  • Prospects using products or solutions that complement your business's products or solutions. For example, you might have an email security solution that works perfectly with their CRM. This ABM inclusion example can also be described as 'Install Based' targeting. If you're intrigued by this strategy, you can contact our expert team to learn more.

ABM for Exclusion:

On the other hand, you can use a TAL for exclusion, whereby your target account list contains a list of companies and accounts you want to avoid. You might choose ABM for exclusion to avoid:

  • Companies your Sales and Marketing teams have identified as unsuitable for your business's solutions.
  • Your existing clients, customers, or even prospects (for example companies you are currently in sales conversations with).
  • Companies already using a competitor's solution, who are highly unlikely to migrate to a new solution.

Account-Based Marketing Effectiveness 

Even though Account-Based Marketing has become increasingly popular, it isn't guaranteed to work. Account-Based Marketing effectiveness depends on several factors, including: 

  • The quality of your data 
  • The size of your list 
  • The nurturing program you have in place 
  • The value proposition 
  • How aligned your Sales and Marketing teams are  

Common ABM Pitfalls to Avoid

Influential Account-Based Marketing relies on high-quality data and suitable TALs.

However, as experts in lead generation, there are some common ABM pitfalls we know often get repeated.

Our eBook, 5 Account-Based Marketing Pitfalls All B2B Tech Marketers Should Avoid, explores the common ABM mistakes we've seen over the years and gives you tips on avoiding them, plus ways to ensure your ABM strategy is a success.

Choosing an Account-Based Marketing Agency

When choosing an Account-Based Marketing agency the most important thing is to work with a reputable agency you can trust.  

At Headley Media, we take a consultative approach to all of our ABM campaigns based on our clients' needs.  

Our lead generation services can be enhanced using Account-Based Marketing tactics to create a more focused and highly targeted campaign. As experts in lead generation and ABM strategy, we advise our clients on the best approach based on their objectives, the audiences they need to reach, and their experience with ABM.

As we explored earlier, effective ABM campaigns rely on high-quality data and suitable target account lists.

With that in mind, if you don't have a TAL or you're unsure where to start with ABM, you'll want to work with a specialist ABM agency. You should choose an Account-Based Marketing agency that will help you create or expand your list of target accounts if required, using their 1st party data and transparent methods.

For example, our Account Managers are all experts in B2B lead generation and Account-Based Marketing. You'll work with a dedicated Account Manager who will get to know your business and discuss your campaign objectives with you and the target audiences you need to reach. By taking a consultative approach to your ABM campaigns, our team will help you define your target audience and targeting criteria to help you build out your TAL. Plus, if you already have a TAL, we can utilize our expertise in lead generation to dive in and create lookalike audiences to expand your pool of target accounts if needed.