Beyond the Hype: 3 Steps to Making Account-Based Marketing Work for You

Account-Based Marketing


Account-based marketing (ABM) is the latest buzzword to hit the industry. There’s surely been lots of hype, but some marketers are still fuzzy on the details: what exactly is ABM, and how can it be beneficial to your organization? In a nutshell, ABM is about focus. Let’s explore…

Account-based marketing is an (awesome) marketing approach in which your efforts and resources are focused on the accounts that are most likely to generate revenue or garner other strategic significance. For the past year, a number of Marketo customers have implemented real-time personalization technology to execute ABM and have seen great results: increases in both revenue and ROI. One customer’s experience in particular is shared later in this post.

The guiding principle behind ABM is the opportunity to first identify the key target accounts that matter most to your company, and then attract and engage them through personalized content across web, mobile, and display ads.

3 Steps to Implementing Account-Based Marketing

Instead of a marketing approach that attempts to reach and engage everyone, with ABM, marketers can pinpoint their efforts on the accounts that will most likely give the best return. This entails reversing the typical order of the lead generation process: instead of generating many leads and then trying to qualify them, you’re simply defining ideal accounts and generating qualified leads within those accounts. Most often, these accounts are ones that are easier to sell to, have agreed to pay higher prices, or carry other advantages such as a recognizable brand name.

To jumpstart your ABM efforts, and better align your marketing and sales, be sure to follow these three steps:

Step 1:  Define Your Key Target Account

As marketers, we’re accustomed to first generating leads and then qualifying them. As discussed, with ABM, the process is reversed. The first step is to map out the key accounts that really matter—from which any lead would be a relevant one. This list should paint a picture of the “ideal prospect”, or in other words, the type of prospect worth going after, which has a high chance of generating revenue or meeting other strategic goals. These can either be a select number of large accounts or lists of named accounts that share attributes, making them the ideal customer.

Step 2:  Engage Target Accounts with Personalized and Relevant Campaigns Across Channels

Once you’ve defined your ideal prospect, create content tailored to that account’s (or a named account list’s) personal needs, challenges, and pain points. What messaging, offers, and visuals will resonate most with this unique audience? An astounding 82% of prospects value content targeted to their specific industry, and content customized to a specific account is valued even more. This step also involves identifying which particular marketing channels your audience is most active on, such as website pages, email marketing, or PPC.

Step 3:  Analyze and Optimize Your ABM Performance

How do you know if ABM is helping to drive engagement, opportunity, and revenue? It all comes down to analyzing how well your marketing efforts are driving results across channels, which is a process that needs to be aligned with the sales team. Tracking KPIs such as engagement levels, conversions, ROI, and customer loyalty can help determine whether your ABM program is performing successfully. Since you’re focused on achieving success with only a small group of high-yield accounts, this makes it easier to analyze which ad campaigns, web content, emails, and events were most effective for each one.

SchoolDude: ABM in Motion

ABM is an agile and measurable approach to generating new clients and increasing revenue from existing ones, which has already helped a number of organizations drive their bottom line. In fact, compared to other marketing initiatives, the ITSMA Account-Based Marketing Survey found that “ABM delivers the highest return on investment of any B2B marketing strategy or tactic. Period.”

SchoolDude, an operations management company for educational institutions, leverages ABM technology and processes to increase awareness, engagement, and conversions across multiple marketing channels. It uses ABM to target large, differentiated groups of named accounts, which are mostly high schools and colleges. SchoolDude has over 30 Named Account lists, including over 100K different educational institutes for ABM campaigns. Using Marketo, the company can deliver different marketing messages and call-to-actions to target accounts based on the type of educational institution, across the web, ads, and email. Without a doubt, ABM has helped improve SchoolDude’s engagement metrics for prospects from target accounts viewing personalized content and educating themselves:

  • 394% increase in average session duration for key accounts
  • 405% increase in average pages per session

It’s Time to Launch Your ABM Action Plan!

ABM gives marketers the long-awaited opportunity to abandon the “one size fits all” approach and create the most personalized content for high-yield accounts. As a result, their activities become more focused and efficient, increasing the chances of conversion among strategic prospects. At the end of the day, we can all agree it’s smarter to focus on companies where your chance of success is greater.

Now that you know ABM isn’t just all talk, it’s time to get the ball rolling and create personalized content for the accounts most likely to generate revenue for your company. The technology, methodology, and actual experience are already available—all that’s left is defining your ideal accounts and then targeting them!

Have you used account-based marketing? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!