Your Guide to Account-Based Marketing: Examples and Strategies

Could you imagine a world where the shop assistant pulled you over on the street, with a pair of shoes at their hand, and said;

“These shoes are your size, the color you love, and will suit your lifestyle perfectly; with a pricing that’s just right for your budget.”

I know what I would say in return:

Wouldn’t you?

This might seem like something that’s straight from my imagination, but as of 2022, there are thousands of businesses that utilize such marketing strategies. I can’t exactly say they sell shoes though…

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is an approach to digital marketing that targets the most critical customers and prospects with precise tactics and campaigns that they couldn’t say “No” to.

62% of marketers say adopting ABM helped them measure a positive impact.

(Forrester)

In this post, I’ll go over this practice, and provide a few basic examples for you to try.

What is Account Based Marketing?

Account-based marketing helps to cross out less-valuable companies that are likely to churn and cost your sales and marketing team’s time, effort, and resources in the long run. It enables you to align sales and marketing so that your team can quickly skip into the critical process of engaging those accounts and closing the deals. Let’s take a look at the account-based marketing definition.

Account Based Marketing Definition

Account-Based Marketing or ABM is a focused B2B (Business to Business) marketing strategy in which sales and marketing teams collaborate to target a set of high-value accounts or prospects and convert them into customers with personalized buyer experiences.

How Does ABM Work?

But how does ABM work?

B2B account-based marketing works by employing personalized marketing and sales effort and focuses on a set of strategically selected accounts.

ABM treats those high-value accounts as if they were individual markets. Your sales and marketing teams personalize the buyers’ journey to convert them, tailoring all communications, campaigns, and content that perfectly fit those customers.

ABM tactic works best for enterprise-level sales organizations rather than small business accounts. Companies that use ABM focus on identifying accounts that match their ideal customer profile and targeting those companies’ key decision-makers through personalized messages, advertising, and marketing.

As the target companies are strategically selected and focused, they are more likely to convert into clients with higher customer lifetime value. As a result of account-based marketing, you’ll see a higher return on investment and a boost in customer loyalty.

It sounds quite beneficial in terms of B2B marketing, right?

I’ll go over more reasons why you should use ABM and some account-based marketing strategies to boost your ABM efforts. But first, it’s best to clear your mind from common comparisons about this growth strategy.

what is account based marketing

Account-Based Marketing vs. Lead Generation

Account-based marketing is more focused on a narrow set of high-value prospects, while lead generation casts a large net aiming to pull as many prospects as possible. ABM proves to be a better choice if you have a much narrower total addressable market and makes use of channels such as email and LinkedIn to nurture prospects.

Also, lead generation particularly focuses on generating more new leads, whereas ABM takes another approach and concentrates on retaining the existing customers with tailored up-selling and cross-selling campaigns.

You can decide which one you should prefer for your business by considering the situations that ABM or lead generation works best.

Account-based marketing works best for a niche target market or high-value accounts. It provides a more structured and strategic approach to up-sell and cross-sell to large enterprises or your existing customer base.

On the other hand, lead generation works well when there is an online demand that your content can match. It allows you to leverage content, inbound marketing, and marketing automation. In a manner of speaking, we can say that account-based marketing targets the bigger fish while lead generation tries to catch as many small fish as possible.

Account-Based Marketing vs. Demand Generation

What is Demand Generation?

Demand generation is a series of marketing and sales programs with a primary focus on generating new leads based on individuals. The target leads of this process are often the high decision-makers and influencers with specific titles. The marketing team tracks the leads with its CRM or marketing automation system and nurtures them through the marketing pipeline.

The leads are measured and scored throughout this process, and once a prospect accumulates enough points to be defined as MLQ (Marketing Qualified Lead) the marketing team hands the process over to the sales team. The extent to which both teams work together depends, but more often than not, they work separately.

Essentially, while demand generation begins the process by creating content and messaging before it starts distributing it on different channels, account-based marketing initiates the sales cycle with a set of target accounts already in mind. On top of that, ABM personalizes content and messaging for each individual account.

These accounts are usually the “best-fit” customers.

Why should you use account-based marketing?

So, why is account-based marketing important? Account-based marketing offers several benefits for B2B companies over other marketing approaches. We have listed the common benefits of account-based marketing below.

1.   Shorter Sales Cycles

Typically there are multiple stakeholders in a B2B sales cycle, which slows down the sales cycle.

In ABM, your team focuses on the key decision-makers of a high-value account.

This enables you to achieve shorter sales cycles. It’ll definitely improve your sales velocity.

2.   Better Targeted Marketing Efforts

ABM is like putting quality over quantity.

Therefore, your marketing efforts will be laser-focused on the ideal accounts.

This way, you will spend less time chasing low-quality leads and have more time closing the deals. Account-based marketing is more beneficial, particularly when one big deal can make it through the whole year.

Besides, as ABM requires you to customize and personalize every stage of the customer journey and shape it around each unique high-value account, you will achieve a high relevance to those accounts. That means all your communications, campaigns, content, and product information that are exclusively tailored for each account will demonstrate how your services, product, features, team, and offerings perfectly fit their pain points and needs.

3.   Sales and Marketing Synchronization

There is a cross-team collaboration in ABM. Sales and marketing teams work together and focus on the same goal, ensuring synchrony in terms of communications, content, and interactions.

This alignment contributes to a seamless, meaningful, and delightful customer experience.

4.   More Efficient Use of Resources & Better ROI

While account-based marketing can be more costly than other forms of marketing upfront, it provides a higher return on investment.

Instead of wasting your money and resources on low-quality leads, ABM invests the resources in a small number of accounts that are more likely to close deals.

Not only that, due to the laser-focused targeting of this approach, you can maximize the value of those accounts via upselling and cross-selling.

how to account based marketing

6 Account-Based Marketing Tactics and Strategies

Which paths are the best to follow to reach successful ABM results? 

Mind that there is no one-size-fits-all account-based marketing strategy.

A survey conducted by SiriusDecisions revealed that while 92% of B2B companies recognize the value in account-based marketing, only 20% of B2B companies have had full programs in place for more than one year.

This gap shows that most companies still don’t know how to run an account-based marketing program.

ABM doesn’t solely rely on having a list of targeted customers. As we mentioned earlier, ABM requires an alignment between sales and marketing teams. When done correctly, this significant coordination and ABM strategies can skyrocket your ROI.

Another critical point in any business effort is to have a scalable business. Find out how to run a scalable business for meaningful company growth.

Here are the key factors your ABM program should meet in a nutshell. Make sure it:

  • Generates personalized messages for each high-value account and contacts them through outbound interactions and campaigns.
  • Perfectly coordinates the sales and marketing teams to attract, engage, convert, and close deals.
  • Assesses the existing customer base for expanding sales opportunities.
  • Understands each buyer’s unique customer journey and pain points to deliver the right experience and message to the right prospects at the right time.

So, if you still have questions in your mind like, “how do we start? Where do we go from here?” I’ve got the right list of account-based marketing tactics you can work through to ensure your ABM efforts and investments prove successful.

1.   Define Your Ideal Set of Target Accounts

Identify and define your ideal set of high-value customers that will worth investing in your time and resources.

ABM is more about marketing to a whole organization rather than an individual. Keep this in mind and start your marketing efforts by picking a set of organizations that bring the largest MRR (Monthly Recurring Revenue) to your company.

Besides revenue potential, consider other strategic factors too. Use all the firmographic data to help you identify your target accounts, for instance:

  • Market influence,
  • Company size,
  • Particular industry and location,
  • Upsell opportunity,
  • Profit margin, etc.

Our recommendations for account-based marketing best practices for identifying target customers are:

  • Try to go for no more than 10 accounts per sales rep.
  • You can set search alerts for your ideal customers on LinkedIn.
  • Use a workflow that filters the incoming qualified leads based on specific criteria (i.e., industry, location, etc.) and tags them as ideal customers in your CRM.

2.   Create account-specific Offers

This is one of the most significant but straightforward account-based marketing tactics—secure organizational ABM alignment.

This means getting all internal stakeholders on board with the various factors related to your account-based marketing strategy rather than creating general content aiming at a wider audience. In doing so, you can create consistent and meaningful experiences for your target accounts. Ensure that your strategy is as streamlined and effective as possible.

Create content and messaging that directly speaks to the stakeholders. Clearly identify the stakeholders’ specific pain points and appeal to how you can solve their problem with your messaging. Work together with your sales, marketing, and design team to make sure your content is visually appealing and communicating the right message as well.

3.   Determine Optimal Channels

Which channels are the most efficient to communicate with your audience? 

Use the channels your ideal set of customers leverage, such as email, web, and mobile.

When determining the most optimal channel, consider several factors, including a specific industry or targeting based on location.

4.   Build Strong Relationships with the Account’s Buying Committee

Another B2B account-based marketing strategy is to develop strong relationships with the high-value accounts’ buying committees.

It requires an extra effort from your team as, most likely, forging a strong relationship takes an extended period of time. However, you can use the tactics below to lay the ground for long-lasting and profitable relationships with the buying committee.

  • Communicate one-on-one whenever possible.
  • Host events such as dinners to let them get to know your brand and team on a personal level.
  • Provide organized and well-timed meetings.

5.   Deliver Personalized Experiences

Here’s an obvious but significant account-based marketing strategy; deliver personalized experiences. Try to execute targeted and coordinated campaigns across channels. Align your marketing and sales teams’ efforts for better results. It is important to keep your account-based messaging on a reasonable level.

Bombarding them with messages across multiple channels would only overwhelm your prospects. Develop creative assets personalized for each account by using the information you collected during your research phase.

6.   Measure Your ABM Results & Optimize

Finally, make sure you test your ABM strategies, learn from them, and keep optimizing until they bring effective results. It is best to analyze the results of individual campaigns and the trends both at the account level and aggregate (all target accounts.)

Account-Based Marketing Examples Worth Trying

account based marketing examples

Most marketers see the meaningful results of their ABM campaign in a matter of months.

However, for some accounts, it can take several years.

So, you should test and try different approaches. Take the following account-based marketing examples below to get a hint:

1.   Lunch and Learn

Have you ever heard of the “wining and dining” marketing strategy or “pizza-nars”?

These two are the trending presentation approaches to appeal to busy prospects. Webinars or masterclasses accompanied by food are more inviting to prospects. You don’t have to limit yourself to pizza. Coffee or any food of their choice is an excellent strategy to boost attendance rates and get their attention.

As a real-world example, BMC tripled the attendance rate to their webinar with “lunch and learn” powered by eatNgage.

2.   Leveraging Social Media

There is no denying the power of social media to leave impressions and gain information. You can get to know the target buyers before meeting them. Besides, you can leverage social listening to identify their pain points and challenges to apply them to your marketing strategy.

Early engagement activities such as liking, commenting, or sharing can also add to credibility.

Using direct messages is an ideal method to contact prospects wherever they are.

However, avoid using a sales pitch right through these channels at all costs.

3.   Interactive Storytelling

Another decent but fun one among B2B account-based marketing examples is using interactive storytelling to attract the target buyer.

GumGum, a contextual intelligence company, wanted to arrange business with T-Mobile and the company’s CMO started researching T-Mobile’s buying committee, particularly the executive leadership team.

The CMO discovered that T-Mobile’s CEO, John Legere is a big fan of Batman. They put this information into an idea and made the CEO a part of the GumGum story. It resulted in a comic book called “T-Man and Gums.” After sending 100 copies to T-Mobile and the agencies of record, they won over the account.

Conclusion

Most product-led experts would condemn you for going for a marketing strategy such as ABM, however, it can be the method you’ll use to skyrocket your revenue if you have the right product, the right audience, and the right strategies in place.

Even though most people work remote, or don’t have the chance to meet every client in real life; relationships and bonds of trust are still important to decision-making.


Frequently Asked Questions


Which funnel represents Account-based Marketing?

The Terminus Flipped Funnel successfully represents account-based marketing.


How is Account-based Marketing related to Account-based Sales?

They are basically the same concept, as in every account-based practice Sales and Marketing teams need to work together to identify opportunities and execute strategies.


When was Account-based Marketing first used?

The concept of account-based marketing was first introduced in 2004 by ITSMA, to help salespeople get more conversions with personalized offerings and content.

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account based marketing

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Mert Aktas

Mert is the Marketing Manager of UserGuiding, a code-free product walkthrough software that 2000+ companies trust in their user onboarding.

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