Over the past year, Account-Based Marketing (ABM) has continued to gain steam as many advertisers have started to try their hand at the popular strategy. When implemented well, ABM can be a major driver of success for B2B companies, but there can be pitfalls if implemented incorrectly. Here are some do’s and dont’s of ABM to put your program on the right track.

Do’s

1. Do match ads and content to the buyer’s stage in the funnel.

A well-thought-out ABM strategy considers the buyer’s stage in the journey and the best way to relate to that buyer at that stage. Someone who has never heard of your business before should be given content that positions your company and the product as useful to the reader. Whereas someone who shows signals of prior knowledge, like past website visitors, could receive an ad promoting a 3rd-party analyst report on the capabilities of your product. By matching these ads to the funnel, you are ensuring a better experience as a potential customer progresses toward the opportunity stage.

2. Do sync up strategies between sales and marketing for a consistent customer journey and team buy-in.

The best way to build a successful ABM strategy is to get buy-in from both the sales and marketing team and also sync up the strategies between the teams so there is a coherent customer experience. This allows the sales team to be more valuable when conducting initial email or phone outreach. A quick, high-level example of this can be found below.

 

3. Do evaluate your efforts as a whole.

When evaluating ABM, you need to evaluate all of your efforts as a whole. A common trap of advertisers is only to evaluate based on a single channel’s cost per lead, like you might do with demand generation in direct response campaigns. A better way to evaluate ABM is based on overall pipeline driven for target accounts, and/or pipeline velocity (the time it takes to move ABM pipeline to closed). Because sales and marketing tactics overlap, they both contribute to the success of the campaign. This is especially true if you use marketing automation to trigger sequences after someone has, for example, submitted a form for content. Email might ultimately drive the last touch into a sales process, but another activity probably led them to the original content action.

Don’ts

1. Don’t upload an active sales account list to an ad platform and call that your ABM strategy.

Typically when we see this, it is to create  “air coverage” for a sales team on the accounts that they’re selling to. These lists come with no segmenting by funnel stage or specific needs and are usually shown the same ads. Some of them may have never heard of your business before, and some of them may be in the opportunity stage and may be looking for case studies on how your business can actually provide value to them. Treating these individuals to the same ads and content is an ineffective marketing strategy and creates a poor customer experience.

2. Don’t deprioritize leads outside the target account list.

A trend we are seeing more and more is only selling to a key account list and deprioritizing leads that fall outside of that list. With rare exception, you should have a plan to give a great experience to every lead that comes through. We’ve seen client opportunity rates double when marketing and sales organizations pivot away from leaning too heavily into ABM. Messaging to your team and monitoring MQL paths are important tools to avoid this slippery slope.

Hopefully, these dos and don’ts are helpful as you build out your next ABM strategy. ABM can be effective and is here to stay, but only if you give it the opportunity to work within the wider scope of your marketing and sales strategy.

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