“We want to start doing ABM,” said every B2B tech company in 2019.

“Let’s do it,” said every eager account manager in 2019.

Three months later…

“This strategy didn’t work, let’s revert to the old strategy.”

*eyeroll* – Narrator

ABM is a hot topic. It can be an excellent way to refine your audience, improve quality, and increase closed deals. As with anything else, however, this strategy is only as effective as the prep work, execution, and continued optimization that goes into it.

You may be wondering, what is ABM? Account based marketing is a strategy that involves targeting a specified and pre-defined list of companies or individuals. This enables you to cut out a lot of the noise that exists in your acquisition program. Instead of targeting the entire world of people who could be in market for your product, you refine your targeting to a list of companies that you know will convert well based on factors like company size, company revenue, industry, etc. Within an ABM program, you will bring in fewer leads overall, which enables your sales team to increase its focus and engagement on the pre-defined accounts that you are bringing in.

So why isn’t everyone doing this? The reality is that there are a lot of businesses that would benefit from implementing a target account strategy, but they don’t have the set up or resources required to run ABM successfully. As a B2B advertiser, you should be considering ABM – but there are several items you need to consider and prepare for before you get started.

ABM Checklist

Below is a checklist to help you determine if you should be implementing an ABM strategy:

1) List of target accounts – This might sound simple, but make sure your list of target accounts is finalized and agreed upon across all parties (marketing, sales, and decision makers). These lists can absolutely change over time, but as a starting point you’ll need a solidified audience list to determine what channels you’re eligible to run on.

List size requirements:

  • LinkedIn: 300 audience members
  • Facebook: 300 audience members
  • Google Search (match rate will be low due to business emails): 1,000 audience members
  • Programmatic: varies by provider

2) Defined Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) – ICP is the “who” that you’re targeting; it’s the set of criteria that is used to define the target account list. Think of this like a persona. For example, let’s say you’re trying to target companies with 500-plus employees in the medical device industry. Knowing this will not only enable you to define who is on your target account list but also dictate what other acquisition channels you can leverage outside of the pure ABM list (often LinkedIn).

3) Content – Unlike an acquisition funnel, an ABM funnel is a little bit inverted in the sense that the first touch point is with your highest quality prospects – but instead of sending them to a demo like you would in regular acquisition efforts, you actually might need to do a lot of education first. You’ll need a lot of resources around common industry pain points, competitive matrices, etc. What would convince you, as a decision maker, to use this product? That’s what you should be highlighting on the landing pages you’re sending them to.

4) Training for sales – You need to set expectations with your sales team about the volume and type of leads that come in from ABM. Each representative should have clear expectations set around what sales activities to engage in, how quickly they should respond, how much longer sales cycles will be, how they should educate leads, etc.

5) Reporting – Target accounts should be separated from pure lead acquisition efforts in reporting. In some cases, a third party reporting tool may be necessary, depending on the functionality of your site. If you aren’t able to track engagement on a per session basis, or capture information about the companies on your site, we recommend using an advanced analytics platform – such as Demandbase GA dashboards, Bombora, or Google Campaign Manager – to get that level of insight.

6) KPIs – You should be optimizing for visibility, engagement, funnel acceleration, and other similar metrics. ABM KPIs prioritize time-on-site and engagement over traditional lead gen KPIs because these accounts may already be in the pipeline. In some cases, you will be more focused on funnel acceleration than net new lead generation, so you should set KPIs that will help you measure that more effectively.

7) Tech stack – Depending on the size of your lists and the size of your budget, it might make sense to enlist more robust technologies instead of cooking up a DIY strategy. Providers like Demandbase and Terminus can be particularly helpful if you need support on the reporting side as well.

Once you have all the items above checked off, you are ready to launch targeted ABM efforts. If you’re looking for further guidance on ABM strategy, our team can help.