Feb 6, 2023

Your Guide to Account-Based Marketing in 2023

Account-based marketing or ABM will continue to be important in 2023 and help drive personalized marketing in communications that customers expect. 

Put simply, ABM uses the combined expertise of sales and marketing teams to target a select group or set of accounts with an aim of creating a tailored experience.  

Today 67 percent of brands leverage account-based marketing while ‘researching accounts’. In addition, ‘identifying target contacts’ were the top two tactics used by marketers in an ABM approach according to ‘The State of Marketing Trends Report 2022’

There are many benefits to using this account-based selling model in your business. It delivers a high ROI, enhances personalization, and enables easy tracking. But more on that later. First, let’s look at what ABM is. 

What is Account-Based Marketing?

What is the definition of account-based marketing? Well, it‘s a more targeted approach to selling that focuses on best-fit accounts, those that have expressed interest, or potential high-revenue prospects. 

The most successful ABM strategy aims to have a good mix of prospects and complements a lead-based strategy. 

With account-based marketing, it’s all about targeting the right people with the right message at the right time through account-specific campaigns. The messaging and content need to be highly personalized and relevant to the contact. 

According to Dave Chaffey, there are three types of ABM to consider: strategic ABM, ABM Lite, and programmatic ABM. 

As you can see from the illustration below the investment and ROI go up when your teams focus on one-to-one accounts as opposed to a many-account, programmatic approach that uses automation

ABM pyramid
ABM pyramid

In the strategic approach, say an HR Manager in a target company downloaded an ebook on ‘How to Manage a Remote Team’. Using an ABM approach a salesperson could contact that individual by providing details of a relevant blog or offering a free consultation on training. 

Who your company targets depend on your goals. If you’re a business launching into a new vertical - let's say healthcare - you should compile a target list of companies and individuals working there who may be interested in what you’re offering.  

What are the benefits of account-based marketing?

There are many benefits to using account-based marketing in your business. Let’s look at some of the main ones. 

1. Delivers high ROI

Used effectively, ABM has the power to drive precise results for any business. According to new research, 76% of marketers saw higher ROI with account-based marketing than with any other marketing strategy. 

The reason? It’s about generating and nurturing quality leads. These are then treated in a way that’s personalized and provides value, meaning people are more likely to engage and convert. 

2. Enhances personalization and optimization

A major part of ABM is the personalization of messaging and communications towards specific accounts so that campaigns hit a nerve with the target audience. 

Targeted consumers are far more likely to engage with content that is tailored to their personal needs, tastes, and preferences, and is also relevant to their business and the stage they’re at in the buyer journey. There are many content types to choose from, so experiment to see what works for your business. 

3. Accelerate sales cycles

Multiple stakeholders can sometimes be involved in the sales cycle, particularly at the end. 

An ABM approach means that you have an advocate in the business who not only has a relationship with your salesperson but has received personalized and relevant information to use in closing the deal.

This will help your business to accelerate the sales process which would most probably have been subject to delay using a traditional non-tailored approach.  

4. Build and nurture relationships

ABM enables you to build relationships with prospects which can be carried through post-sale. This allows your company to make deeper connections and create brand advocates that will champion your brand within the company but also externally. 

Word-of-mouth is a powerful thing when it comes to sales so having close and meaningful relationships with your customers through ABM can do you a great service.  It will also help you to understand what your customers may need in the future and help increase retention.

5. Enables sales and marketing alignment

Account-based marketing is the most effective way to align sales and marketing, something that is sometimes easier said than done. 

Primarily, this is because when a marketer executes an ABM program, their approach is very similar to those in sales, offering a focus on accounts and how to target them, reel them in, and generate revenue.

6. Allows a focused use of resources

As ABM is such a targeted marketing tool, it allows marketers to focus their resources in an efficient manner and run promotional campaigns that are optimized for specifically targeted accounts. 

Focusing internal talents, technologies, social platforms, analytics, and content creation mediums and other resources in the right areas is sure to produce positive results for your ABM campaigns.

7. Easy tracking and measurement goals

The analytics surrounding ABM is spot-on in terms of clarity and accuracy. 

When you're analyzing the effectiveness of a campaign, it's easier to come to conclusions because you have the ability to look at a smaller set of targeted accounts rather than a sprawling set of metrics that span your whole database.

How to implement an Account-Based Marketing Strategy

Now that you understand why account-based marketing is important and its benefits, let's focus on the key elements involved in setting up a successful strategy:

1. Identify targets

When setting up an effective ABM strategy, the first step is to identify who you are targeting - shooting in the dark is never successful. That’s why defined buyer personas are important - you can use this persona template to help you build them. 

Using all the technology available, it is possible to prioritize high-value accounts based on revenue potential and other key factors such as market influence and purchase potential. 

2. Understand your targets

Once you've identified your primary targets, you’ll need to find out more about them and what makes them tick. 

You can do this by researching the company. Find out what they sell, what’s their annual revenue, and who are their competitors. Then move on to looking at key decision-makers and main influencers. 

Once you're familiar with the core information relating to your target accounts, you can segment them in the way you would a persona-based marketing strategy that allows you to reach multiple stakeholders.

3. Define and personalize your content

A truly successful ABM campaign uses valuable content that places focus on crucial business challenges your target faces on a regular basis. 

Consider how your messaging and the content you produce can assist the target account with its challenges and personalize your content to ensure it's trustworthy, informational, and authoritative.

4. Choose relevant channels

To make sure your target accounts are genuinely engaging with your core messaging, it's important to utilize and leverage channels including social networks (there are a few to choose from), mobile, and other online mediums. 

Many different industries and roles within those industries use specific channels to suit their needs, so making sure you're branching out to your targets on the right platform is essential to the success of your ABM initiative.

5. Offer Solutions

Individuals, regardless of their industry or role, crave solutions to the challenges in front of them, so getting to know those challenges is imperative. 

Once you've taken the time to understand the challenges of your target, provide content including whitepapers, blogs (find out how to start one), and eBooks that provide useful insights and ultimately drive engagement.

6. Measure & Mold

Once your account-based management strategy is in full swing, it's vital to measure all your marketing activity relating to your target accounts. 

Take time to learn which channels and what content yields the best results and adapt your campaign accordingly to ensure you're placing your resources into the right strategies.

7. Automate processes

Automation can make managing tasks much easier for your employees. Look at automation marketing technologies or tools that can help speed up and optimize processes. 

For example, a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system can be an invaluable tool for keeping track of communications and helping share valuable information. Or setting up email workflows can help you to nurture and track the engagement of key prospects in a tailored funnel. 

Examples of Successful Account-Based Marketing Campaigns

Here are some great examples of ABM campaigns that delivered results for a number of companies. 

PayScale - Using data for targeting

Compensation software and data company PayScale wanted to grow its account-based marketing program and measure its impact. 

The first thing to do was to identify target accounts and personas. The sales and marketing teams had previously set up campaigns that drove new traffic from target accounts but they wanted to target the right personas at those accounts.

Using machine learning, they connected up Salesforce data and identified personas. These were then targeted with tailored ads for their most successful content, the annual Compensation Best Practices Report. 

Payscale Compensation Best Practices Report
Payscale Compensation Best Practices Report

The result? Within seven months, PayScale increased traffic from their target accounts by 500 percent and decreased the time to close for active opportunities by nearly half. 

“Seeing a lift in the number of engaged contacts per account is always beneficial. It helps prepare our sales team when they have conversations with the primary decision maker,” says PayScale’s Senior Marketing Manager, Brian Steel.

Form - Custom demos

Form is a digital assistant for frontline workers. The software is designed to make life easier for workers but it was often a challenge to get them to use it properly. 

To promote the assistant to prospects, Form compiled a list of leads and researched each one to learn more about their pain points and behavior. To provide a solution to targets, the company created a custom self-guided interactive demo for each account. The result

  • A 33 percent boost in conversions
  • A reduction in cost per lead of nearly 50%
  • Repurposed interactive demos for LinkedIn ABM campaigns to generate leads at a lower price point

Refinitiv - LinkedIn campaign

Refinitiv is a provider of financial market data and infrastructure. Using ABM, the company wanted to use social media to go beyond just top-of-the-funnel awareness and deliver quality leads and better conversions.

To target leaders, they developed leadership content and used it as sponsored content on LinkedIn. They also used lead generation forms and LinkedIn’s matched audiences. 

Refinitiv LinkedIn ad
Refinitiv LinkedIn ad

The result? The campaign resulted in over 10 million impressions with a 0.67 percent average CTR and a 96% lower CPL when using lead generation forms which were fed into their internal system so the sales team could nurture leads. 

The Future of Account-Based Marketing

As many companies come to realize the power and effectiveness of account-based marketing, it’s about understanding the approach and how to do it right. 

Here are a few trends in 2023 to keep an eye on to optimize your ABM strategies and campaigns. 

Use direct messages

Direct messaging is a great way to answer customer queries or provide the first contact for a prospect or customer. Apps like WhatsApp are rising in popularity for this purpose and with over 2 billion users, it has a big customer base while chatbots are very useful to drive engagement on a website.

Using a messaging service offers your company and sellers an easy and effective channel to make contact and should be advertised as a way to get in touch. It also ensures privacy and can be used to nurture prospects with the goal of progressing to face-to-face contact if there’s a deal to be done.

Treat social media as search engines

As social media platforms become more sophisticated and targeted, these channels offer a great way to find people online. 

For example, LinkedIn’s Sales Navigator provides lead and company searches, account recommendations, updates to job changes and targets and company news alerts. You can also use the search function on Facebook or Instagram to find people.

Information you find on social feeds can also be used to pitch to a prospect or re-engage based on a post such as a company restructuring or new branch opening.  

Find the right talent

Account-based marketing requires people with knowledge and skills. It’s also crucial to have experience in online or social selling and marketing so it’s easy to hit the ground running with posting and engaging on social media. 

This means there’s great demand for skilled salespeople across industries. It’s important that you select the right sellers for your ABM accounts and provide ongoing training if required so they can continue to drive performance and sales.  

Leverage social commerce

Companies are now able to sell products directly through social media and it’s a channel that customers like. 

Social commerce means that people have a seamless customer journey with the ability to do everything in one place. Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest are all embracing this new function and could look to expand capabilities in the future. 

AI and automation

Automation makes the sales process easier. Whether it’s automating an email workflow or using tools for social listening or social media management, automating tasks can help free up the time used to prospect and nurture. 

As AI keeps evolving it can offer a way to get insights from consumer data and automate processes. This will help your company to leverage social media and boost marketing ROI.

Conclusion: Ensure your business is ABM-ready

The benefits of account-based marketing make it an effective approach to boosting customer engagement and sales. It will help develop deeper relationships with prospects and customers and deliver a higher ROI. 

ABM will also help your business deliver personalized content and messaging in the sales and marketing process and use the resources of your teams effectively in targeting high revenue or valuable prospects.

Use the power of ABM to drive sales

Account-based marketing relies on an alignment between marketing and sales to drive personalization. DMI’s diploma in digital marketing will introduce you to the fundamentals of digital marketing and cover key areas such as social media, content marketing, email, SEO, website optimization, and strategy. Reserve your place today!  

Clodagh O’Brien
Clodagh O’Brien

Clodagh O'Brien is a content creator and strategist. Over the last 12 years, she has created and managed content for many SMEs and global brands. She's passionate about digital marketing and the impact of technology on culture and society. You can find her on Twitter or LinkedIn.  

Upgrade to Power Membership to continue your access to thousands of articles, toolkits, podcasts, lessons and much much more.
Become a Power Member

CPD points available

This content is eligible for CPD points. Please sign in if you wish to track this in your account.