Wat is Account Based Marketing?

by Marcel Nanning | Last Updated: May 30, 2022

Account Based Marketing (ABM) is the execution of targeted marketing actions, specifically on pre-selected accounts.

Characteristic of Account Based Marketing is the targeted deployment of marketing techniques on DMU members of companies in order to generate leads. In the most extreme variant of Account Based Marketing, individual companies are seen as a market in itself, for which a campaign is devised. Within these campaigns, the marketer distinguishes between the different roles and provides them with their own marketing messages.

Account Based Marketing in B2B

ABM is nothing new. This way of Marketing has been commonplace in Business-to-Business for more than 15 years. B2B Marketers are used to working with segments and (mini) verticals. This also applies to working with DMUs.

For a long time, marketers have distinguished between one-to-many, one-to-few and one-to-one marketing. The choice depends on the objective, target group and available resources. If there is a large target group for which no details are known and brand awareness is low, you can opt for a branding campaign in which you choose means that will add weight to brand awareness.

If you want to generate concrete leads in a specific market segment, you could opt for direct marketing techniques and market approach based on one-to-few or one-to-one communication. Account Based Marketing can support this well.

Especially for companies that focus on larger accounts, Account Based Marketing is a much-used technique because the benefits clearly outweigh the costs. These is also referred to as named accounts. The ABM also lends itself to creative marketing efforts with a relatively high budget per account. You will also find ABM in CRM strategies.

💡Tip! Check out our step-by-step guide for marketing funnels. It will help you with your Account Based Marketing efforts

The benefits of Account Based Marketing

  1. Harnessing the power of personal attention
    By applying ABM, you are consciously personalising your communication towards a DMU. In doing so, you bring customisation. So you have a greater chance that the message and tone of voice will connect with the prospect.

  2. The ROI of ABM is crystal clear
    Because you target a specific company or mini-segment, you can measure the results of your campaign extremely well. The ROI or cost/benefit analysis is relatively easy to understand. By combining the costs of an ABM approach with those of Sales, you can paint an unambiguous picture of the acquisition costs of a process.

  3. One hundred percent well-qualified leads
    Because you determine in advance which accounts qualify for the approach on the basis of a pre-qualification, success is always a success with ABM. In other words: every lead that the approach produces is in the bull’s eye. So no resources are wasted on prospects that are not relevant or do not fit into the BANT. A perfect approach for leadgeneration!

Sangram Vajre, CMO and founder of the ABM platform Terminu explains how sales and marketing can work together to create better sales processes and achieve results faster.

The disadvantages of Account Based Marketing

There are several ways and contact strategies to work with small target groups and individual prospects. Account Based Marketing is a method that is very effective for specific goals and target groups.

There are also disadvantages to Account Based Marketing:

  1. Intensive method
    The method can be very labour-intensive and require a high investment, converted per account. It takes a lot of time and energy to devise, set up and implement this method.

  2. Risk of disappointing results
    It can also involve an increased risk when it comes to the return on investment. It is possible that the investment in the customer group and the individual case does not pay off because something goes wrong, a key person in the DMU leaves or the possible purchase of a product/service is on hold. Then a lot of energy and time is lost. Because you focus on small numbers, these kinds of situations are quickly felt. In campaigns with large numbers, you spread the opportunities over multiple accounts.

That is why it is also important to bet on several horses in Account Based Marketing, to use alternative scenarios or to do very good research before deploying the campaign. For instance, you can choose to approach a number of different customer groups/individual customers with different ABM campaigns. In this way, you create a spread of risk but you are still engaged in ABM, i.e. promising, targeted marketing with a minimum of waste.

ABM process

Example of an Account Based Marketing campaign

There are already many companies using ABM techniques to reach large customers or very select customer groups.

An example of ABM from a software company:

A software company with ERP software for the top end of the SME sector with wholesalers in particular as the customer segment is looking for some nice customers to expand the customer base with. There are a number of customers in the industry that are an excellent match for the software and the software company. Three of these customers are roughly comparable in terms of company size and business activities. If one of these companies becomes a customer, the software company will be able to expand for a long time, so a campaign is set up in cooperation with Marketing and Sales.

Step 1 – 360-degree customer view per company

This example of ABM includes a very important first step that is almost always necessary in ABM: the intensive mapping of the companies and contact persons.

The entire DMU per company is described in detail and the correct data of all these contact persons is enriched in the CRM system. Where information is still lacking, this is retrieved via telemarketing and LinkedIn.

Step 2 – Devise and produce a campaign

A campaign plan is devised to approach these 3 customers. The idea is a multi-front approach where each member of the DMU will receive a different message.

The campaign consists of a personal video, aimed at the company concerned. There will also be a demo set-up per company of the tooling, in which a hand scanner for scanning stock is central.

Several videos are recorded in which the processes of the companies are zoomed in extensively and DMU members are addressed personally. The ABM campaign consists of video, online resources and offline resources.

Step 3 – campaign roll-out

The campaign is rolled out and the three companies all receive a postal mailing with a kind of teaser. Some time later, the campaign is also followed up online and the DMU members are confronted with the video message. The third step in the campaign is a visit to the companies by the Account Manager. He takes along a demo set-up consisting of a hand scanner and a tablet with an app and a demo set-up of the software specifically designed for the company.

Step 4 – follow up marketing action

The fourth step is that the action is followed up by the Account Manager in order to discuss the company’s case through an introductory meeting and to explain the possibilities of the tooling.

The ABM campaign is thus concluded and leads to a Sales Qualified Lead with a concrete sales conversation and a concrete sales opportunity.

This is an example of Account Based Marketing as it can be applied in practice. All sorts of variations are possible.

ABM success factors (and pitfalls!)

How do you achieve a successful ABM approach? This requires putting a number of key factors in order. We discuss a number of these so-called success factors here:

  1. Incredibly good knowledge of the accounts!
    A good ABM tactic requires very good information from the prospect or customer. By properly mapping out the companies and the DMU, a good proposition can be determined that is relevant for this specific company and the contact persons available within the DMU. The resource mix and timing can then also be optimally tuned. You don’t want to be on the doorstep of a company with a nice package intended for a contact person who no longer works for that company.

  2. A strong message
    At least as important as target group knowledge is defining a relevant, sharp and tailored message! Make sure you incorporate the challenges and possible profit factors of the specific company/DMU member in the message. The message must be highly relevant in order to make the right impact and generate sufficient return from the ABM campaign.

  3. Do not forget creativity!
    Another aspect that should not be underestimated is the use of creativity. Both in determining the message and the offer and in determining the contact strategy and the use of resources. A creative interpretation of an ABM campaign can ensure a nice effect with the target group. If the DMU-members are touched, impressed or know very well what the possible advantages are for their situation, the goal is reached. To get there, a creative interpretation can mean a lot.
ABM tools

Account Based Marketing Software and Tools

When a marketing technique grows in popularity, tools also come along to help marketers apply this new technique. This is no different for Account Based Marketing. There are a number of tools that can be used for multiple activities and also support ABM tactics. There are also tools specifically developed for setting up specific account-oriented actions. We discuss a number of them.

1. CRM Software

A well-filled CRM system with a complete customer view of accounts is almost always a must for successful Account Based Marketing. CRM systems hold the right information about the company and the DMU members. By supplementing this data as fully as possible, targeted campaigns can be set up for specific accounts. The ultimate successes of the ABM campaigns can also be tracked in the CRM system in the form of sales opportunities. Some examples of CRM software:

2. Specific ABM software

A new product category that is emerging is that of specific ABM software. This type of tools is specially designed to support this form of marketing through the joint efforts of Marketing and Sales. This software could be seen as an addition to CRM systems and marketing software and supports the mapping of accounts in the various phases of the Customer Life Cycle. This can be done by looking at branch, company size but also at how contact has been made with the company.

Promising accounts can then be spotted in order to set up cross-channel sales and marketing campaigns. All interactions are recorded and used for follow-ups and different team members are aware of the interactions with their own accounts. The tool also provides the necessary reporting possibilities. An example of this tool is:

3. Website visitor identification software

One type of software that we are seeing more and more in the world of marketing is website visitor identification software. These tools use IP information (and other data) to identify website visitors and match them to a database. This allows full customer profiles to be created of website visitors and their online interactions. By supplementing this data with CRM data and data from marketing software, a complete picture can be created on the basis of which specific ABM campaigns can be set up. Examples of this type of software are

Looking for ABM-software for your company? Check out our CRM tool comparison!

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