6 Core Components of an ABM Strategy

Emily Malis
Emily Malis  |  June 26, 2019

It’s really no surprise that the marketing space continues to get more and more cluttered. Competing marketing messages and marketing channels are growing, the digital space is becoming more saturated, and technology continues to advance.

The rise of the internet of things (IoT) has enabled customers to become hyperconnected across varying devices like desktops, laptops, tablets and smart devices. As a result, marketers are searching for the best ways to provide lasting, positive brand impressions throughout a fragmented customer experience.

As a result, marketers have started taking a nontraditional approach to reach consumers through account-based marketing (ABM) strategies. (You can read our ultimate guide to account-based marketing for a complete rundown.) Simply put, instead of using marketing tactics to target consumers in a blanketed “spray and pray” approach, ABM focuses all marketing efforts toward targeted accounts. These are then broken down to the key decision-makers. From there, you can target the right audience using highly relevant and personalized marketing tactics and messaging. Continue reading to learn about six core components that can help you launch a successful ABM strategy.


Align sales and marketing

You’ve probably heard the phrase “sales and marketing alignment” time and time again, but the practice itself is often difficult to implement. What’s the key factor? Open and consistent communication across the two teams. At the end of the day, both marketing and sales has the same end goal — bring more business to the company. To create a successful ABM strategy, it’s critical for sales and marketing to have continuous conversations to deliver a coordinated, targeted account approach.

Traditionally, marketers would use strategies and tactics to bring in qualified leads and sales. Then, they would follow up with those leads to try to generate new revenue. However, for an ABM approach to work successfully, marketers and sales must stop working in silos with disjointed efforts and come together with one focus. Marketing and sales should first schedule a meeting to brainstorm ideas and define goals, objectives, and key success metrics.

It’s imperative to define levels of involvement for both sales and marketing before starting, which allows teams to hold each other accountable. Furthermore, teams should schedule regular meetings to touch base. In these meetings you can discuss any updates surrounding targeted accounts and decision-makers, review the content calendar and performance, and assign any action items.

Identify targeted accounts and build personas for decision-makers

Sales traditionally focuses on the account level first, then moves on to building relationships with the account decision-makers. Since salespeople have direct conversations with customers and prospects, they have knowledge of  industry trends. Marketing and sales can then come together to build buyer personas based on these criteria.

These buyer personas help guide marketing personalization endeavors. They include not only customer pain points, but also their specific needs, demographic traits and behavior. Salespeople will be familiar with their needs and demographic traits. You can also do research to glean additional information as well as use predictive analytics and machine learning to gather insights from consumers’ online behavior.

Pinpoint appropriate channels and tactics

Once you have your buyer personas, you can determine the precise channels and tactics to reach decision-makers within your targeted accounts. Having that direct contact is essential. It will allow you to have a more conversational marketing approach. (For example, if you know a prospect prefers engaging via emails, you can track their online behavior and send them related email content.)

If a customer or prospect within a targeted account frequently uses social media, it’s important to reach them on those channels. Marketing and sales can work together to monitor social media activity and reply to status updates. They can also send them direct messages on social channels with personalized marketing content. It’s important to note that you don’t have to choose only one channel. You can use an integrated, multichannel marketing approach if that’s what will be most effective. Again, this strategy makes all of your ABM initiatives feel extremely conversational in nature, which will assist you in building personal relationships.

Develop personalized content

After identifying the best channels to reach your targeted customer or prospect, you can start developing personalized content for them. Consumers don’t want to read or engage with content that isn’t relevant to their needs. This is where your ABM approach will really start to resonate with your targeted accounts.

To develop personalized content for a targeted account, sales and marketing should come together to analyze industry trends. These include company-level insights like rankings, positioning, and competitor information. From there, you can further personalize content to establish a one-to-one approach. Personalized content includes emails, social media, webinars, direct mail, landing pages, digital ads and more. At the end of the day, you want your content to provide real value to your contacts’ business needs.

Build brand advocacy

Now you may be thinking, “What does brand advocacy have to do with ABM?” A lot, actually. 85% of marketers said ABM provided significant benefits to retain and expand existing client relationships. While we’ve mostly talked about generating opportunities from new accounts, it’s important to keep your customers in mind to continue building concrete relationships.

For those unfamiliar, brand advocates are highly satisfied customers who go out of their way to actively promote the products they love and care about. When you use an ABM approach, you can easily identify your satisfied accounts, not just individual contacts. You can then use ABM tactics to target your brand advocates for renewals, crossing-selling opportunities, and upselling opportunities to generate additional revenue.

In addition, brand advocates are your best salespeople. They can help you promote your content and products via word-of-mouth with the help of brand advocacy software. This will increase your company’s brand awareness and is often seen as more authentic, since it is coming from someone outside of your company.

brand advocacy

Measure success

As mentioned previously, it’s imperative for sales and marketing to agree on key success metrics. Only then can they come together to determine if their ABM campaigns are proving ROI. Remember that you are evaluating the percentage of target accounts reached and how many of those accounts converted into customers, as opposed to leads converting into customers. You can gather and analyze these metrics using account-based reporting software.

See the Highest-Rated Account-Based Reporting Software, Free →

While not every ABM campaign will yield the same success metrics, you can analyze some indicators. These include pipeline velocity, or how long it takes to turn your accounts into customers, deal size and upsell and cross-selling revenue from current customers.

These six  core components will assist you in creating a successful ABM strategy, which can lead to larger deal sizes, quality customer referrals and  faster deal cycles.


Want to learn additional ways to align your sales and marketing teams? Discover how to improve your content marketing strategies when sales and marketing join forces.

Emily Malis
Author

Emily Malis

Emily is a Research Principal focusing on marketing and advertising software at G2 Crowd. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree and Master of Business Administration degree from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She's worked in varying industries, including media consulting, information technology, employee well-being, and finance and accounting, focusing on brand marketing, demand generation, customer marketing, and digital marketing. She enjoys coaching and volunteering for Girls on the Run, attending concerts and music festivals, running half marathons, and hiking.