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An Agile Approach to Account-Based Marketing

Don't just find more customers, find the right customers with Agile ABM.

What is Account-Based Marketing?

Account-Based Marketing is a strategy that focuses both sales and marketing efforts on a single set of targeted accounts. It helps marketers spend their budgets wisely and build content that speaks to a specific audience, and keeps sales and marketing aligned by focusing everyone on the same opportunities. 

ABM seems simple enough, but if not executed correctly it can lead to spending on the wrong accounts, misalignment with sales, and not being able to track your results. To avoid these pitfalls, we've developed a more agile approach to the ABM that has allowed us to quickly test, iterate, and scale our ABM efforts.

Flip the Funnel



What accounts should you target in ABM?

Typically, companies choose high-potential accounts in the same vertical. Targeting one specific industry makes it easier for marketing to create content relevant to the customer, and sales can become experts in that specific industry. 

After building a list of target companies, marketers often divide their target into different tiers based on how much revenue potential they have. The top tier justifies higher spending on accounts with a higher revenue potential.

Spend Smarter

ABM Targeting Problems

B2B teams typically launch ABM with the hopes of landing more, big accounts. But as time goes by it's not uncommon that doubts start to surface around the ABM strategy. Did you choose the right industry? Is your targeting too broad or too narrow? Are the results above or below average?

From past experience, it’s often the targeting that leads to the first issues with the account-focused strategy. The entire strategy is built around the targeting, so your focused messaging and content will fall flat if you direct it at the wrong companies.

Can you relate to this scenario? 

Your company has decided to adopt an Account Based Strategy. There are high expectations built up around it and a decent budget assigned to your marketing efforts,

Your target vertical is chosen based on few subjective, but powerful, voices in the company.

Targeted lists are built using average quality data, leading to average lists.

Campaigns are deployed, but don’t show out-of-the-ordinary impressive results.

The enthusiasm from sales gradually disappears, but marketing has put too much work in to stop their campaigns.

The board gets less enthusiastic about ABM and doubts about the investment start to creep in. 

Marketing is left in a no-win situation to either abandon ABM, try something else with limited budget remaining, or continue on a path that the company has lost faith in.

 


The Agile Approach

The agile approach to ABM consists of four steps in which you evaluate and mature your ABM efforts by industry. The model is built on top of the ABM Maturity Model by DemandBase. 

Every step consists of different ways to align, target, campaign, and (most importantly) evaluate success. Because you only continue to the next step if your metrics are showing progress, you avoid going down the wrong rabbit hole too far. Instead, you are able to build out your Account-Based Marketing into a key channel for your commercial strategy.

Let’s take a look at the first step; Step 0. This is basically a small-scale ABM test that, if successful, should give you enough reason to undertake real ABM efforts.

  1. Start by creating a small ABM team. Ours typically consists of 1-2 sales representatives and someone from marketing. 

  2. Choose a specific vertical or sub-industry to target. Your team probably has some industries on their mind they have had some wins in. Identify a shortlist of companies in there.

  3. Set up lead generation and have sales reps do cold outbound.

  4. Look at top funnel metrics to evaluate your ABM segment. This could for example at ad performance and the way outbounds are received.

 

Screenshot 2021-07-26 at 10.07.52

 

In the following steps (1-3) you are maturing your ABM approach. After each successful step you will increase your team alignment, narrow down your targeting, step up your campaigns and follow your leads and opportunities through the funnel. 

For the remaining 3 steps, download the complete 4-step model here.

 

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