Account-Based Marketing (ABM) 101: A Step-by-Step Guide

abm 101

Account-based marketing (ABM) is a marketing strategy focusing on selling to target accounts rather than individual leads. This strategy is becoming increasingly popular because it allows businesses to build strong relationships with their target accounts by providing them with a highly relevant and personalised customer experience.

ABM has several key benefits that make it an attractive option for many companies. 

  • ABM campaigns have a higher return on investment (ROI) than traditional marketing campaigns because they are more targeted and efficient in reaching the right audience.
  • ABM promotes better alignment between sales and marketing teams as they target specific accounts and build a seamless customer journey. 
  • ABM allows businesses to provide a highly personalised customer experience, which can lead to increased customer loyalty and advocacy.

According to a survey conducted by Demandbase, the ROI of ABM programs is significantly higher than that of other marketing strategies. The survey found that companies with mature ABM programs saw an average ROI of 300%. Additionally, companies that have implemented ABM have seen an increase in win rates of 20%. In a survey by Forrester, companies that have adopted ABM have seen an average of a 17% increase in annual revenue.

These are just a few examples of how businesses can achieve a significant increase in ROI, pipeline, and closed deals by implementing ABM strategies. Let’s get you started!

Understanding ABM Jargon

  • Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), is a detailed description of the ideal customer for your business. Understanding your ICP is crucial for identifying the target accounts most likely to convert into customers. It typically includes demographics, firmographics, and technographics.
  • Target Account List (TAL) is a list of accounts that have been identified as high-value and will be targeted in your ABM campaigns. This list can be created by handpicking individual accounts or using your ICP to find accounts that match the specified parameters.
  • The Buying Committee is the group of stakeholders within a target account that you will seek to influence through your ABM campaigns. These individuals have a seat at the decision-making table and can include decision-makers, influencers, budget holders, blockers, champions, legal, and end users.
  • Air Cover is a marketing tactic where you ensure that the buying committee sees relevant ads throughout the buyer’s journey. It is designed to ensure you are omnipresent and to influence multiple people within the target account.
  • Handoff is the process of putting a lead in front of your sales team at the right time and in the right way. For example, you may put your tier 1 target accounts in front of sales via a task and a Slack notification when the target account has a company score of 100.
  • Thought Leadership is a demonstration of your expertise on a particular topic. In ABM, this expertise is shared through social media posts, video content, podcasts, guides, and other content assets. Thought leadership helps to position your brand while also providing value to your target accounts.
  • Sales & Marketing Alignment is necessary for running ABM campaigns. It involves sales and marketing collaborating on accounts to target, when to hand off those accounts and what content sales should use for various targets.

Getting Started with ABM

ABM campaigns can be complex, but setting up a solid foundation for your campaigns is simple if you follow these steps:

Identify your ICP

  1. Start by gathering information about your current customers, including demographics, industry, company size, and pain points.
  2. Analyse this data to identify patterns and common characteristics of your best customers.
  3. Use this information to create a detailed profile of your ideal customer.

Create your TAL

  1. Using your ICP as a guide, research and create a list of potential target accounts that fit the profile of your ideal customer.
  2. This list should include the company name, contact information, and decision-maker information.

Segment your TAL into tiers

  1. Divide your TAL into different tiers based on account size, potential revenue, and the likelihood of closing a deal.
  2. This will allow you to tailor your approach and messaging to different types of accounts.
  3. For example, Tier 1 accounts may be the largest and most likely to close, while Tier 2 accounts may be smaller but still a good fit for your product or service.

Plan touchpoints and triggers per tier and/or buying role

  1. Start by identifying the different roles within your target accounts, such as decision-makers, influencers, and end users.
  2. Determine the key touchpoints for each role, including the type of content and messaging that will be most effective at each stage of the buying process. Consider using tactics like personalised content, offers, landing pages, targeted online and social ads, retargeting, direct email and gifting.
  3. Use a tool like Miro to map out the buyer’s journey for each role and ICP tier.
  4. Identify key triggers that will move the prospect through the journey, such as website visits, whitepaper downloads, or demos requested.
  5. Determine the conditions and exclusions that must be met for each trigger to fire, such as a specific page visited or a certain number of downloads.
  6. Plan how you will personalise your campaigns for each role and ICP tier, keeping your team’s capacity and resources in mind.
  7. Review and refine your plan as necessary, and ensure that it aligns with your overall ABM strategy.

Align sales and marketing on the handoff

  1. Identify the key handoff points in the buyer’s journey for each ICP tier and buying role. This includes when to involve sales, shift from lead generation to lead nurturing, and move a lead from marketing to sales.
  2. Create a clear and detailed handoff process that outlines the specific actions and responsibilities of both sales and marketing teams at each handoff point.
  3. Schedule a meeting with sales and marketing teams to review and agree on the handoff process.
  4. Set up the handoff process in your CRM and marketing automation platform, including lead routing and lead status updates.
  5. Test the handoff process to ensure it works as intended and make any necessary adjustments.
  6. Schedule regular check-ins between the sales and marketing teams to ensure that the handoff process is working effectively and to make any necessary adjustments.

Deploy your complete strategy and schedule ongoing alignment check-ins

  1. Review your segmenting workflows: Ensure that your ICP tiers, buying roles, and job functions are correctly segmented and that your lead scoring conditions are set up correctly.
  2. Check your asset delivery settings: Make sure that all of your marketing assets, such as email templates, landing pages, and whitepapers, are set up correctly and that they are being delivered to the correct ICP tiers and buying roles.
  3. Test your campaign: Before launching your campaign, run tests to ensure everything is working correctly.
  4. Launch your campaign: Once you have completed the above steps, you can launch your campaign.
  5. Analyse your performance: Look at key performance indicators (KPIs), such as engagement rates, conversion rates, and revenue generated. Compare these metrics across different ICP tiers, buying roles, and job functions to identify patterns and areas for improvement.

Iterate and experiment to boost relevance

  1. Evaluate the effectiveness of your assets: Examine which assets, such as whitepapers, case studies, videos or webinars, performed well with different buying roles, job functions, and ICP tiers. Identify the types of content that resonated most with your audience and optimise your campaigns accordingly.
  2. Gather feedback from customers and sales teams to gain insights that your KPI dashboards may not reveal.
  3. Experiment with different tactics: Try new tactics, evaluate their performance and incorporate the most effective tactics into your strategy.
  4. Continuously monitor and optimise: Monitor your campaign performance and optimise as needed. Schedule regular check-ins with your sales and marketing teams to ensure continued alignment and progress towards your goals.

ABM is a powerful marketing strategy that can help B2B companies increase ROI, improve alignment between sales and marketing, and provide a personalised customer experience. By understanding key terms, setting up a solid foundation, and experimenting with different tactics, you’ll see the benefits of ABM for yourself.

Implement a Winning ABM Strategy

Reach out to Cybersolve for a consultation.
Cherine Grove
Cherine Grove
Director of Business Solutions at Cybersolve