the ultimate guide to account based marketing approach incorporating abm campaigns, ideal customer, key accounts, marketing alignment, account engagement, strategic abm

Mastering ABM: A Comprehensive Guide to the Account Based Marketing Approach

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) has emerged as a pivotal strategy, redefining how businesses engage with key accounts. This blog post embarks on a comprehensive exploration of ABM, starting from its foundational steps to the execution of its various types, and culminating in an in-depth analysis of its core pillars. Through a meticulous dissection of strategies, tools, and actionable insights, we aim to equip CMOs and marketing directors with a detailed manual to not only initiate but master ABM, ensuring a personalised, strategic, and coordinated approach towards their key accounts.


How do you get started with an Account Based Marketing Approach?


Define your ideal customer profile (ICP)

  1. Leverage Predictive Analytics: Utilise predictive analytics tools like EverString to sift through your existing customer data and identify patterns that distinguish your best customers. This data-driven approach allows for the creation of a dynamic ICP that adapts as your business and customer base evolve, ensuring your marketing efforts are always targeted effectively.
  2. Incorporate Psychographic Data: Beyond the basic demographic and firmographic information, enrich your ICP with psychographic data that reveals the motivations, challenges, and goals of your ideal customers. Tools such as Qualtrics or SurveyMonkey can facilitate this deeper dive, enabling a more nuanced approach to ABM campaigns that resonate on a personal level.
  3. Use Social Listening for Real-Time Insights: Platforms like Brandwatch offer powerful social listening capabilities that can uncover real-time interests, pain points, and the competitive landscape as perceived by your potential accounts. This immediate insight can refine your ICP to be more responsive to current market dynamics.
  4. Employ ABM Software for ICP Validation: With ABM platforms like Demandbase or Terminus, you can validate and continually refine your ICP based on engagement metrics and conversion rates. These platforms offer a holistic view of how well your selected accounts match your ICP and where adjustments may be needed.


Select your accounts

  • AI-Driven Account Selection: Implement AI tools like 6sense that score and prioritise accounts based on their likelihood to engage and convert, considering both historical data and predictive engagement scoring. This approach ensures a focus on accounts that are not only a good fit but are also in the buying window.
  • Competitive Intelligence Gathering: Use tools like SEMrush for competitive intelligence to identify accounts that may be seeking alternatives to your competitors. Tailoring your approach to these accounts can provide a strategic edge, positioning your solution as the optimal choice.
  • Integrate Intent Data: Incorporate intent data from platforms like G2 or Bombora to pinpoint accounts actively researching topics relevant to your offerings. This strategy ensures your ABM efforts are concentrated on accounts with demonstrated interest, significantly increasing the efficiency of your outreach.
  • Collaborative Account Selection Workshops: Organise workshops that bring together sales, marketing, and customer success teams to select accounts. This cross-functional approach ensures a unified strategy, leveraging diverse insights to identify accounts that offer the best growth potential and strategic fit.


3 Types of Account Based Marketing


Strategic ABM

Integrated Account Insight Gathering

Leverage tools like Demandbase to integrate insights across sales, marketing, and customer success teams. This unified view enables a deeper understanding of the account’s business ecosystem, facilitating the creation of hyper-personalised engagement strategies.

Bespoke Engagement Plans

Craft individualised engagement plans for each key account, focusing on multi-touchpoint campaigns that leverage personalised emails, custom content, and targeted events. This approach ensures each account receives attention tailored to its unique needs and preferences.

Use of Predictive Analytics

Implement predictive analytics to anticipate the future needs and behaviours of key accounts. Tools like 6sense can provide foresight into account movements, helping tailor your strategy to be proactive rather than reactive.


ABM Lite

Cluster-Based Personalization

Identify common challenges or objectives within a segment of accounts and create targeted campaigns addressing these collective issues. This allows for personalization at scale, offering content and solutions that resonate broadly within the targeted cluster.

Dynamic Content Delivery

Utilise platforms like Adobe Experience Cloud to dynamically serve content tailored to the cluster’s characteristics and behaviours across digital touchpoints, enhancing relevance and engagement without the need for individual account customization.

Efficient Resource Allocation

Strategically allocate resources to clusters of accounts with shared attributes, using insights from tools like HubSpot for segmentation. This efficient use of resources maximises impact across similar accounts while maintaining a level of personalization.


Programmatic ABM

  • Automated Content Personalization: Deploy AI-driven tools such as Marketo to automate the personalization of content at scale. This technology allows for the mass customization of messaging based on account interactions and engagement, maximising reach while maintaining a level of personal relevance.
  • Broad-Based Targeting with Precision: Use programmatic advertising platforms like LinkedIn Marketing Solutions to target broad account segments with precision, leveraging detailed demographic and firmographic data to ensure your message reaches the intended audience.
  • Engagement Scoring for Prioritization: Implement engagement scoring models to prioritise accounts for follow-up based on their interaction with your content. Tools like Eloqua can track engagement and automate scoring, helping focus efforts on the most promising prospects.
  • Cross-Platform Content Syndication: Syndicate your content across multiple platforms to ensure broad reach. Utilise content syndication networks that target B2B audiences, such as TechTarget, to increase visibility among your target accounts, ensuring each piece of content is optimised for SEO with relevant LSI keywords.


The Pillars of ABM


ABM Pillar #1: It’s a Strategy

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is not just a set of tactics; it’s a comprehensive strategy that aligns marketing and sales efforts towards the most valuable accounts. This strategic orientation requires a mindset shift from broad-based marketing to a focus on individual account ecosystems.

  1. Strategic Planning with Cross-functional Teams: Begin by assembling a cross-functional ABM team, including members from marketing, sales, customer success, and even product development. This team’s purpose is to develop a unified ABM strategy that aligns with the overall business goals, ensuring that efforts are not siloed but contribute to a cohesive account penetration and engagement plan.
  2. Customised Account Plans: For each target account, create a customised strategic plan that outlines the engagement approach, tailored value propositions, and specific goals. This plan should be based on a deep understanding of the account’s business challenges, goals, and the competitive landscape, utilising tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator for insights.
  3. Ongoing Strategy Evaluation and Adaptation: Implement a framework for continuous evaluation of your ABM strategy against set KPIs and metrics using platforms like Salesforce or HubSpot. This allows for the agile adaptation of strategies in response to account feedback, market changes, or internal business shifts, ensuring the ABM strategy remains aligned with current objectives and account needs.


ABM Pillar #2: It’s Personalised

Personalization is at the heart of ABM, transcending beyond generic marketing messages to create tailored experiences that resonate with each key account. This level of personalization fosters deeper relationships and drives higher engagement rates.

  • Deep Account Insight Collection: Leverage data analytics and AI tools to gather deep insights into each target account’s needs, preferences, and pain points. Platforms like Marketo and Demandbase can provide valuable data that informs personalised content creation, messaging, and outreach strategies.
  • Tailored Content and Messaging: Develop content and messaging that speaks directly to the needs and interests of each account. Use content management systems like Contently to create and distribute personalised content across various channels, ensuring that each piece aligns with the specific context and stage of the buyer’s journey for that account.
  • Dynamic Personalization Engines: Implement dynamic personalization engines on your digital properties, such as websites and email campaigns. Tools like Optimizely or Adobe Target allow for the customization of user experiences in real-time, based on user behaviour, account data, and predictive analytics, making each interaction highly relevant and engaging.
  • Personalised Engagement Tactics: Utilise sales enablement platforms like Seismic to equip your sales team with personalised engagement tactics. This includes custom presentation decks, tailored email templates, and account-specific insights that enable sales representatives to have meaningful, personalised conversations with stakeholders within the account.


ABM Pillar #3: It’s a Coordinated Effort Between the Sales and Marketing Teams

ABM thrives on the synergy between sales and marketing, breaking down traditional silos to foster a unified approach towards target accounts. This coordination is pivotal in creating a seamless customer journey and maximising account engagement.

Joint Planning Sessions

Initiate regular joint planning sessions between sales and marketing to align on target accounts, objectives, and strategies. Utilising tools like Microsoft Teams or Slack for these sessions ensures that both teams are on the same page, fostering collaboration and shared ownership of ABM initiatives.

Unified Messaging Framework

Develop a unified messaging framework that guides all communications with target accounts. This should be informed by shared insights into account needs and preferences, ensuring that messages from both sales and marketing resonate and build upon each other, enhancing the overall impact.

Shared Metrics and KPIs

Establish shared metrics and KPIs to evaluate ABM performance, integrating tools like HubSpot or Salesforce for real-time tracking and analysis. This shared set of metrics fosters a results-oriented culture, with both teams working towards common goals and accountable for the outcomes.


ABM Pillar #4: It’s a Land-and-Expand Strategy

ABM is not just about winning accounts; it’s about growing them. The land-and-expand strategy focuses on initially securing a foothold within an account and then systematically expanding your presence and influence across the organisation.

  • Initial Success Mapping: Start with identifying small, achievable goals that can demonstrate quick wins within a new account. Tools like Trello can help map out these initial objectives, providing a clear path for early success and establishing trust and credibility within the account.
  • Cross-Selling and Upselling Plans: Develop targeted cross-selling and upselling plans tailored to the account’s evolving needs. Utilise customer success platforms like Gainsight to monitor account health and identify opportunities for expansion, ensuring your offerings align with the account’s growth trajectory.
  • Customer Advocacy Programs: Implement customer advocacy programs to transform satisfied customers into champions for your brand within their organisation. Platforms like Influitive can help manage and mobilise these advocates, creating internal momentum that facilitates account expansion.

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About James

James is an award winning digital strategist with over 20 years experience helping challenger brands and market leaders (Unilever, Diageo, MasterCard, HSBC) launch and scale their data-driven sales and marketing. Connect on Linkedin

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