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Unlock the Power of Account-Based Marketing for Your Go-to-Market Strategy

Updated: Mar 29, 2023

In today's competitive business landscape, companies need a well-defined go-to-market (GTM) strategy to succeed.

In their book MOVE, Sangram Vajre and Bryan Bowen offer a wealth of insights into crafting a winning GTM plan. One of the most effective approaches they propose is leveraging account-based marketing (ABM).

Is it right for you? That is the questions I hope this article helps you answer.

Let's get this out of the way right now. Here is what ABM is not:

  • ABM is not just advertising to a set of accounts.

  • It's not just a marketing playbook.

  • It's not for everyone.

  • It's not a piece of technology that magically does it for you

  • it's not just personalization

If any of that is how you think of ABM, it's time to change your mindset. ABM is an initiative that is executed on as a GTM team it requires all facets of the business to be working in unison for it to be effective. At minimum it requires deep collaboration with sales and marketing.

In this blog post, we'll explore how ABM can help you create a GTM strategy that drives results.

High-Level Overview

(if you click the titles below it will take you to the meat and potatoes)

  • Evaluating factors such as target audience, sales cycle, clean data, etc. are all facets of deciding if ABM is the right strategy for you

  • What industry you are in and serve can also be a deciding factor

  • Build a collaborative relationship between sales and marketing teams

  • Set shared goals, objectives, and KPIs

  • Use data to create a list of target accounts

  • Prioritize accounts based on potential revenue, strategic importance, and fit

  • Develop tailored messaging and content

  • Engage prospects across multiple channels

  • Use real-time data to track performance

  • Continuously refine your strategy for maximum impact

How to Determine if ABM is Right for Us

Target audience:

ABM is particularly effective for organizations targeting high-value accounts, such as large enterprises or specific niches. If your business focuses on selling to a small number of high-value clients or has a well-defined target market, ICP, and already has product market fit. ABM may be a suitable approach.

Sales cycle:

ABM works best for companies with complex sales cycles that involve multiple decision-makers and require personalized outreach. If your sales process is relatively simple or transactional, a broader marketing approach might be more effective.

Marketing resources:

Implementing a successful ABM strategy requires significant marketing resources, including dedicated personnel, technology, and budget. If your organization has the capacity to invest in these resources, ABM may be a viable option.

Organizational alignment:

ABM relies heavily on the alignment and collaboration between marketing and sales teams. If your organization is able to foster a strong partnership between these departments and establish shared goals and metrics, ABM can be a powerful strategy.

Measurement capabilities:

ABM requires a robust system for tracking account-level metrics and attributing revenue to marketing efforts. If your organization has the capability to implement and maintain a sophisticated measurement system, ABM may be a good fit.

Content creation capabilities:

ABM success hinges on your ability to create personalized and relevant content for your target accounts. If your organization has the resources and expertise to produce high-quality, tailored content, ABM may be a suitable strategy.

Existing customer base:

If your organization has already experienced success with a few high-value accounts, adopting an ABM approach can help you replicate and scale that success across other similar accounts.

To determine whether ABM is right for your organization, evaluate these factors and consider conducting a pilot program to test the approach on a small scale. If the pilot yields positive results and aligns with your business objectives, you can confidently expand your ABM efforts and integrate the strategy into your overall marketing plan.

Align Sales and marketing Efforts

Develop a shared understanding of your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP):

Customer Success/Service/CX, Product, Sales, and marketing teams should work together to define the ICP, which is a detailed description of the characteristics of the ideal target accounts. This ensures that all teams have a clear understanding of the types of accounts they should focus on and can align their efforts accordingly.

Set shared goals and objectives:

Teams must establish shared goals and objectives that are relevant to their ABM efforts. This could include metrics such as the number of target accounts engaged, the percentage of target accounts converted to customers, or the average deal size of target accounts.

Collaborate on account selection and prioritization:

teams should work together to identify and prioritize high-value target accounts. What type of accounts is product not able to build for, let's avoid those. What type of accounts have proven to be the most difficult to serve for customer success and service, let's avoid those. This process can be driven by factors such as revenue potential, strategic fit, and likelihood to convert. By collaborating on account selection, sales and marketing teams can ensure that their efforts are focused on the most valuable and relevant accounts.

Jointly develop account-specific content and messaging:

Marketing and sales teams should collaborate on creating account-specific content and messaging that is tailored to the needs and challenges of each target account. This can include personalized email campaigns, targeted social media ads, or account-specific webinars and events.

Establish clear communication and feedback loops:

Regular communication between all teams is critical for aligning their efforts and ensuring that they are working together effectively. Establishing a structured feedback loop allows all teams to share insights, adjust strategies as needed, and continuously improve their ABM efforts.

Measure success using shared KPIs:

To track the effectiveness of your ABM efforts, sales and marketing teams should agree on shared Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that align with their goals and objectives. Examples of KPIs include account engagement rate, account conversion rate, and average deal size. Regularly reviewing and discussing these KPIs helps both teams identify areas for improvement and adjust their strategies accordingly.

By building a collaborative relationship between sales and marketing teams and aligning their efforts around shared goals and objectives, companies can maximize the success of their ABM initiatives and drive significant growth in their high-value target accounts.

Identify and Target High-Value Accounts

Use data to create a list of target accounts:

Leverage multiple data sources such as CRM data, website analytics, and third-party data providers to build a comprehensive list of potential target accounts. Analyze the data to identify patterns and trends that reveal the characteristics of high-value accounts.

Example: A B2B software company might analyze their CRM data to find commonalities among their most successful clients, such as company size, industry, location, or technology stack.

Prioritize accounts based on potential revenue, strategic importance, and fit:

Once you have a list of potential target accounts, prioritize them based on factors such as potential revenue, strategic importance, and fit with your product or service offering.

Example: A marketing agency might prioritize accounts with a high annual marketing budget, a strong alignment with their niche expertise, and a history of outsourcing marketing activities to external agencies.

Stat: Companies using ABM generate 208% more revenue from their marketing efforts compared to those that don't (FlipMyFunnel).

Tier your target accounts for differentiated ABM strategies:

Divide your target accounts into tiers based on their priority and allocate resources accordingly. Create differentiated ABM strategies for each tier, with the highest-priority accounts receiving the most personalized and intensive marketing and sales efforts.

Example: Tier 1 accounts might receive highly personalized content, dedicated account managers, and frequent touchpoints, while Tier 2 accounts receive more standardized content and less frequent touchpoints.

Less common approaches to account targeting:

While many businesses focus on account size, industry, or technology stack to identify high-value accounts, there are several less common approaches that can also be effective:

a. Trigger-based targeting: Focus on accounts that have recently experienced a specific event or change, such as a merger, acquisition, or leadership change. These events might create new opportunities or needs that your product or service can address.

b. Competitive targeting: Target accounts that are currently working with your competitors, with the aim of demonstrating the superior value of your offering and winning them over.

c. Ecosystem targeting: Identify accounts that are part of your existing customers' ecosystems, such as their suppliers, partners, or customers. Leverage your existing relationships to gain a foothold in these accounts.

e. Current Wins and Customers: Don't overlook where you have been winning already. Find lookalike accounts that match your wins that have been the quickest sales cycles.

f. Leverage intent data: This might be one of the most controversial things in ABM. Differing opinions on if the data is accurate or good will be out in the public eye in troves. There are intent providers that give you okay data and ones that give you amazing data. It's a matter of finding what works for your business. My recommendation is this: Have EVERY SINGLE VENDOR do a data match, make no exceptions.

For example when I worked at CRMNEXT we primarily served the Financial Services industry. I ran a data match with two prominent intent vendors and found they only had a 6% data match. I would have spent a big chunk of our budget on tech like this that would have been a complete waste.

Review sites like G2, Capterra, Gartner Peer Insights, and Trust Radius were not the places these folks were going to find software either. Instead there were specific places they'd go, almost like mini communities. like: CUInsight, Credit Union Leagues, American Banking Association, CUSOs, and Callahan and Associates and so many more.

Instead we went with data we could find that was specific to the industry built by people in the industry. It provided us detailed information on Banks and CU's that allowed us to better target them: Asset Sizes, Growth without Headcount, Loan Volume, Membership and customer numbers, growth rate,

Why this matters? We knew a financial institution that had a low growth rate or even a negative one over the course of 2 years likely would be acquired, merged, or worse go under. We knew our product better served institutions that could manage a product across functions so we looked at Asset Size which would tell us their level of business. This is the Financial worlds version of a Revenue Number.

As you can see from above, you need to understand your market and explore it heavily to find the right type of insights you can leverage.

I am a firm believer in having multiple sources of intent data. If you don't have a party of at least 3 with data, you probably will lack accuracy.

Intent data in my opinion is a must-have but just like any data it's how you use it that will make all the difference. Intent data that is structured in a useful and actionable way, can allow you to do a few things:

  1. Find new accounts that you should focus on based on buying intent

  2. kick out accounts that were selected that you can clearly see don't belong

  3. This can include intent on accounts where you can clearly see they just bought a competitor. Don't focus time, money, and effort on accounts you won't be able to win

  4. Just picking accounts with Sales and Marketing and even founders opinions is not a good approach. Make sure it can clearly be backed by data and intent data can oftentimes give you the necessary information to do so

  5. Segment a database even more for more personalized approaches

Vendors you can explore: 6Sense - one of the strongest ABM vendors and providers of intent data that is reliable and useful. Bombora - another strong vendor that typically has an ecosystem of vendors that leverage their tech for intent. Zoominfo, Salesintel, G2 Intent, Trust Radius Intent, and so many more.

By using data-driven approaches and considering less common targeting strategies, you can identify and prioritize high-value accounts for your ABM efforts, driving better results and a higher return on your marketing and sales investments.

Personalize Your Outreach

A key element of a successful Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategy is personalizing your outreach to engage target accounts effectively. This involves developing tailored messaging and content, and engaging prospects across multiple channels. Here's a deeper look at how you can personalize your outreach in ABM:

Develop tailored messaging and content:

Create personalized messaging and content that address the specific needs, challenges, and pain points of your target accounts. This can involve crafting account-specific value propositions, industry-specific use cases, and customized case studies.

Example: For a target account in the healthcare industry, you might develop content that highlights the unique features of your product or service that address healthcare-specific challenges and regulations.

Customize your website experience:

Use website personalization tools to tailor your website experience for visitors from your target accounts. This can include displaying personalized greetings, showcasing relevant case studies or testimonials, and highlighting industry-specific content.

Example: A B2B SaaS company might use IP-based personalization to identify visitors from target accounts and show them a customized homepage featuring client success stories from their industry.

Leverage multiple channels for targeted outreach:

Engage your target accounts through a mix of channels, such as email, social media, display advertising, and direct mail, to maximize your chances of reaching and resonating with decision-makers.

Example: You might engage a target account with a personalized email campaign, followed by targeted LinkedIn ads showcasing a relevant white paper, and a direct mail piece containing a special offer or invitation to an industry-specific event.

Implement account-based advertising:

Use account-based advertising platforms to serve highly targeted ads to your target accounts across various digital channels, such as search, display, and social media. This ensures that your ads reach the right audience and reinforces your messaging across multiple touchpoints.

Example: A B2B technology company might use account-based advertising to serve targeted display ads to decision-makers at their target accounts, focusing on the specific benefits and features most relevant to their industry.

Engage in social selling:

Encourage your sales and marketing teams to engage with prospects on social media platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter. This can involve sharing valuable content, participating in industry discussions, and building relationships with key decision-makers at your target accounts.

Example: Your sales team might regularly share blog posts, industry news, or webinars on LinkedIn, and engage with prospects by commenting on their posts or sending personalized connection requests.

By personalizing your outreach in ABM, you can create more meaningful and memorable experiences for your target accounts, increasing the likelihood of engaging them and ultimately converting them into customers. This level of personalization helps to differentiate your brand, demonstrate a deep understanding of your prospects' needs, and foster stronger relationships with high-value accounts.

Measure and Optimize Your ABM Efforts

Measuring and optimizing your Account-Based Marketing (ABM) efforts are crucial for achieving maximum impact and return on investment. This involves using real-time data to track performance and continuously refining your strategy. Here's a deeper look at how you can measure and optimize your ABM efforts, along with some less common approaches:

Track account-level metrics:

Monitor account-level metrics, such as account engagement, account penetration, and deal velocity, to gain insights into the effectiveness of your ABM efforts. This helps you identify which accounts are responding positively to your outreach and where you need to adjust your approach.

Example: Track the number of engaged contacts within an account, the average time it takes for a deal to close, and the overall revenue generated from target accounts.

Establish a clear attribution model:

Implement a robust attribution model that accurately captures the impact of your ABM efforts on revenue generation. This helps you understand which tactics and channels are driving the best results and informs your optimization efforts.

Example: Use multi-touch attribution models that assign credit to multiple touchpoints throughout the buyer's journey, rather than just the first or last interaction.

Conduct regular reviews and adjustments:

Regularly review your ABM performance data and adjust your strategy as needed. This can involve refining your target account list, modifying your messaging and content, or reallocating resources across different channels and tactics.

Example: If you find that a particular industry segment is not responding well to your outreach, consider reevaluating your targeting criteria or adjusting your messaging to better address their specific pain points.

Test and iterate on your content and messaging:

Continuously test different content types, messaging, and creative elements to determine what resonates best with your target accounts. Use the insights gained from testing to optimize your outreach and improve engagement.

Example: Test different subject lines, email templates, or call-to-action buttons in your email campaigns to identify which elements drive the highest engagement.

Less common approaches to ABM optimization:

While many businesses focus on standard optimization methods like refining target accounts or adjusting messaging, there are several less common approaches that can also be effective:

a. Peer benchmarking: Compare your ABM performance against industry peers or competitors to identify areas where you can improve or areas where you're excelling.

b. Sentiment analysis: Use sentiment analysis tools to assess the emotional tone of your target accounts' responses to your outreach efforts. This can help you identify which messaging or content elements are eliciting positive reactions and which ones may need improvement.

c. Predictive analytics: Leverage predictive analytics tools to forecast the potential impact of different ABM tactics, channels, or strategies on your target accounts. This can help you prioritize your efforts and make data-driven decisions about where to allocate resources.

By continuously measuring and optimizing your ABM efforts, you can ensure that your team's resources are being used effectively, driving better results and a higher return on investment. Employing less common approaches to ABM optimization can provide additional insights and help you stay ahead of the competition.

6Sense, Demandbase, Terminus, three prominent ABM vendors, provide some other great resources.

Yes, I can help you evaluate what vendor you should go with, and if a vendor is even the right path for you to take. Book time with me here.

Conclusion: Account-based marketing is a powerful strategy for building a robust go-to-market strategy. It is not a tool, it is not just advertising, and is not right for everyone. By aligning your teams, targeting high-value accounts, personalizing your outreach, and measuring your performance, you can drive growth and create lasting relationships with your most valuable customers. If you want help building your ABM strategy, executing it, or need some insights on how to approach it, book time with me.

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