Account-based marketing (ABM) is a form of marketing that treats individual accounts as markets in their own right by using highly targeted, personalized campaigns to win them over. It is rare to find a company where the final decision is made by a single person and ABM acknowledges this.

When you implement an ABM strategy, you flip the entire traditional funnel on its head. First, you invest resources into identifying target account companies and decision-making units (DMU). Then you engage them through personalized campaigns instead of automated mass emails. Lastly, you build fruitful relationships that are long-lasting and lead to new opportunities.

9 out of 10 B2B marketers consider ABM of vital importance to their overall marketing efforts and when measuring ROI, almost 85% of them state that they get higher returns from ABM than from any other marketing approach. In spite of the advantages, ABM success is challenging and filled with obstacles that all B2B marketers have to overcome.


ABM Problems and Solutions

In order to witness ABM success, here is a cheat sheet that will help you meander your way through these frequently made mistakes.

1. Marketing And Sales Incompatibility

Marketing and sales misalignment is a fundamental growth issue for many companies and it might result in blame games, in-fighting, and competing agendas that drive almost no value for the enterprise. One of the most common issues that can be observed is sales and marketing working separately from each other; sales blaming marketing for providing bad leads and then proceeding to do prospecting on their own.


Solution: ABM is a team effort. Get your sales team onboard before you even implement the ABM strategy. Additionally, market and customer insights, research, and testing data must flow both ways. Sales teams need to focus on nurturing leads that are in the consideration stage of the funnel.

2. Wrong Target Account Selection

Selecting the wrong account to include in your program will derail your strategy. Solely relying on sales to select accounts would lead to targeting accounts that are preferred only by sales reps and won’t end up generating the most ROI. On the other hand, if the marketer acts unilaterally then it would be difficult to get a sales buy-in when it comes time to execute.

Solution: Start strong by identifying the right target accounts for your organization. Leverage marketing technology, third-party data, and sales input to create this list. As a rule, account selection should include;

  • High yield accounts that will likely result in substantial revenue generation over a long period.
  • Accounts with business needs that match the solutions provided by you.
  • Accounts aligning with your company’s strategy.
  • Accounts that use products and services provided by your competitor.

3. Negligent Marketing Practices

The biggest obstacle to ABM success is the procuring of accurate and rich data on your target accounts. You are failing at your ABM strategy if your content is not highly personalized.

Solution: Once you gain understanding about your target accounts then consider the challenges they face and the ones you can address. Plot out the customized content you have created to tackle those aforementioned challenges. Make sure every interaction your key account has with you – segmented email marketing, social selling, on-page content personalization – is relevant to them.

4. Excluding Inbound Marketing Strategies

Inbound marketing begins once a visitor has a look at your content while the account-based approach requires the marketer to directly converse with their ideal prospect. But nearly 2 out of 3 B2B marketers believe that engaging key decision-makers is a top challenge

Solution: Both are targeted strategies that are designed to generate, help and nurture quality opportunities instead of just increasing lead volume. The two approaches often support each other. Where inbound strategies base their marketing activity on wider buyer personas, ABM focuses on specific key accounts. Not all target decision makers will arrive at your landing pages via inbound tactics so balancing a range of channels becomes a necessity in order to engage the entire DMU.

5. Technology Dependence

97% of B2B marketers are unable to gain full value from their marketing technology and believe that investing in better technology would result in higher success rates with their ABM strategy. But technology won’t fix a bad strategy.

Solution: There are multiple options that need to be considered when deciding on an appropriate ABM strategy. The option you choose will affect your success rate. Ensure that you review all the available options and channels – based on the attributes of each key account – before deciding on a strategy. Make sure you have access to the following platforms:

  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform
  • Marketing automation platform
  • Content Management System (CMS)
  • ABM content promotion tools
  • Social media

6. Wrong KPI Measurement

B2B marketers measure the volume of the Marketing Qualified leads in order to deem an ABM strategy successful. Only 41% of them measure the ABM impact on sales opportunities which leads to ineffective lead reporting.

Solution: In order to keep marketing campaign activities aligned with your goals, it is crucial that leads are regularly reported and monitored. Even though the business strategy used for each ABM campaign is unique, there are some common metrics that can be monitored:

  • Website engagement
  • Sales cycle length
  • Revenue
  • Retention
  • Number of contacts per account

Case Study

CollabNet VersionOne is a recognized leader in agile management software and competes with large companies that have larger marketing budgets.

Challenge: A bulk of VersionOne’s marketing efforts was focused on the inbound lead generation which proved ineffective and unscalable. They realized that they couldn’t outspend their competitors so they decided to become more efficient.

Solution: VersionOne directed their focus on accounts that fit their ideal customer profile and targeted key decision makers within those accounts. They decided to shift from a purely inbound strategy to an ABM strategy and the results were remarkable.

Result: 88% of the identified target accounts were engaged and there was a 45% increase in the average opportunity value!


As a B2B marketer, equipping yourself with the knowledge of exactly who your target account is, what their needs are and the solution you can provide them with will put you in the optimum position to propel your organization in the direction of your goals.


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