Getting ABM Right and Getting Ready for What’s Next

Hosted by the ABM Leadership Alliance and ITSMA

What happens when you get ALL the members of the ABM Leadership Alliance and Rob Leavitt from the ITSMA on one webinar? An hour full of insights and experiences on what’s working with ABM, what’s challenging and what’s going to change over the coming year hosted by a group of true B2B thought-leaders and practitioners! We couldn’t answer all the questions in real-time so we put together a quick blog post to pool the knowledge of our speakers and presenters.  Missed the original conversation?  View the on-demand version of this webinar here. 

Q: Please explain the acronyms used throughout the webinar.


ABM = Account-Based Marketing

CRM = Customer Relationship Marketing

ICP = Ideal Customer Profile

SDR = Sales Development Rep

BDR = Business Development Rep

TAM = Total Addressable Market analysis

ARR = Annual Recurring Revenue 

What are the differences between ABM and Targeted Marketing?

ABM is largely a targeting strategy that is coupled with a tailored marketing approach for each segment, so I don’t think there is much difference. Targeted marketing is about delivering messaging and assets that will really resonate with and educate a specific target market and ABM aims to do the same thing across various different buyer cohorts.

Elle Woulfe, VP of Marketing, PathFactory

It was mentioned that you need to have a strategy in place before rolling out ABM. But, even before account selection, what are the essential components of that strategy; prior to ABM implementation?

Before account selection, you have to have a clear understanding of the market and how your organization fits into that market. The best way to accomplish this is to execute a comprehensive Total Addressable Market analysis (TAM). There are many ways to do a TAM, but there are a couple of tried and true methods that can be used to start. First, conduct a “bottoms-up” analysis that looks at the types of customers you have today, and extrapolate that for the size of the market. Try to identify how many “like customers” are out there, and then you can have a basic understanding of the potential size of the market. The bottoms-up analysis tends to be more conservative, and that’s why you also do a “top-down” analysis. The top down analysis is more aggressive and uses your current organization’s firmographic assumptions to estimate the size of the market if you captured all of the accounts in your target industries. The TAM ideally challenges you to identify how many accounts in each target industry there would be and what the total potential Annual Recurring Revenue (ARR) of that market would be. The outcome of the TAM should provide direction into the target industries and company sizes to help you construct your initial target account list.

Eric Martin, Senior Director, Demand Generation, SalesLoft

How do you suggest transitioning a whole company from traditional marketing to ABM? In phases? Or all at once?

If anyone knows of a badass marketer who was able to successfully scrap their entire traditional B2B marketing strategy (read: demand gen focused) in one fell swoop and completely flip the switch to ABM, I want to speak with them! All the research, and our own interactions with customers and prospects suggests that a “crawl, walk, run” approach is your best bet for long term success. Think about how you could get started with ABM by running a small, controlled, measurable experiment. Maybe there are 20 accounts where you could craft a highly personalized and customized content campaign? Or you could think about building additional density (VIP dinners, on-site meeting campaigns) for conference sponsorships where you have at least a 40% overlap between conference attendees and your target accounts. What would happen if you shifted your digital advertising budget to a smaller, more focused list of prospect companies? These small steps will help build your confidence level, establish benchmarks, and set reasonable expectations throughout your organization of the types of outcomes that ABM will be able to achieve.

Christine Farrier, Director, Channel Marketing, Demandbase

Do you agree that the more one-to-one focused I am, the less room for automation with this type of communication and the opposite is true as well?

In general, the relationship between personalization and automation is an inverse one. The more personalized you’d like your messages to be, the less automated they can be. Of course, this is a generalization. There are methods ABM marketers can use to automate messages that are quite personalized, even if those messages could be further personalized through one-to-one communication. For example, at Bizzabo we have segmented our database by industry, company size, and role. This is because we know that these factors most influence the types of messages our prospects and customers care about. As a result, the emails, website content, ads, and events that we present to these audiences vary based on what we know about their interests, pains, and motivations. One final note, even if you are sending the most personalized messages possible on a one-to-one basis, you can still use technology to support this process by aiding aspects of account-based programs like account prioritization, and enrichment.

David Epstein, Demand Generation Director, Bizzabo

Is email marketing still a valid tool? I´ve seen less and less results from email.

Traditional email marketing for ABM is pretty much a non-starter, unless you’re doing triggered emails based on milestones in their customer journey. But don’t discount email altogether–there’s not an ABM program in the world that doesn’t use email, they’re just not coming out of your marketing automation platform. Thoughtful, well-researched, and well-crafted 1:1 emails from your sales or marketing team are probably the most widely used form of account-based marketing. It’s important to remember that you get out of them what you put in–if you’re spamming 1:1 emails, don’t expect results. If you’re spending the time on a first-touch email that you should, you can see impressive results.

Justin Keller, VP of Marketing, Sigstr

Any tips for low budget ABM campaigns?

Using channels that you already own is one way to approach and email is hard to overlook for many reasons. Developing either 1:few or 1:many custom nurture programs where you are aligning the right messaging and content and personalizing the outreach is a relatively low cost approach. The same can be done working with BDRs to really customize their prospecting and outreach to specific segments of prospects. Both approaches assume that you have the account and contact data for this type of outreach. On the acquisition side – if you already do retargeting today or use tools like LinkedIn for outbound campaigns – these can be relatively low cost channels to target very specific buyer cohorts with more customized offers and assets. You don’t have to have your target buyer’s logo on an add or landing page for something to be personalized – you just have to deliver a message that is relevant to them.

Elle Woulfe, VP of Marketing, PathFactory

Do certain types of companies lend themselves better to an ABM approach? For example, I see a lot of examples of SaaS companies using ABM, but not many professional services companies.

While it’s common to see ABM programs being executed by technology companies, marketers in any industry, segment, or vertical can benefit from an ABM strategy. An easy way to determine if your business would benefit from an ABM campaign is to determine if the “Iceberg Rule” applies — do 20% of your accounts generate 80% of your revenue? If yes, it’s probably time to incorporate ABM into your marketing strategy.

For example, marketers in the healthcare and life sciences industry are beginning to rely more and more on account-based marketing to reach their target audience, healthcare professionals (HCPs). Due to a shortage of HCPs in the United States, the consolidation of healthcare systems, and the rise of the value analysis committee (VAC), healthcare marketers are using ABM to identify and focus on all of the stakeholders involved with their highest-value accounts — including the disparate members of a VAC — and tailor compelling content to each of them.

Emily Fultz, Associate Product Marketing Manager, Salesforce Pardot

Can ABM be done without a CRM and marketing automation?

Yes, you could target a small set of accounts and work on building relationships them without automation tools, but this is not scalable. Automation and insights become more and more valuable as you have a larger number of accounts to cover.

Sandra Freeman, Head of Strategic Marketing, Engagio

Can you explain more why you need to reconfigure CRM for ABM? Lead to opportunity vs. account to opportunity

This is not a requirement but there are configurable options to set up your CRM for ABM. You can bring Contacts and Accounts into CRM and then process in a pre-determined Contact/Account structure and measure unit demand uniformly this way. This will be highly dependent on your go to market and how your Account definition works. An advantage is that with a centralized approach to Account definition you measure Account progression through the funnel apples to apples. When the Account definition is left to the user in CRM, an “Account” can be defined differently from user to user.

KC Lincoln, Head of Marketing, InsightSquared

How do you do human research as a marketer? What kind of attributes? Isn’t that more of a sales task, researching your prospects?

First of all, the most impactful things you can do are usually the least scalable, including this kind of research. It’s a big-time investment, but it fuels so many of the tactics we use throughout our entire customer journey. For example, finding out that a champion in a target account is a foster-mom for dogs helped us tailor our outreach, tugging at her heart strings in our emails and getting meetings booked by getting her dogs a recurring subscription to Barkbox. When she became a customer, we sent a bunch of Sigstr branded bandanas for her dogs that then showed up all over Twitter. And during QBRs, our CS team starts out by being introduced to the new dogs. All this came from a tiny bit of research at the beginning of our process.

As for whose job it should be… If marketing does it, it can be worked into personalized campaigns better than if sales does it. But let’s be honest– sales should be doing this for EVERY future customer, but in reality, that varies. If marketing can control it, marketing should control it.

Justin Keller, VP of Marketing, Sigstr

How can leaner, scrappier companies like startups start implementing ABM with limited budget, resources, time, and marketing staff?

Size and budget are not gating factors in introducing an ABM approach. ABM is simply about the process of looking at demand at the Account level. While companies with more resources can use tech stack products and fulfillment to execute ABM it is not necessary. Use your creativity to instrument and execute your ABM approach. Look at what some of the highly resourced companies are doing and scale in your own way. The deep thinking is more about how your process works not what resources you have to support it. There are lower cost or free support tools, like CRM, that lean companies can leverage and whether you are a highly resourced company or leaner it is the thinking behind how you execute which is important. Instead of using more costly fulfillment houses, send your own notes directly. I value handwritten outreach as much as I do another fancy direct mail gift that I may not be able to accept or already have. Don’t let resources get in your way if ABM is a good fit for your business.

KC Lincoln, Head of Marketing, InsightSquared

Will an attribution model enable you to see the most value and truest ROI?

Yes, an attribution model will help you understand how your programs are impacting revenue. There are a lot of different model options, for example: first touch, last touch, multiple touch or by Engagement. A typical rule of thumb is for every $1 spend to create $10 in Opportunity or 10X Cost to Opportunity.

John Hurley, Sr. Director, Product Marketing & Strategy, Radius

Are you able to directly associate opportunities to your ABM campaign?

Yes, you can track engagement at your accounts across various touchpoints and include them in campaigns and attribute revenue results to success in those campaigns.

John Hurley, Sr. Director, Product Marketing & Strategy, Radius

Would you like to meet the members of the ABM Leadership Alliance in a casual and fun environment?

Join us in Austin, May 6, at The ABM Speakeasy.  We’ll be pouring signature cocktails from only the finest bootleggers, swinging to live music and enjoying Prohibition-era entertainment.