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How to Prepare for Account-Based Marketing

Paul Hancock | October 2, 2017 

There are many great reasons for B2B marketers to start adopting account-based marketing. When you have a sales cycle that spans months for large opportunities with multiple contacts, account-based marketing is the logical choice.

Account-based marketing (ABM) is designed to target specific “high-value” accounts. Data shows that it’s effective. Almost 85 percent of marketers who measure ROI describe ABM as delivering higher returns than any other marketing approach (itsma.com). So why aren’t all B2B marketers adopting ABM? There are several prerequisites to satisfy before you can start.

Alignment

ABM requires a strong alignment between marketing and sales. This requires the development of a common set of goals and objectives. A shared plan is developed that puts focus on the key accounts to be used in ABM. While this seems simple enough, it may require a shift in your organization and a change to the metrics you use to measure success. Typical large-scale indicators like website traffic, email volume or lead conversion may not translate good measures of ABM success. Remember, ABM is designed around a small number of prospects and existing customers. Success has to be measured by each individual targeted account. If you plan to measure email clicks from a blast of thousands of emails, you aren’t doing ABM.

Large Data Connectivity

ABM requires the capture and use of large amounts of data. Data collected at the individual and account level is needed to provide the proper insight and specific messaging for ABM campaigns. To achieve this, you need all of your sales and marketing software to work together. For example, if you are using Salesforce Marketing Cloud to manage email and Sales Cloud to manage leads and opportunities, you’ll need both clouds to share information automatically. Many ABM campaigns will require data stored from your CRM/ERP to provide the “personalization” required. Using just the first name of a contact is not sufficient for personalization. Account specific content must be part of any communication.

If you plan to use isolated spreadsheets or double-entry between your platforms, you probably should not adopt ABM. ABM campaigns are designed to provide feedback data to both marketing and sales. Only by combining all your data will you gain the insights on where to focus and to match sales with the right marketing activity and content.

Toolkit

The old adage of having the right tool for the right job should be considered before launching ABM. Before you start building your campaigns, do an audit of what platforms are being used by sales and marketing.

Here are some tools you should have ready for ABM:

  • CRM – Most likely your database of record for your ABM activity
  • Marketing Automation – Ability to send 1:1 emails, track and manage activity
  • Social Monitoring – Be able to follow customers across social media platforms
  • Ad Management – Define and distribute Ads to specific ABM audiences
  • Data Management – Middleware to pass data between platforms
  • Analytics & Business Intelligence (BI) – Be able to collect and report ABM activity to measure success

In addition to platform audits, you’ll also need to audit your team. While it may seem obvious to know what tools you have, many sales and marketing platforms are multifunctional like a Swiss Army knife. You might find different team members are using a single tool in multiple ways. Additionally, you might discover one task, such as sending out emails, split among multiple tools. Thus, you should make a point to inventory the tools and how each member of your team is using them.

During the audit, you might identify a skills gap among your team. It is common for marketing and sales teams to learn just enough about the software to meet their immediate needs. More IT-driven tasks such as programming and security or complex data operations may not be part of your skillsets. Consider looking at an agency or partner who can fill in these gaps. Be sure to find a partner who has the technical and marketing expertise as this could impact your ABM campaigns.

Account-based marketing is a great strategy for B2B marketing. With some early preparation, such as proper planning and alignment between sales and marketing, connecting your data and having the right people and tools in hand, you should achieve greater success on your first ABM campaign.

For more information on how ListEngage can help you with your account-based marketing needs, please contact us for a free consultation.

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Paul Hancock

Paul Hancock | Solution Architect

Paul Hancock is a Solutions Architect at ListEngage. He has been in software development and digital marketing for more than 15 years. Prior to ListEngage, Paul worked for ExactTarget and Salesforce specializing in demand generation, mobile, and B2B marketing. Paul’s main focus at ListEngage is supporting clients using Pardot, Salesforce Engage, and Salesforce Marketing Cloud. He also has interests in maritime history, blogging, and photography.