Account Based Marketing Guide for Dummies

By Danni White - Last Updated on March 1, 2024
Complete Guide on Account-Based Marketing Strategies and Implementation

How do you engage high-value target accounts with the right content at the right time so that they ultimately convert?

The answer is found in account-based marketing. B2B marketers are implementing this type of strategy and making major investments and seeing boosted revenue from doing so.

According to ITSMA (1), nearly 85% of B2B marketers who have implemented and measured ROI state that ABM has delivered higher returns than any other marketing method.

That many marketers cannot be wrong.

A Brief Overview of Account Based Marketing

Account-based marketing was developed in the early 1990s when both B2B and B2C companies became keenly aware of the need for highly personalized marketing. The One to One Future (2) written by Don Peppers and Martha Rogers in 1993 projected that marketing would move from focusing on the masses to focusing on individualized approaches.

As the market eventually went that way, consumers began to desire customized experiences. As a result, marketers began implementing some of the ideas that Peppers and Rogers suggested in their book. This became one to one marketing and companies have been using some variation of it ever since.

When the B2B industry specifically shifted significantly to ensure these personalized experiences attracted high-value customers, account-based marketing became the new term.

Since there is always more than one decision maker in making a sale especially at the enterprise level, account-based marketing became the vehicle by which all decisions makers within a company or set of companies could be reached.

What is Account Based Marketing?

Account based marketing, also referred to as ABM, is a marketing strategy that focuses on specific target accounts within an industry or market. It utilizes personalized messaging and attributes to create a unique campaign designed to speak to the prospect behind each account.

When account-based marketing is in full effect within a company, the marketing team focuses on creating content, videos, and other collateral that is dedicated to the people engaged with the specified account. A step beyond the typical lead generation efforts, if you want your prospects to feel special, you are more likely to move toward ABM marketing.

Who Uses Account Based Marketing?

Well, that would be every smart marketer. But, more seriously, any company looking to obtain highly targeted or valued customers will find themselves using account-based marketing. The reason is simple: Rather than painting a blank canvas with a very broad brush, sales and marketing efforts are bifurcated into more linear pathways, requiring more personalization than ever before.

While some companies will focus on publishing blog posts, gaining form fills, and blasting email lists, account-based marketers focus on building relationships and crafting content that sells particular accounts. It is quite easy to rise above the marketing noise with this method.

Types of Account Based Marketing

While which one you should use depends on various factors, there are a couple different types of account-based marketing to consider when planning out your ABM strategy:

Strategic Account Based Marketing: It is likely that a handful of top accounts generate the most revenue for your company. If this is the case, you are most likely to spend most of your time, energy, resources and other valuable investments here.

For both large or small departments, one or many marketers might be focused on a single account each for maximum output, ensuring account management is in step with sales and delivery teams. A strategic account-based marketer will plan, develop, execute, and optimize a marketing plan for a unit of one.

Lite Account Based Marketing: In this type of account-based marketing, some of the core principles from strategy ABM are applied to a set of a few similar accounts that may have the same challenges and opportunities. Since each set of accounts are similar in nature, you will likely be thinking from a cluster perspective, customizing each one in a brief way.

Programmatic Account Based Marketing: Within the scope of programmatic account-based marketing, there is a fine line between personalization and scale. How far can you go before the targeting runs thin? In this ABM type, the targeted account clusters will be much larger to work with.

With programmatic ABM, you are more likely to include customized experiences through your company’s website or landing page, unique content portals also with content experiences personalized to the buyer. Additionally, programmatic ABM allows you to implement IP targeted advertising and better tools for account mapping.

Account Based Marketing Examples

There are some examples of account-based marketing that are worth exploring and perhaps implementing if it fits within the scope of your company or brand:

  • Personalized Email Communication:

    While this is a little tricky, it can be one of the most effective ways to implement ABM.

  • Social Media Conversations:

    Many B2B professionals will post about the challenges they are facing. If you’re inquisitive enough, you can address these by delivering beneficial content.

  • Accurate Data:

    You’ve likely never engaged with all the decision makers within your target accounts. The best leverage you have to do this is to ensure your data is bountiful and accurate.

  • Personalized Gifts:

    We live in a digital world but sending a customized gift via direct mail to your target accounts could not only make their day but help you make the sale.

  • Creative Storytelling:

    Gather as much information you can about the people within your target account and run creative stories matching your brand to their company to show why you’re right for each other.

Benefits of Account Based Marketing

The benefits of account-based marketing have been well documented. It is quickly becoming a popular approach for B2B companies and offer many advantages over other marketing approaches:

Decreased Sales Cycle:

In most sales cycles, the decision-making process takes a significantly longer time because it starts at the lowest level and works its way up to the person who must make the final decision. With account-based marketing, the right prospects are nurtured at the same time, decreasing the sales cycle.

Better ROI:

Account based marketing is a significantly measurable strategy. Seasoned marketers who have used ABM for any length of time consider it to be the method by which high returns are delivered.

Frugality with Resources:

Since the focus is on a small number of accounts and not all the accounts in the world, resources, energy and time will also be focused to those accounts. This allows for top resources to put in the needed work on those few accounts and other resources to be given other tasks in the cadence.


In ABM, both sales and marketing can align around common accounts and work together to push those key accounts through the pipeline. The days of sales and marketing working in silos is over when account-based marketing comes into play.


Everyone wants to feel special. With account-based marketing, you have more time and efforts geared toward personalizing messages for target accounts and tailor content and creatives for those customer’s needs.

Account Based Marketing vs. Inbound Marketing

To put it simply, account-based marketing and inbound marketing are not competing strategies. While ABM works well with enterprise companies, inbound marketing works best with small to medium companies.

Another way to say it is that inbound marketing and account-based marketing are the inverse of each other. While inbound marketing starts with attracting people to a website to form fill and ends with identifying key companies, ABM starts with identifying the most promising companies and ends with developing good relationships that lead to closing the deal.

The differences lie in the fact that ABM is highly targeted while inbound is not. Inbound focuses on markets and industries while account-based marketing focuses on key accounts. Inbound uses the buyer persona as the basis for its research while ABM ensures it understands who the ideal customer is.

Account Based Marketing Inbound Marketing
Highly-targeted Broad-reach
Marketing begins with sales teams’ targets Sales sells whoever marketing throws to them
High cost upfront Low cost upfront
High cost upfront Low cost upfront
Massive and growing ROI Moderate to low ROI
Creating content to attract people Pushing people to your content
Accounts Markets
Focus on Quality of Accounts Focus on Quantity of Leads

How to Implement Effective Account Based Marketing Strategy

  1. Identify your target audience, gathering the data that is necessary from both marketing and sales.
  2. Do the research to discover the needs of your target audience.
  3. Develop the content and creatives that will be used for the target accounts and plan how this content will be distributed.
  4. After launching your campaign, be sure to optimize and adjust for best results.

Account Based Marketing Framework

Account-based marketing uses a few different approaches. As you probably have heard by now, it always begins with selection of the target accounts and understanding the objectives and goals for each account.

Additionally, a working meeting between sales and marketing is required to ensure both departments are on the same page. Discussing the relevant propositions and metrics for each account are critical at this stage.

Then, planning and research are necessary for execution. This stage will involve full research of the account, developing the right messaging, and profiling each of the key decision makers.

Beyond that is execution and implementation. Delivering the content through the channels that best fits within the target account is part of ensuring execution of the ABM plan is done right.

Finally, let’s not forget engagement and continuous improvement. Understanding the metrics that must be evaluated at the outset is very helpful at this stage. Here all of those findings based on the campaigns being run will come together and form the basis for areas in which you may need to revise or improve your message to reach the buyer.

Sales and Marketing Teams Alignment with ABM

As noted earlier, sales and marketing teams can easily align under an effective account-based marketing strategy. When the marketing team is focused on target accounts rather than individual leads, both marketing and sales start to speak the same language.

Common Account Based Marketing Mistakes to Avoid

Account based marketing is a great strategy if it is done right. To ensure that it is done right, you will want to avoid these common ABM mistakes:

  • Unclear goals.

    Failing to set the right kind of goals can kill your ABM campaign from the start. Set clear goals for your team by starting with key performance indicators and focusing on areas of engagement and penetration.

  • Unmapped individuals.

    Build your secondary plans around the account and your primary plans around the people in the account. It is the people who will make the decision to interact with you, not the account.

  • Inaccurate data.

    You will likely have a range of sources that you can go to collect your data. This can leave you with an overwhelming amount of data that may not all be correct. The data must tell a complete story which will allow you to make an informed decision.

  • Overlooking the non-digital.

    Tangible relationships are critically important, and these extend far behind a piece of online content, paid search marketing, and social media. Face-to-face interaction still holds some weight when it comes to dealing with people.

  • Easy metrics:

    Focus on the metrics that are the most valuable and that guarantee success.

Frequently Asked Questions about Account Based Marketing

Q. What are the top account based marketing companies to consider?

A. Following is the list of top account based vendors :

  • Everstring – Uses their platform models to help companies understand enterprise accounts.
  • Radius – Offers an excellent customer data platform with functions for predictive sales analytics and lead scoring.
  • Datanyze – Helps customers understand how deals get done effective using ABM.
  • Bython Media – Implements hyper-focused ABM strategies that integrate various touchpoints into key accounts.
  • LinkedIn Sales Navigator – Allows users to target decision makers from a unique foundation of knowledge and data.
  • Demandbase – One of the very first companies to push the concept of AB< and drive marketing performance using this method.
  • Terminus – Helps B2B marketing and sales teams operate and run ABM programs at scale and drive more through the pipeline.
  • Marketo – Empowers marketers to build brand value and recognition as well as maximize impact and revenue with ABM.
  • Engagio – Helps to deepen alignment between sales and marketing and helps professionals understand target accounts.

Q. How Can Account Based Marketing be Measured?

A. Before you get into how to measure ABM efforts, you will want to determine what are the best metrics to gauge how well your ABM campaign is going. Understanding your conversion metrics can help to pinpoint areas in which you need to optimize your ABM campaigns.

Once you determine what you want to measure – reach, engagement, sales cycle, customer retention or ROI – you will then better understand how to effectively measure. Gather feedback from your sales team in real time to continuously improve and measure your ABM campaigns.

Whatever the desired action is that you want your target account to take, that is most likely what you will measure. Metrics change depending on the campaign you are running.

Q. How Long Does It Take to Launch an Account Based Marketing Campaign?

A. You could launch your account-based marketing campaign in as little as a week or it can take much longer than that. How long it takes depends upon the nature of the campaign, the length of the campaign, and perhaps how many resources, how much time, and how much money is involved.

The Future of Account Based Marketing

With the rapid advances being made in marketing and technology, account-based marketing will likely take strides toward improvement as well. The future of ABM will involve artificial intelligence in which content is in some way automatically created based on buyer intent and data.

Account-based marketing is the most effective when companies have a high level or preparedness throughout the organization. The sales and marketing departments that are most closely aligned will be the ones who see the greatest benefit.

Danni White | Danni White is the CEO of DW Creative Consulting Agency, a digital marketing firm specializing in elevating the visibility of small-to-midsize businesses and nonprofits. She is the author of 17 books and hosts the #Hashtags and Habits Podcast, which merges digital marketing, entrepreneurship, and personal growth.

Danni White | Danni White is the CEO of DW Creative Consulting Agency, a digital marketing firm specializing in elevating the visibility of small-to-midsize busi...

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