Jul 28, 2017
By Maureen Flaherty
Digital Marketing

In any strategic approach to marketing, there are perceived “right” ways of doing things. There are also pitfalls along the way.


Account-based marketing (ABM) strategy is no different. With the power of artificial intelligence and data management platforms, there are new ways to plan, execute, and analyze your ABM strategy, which means there are new ways to get tripped up, too.


Here are a few suggestions on how to avoid missteps when planning your ABM strategy:


1.  Don’t isolate your ABM tactics.

The “M” might stand for “marketing,” but ABM is far from a siloed initiative. Implementing ABM takes a lot of work, time, and dedication. If you don’t take the time to get buy-in from all teams across marketing, sales, and service, your company will end up wasting hours and money in pursuit of a strategy that certain teams, or key individuals, don’t know about or support. Even the events team, if you have one, needs to be on board with your ABM strategy.


One main reason internal alignment matters is that it creates consistency across the entire customer experience, in addition to rallying team members around a common goal and similar ABM tactics. Imagine your marketing team creating and distributing follow-up content via email to three key members on an account who have watched multiple webinars in an informational series. For marketers, that makes total sense. If sales teams don’t know this is happening, however, they might pile on communication efforts with their own email. That sales content could contain a message that doesn’t necessarily align with the direction the marketing email is headed. That’s just the beginning of issues that start when teams don’t have shared knowledge and goals for ABM.


Now, take this scenario one step further: What if a salesperson follows up with a phone call, too? Sounds harmless. But the salesperson doesn’t know that all three members of the target account unsubscribed from marketing emails. On top of that, one of them has an unresolved issue that’s been sent to the service team. The resulting experience is fragmented and, for the prospect, a complete turnoff.


Tip: To start ABM successfully, get sales, service, and marketing to rally around a single goal.


2. Don’t limit the scope of account selection.

Sales teams may see value in accounts that have a lot of potential for revenue growth. Naturally, those may seem like the best accounts to target with ABM efforts. But the revenue potential of accounts isn’t the only consideration — not to mention it’s mostly a sales-driven approach that doesn’t always include marketing and customer service teams.


So, what else should you add to your list of account selection criteria?


Tip: The best ABM account selection results will come from predictive lead scoring, which uses AI to give your efforts an edge.


3. Always plan for scale.

ABM sounds so narrow, but the truth is exactly the opposite, especially for enterprise organizations. ABM, as mentioned earlier, takes a lot of work and dedication across multiple teams, so scaling your strategy is vital to get the most bang for your buck. Even in small to midsize business settings, ABM doesn’t have to be — and shouldn’t be — a tiny, one-off effort.


To scale in a way that’s beneficial to the bottom line, while also being mindful of time and resources, you should do a few things:


  • Create a structured, repeatable approach, which starts with understanding which leads are most likely to convert and how these leads move toward conversion. Knowing the steps people take during their journeys will help you find out what content is working and which touchpoints are pivotal.

  • Decide which channels actually work for target accounts and which ones you’ll avoid. Perhaps social media isn’t the best option based on behavioral data collected about key accounts; instead, your data might show that people at these accounts generate high open and click-through rates on marketing emails containing links to webinars.

  • Categorize accounts by priority. Categorizing your accounts, or bundling them into tiers with certain criteria, allows you to focus your time and investment appropriately. One approach might be to categorize by number:. Category 1 would get the most attention, time, and resources while category 3 would receive the least.

  • The right technology is a must. Your efforts will not scale efficiently without the right technology (such as Einstein Account-Based Marketing), and you may end up wasting valuable time and resources pursuing an ABM strategy that’s too limited. More on this in the next section.


Tip: Identify category 1 (high-priority) accounts using existing customer data and then expand those accounts.


4. Make sure to have the right technology.

Unfortunately, effective ABM isn’t made possible by spreadsheets. There are just too many moving parts that need to be in sync. When you’re working across multiple teams, trying to select the right accounts, and distributing tons of content across various channels, a fully integrated platform spanning sales, service, and marketing is a must. The right technology can be the difference between a mediocre, time-consuming ABM strategy and a successful one.

While you will want to avoid these four missteps on your journey with ABM, there’s a lot more to learn. To elevate your B2B marketing strategy even more, download our comprehensive guide to ABM.

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