5 Keys to a Successful Account Based Marketing Plan

Posted in: marketing, Marketing Operations

Is your company shifting towards account-based marketing, or were you recently put in charge of an ABM initiative? We'll break down how to get started with ABM, and the five factors every solid strategy needs to succeed. (And if you're looking for a primer on account-based marketing, we have that too). Read on for tips on metrics, team dynamics and more.

Five account-based marketing strategy building blocks

1. Prioritization.

A hallmark of account-based marketing is personalization: you can't send out a mass email blast, you have to tailor your content, message and pitch to each profile. That takes time, and you shouldn't pursue every lead that comes your way. Instead, you should invest in a strong prioritization system that indicates:

  • How likely a prospect is to become a customer in general, and
  • How likely that prospect is to buy right now

Staying on top of your prospect list is vital to a successful ABM strategy. Take the time to devise a lead scoring system that takes into account relatively static parameters (like headcount or funding stage) and in-the-moment ones (sales triggers). This prioritization and trigger detection is essential for implementing account-based marketing at scale.

2. Well-defined buyer profiles.

When you're customizing your marketing efforts to the extent ABM requires, you have to know your customer profiles inside and out. Your collateral and outreach should speak to their needs, how your product fits their specific requirements, and the potential obstacles to buying.

One of the best ways to build these buyer profiles is to look at your existing accounts. Review the marketing pitches that got them in the door, the sticking points your sales team had to overcome, and the decision-makers needed to close the deal. Then, create prospect lists by finding companies similar to your existing accounts - if one SaaS company found you valuable enough to buy, its competitors probably will as well.

3. Accurate metrics.

When it comes to account-based marketing, traditional performance measures like MQLs and SQLs don't cut it. You're going for quality, not quantity, and attribution is more difficult. Instead, you should be considering lifetime customer value, whether your efforts are reaching the right audience, and return on time spent getting new accounts. Terminus, a marketing company, recommends measuring:

  1. Advertising interaction, since targeted ads are an excellent channel for ABM
  2. Conversion metrics through the entirety of the funnel, rather than stopping at marketing-qualified leads
  3. Overall engagement with various marketing efforts (webinars, emails, trials, etc)
  4. Reach, particularly whether you're gaining brand awareness
  5. Return on investment, both time and money
  6. Sales cycle length, since personalized pitches should cut down on time to close
  7. Customer retention and how you can leverage existing accounts

4. Communication.

Account-based marketing tears down the traditional silos between sales and marketing, and even between types of marketing (digital, product, etc). Identifying high-value targets, nurturing them throughout the sales cycle and acting on upsell opportunities requires coordination within and between the sales and marketing teams. As a result, communication and shared ownership of metrics is essential.

5. Constant contact.

Finally, marketers need to think beyond a deal's closing when it comes to ABM. The tendency can be to prioritize getting new accounts, considering existing ones the responsibility of account managers or customer success representatives. Instead, you should see current customers as marketing gold. Maybe it's a quote or logo on your website, maybe it's a great email forwarded to a friend at a different company, maybe it's a timely message of an additional feature - successful ABM leverages existing relationships as much as new ones. In order to do this effectively, you should stay on top of potential changes, good or bad: the main advocate in the company leaves, a new funding round closes, a massive hiring spree starts. "Sales triggers" can be helpful before and after a deal has closed.

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