Account based marketing has become a bit of a buzzword. So much that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to figure out what campaigns and strategies you should be using.
Does it mean sending a personalized box of swag? Calling the director of marketing at your target company personally? Following your target audience around with a megaphone begging them to just give you a chance?
Maybe, sometimes, and for the love of all that is good in the world—no. (That includes virtually following prospects around to talk about your company 👀)
What do you do when you want to learn something new? You talk to the experts.
So that's exactly what we did. We use account-based marketing here at Leadfeeder, but we also wanted to know what other industry leaders were doing.
This post will cover the basics, including:
What is account-based marketing?
What are account-based marketing campaigns?
Benefits of ABM campaigns
How to set up a successful ABM
3 examples of creative ABM campaigns
Creative ABM campaigns deliver higher ROI
We'll also share tips, strategies, and creative ABM campaign examples you can use to inspire your next campaign.
What is account-based marketing (ABM)?
Account-based marketing targets specific companies with personalized marketing campaigns, rather than targeting larger audiences with blanket campaigns.
For example, rather than targeting enterprise tech companies in the financial sector, ABM would mean targeting online payment processing companies with more than $10 billion in revenue and a global presence—or even targeting PayPal specifically.
AMB fundamentally changes marketing by choosing a target account and then creating (or adjusting) marketing campaigns to fit that company or a very narrow audience.
What are account-based marketing campaigns?
Account-based marketing campaigns are specific campaigns used to target specific accounts or narrow audiences.
ABM campaigns can be created on just about any platform, including your website, landing pages, paid ads, and social media.
There are three core types of ABM campaigns, including:
One-to-one ABM campaigns: Using hyper-targeted campaigns aimed to help one specific company convert. Mostly used for high-value companies.
One-to-few ABM campaigns: Also called "ABM lite", this type of campaign targets second-tier accounts that fit the target audience but aren't quite as high valued. Campaigns are not quite as personalized, but target specific benefits or pain points.
One-to-many ABM campaigns: This type of campaign groups companies based on specific features, needs, goals, or challenges. Also called programmatic ABM, this strategy uses software to deliver relevant content based on industry or vertical.
One-to-many ABM is affordable, but does require the use of automation or programmatic software to deliver results. One-to-one or one-to-few ABM is a bit more labor intensive, but helps close big deals.
Benefits of ABM campaigns
Account-based marketing is a popular strategy for B2B companies targeting larger accounts with longer sales cycles. That's because it offers many benefits over other marketing approaches. For example:
Better sales & marketing alignment
Account-based marketing encourages marketing teams and sales organizations to work together, identify target accounts, craft customized campaigns for them, and align and move individual accounts through the pipeline, both before and after lead conversion.
Better sales and marketing alignment helps reduce inaccurate marketing campaigns, shorten the sales cycle, and helps sales connect with qualified leads even faster.
Account-based marketing is easier to track and more precise. As a result, it provides the highest ROI of all B2B marketing tactics. In fact, 85 percent of marketers who measure ROI describe account-based marketing as delivering higher returns than any other marketing approach.
Personalized marketing approach
Instead of using a generic approach, ABM allows marketers to create personalized messaging for target accounts. By taking what you know about your customers, you can create carefully tailored assets that speak to the customer’s specific attributes and needs,
Shorter sales cycles
In B2B, major purchase decisions involve six to ten different stakeholders. This often slows down the sales process because it starts with a lower-level employee and moves slowly toward the primary decision maker.
In account-based marketing, the cycle length is shortened as all prospects are nurtured simultaneously. Rather than waiting around to contact the person who can actually make a decision, ABM allows you to reach the right person faster.
Fewer wasted resources
With ABM, time and marketing resources are focused on a small number of accounts most likely to close. This frees up resources that would previously have been wasted and gives marketing (and sales!) more time to focus on the most effective accounts and campaigns.
How to set up a successful ABM campaign (with tips from experts)
ABM is best suited for B2B companies looking to convert high-value customers. While it's not just for enterprise companies, it is highly effective for larger brands with a solid presence.
Here's how to set up an account based marketing plan—including advice from the Leadfeeder team and other experts leveraging this highly effective strategy.
Use a research-driven lead generation process
The best account based marketing campaigns start with choosing the right accounts.
Create a profile of your top customers—those with the longest lifetime value and shortest time to close.
Use that to inform your ideal customer profile, then research to create a target account list.
Rodney Warner at Connective Web Design found targeting the right person at key accounts is the key to building a successful ABM campaign:
“During my ABM campaign, the number one challenge I faced was identifying and engaging with the right audience in a key account. Finding the right companies and the primary decision-makers, getting their contact information, and sending it to the sales team was not as easy as it might seem.
So, to overcome this problem, I conducted a research-driven lead generation process to get in touch with the right people in a key account. This research-oriented approach meant that I created organizational charts that allowed me to make use of targeted executive profiling.
As a result, I developed top-quality products and compelling pitches, keeping with what the potential clients needed. What’s more, is that I could also identify and interact with multiple stakeholders in each key account to boost their reach”,
- Rodney Warner CEO at Connective Web Design.
Micro-target as much as possible
Micro-targeting uses data and demographics to create incredibly small targeting pools. Rather than marketing to enterprise companies in health care, you might target enterprise companies with more than 10,000 employees in the Pacific Northwest that focus on R&D—that's a much smaller pool!
In ABM campaigns, micro-targeting pays off big for marketers because it allows you to create content and ads tailored for each group.
Start with larger groups, but don't be afraid to split your account list into very small groups. Then, work to identify pain points for each micro audience.
Remember that the top benefit for one micro-group might not be the same as the ideal benefit for the next group. For example, at Leadfeeder, we target both sales and marketing teams—we've created specific content for each segment because they face different challenges.
Segmenting your audience into small pools allows you to deliver the most effective messaging for each particular segment.
Personalize your messaging across all channels
We've heard how important personalization is to marketing for years—but it's not just a buzzword in ABM. In fact, 56 percent of marketers say personalization is the key to ABM success.
In account-based marketing, personalization is about more than just adding someone's name to an email—it's about creating carefully curated content that speaks directly to a specific prospect's challenges and needs across all channels.
Depending on your target accounts and industry, that might include:
Using dynamic landing pages to mention a prospect's industry, pain points, or even company name.
Creating content that targets specific pain points or challenges in their niche. This can include custom content that mentions the company by name or content created with micro-audiences in mind.
Use tailored outreach messages that show prospects you understand their company and the challenges they face.
Personalized videos mentioning a company name (for one-to-one ABM) or specific challenges a target audience faces.
Target paid ads by company or role, such as targeting CMO, sales manager, or other the decision makers for your specific market.
Carry personalized messaging through the prospect journey
Personalization is important, but it's not enough to personalize your first message. Marketers need to consider the entire purchasing journey and ensure every touch in the prospect's journey is personalized.
For example, say a person at a targeted company sees a LinkedIn ad with language that speaks to their role and pain points, but when they click on the ad, they're taken to a general landing page with no mention of those pain points. The prospect will lose interest because it no longer seems to fit their needs.
Instead, build out specific landing pages that align with the micro-targeting groups your team uses for ABM outreach.
ABM is less effective if a prospect reaches your website and no longer feels like the content is relevant, so keep personalization top of mind throughout the campaign.
Stop wasting time; automate your account based marketing campaigns
Manual work is killing B2B marketers. That’s why one of the best ways to avoid repetitive work is to use account based marketing tools to automate campaigns and drive more revenue.
Today marketers can integrate many different advertising tools into one platform using tools like Metadata.io. This saves you serious time and frustration from using a bunch of spreadsheets with 17 tabs to launch your campaigns.
Mailbutler used found great success using Metadata:
"My team tried using Metadata.io for ABM marketing a few times. What did we do? We compiled a list of companies that we want to target in our niche, and then we uploaded them in Metadata. After that we ran Linkedin ads (mainly Conversation or Image ads) and retargeted them with Google Display ads.
We have seen good numbers coming from Metadata.io, I think it's because they have good audience match rates, and they enrich leads automatically.”
- Ilija Sekulov, Digital Marketing Manager at Mailbutler.
Think outside the box while planning your campaign
People often think technology or targeting are the most important aspects of ABM. In fact, creativity is one of the most effective strategies for delivering results. It's easy to fall into the trap of using the same strategies as everyone else—but those might not be the same strategies that work for your business.
Creativity and thinking outside the box help your business stand out—whether you're trying to get responses via email, establish brand trust, or push through to conversion.
Even better, creativity goes hand-in-hand with personalization. By delivering personalized, creative ABM campaigns, marketers can show prospects they understand their industry and the challenges they face.
3 examples of creative ABM campaigns
Need a little inspiration for your next ABM campaign? We interviewed a few marketing experts about their experiences leveraging ABM. Here are three creative and successful ABM campaign examples to inspire your team.
Personalized video campaigns by PartnerStack
PartnerStack is a partnership platform built for B2B SaaS that supports affiliate, referral, and reseller channel partners to drive recurring revenue.
Their Demand Generation and Sales teams decided to work together on a hyper-personalized ABM video campaign.
What did they do?
The sales team was keen to find ways into their strategic accounts, and by spreading the video work across 10 sales representatives, the workload was easily manageable. Each sales person chooses up to 10 accounts, for a total of 100 accounts (10 sales representatives chose 10 accounts each.)
Then, each sales person recorded video messages for target accounts of their choice and the Marketing team promoted each video via LinkedIn video ads to prospects at these accounts. PartnerStack lets the Sales reps make the video messages on their own. One of the sales reps even wrote songs for his prospects!
“Result of this campaign was great. We targeted 100 accounts, 33 of them responded, 12 had a meeting with Sales, 7 became an opportunity and 3 have become customers,”
- Joe Kevens, Director of Demand Generation at PartnerStack and the Founder of B2B SaaS Reviews.
Personalized Direct Mail ABM Campaign by Jellyvision
Jellyvision is a startup that provides interactive software to help employees make difficult decisions throughout the day.
Their marketing team wanted to provide highly personalized material to important accounts that addressed their industry-specific sticking points.
What did they do?
They devised a six-week, three-touch email marketing campaign that was both imaginative and highly personalized. Touch One was a customized mailer with communication recommendations for the HR industry.
Touch Two was a pretty cool branded viewfinder with a bespoke brochure about HSA and FSA savings, a topic that HR directors are interested in. Touch Three was a fun and practical kit that helped individuals prepare communication issues.
Did this creative ABM campaign deliver? Here's what their client had to say about the campaign:
“Regularly, many directors & decision makers immediately receive mailer goods. You must make your mail stand out if you want to conduct a successful advertisement. With their tailored and inventive plays, Jellyvision nailed it.”
- Jonathan Merry, Director at Bankless Times.
LinkedIn outreach campaign by Intelus Agency
Intelus Agency is a LinkedIn marketing company that helps B2B brands drive awareness, establish thought leadership, and generate the highest quality leads possible.
They are currently running an ABM LinkedIn outreach campaign offering a free trial of their LinkedIn content creation and posting service. The CEO of Intelius Agency says that the ABM campaign is going extremely well!
What do they do?
1. Built a list of U.S SaaS companies on LinkedIn with 50 followers or less on their company page.
2. Found Founders, CEO, or Operations Managers at companies.
3. Reached out to them with a semi-automated LinkedIn outreach campaign.
4. After the prospect accepts the automated connection request, Zapier automatically adds the lead to Airtable and notifies the Intelus Agency team on Slack.
5. They look at the profile and company page, then send a personalized message about how they are either not posting much or not at all, sharing a stat on how LinkedIn recommends posting at least 20 times per month to reach 60% of your target audience.
6. Offer a free trial of their LinkedIn content creation & posting service.
7. Follow-up with leads over 30 days.
8. Invite them to follow their LinkedIn company page.
9. Retarget them with LinkedIn newsfeed ads
“The results have been amazing and we've added around $2k in MRR within just a couple of weeks of runtime.”
- Chris Mitchell, Founder & CEO at Intelius Agency.
Creative ABM campaigns deliver higher ROI
What makes the most effective ABM campaigns?
It starts with understanding your audience. Take the time to narrow down your target list and design creative ABM campaigns that speak directly to your audience's challenges and needs.
With ABM, creativity goes hand-in-hand with personalization. If your campaigns sound like they could go to 1,000 different prospects, they won't impress your audience.
Pro tip: Leadfeeder shows you which companies visit your website, even if they don't fill out a form. Try us free for 14 days and take your ABM campaigns to the next level.
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