An Introduction to ABM for B2B Companies

Christy Walters


May 9, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

black man and white man sit next to each other at wooden table with laptops in front of them discussing abm for b2b

What’s your biggest struggle as a B2B company? Do you have trouble attracting leads or pleasing clients? It’s possible you’ve been going about marketing all wrong. Trying new strategies can help you target the right funnel segments to see the results you crave. Try account-based marketing (ABM) for B2B organizations. It’s all about making clients feel you’ve spent the time to get to know them individually. In this article, we discuss topics like:

What Is ABM for B2B Companies?

black man and white man sit next to each other at wooden table with laptops in front of them discussing abm for b2b

Image via Unsplash by @airfocus

ABM strategy aligns sales and marketing to focus on company, account, and lead growth. With it, you can deliver targeted advertising to your most high-value clients. ABM flips the traditional sales funnel. It starts by focusing on a small group of leads that are most likely to convert or be your best prospects. In the traditional funnel you first target the widest group of leads possible. Then you narrow in on your most likely prospects through lead nurturing and expertly placed content.

For example, let’s say your company sells keyword research software. In a traditional funnel, you may first target anyone who needs a keyword tool. Then you’d pare those down by interested companies, or ones who need specific features. But that process takes a lot of time. By flipping the funnel in ABM, you target those best candidates first. You may personalize content for those who need specific research features. Or you may nurture leads in a particular industry. This saves you time, money, and frustration.

Types of Account-Based Marketing

There are three common types of ABM strategies. B2B companies use them to attract high-quality leads. They include:

Strategic ABM (1-to-1)

In 1-to-1 ABM, marketers work with account managers to develop highly personalized content and programs for each of their target accounts. These strategies include setting meetings and picking tools and resources that resonate with each account. Anything that deepens the relationship between the company and the lead account can fall within a strategic ABM plan.

Contextual intelligence company GumGum is a master at this. Its marketers like to single out big brand names, like McDonald’s, and hook them as clients. The company had a clever meeting proposal. It sent paper Big Macs to McDonald’s executives. When unwrapped, each ingredient listed a selling point for why McDonald’s should partner with GumGum. Spoiler alert: The company secured a meeting.

ABM Lite (1-to-Few)

In a 1-to-few ABM, marketers create cluster content for accounts with similar goals. They may also do this for accounts in related verticals. If you think ABM is just for companies with large marketing teams, think again. This strategy works well for B2B organizations with mid-sized marketing teams. Campaigns include email marketing initiatives or attending conferences that cater to specific industries.

How can you make this strategy work for you? Segment your qualified leads into topic clusters. This may be by company size, industry, or another factor. Then segment your team. Who’s going to work on personalizing marketing for each cluster? The type of content you use may vary for each one. It’s important to know your team’s strengths to pair the right skills with the right clusters.

Programmatic ABM (1-to-Many)

In 1-to-Many ABM strategies, the focus is still on accounts. But you secure them by targeting individual people associated with those accounts. Don’t try to appeal to the decision-making collective. Reach out to the key players individually with messaging personalized for each one. This can include content like digital advertising and email or web content. Retargeting is also a helpful programmatic ABM tool.

How does this work in the real world? Ask podcast company Sweet Fish. Instead of sending out cold sales emails to companies, it invited team members to be on a podcast. By working with individual decision-makers one-on-one, Sweet Fish charmed new clients and grew its business.

6 Tips for Using ABM for B2B Companies

Use these tips to help put in place an ABM strategy for your B2B company:

1. Align Your Sales and Marketing Teams

Marketing and sales have to be in alignment for an ABM strategy to work. What would happen if they didn’t even talk to each other? Think about what would happen on Black Friday at Walmart if the store employees didn’t know about it. Marketing advertised big promotions for a month, but sales had no clue. Thousands of people showed up and total chaos exploded. And in reverse, what would happen if sales decided to slash prices by 50% but didn’t tell marketing. Nobody showed up. Not chaos, but crickets.

When the teams blend well, they share resources, knowledge, and strategy. This gives leads a better, more unified experience with your company. Get all your internal stakeholders on the same page about every account. This means discussing areas like:

  • Overall budget
  • Budget per account
  • ABM resource availability
  • Account goals and key performance indicators (KPIs)
  • Stakeholders for each account
  • Internal team members involved in each strategy

2. Use Templates To Plan Account Strategies

Use an account planning template to personalize a marketing strategy for every lead. These documents provide an outline for teams to discuss steps of planning ABM for a specific account. Common template sections may include:

  • Business overviews
  • Company initiatives
  • Buying process steps
  • Selling points
  • Relationship strategies and goals
  • Sales opportunities
  • Target risks
  • Action plans
  • Competitor analyses

To gather data to include in your ABM plan, request your content marketing analysis report from CopyPress today. See how your content stacks up against three of your biggest competitors. The report also shows gaps in your strategy where you can better target the needs of your most desired leads. Then, contact CopyPress to start a partnership. With a free call, learn how working with us can elevate your content marketing strategy for every prospective account.

“CopyPress gives us the ability to work with more dealership groups. We are able to provide unique and fresh content for an ever growing customer base. We know that when we need an influx of content to keep our clients ahead of the game in the automotive landscape, CopyPress can handle these requests with ease.”

Kevin Doory

Director of SEO at Auto Revo

3. Build the Right Team

Take members from your sales and marketing team to build an ABM-focused team. Not every team member in either department may have the skills to focus solely on ABM strategies. But for those with interest in this type of collaborative project, you can form a small team or task force. This group helps keep the full sales and marketing teams informed about your ABM efforts.

You may also consider creating smaller ABM teams for each account. Within those groups, assign a sales and marketing rep to each account. This increases customer satisfaction and personalization efforts. Adding copywriters and editors to individual account teams helps, too. They learn each client’s brand voice, and create personalized content for each one. Customer satisfaction representatives help nurture the leads into paying customers with personal relationships.

4. Strategize How To Choose Accounts

Saying that you target “high-quality accounts” is a useless phrase if you don’t set a plan for how to find them. Use your resources and technology to choose the right accounts to target with your ABM plan. Some methods include:

  • Creating workflow filters in your customer relationship management (CRM) program. This helps find qualified leads based on set criteria like industry or company size.
  • Creating a “target account” persona based on characteristics of your most successful sales.
  • Setting search alerts on LinkedIn for profiles that fit your ideal account criteria.
  • Reviewing the information on leads who engage with your inbound content but don’t have a paying contract yet.

5. Focus On Relationships

ABM doesn’t stop once you’ve made a conversion with a new client company. You want your high-quality accounts to stay with your company for as long as possible. The way to make sure this happens is by nurturing not just your leads, but also your current clients. Some ways to create these long-standing relationships from your very first communication include:

  • Providing tailored educational content resources. Highlight how your products and services solve client problems.
  • Creating personalized content for specific accounts. For example, provide a case study to prove how your solutions provide their best returns.
  • Hosting events to meet with account representatives face-to-face, either virtually or in-person, to strengthen bonds
  • Communicating with stakeholders on-on-one when possible to get to know them on a personal level
  • Using email sequencing to enhance communication with individuals and groups for each account

6. Measure Your ABM Results

Collect data from your ABM strategies to influence future campaigns. These results tell you which areas of your strategy work. They also show where you have gaps so you can tweak and refine tactics to perform better. Some metrics that can give you information about the success of your ABM efforts include:

  • Percentage of closed deals
  • Account engagement
  • Deal-to-close times
  • Net new contacts added per account
  • Deal creation
  • Net-new revenue

ABM for B2B Frequently Asked Questions

Below are answers to some FAQs about B2B companies engaging with ABM:

How Can We Make It Easier for Sales and Marketing Teams To Work Together on ABM?

We’ll say it again: ABM works best when you align the marketing and sales teams. It sounds simple, but it can be less clear in practice. One of the easiest ways to get both teams in alignment is to get them to work together on the account plans. Some questions a meeting lead can pose to talk about both sides’ expectations for every account include:

  • Which members of the lead organization should we contact, or converse with, regularly?
  • What content best attracts the stakeholders involved with the account?
  • Which content channels best target the stakeholders on each account?
  • How can our teams support the lead representatives and each other through each stage?

What Factors Can B2B Companies Use To Choose Target Accounts?

B2B companies can use multiple factors to choose which accounts are their best targets. The primary strategy is choosing accounts that fit the company’s ideal customer profile (ICP). Organizations often use machine learning and other analytics to find this criterion. It looks at factors like client company size, budget, geography, and the industry.

How Is ABM Related to Inbound Marketing?

Use ABM and inbound marketing together to make your account-targeting efforts more precise. ABM lets you figure out which potential clients to target and how to do it effectively. Inbound marketing makes it easier to execute that strategy. Inbound marketing also allows your team to attract high-quality clients to your products or services on their own. You do this naturally by creating valuable content, developing a great customer experience, and using SEO.

Inbound marketing allows you to provide more organic methods of sharing information with leads. This contrasts with outbound, which uses direct contact and interrupts their workday. Other beneficial ways ABM and inbound marketing work together include:

  • Accelerating the marketing funnel and sales pipeline for quicker results.
  • Laying a good foundation for a sound strategy when the two build on each other and share resources.
  • Attracting more prospective leads than using just one strategy alone.
  • Capitalizing twice on the same content by targeting personalized accounts and a broader audience with the same materials.

What Are the Best Ways To Attract High-Quality Accounts?

The best ways to attract high-quality accounts differ by industry and individual account. That’s one of the key principles of ABM. There’s not a one-size-fits-all approach to it. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a list of things you can try on each account and see which ones work. Consider adding some of the following based on client or lead needs:

  • Invite high-quality leads to be a guest on your podcast or a guest blogger for your content.
  • Engage with high-quality leads on social media.
  • Build custom landing pages that target questions or needs from high-quality accounts.
  • Use direct mail like emails or direct messages on social media to communicate with leads.
  • Sponsor a booth or attend an event or conference in your target market.
  • Engage in content marketing with pieces like blog postseBooks, and long-form resource articles. This invites organic traffic to your content channels.
  • Start a pay-per-click (PPC) or social media ad campaign. This helps target high-quality leads based on their most important characteristics.
  • Ask for referrals from your current high-quality account representatives.

How Can We Decide If an Account-Based Marketing Platform Is Right for Us?

Companies make software programs that help with your ABM strategy functions. Some topic questions to ask to determine if getting an ABM program is worth the time and investment include:

  • Goals: Do you have defined ABM goals? Could a platform help you reach those goals more smoothly or efficiently?
  • Collaboration: Have your sales and marketing teams agreed on the accounts to target? Have they defined the criteria for choosing these accounts?
  • Management: Are all stakeholders aware and in support of investment in ABM tools?
  • Cost: Is there room in your budget to invest in new software or technology? What part can you devote to this new tool?
  • Reporting: What metrics will you use to track ABM success? Can the program follow, share, and analyze that data?

ABM for B2B companies makes clients feel they get all the individualized attention of a single customer. This helps increase brand loyalty and encourages good relationships among large stakeholder groups. When you’re ready to create content for your ABM strategies, turn to CopyPress. We work with agencies and their clients in multiple industries to provide tailored, results-based content, every time.

Author Image - Christy Walters
Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

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