What is Account-Based Marketing?
Account-based Marketing (ABM) is a B2B marketing strategy that employs the same account-level focus used by some sales teams for targeted account selling. ABM uses personalized marketing and sales efforts on a focused set of strategic accounts.
In short, ABM inverts the standard demand generation process. Demand generation starts by creating the content and messaging, then distributing it among relevant channels. Instead, ABM starts with the “who”. Which accounts are most likely to become best-fit customers? Once marketers have identified target accounts, they create highly personalized content relevant to those accounts. They also select the right channels and strategies to reach the right personas within those accounts.
ABM focuses on quality over quantity and depth over breadth.
ABM aims to create a zero-waste marketing and sales system. The pipeline is filled with high-quality account leads. These are nurtured with personalized campaigns and lead to high-quality customer relationships. The ABM approach can also be used to identify upsell or cross-sell opportunities, as well as accounts that may be at risk.
Based on a 2013 survey, ITSMA reports that “ABM delivers the highest ROI of any B2B marketing strategy or tactic.” This is because time and resources are focused on accounts that are likely to drive revenue.
One common benefit to ABM is sales and marketing alignment. When both teams are focused on the account level, it’s easier to sync their messaging, qualification standards and reporting practices. ABM is said to help marketers create higher quality relationships with accounts before passing them to sales.
ABM can require a significant investment of time and resources, as well as executive buy-in. Marketers need to have high confidence that they’ve chosen the right accounts to target, and that they can create the right content to nurture those accounts.
Precision marketing is another marketing strategy that is common across B2C industries and is emerging in the B2B space as well. It’s also called precision demand marketing in the B2B context.
This strategy is related to ABM in that it seeks to deeply understand the needs and behavioral patterns of your audience in order to more precisely identify and target them with omnichannel marketing campaigns. Campaign channels can include email, phone, webchat, virtual events and webinars, in-person events, social media platforms, display ads, etc.
Precision marketing software does this by centralizing and analyzing various types of demographic, firmographic, and behavioral data. This data enables these platforms to create smaller, more specific audience segments. Businesses can then target these audience segments across channels with personalized campaign experiences.
In B2C industries, especially retail and eCommerce, this tactic is often employed to help increase loyalty among existing customers and encourage them to make more purchases. But this approach can be applied to net new customers too, especially for B2B companies. Integrate and Metadata.io are two companies that offer precision demand marketing, or demand generation software, specifically for B2B companies.
Overall, this marketing approach relies heavily on centralized audience data and uses it to expertly target leads. Most precision marketing platforms have robust integrations with other third-party software, including marketing automation, CRM software, intent data providers, customer data platforms (CDP), and ABM platforms.
What is Account-Based Marketing Software?
There are multiple activities involved in creating and executing a successful ABM program. These activities span lead management and marketing automation, sales intelligence and intent data collection, content marketing, email marketing, CRM and customer data management, predictive analytics, and ad serving and retargeting.
Many ABM-related products specialize in one or a few of these areas. While these tools are often complementary to larger account-based engagement platforms, they do not provide a comprehensive ABM solution.
For some companies, investing in one or more of these types of tools is a great way to start an ABM program.
On the other hand, businesses looking to invest in a comprehensive ABM platform should look for solutions that allow them to do the following:
identify accounts and contacts
understand and create audience segments
Content and web personalization
manage multi-channel engagement
perform sales and marketing analytics
align sales and marketing around goals and efforts
data governance and security
Examples of fully-featured ABM platforms include:
Terminus ABM Platform
Account-Based Marketing Software Features
Fully featured ABM, or account-based engagement, platforms usually include the following set of capabilities:
Account targeting and selection
Multichannel outreach orchestration
Account-based web personalization
Sales intelligence (demographic and firmographic data)
Intent data (real-time behavioral data)
Other ABM Related Software
As mentioned above, there are multiple tools that focus on one or two key ABM capability areas. These products are primarily represented in other software categories on TrustRadius. Though distinct from ABM software, products in the following categories can help contribute to a successful ABM strategy:
These tools use big data and data science to provide demographic, firmographic, and intent data about accounts. This can be used to help prioritize accounts to target. They can also build models that surface priority accounts based on historical data.
Example products include Infer, D&B Lattice, EverString, Anaplan Predictive Insights, and Bombora.
These tools bridge the gap between the “lead” object and the “account” object. Some are a layer on top of traditional marketing automation systems. Others replace or integrate with traditional MA and CRM systems. These products may include the capability to build lists of target accounts and lists of contacts within accounts. They also nurture accounts on multiple channels and report on the impact of ABM on the pipeline and sales revenue.
Examples include Marketo, HubSpot, and LeanData.
These tools support content personalization on an account level. For example, they can be used to determine the right content for target accounts, and distribute that content. They can also be used to analyze account-level content engagement, and optimize future content creation.
Examples include Seismic, Highspot, Uberflip, and PathFactory.
These tools allow B2B companies to display and segment advertisements at the account level, based on account-level engagement activity.
Examples include Kwanzoo and Jabmo.
Other tools that perform digital and direct mail automation (e.g. Sendoso or Alyce), sales email tracking (e.g. Groove), or sales and marketing intelligence collection (e.g. DataFox, D&B Hoovers, or EverString) can also help execute a successful ABM program.
Along with a larger ABM platform, these tools can be valuable additions to a business’s marketing tech stack.
ABM Platform Comparison
To help narrow down the list of account-based marketing tools your business is evaluating, consider these two key factors:
Does your business need a comprehensive account-based management platform, or do you already have pieces of your ABM tech stack in place and need a point solution or two to fill in the gaps? For some companies, investing in one of the platforms that appears on the TrustMap above (Terminus, Demandbase, LeanData, 6Sense, Triblio, or Engagio) helps them unite all their ABM activities within one platform. However, other businesses that are working with a smaller marketing budget or already have ABM tools in place may be better off investing in a lighter-weight tool that performs sales analytics, or ad serving, or content marketing, etc.
Do your sales reps primarily communicate with prospects and customers through email and phone calls, or do they conduct outreach across multiple digital channels? Many AMB platforms have features around multichannel account-based campaign orchestration. However, make sure the platform you’re considering purchasing will be able to track and analyze outreach engagement across all the channels your sales and marketing teams use.
Pricing will vary greatly depending on which and how many components of an ABM strategy the tool touches. For example, pricing of Sales Intelligence tools, which support an ABM strategy, starts around $80/month per user and will go up for more sophisticated tools or use cases.
Predictive sales analytics tools and end-to-end ABM platforms run more in the realm of tens of thousands of dollars per year, up to $100k.