3 Approaches to Building and Targeting ABM Campaigns

Any marketer will tell you effective campaigning starts with a solid list of segmented prospects. But even that can result in a massive number of leads that don’t ever progress beyond that because they don’t represent the best fit for your organization or there’s no intent to make a purchase or move forward on a solution.

Marketers today, especially if you are implementing an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy, have to move beyond market segments and zero in on how to further slice and dice those segments to run highly personalized, creative ABM campaigns. This also enables your marketing and sales teams to prioritize the hottest, most active accounts to progress them through the funnel quicker.

In ABM, your strategy is only as good as the accounts you’re targeting. The analyst firm, SiriusDecisions further drove this point home when they found 91% of teams doing ABM close larger deals from their target accounts than from non-target accounts. That’s why getting your account list and segmentation right is so critical.

From an ABM perspective, there are three ways to segment that enables you to effectively target accounts and allow them to move in and out of campaigns based on specific criteria.


The programmatic, or one-to-many, approach mirrors traditional B2B marketing, however it goes one level deeper. First, look at your total addressable market then begin to group accounts with similar characteristics such as firmographic data. Not a far departure from demand-generation marketing. But here’s where you take a step deeper –– you’ll further group this segment based on fit (rank how good of a fit this account truly is for your company) and intent (how ready are they to buy?).

You can leverage predictive and intent data to score best-fit accounts and prioritize your outreach. This allows marketing to allocate budget more efficiently and deliver slightly tailored messaging based on specific keywords. Sales is also then able to focus on accounts that are in an active buying cycle.

The programmatic approach is highly effective in the early stage when you’re trying to establish brand awareness in a crowded market. This is particularly useful in pretargeting, when your potential accounts don’t know who you are and your goal is to build awareness and interest. For example, when Masergy, a software-defined networking solutions company, needed to break into a highly competitive market and establish brand awareness, the team deployed a series of digital ads to their target account list based on specific keywords to drive them to their website and get them in their retargeting sequence.

This could also be done with LinkedIn messages or direct mail pieces. The goal, however, is to provide some sort of value, generate awareness and establish engagement among your target accounts, not necessarily generate a form fill.


At this point, you’ll get more personal with your messaging using engagement data. You’ll be focused on a smaller group of accounts –– those that have shown some level of interest in your content or high-value pages on your site, or are surging on specific keyword searches. This insight would indicate to marketing and sales to transition this account from programmatic to one-to-few.

In this scenario, you could set up workflows to automatically move this account into one of several unique ABM campaigns based on what they are interested in. For instance, this could be relevant, keyword-specific digital advertising that drives to one of several landing pages with different messaging and specific CTAs. If at any point the account disengages or is not “surging” on your site or with a keyword, they’d move back to programmatic.


The one-to-one approach is reserved for your most high-value accounts and those that are highly motivated to buy. You’ll spend a majority of your resources and budget on these accounts, but they also represent a higher potential return. This segment is very narrow –– typically your top 20 to 100 accounts depending on your list size –– and includes only those that are ready for your solution right now. This is also effective for expanding relationships with current accounts.

At this point, you know who is in the buying committee and that they are motivated to buy. You also know what results they are looking to achieve. With this information, you’ll create a very deliberate, highly tactical and well-mapped campaign. We recently took this approach when we were trying to expand our footprint within Salesforce.

With the key personas defined within the buying committees we were targeting, we worked with our product team to develop and deliver customized direct mail pieces. These were high-quality pieces of content that homed in on key points we knew these individuals valued. This was just the first step though. We then followed up with highly personalized emails, targeted cadences, personalized videos, and LinkedIn messages, while simultaneously delivering targeted one-to-one digital ads directed to each target persona.

Dynamic campaigning

Keep in mind, however, this is not a one-and-done deal. Not only will you have to diversify your approaches and learn from previous ABM campaigns to improve and drill in on specificity, your accounts will move in and out of various campaigns. In other words, accounts that have moved to one-to-one may, at some point, have to move back to one-to-few.

This is where dynamic campaigns come into the picture. Meaning accounts will automatically move in and out of your ABM campaigns based on account data (intent and engagement signals, predictive, etc.) being pulled into your target account database. But not all campaigns will need to be dynamic. It will depend on the campaign goal and which part of the funnel it is targeting.

In determining which campaign type is right for your team, you’ll also need to evaluate your team’s capacity. Naturally, the one-to-one approach requires more resources, budget, and for your various teams to (marketing, sales, customer success, etc.) work closely together. This isn’t always feasible for some teams to do at scale.