How to Budget for Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Account-based marketing doesn’t have to be expensive.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily need to increase your marketing budget to succeed with account-based marketing (ABM). Whether you’re pivoting to an entirely account-based approach or you’re layering ABM on top of your current inbound strategy, chances are you’ll find that your budget actually goes further when you hone in on a list of target accounts.

On top of that, 84% of marketers have found that ABM yields a higher ROI than lead-based marketing (ITSMA).

For the most part, ABM spend goes toward four main categories: technology, media spend, events and experiences, and direct mail. Let’s take a closer look at each of these buckets.


If you want your ABM program to be scalable (in other words, to focus on more than a few dozen target accounts), there’s no way around it. Account-based marketing requires investing in new tools and technology.

As we discussed in our post explaining How to Build an Account-Based Marketing Technology Stack, you most likely already have most of the basic ABM tools at your disposal, such as a CRM, a marketing automation platform, and a CMS.

On top of these fundamental tools, you should consider adding technology from the five stages of the #FlipMyFunnel model for ABM (left): identify, expand, engage, advocate, and measure.

That being said, you don’t immediately need to purchase ABM software for each stage — especially if you’re doing 1:1 account-based marketing (versus Programmatic). Start with the basics — including at least one account-based engagement tool — and build from there. As your account-based marketing program grows and matures, you can build out your technology stack with additional tools.

Click here to grade your ABM stack and get suggestions for additional software that can help you reach your goals.

Advertising/Media Spend

Thanks to its targeted nature, account-based advertising is much more effective than “spray and pray” tactics. By focusing solely on target accounts, your ad dollars will go a lot further with ABM than with a lead-based program. That being said, many teams that do ABM also use retargeting and paid search ads to complement their account-based advertising campaigns.

How much money you’ll spend on account-based advertising depends on your audience and your goals. There are three major factors that will impact your media budget:

  • Target Account Size – How many employees work at your target accounts? You’ll need to allocate more ad dollars to large accounts to ensure you’re getting optimal reach within each company.
  • Number of Target Accounts & Buyer Personas – As with any advertising campaign, the more companies and individuals you want your account-based ads to reach, the more you’ll need to increase your advertising budget.
  • Level of Desired Impact – Lower impact campaigns (such as brand awareness/”air cover” campaigns that are intended to run for a long period of time) generally require lower budgets per day than high impact campaigns (such as pipeline acceleration campaigns).

Tip: When you’re selecting an account-based advertising vendor, make sure to choose one that doesn’t charge a markup on media spend, which will drain your budget much more quickly than necessary.

Of course, there’s no magic formula for deciding exactly how much money to spend on account-based advertising, and there are many additional factors to consider that are unique to your business. If you’re a Terminus customer and you’d like to discuss your advertising budget, contact your Customer Success Manager.

Events & Experiences

You’re probably already hosting or sponsoring events, webinars, and dinners for high-value prospects. ABM simply puts more focus on getting the right people to those events, effectively improving your ROI.

You may consider traveling to meet with your Tier 1 (highest value) accounts to provide engaging, memorable, and educational experiences. This goes for both hot opportunities and current customers. After all, ABM is about more than just bringing on new clients. You should also focus on reducing churn (if you’re a SaaS business), getting the greatest possible lifetime value from your clients, and creating partnerships with them.

While traditional experiences like fancy dinners can certainly be impactful, consider tailoring the experiences to each individual account and providing value beyond a delicious meal. Events like conferences, workshops, and even virtual webinars (which cost next to nothing!) can educate your clients, improve their success with your solution, and build stronger relationships with key stakeholder at your target accounts.

At Terminus, we use the tool MapAnything to visualize where our high-value clients, opportunities, and target accounts are located. That way, we can get more bang for our buck and engage with as many companies as possible every time we travel.

Additional Resources:

Direct Mail

This classic marketing channel is making a comeback in a big way. Whether you choose to send handwritten notes from your executive team to your customers around the holidays or high-value gifts to your hottest prospects, chances are direct mail will play some part in your ABM program.

The amount you spend on direct mail is entirely up to you. At Terminus, we use PFL’s Salesforce integration to automatically send a copy of Account-Based Marketing for Dummies to our target accounts when they become opportunities. Our sales and marketing teams also regularly send out handwritten notes, company swag, and other goodies to prospects and customers.

Allocating Budget Based on Your Approach to ABM

The amount you spend on each category depends on your audience, the type of ABM you’re doing, and your level of commitment to ABM. (Read about the four tactical approaches to account-based marketing to learn more.)

If you’re just starting out with an ABM Lite pilot program targeting 50 handpicked accounts, you may choose to invest in account-based advertising, a few in-person events, and inexpensive but highly personalized direct mail.

If you’re doing Programmatic ABM, your organizational changes may be mostly structural with some additional investments in marketing technology. If you’re currently buying lead lists or spending money on programmatic advertising for lead generation, you should funnel that money into your ABM efforts instead.

Finally, some marketing teams choose to reallocate budget previously spent on an agency to new ABM technology that allows them to accomplish the same tasks with an account-based approach. If you currently work with an agency on your digital advertising strategy, for example, you may find that it’s cheaper (and even simpler) to leverage ad tech like Terminus and run campaigns in-house with strategic support from our Customer Success Managers and behind-the-scenes ad optimization done by our Advertising Operations team.