What Is Account-Based Marketing? An ABM Definition

Account-Based Marketing Definition: A focused approach to B2B marketing in which marketing and sales teams work together to target best-fit accounts and turn them into customers.

The traditional B2B sales and marketing funnel is broken, and marketing is facing a revenue impact gap. In its current form, B2B marketing takes a broad approach to lead generation with the goal of capturing as many leads as possible. The inherent issue with this approach is that the funnel gets smaller towards the bottom, so the vast majority of B2B leads — over 99%, according to Forrester Research — never become customers. Marketers want to deliver a sustainable growth advantage, but that takes a true ABM platform, with a strategy that engages across the entire revenue lifecycle.

The Terminus Approach to Account-Based Marketing

Account-based marketing flips the B2B sales and marketing funnel on its head. The Terminus approach to account-based marketing challenges the traditional lead-based, inbound-only approach to marketing.

Instead of starting with marketing channels in an attempt to generate leads, an ABM strategy begins with identifying and targeting best-fit accounts that have the biggest revenue potential for your business. Marketers can then use technology to serve personalized messaging to decision-makers at these accounts on the channels they are actively using. In an ABM program, this marketing outreach is supplemented by personalized, one-to-one sales outreach to the same list of target accounts. By engaging their target accounts across the entire customer lifecycle, not just at the top of the funnel. This creates positive momentum on your revenue flywheel, as prospects at every buying stage are getting the right message at the right time.

How many stakeholders are involved in a B2B purchasing decision?

The answer is rarely just one. In fact, KnowledgeTree reports that the average B2B buying committee is made up of 7 to 20 individuals. And the sales cycle is growing longer as more decision-makers become involved, which is why lead-based marketing is not the most effective or fastest method to close a deal. Instead, more and more B2B companies are turning to ABM to place marketing messages in front of all decision-makers within high-value accounts.

account based marketing

The History of Account-Based Marketing

Account based marketing benchmarks have roots in the 1990s when B2C and B2B companies began to realize the need for more personalized marketing.

If you’re up on your reading, you may remember when Don Peppers and Martha Rogers published The One to One Future in 1993, forecasting the movement from mass marketing to the personalized, 1:1 marketing of today. As consumers began to crave more individualized buying experiences, many marketers turned to account based marketing best practices to meet those needs.

The actual phrase account-based marketing was coined in 2004 by the ITSMA ABM certification, though many companies had already been implementing the strategies in one capacity or another for years. It wasn’t until recently, though, that ABM began to catch on due to the B2B marketing industry’s emphasis on demand generation and ROI — and the increasing number of vendors offering more robust ABM solutions.

Want to learn more? Read Account-Based Marketing For Dummies by Sangram Vajre, the first-ever book about ABM. Or check out Sangram’s latest book, ABM is B2B.

account based marketing

How Does Account-Based Marketing Work?

Effective account-based marketing involves a multichannel approach and requires close alignment between an organization’s sales, marketing, and customer success teams. There are dozens of excellent ABM tools — over 40 of which are part of the Terminus Engagement Hub I recommend exploring the Engagement Hub to learn more about the power of a true account-based technology platform.

For the purpose of this post, however, let’s focus on one very important aspect of ABM: account-based advertising.

Account-based advertising uses digital targeting to reach specific, best-fit companies — called target accounts — that fit your organization’s ideal customer profile, or ICP.

Account based marketing solutions can be integrated with a CRM or marketing automation tool to run campaigns targeting your target accounts. What makes account-based marketing technology truly remarkable is that it allows you to reach not just contacts you have in your database, but also other key decision-makers at your target accounts.

That provides an ability to run multichannel campaigns by choosing the ads to show a target audience across mobile, social, display, and video — then engaging them on their terms. As a result, you can understand which message resonates the most – and get the data to back it up – with A/B testing on creative in near real-time.

Account-based technologies have seen great success because they engage customers on their terms using digital channels other than email and phone calls. Because these marketing activities engage not only the lead but the entire account, ABM can easily be done at scale.

Today, ABM software allows marketing across personas, sales stages, campaigns, or statuses in a CRM, making it easy to engage with and nurture your target buyers wherever they are online. And as the one-size-fits-all approach goes out of style, ABM has become a must-try strategy to personalize the buying experience with highly-targeted messaging. Currently evaluating account based marketing software? Choose a platform and partnership that fits your strategy best.

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Benefits of Account-Based Marketing

Now that we’ve gone over the account based marketing basics and its history in the B2B space, let’s tackle another crucial question: what are the benefits of ABM?

Tightly Aligned Sales & Marketing Teams — AKA Smarketing

One study showed that closely aligned B2B companies grow revenue 19% faster. The first step of account- based marketing requires your sales and marketing teams to identify and agree on key accounts to target. That means both teams must focus on the same goals — in particular, generating revenue from target accounts. Above all, this reinforces the importance of the marketing team’s role in the sales process.

More Efficient Use of Marketing Budget

With a lead-based strategy, companies spend marketing dollars to acquire as many leads as possible and then qualify them after the fact, effectively throwing away money on leads that are a poor fit. It’s far more cost-effective to determine which accounts are the best for your products or services before you go after them, and then spend your money reaching them (and only them) on the channels where they’re active: across the web, on social media, at events, and so on.

Shorter Sales Cycle

The sales process is notorious for hitting a speed bump when it comes time for prospective customers to get internal buy-in. Account-based marketing solves this problem by getting the right messaging in front of key decision-makers at target accounts (who often aren’t accessible via phone or email), helping to speed up the sales cycle.

Successful Sales Conversations (No More Cold Calling!)

Using account-based marketing and advertising to reach target accounts sets your sales team up for more successful conversations with their buyers down the line. By the time your sales reps reach out to your target accounts, buyers will have already been exposed to your company’s messaging.

Better Buying and Customer Experience

Above all, account-based marketing is about the customer. As a business professional yourself, you know that buyers are not looking for a sales call or a marketing email to kick off their research process. Rather, they want to explore solutions on their own terms and only receive communications from vendors when they’re meaningful and relevant. Account based sales makes it easy to deliver on this need across the entire buyer’s journey.

Creating engaging experiences doesn’t stop once you bring on a new customer. The revenue flywheel isn’t limited to awareness, pipeline creation and pipeline acceleration, it also includes customer retention and customer expansion. Terminus helps you reach prospects wherever they are in the buying journey, delivering value at every step. 

Ready to learn more about ABM?

If you’d like to know more about ABM, read this study conducted by Forrester Consulting on the Total Economic Impact™ of Terminus. It’s the perfect starting point for your own account based marketing strategy.

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LinkedIn Marketing Solutions

One of the most popular ABM channels to use is LinkedIn. It’s considered the most trusted online community when compared to other social media channels like YouTube or Facebook. With Terminus ABM on LinkedIn, teams can use this integration to create audiences to target, launch ads and get their brand in front of this audience, and then intelligently report on key account marketing activity (or engagement). As said best by the Marketing Communications Manager from Zoot Enterprises:

“The main value of account based marketing LinkedIn is the ability to support your messaging through one of the primary channels that B2B buyers use on a regular basis. With Terminus, the value is that it’s a single platform for executing on the ad strategy that we’ve found to be successful.”

LinkedIn Marketing Solutions can also be used as a part of a team’s strategy, but we recommend using an ABM platform and integrating directly with LinkedIn as an ABM channel. Out of all of the account based marketing tools and channels available, LinkedIn is near the top. It was definitely one of the most popular account based marketing tactics and continues to be an important part of an effective ABM program.

Account Based Marketing Tactics (FAQs)

Here are some frequently asked questions and answers related to account based marketing tactics:

Why is Account Based Marketing Important?

Account-based marketing is now a revenue strategy for your entire team. Once a buzzword and type of new marketing strategy, ABM is quickly becoming the standard way for marketing, sales, and customer success teams to work together as full-funnel revenue generators.

How is Account Based Marketing Implemented?

ABM might be daunting to some who are new to the concept, but it doesn’t have to be. That’s where the T.E.A.M. Framework comes in, or Target, Engage, Activate, and Measure. It’s a simple way for teams to think through how to plan, operate, and evaluate their go-to-market campaigns. It also allows them to communicate their success clearly within each team and across their entire organization.

What is an ABM Platform?

An ABM platform like Terminus helps marketing, sales, and customer success teams work better together to drive a winning go-to-market strategy and exceptional customer experiences. Terminus offers the best data, channels, and analytics all in one platform, so you can plan, execute, and measure your ABM strategy in one central location.

How does ABM work?

If you’re wondering how to do account based marketing or need educational resources for a starting point, first focus on the basic account based marketing definition. Start with the Account Based Marketing for Dummies book, authored by Terminus Co-Founder, Sangram Vajre. As the very first publication in this category, this account based marketing book was written in 2016 and at the time defined ABM as a focused approach to B2B marketing in which revenue teams (marketing, customer success, sales) work together to target best-fit accounts and turn them into customers.

Fast forward to today and this definition has been modified a bit. Today, teams use ABM as an end-to-end GTM strategy where they align and integrate all revenue teams around their most important pre-sales and post-sales accounts. With data-driven targeting and personalization programs at scale, they use the T.E.A.M. account based marketing framework to get their brand in front of their most important prospects and customers and generate more revenue opportunities.

What is an ABM strategy?

The T.E.A.M. framework is the perfect account based marketing strategy for teams looking to grow revenue across every part of the sales funnel. Benefits of account based marketing strategies include more acquisition, acceleration, retention, and expansion revenue opportunities for your marketing, customer success, and sales teams.

What is account based content marketing?

The key to ABM success is delivering relevant and helpful content to your targeted accounts through a number of different channels. The better your content, the more effective this becomes. Account based content marketing is all about creating resources (videos, reports, blog posts, webinars, etc.) that are personalized and relevant to a certain account, persona, or industry. In terms of account based marketing best practices, this is HIGHLY recommended.

What is the long term objective of account based marketing?

The long term objective of B2B account based marketing is to help teams with revenue growth at every stage of the funnel – awareness, building pipeline, pipeline acceleration, retention, and expansion.

The more success a marketing, sales, or CS team has with ABM, the more account-based marketing adoption they’ll see across the entire organization. Some companies today even hire an account based marketing manager to ensure success and adoption.

Account Based Marketing Examples

Why are account based marketing examples so important? It inspires or motivates a team to get creative with their own account-based marketing cadence. Before developing a strategy, specific tactics, or narrowing down the main goals of your ABM operation, simply start with examples. Collect them, evaluate them, discuss as a team what you like best (or don’t like) and how you can apply these ideas to your own campaigns or tactics. The more examples you see, the better you’ll understand what the term personalization in account based marketing means.

The best place to find these examples? Start with Terminus! By going through the Terminus account based marketing certification course or following our ABM playbooks that offer real, proven ways to achieve rapid value with ABM. The Terminus playbooks align to our customers’ goals and their maturity, so you can grow with us over time.

Account Based Marketing Jobs

This category of digital marketing is becoming so popular that now you’ll find plenty of account based marketing jobs and postings. We saw a handful of postings on the account based marketing 2019 jobs list, a few dozen more on the account based marketing 2020 jobs list, and has since become a staple on every marketing team. . An “ABM Manager” is the most common title you’ll find, in addition to Account Based Marketing Specialist. Salary numbers depend on experience and the company. For example, for an Account Based Marketing Manager, salary numbers could be higher in technology compared to manufacturing because the technology industry has adopted ABM faster. An ABM Manager salary could also depend on the company. The Gitlab Account Based Marketing Manager opening, for example, might be higher than the numbers posted by their competitors. If ABM is important enough for a company, they will make recruitment for an ABM Manager a priority.

In addition to roles available within companies, account based marketing services can be outsourced by an agency or consulting firm. An account-based marketing consultant can come in and help your company develop a strategy, build a plan, or help execute that plan depending on what is most needed. Account-based marketing consulting is now very common, especially when dealing with account-based marketing automation. Similarly, an account-based marketing agency can also help companies with any stage of their ABM plans. The top ABM agencies will have these services listed on their websites. Just like with appointment settings services, lead generation services, managed SEO services, SEO management service, or SEO marketing service, ABM is now a regular offering for digital marketing agencies.

Account Based Marketing Course

If you’d like to educate yourself more on the basic fundamentals of account based marketing, there are many options available to you. An ABM course will take you through each step of the process, from beginning to end. An ABM online course can do this virtually, and many different platforms offer these ABM training courses. The ABM Terminus certification, which offers opportunities for questions and answers during the training. With account based marketing B2B training, the right account based marketing b2b examples, and the best of account based marketing software options to choose from, digital marketing professionals today can become masters in ABM in no time.