What is Account Based Marketing? (ABM)

account based marketing fish

If you’ve ever worked with or for a B2B or SaaS brand, you’ll know about the perils of in-bound lead generation. Sales blaming marketing for poor quality leads, marketing blaming sales for the fact they want their work done for them, it’s all a bit of a mess. 

Unfortunately, no steady flow of Ebooks or gated case studies (shudder!) can guarantee you’re keeping that pipeline full. The problem with a traditional funnel approach is that we’re looking towards volume of leads vs quality of leads. Ideally, we want to get to a point where Sales and Marketing work in sweet harmony. There is no “us” vs “them”, but a world in which everyone plays a little nicer with each other. 

How is this achieved? In this article, we’re going to focus on the Account Based Marketing approach, and why you might want to dabble in it yourself too.

The Meaning of ABM

What might surprise you is that ABM has been around since the late 1990s, a phrase coined by the Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA). In a nutshell it flips the traditional marketing funnel on its head where, instead of attracting large numbers of leads, we focus on qualifying first and then attempting to precisely target those that matter the most to us.

Think of it as traditional leadgen being fishing for leads with a net, whereas ABM we’re fishing with a spear. One we’re after many fish, the other we’ve got our eyes fixated on the most beautiful fish of them all.

Victress Digital Emma Glover Presenting About Account Based Marketing

How Does Account Based Marketing Work?

To give some context to this I’m going to walk you through a real client scenario.

This brand is a payments software provider, they wanted to schmooze with the big banks. When we spoke to this client, we knew that popping up and going after hundreds of leads wouldn’t work, mainly due to the fact they were offering a big ticket service which was only relevant to certain businesses. We needed to target key accounts, with multiple stakeholders sitting at the decision making helm like this. 

Instead of throwing broad Industry-based targeting into the mix, we started with lots of conversations with the sales team, and tons, and tons of research. Instead of being after lead volume, we focused on just trying to influence 20 quality companies – real big dogs. With a conversion target of just four warm-hot leads (20%).

We spent hours in spreadsheets and CRM systems. We got to know every key decision maker, the main brand colours, the things they cared about, the things they didn’t, the type of content they shared on their own channels. We worked closely with the Sales team to understand which accounts mattered most to them, who the big players were and leaned in on their connections to certain stakeholders to understand more about their mindsets. 

We crafted social, paid placements, and even sent direct mail to those on social media. We got this brand in all the places these key accounts would be hanging out, we became a very intriguing bad smell and it worked. 

What were the results?

After six months, the business had 6 meetings set-up, of which five converted at a value of £3.2 million in business investment.

Account Based Marketing Targeting

How to use LinkedIn for Account Based Marketing

As the largest B2B social platform, it presents a great opportunity for businesses to reach the people that matter. As well as that, LinkedIn itself is set up well for an Account Based Marketing approach, it even allows you to upload company lists to view how engaged they are with your business right now.

According to Linkedin’s own research, it takes 6-8 stakeholders in a business to make a decision about new software. With Account Based Marketing, we move away from Industry and Job-Title level targeting, and set about influencing multiple people in one company. Meaning no longer are you reliant on the whims of one individual

LinkedIn For Account Based Marketing showing engagement levels for companies

What is needed for a successful Account Based Marketing plan?

1. Complete Sales and Marketing Alignment

This is a non-negotiable, as we’ll come onto later, this process can take longer than the normal sales cycle so they need to understand that, and back what you’re doing. It helps to get them involved in the account identification process so you’re going after the people they really care about. 

2. Thorough Understanding of Each Account

Do your research. You need to know as much as you can about these companies. Who the big players are, their titles, the subjects they talk about, brand messaging, and how you can position whatever you’re advertising to them as an absolute no-brainer addition to their business. If you have a big team then get multiple people on it if you can, but for smaller companies, Hubspot and Leadfeeder give great ABM support. 

3. Personalised Content

Get the content to the people who matter, in a way they want to be spoken to. Some of the companies our client was looking to speak to weren’t on LinkedIn, so we focused our efforts on paid placements on online magazines and personalised direct mail. Never underestimate the power of mail in a fiercely digital world. 

4.Investment

ABM can require a higher level of investment than other campaigns, of both time and money, so it is best focussed on higher ticket sales. The consequence of this, of course, is that leads generated via ABM will be (if you’re doing it right) of significantly higher value.

5.Trust (and patience!)

If your normal sales cycle is three months you should expect results from your ABM campaigns in six months or more. That’s why everyone needs to be fully onboard.

Pyramids showing the differences between traditional marketing and account based marketing

Should you try Account Based Marketing?

Hopefully by now you know a bit more about why you should care, but if these scenarios sound all too familiar, maybe an ABM approach is actually for you 

  • You’re constantly being told the leads are poor quality 

  • It’s marketing vs sales, the “team” is non-existent

  • The product your marketing is high value and the sales cycle is long

  • Quantity of leads just isn’t working, you need the big dogs.


It’s likely ABM will give you: better qualified, warmer leads, better sales and marketing alignment, and a consistently strong pipeline (we love to see it!).

If you’d like to talk to us about Account Based Marketing or any other marketing goals for your business, get in touch to organise a no-obligation chat with a member of our team!

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