The Pros and Cons of Account-Based Marketing

Let’s talk Account-Based Marketing (ABM).

ABM has been getting some serious attention lately, and I can see why. It sounds great up front: target your marketing to whole accounts, drive revenue. But upon closer inspection, ABM is not quite as straight forward as that. Account based marketing is a strategy that laser focuses your marketing efforts on your most important accounts instead of individual clients and prospects. It’s far from a labor saving approach. With your most important accounts on the line, your campaigns need to be even more personalized, and more customized to really connect with your target audience. So is it worth it? The answer to that depends on the type of business and industry you’re in, but if you’re like me this list will help you take a closer look at the pros and cons of ABM. For more information on ABM, join Pardot on December 13 for ‘Beyond the Hype: Making Account-Based Marketing Work for You,’ featuring guest speaker Lori Wizdo, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research.

Pro: ABM will up your personalization game.

This is a pro in the age of customer-centric marketing, but be careful – ABM doesn’t take personalization lightly. With account based marketing, your campaigns will need to speak to a whole account so it can’t sound mass-produced. This is a delicate job meant to carefully cultivate relationships and brand awareness on a 1:1 level – at scale. Sound like enough of a challenge? Just wait. The approach requires an almost extreme level of focus on the unique pain-points, issues, and market of each of your target accounts. You’ll need to make sure your sales and marketing teams are tightly aligned in order to deliver a truly seamless customer experience.

Con: You need to multiply the amount of content you’ll need by the number of accounts you target.

Remember how I mentioned that ABM is labor intensive? For each of the accounts you target with this strategy, you’ll need to identify the right messaging, the right cadence, and then create the right content to sustain a campaign. If you have a strong content team with enough resource and the right tool set (hint: marketing automation really, really comes in handy for this part), then it’s doable. Again, a closely aligned marketing and sales team will be essential because how and when your sales team distributes your content will need to be tuned to each of your disparate campaigns.

Pro: ABM can help you zero in on important accounts

If done correctly, ABM can give your most important accounts some genuine TLC. You’ll get to know them well from a marketing perspective, and you’ll be able to create the kind of campaigns and content that offer real value. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s worth it if you have just a few top accounts that make up the bulk of your target audience. Particularly where cultivating relationships with current customers is concerned, this can be a big help in creating customer evangelists and true fans of your brand.

Con: An ABM strategy works best with just a few important accounts

ABM is not a strategy that you can expand to include every account you have – unless of course, you only have a handful. With the necessary level of detail, it becomes too easily unwieldy and almost impossible to leverage across the hundreds or even thousands of accounts that most businesses will have. In that sense, it’s not a strategy that is meant for every business or every industry. The good news is that the general elements of ABM are the same as the general elements of any other customer-focused marketing strategy: personalization, customization, and a streamlined, buyer-directed buying cycle. These can be much more easily integrated into a marketing strategy that’s a better fit for you business.

Pro: You don’t need any special tools for ABM – except two.

If you’re planning to implement an Account Based Marketing strategy, there are just two tools you’ll want to have to ease some of the labor intensity and make it easier to manage: marketing automation and data analytics software. Truthfully, you’ll want to have both anyway for any kind of customer-centric marketing, but when it comes to ABM, these tools are a must. A marketing automation platform provides a way to easily create, manage and most importantly – track – campaigns for each of your top accounts. Built in scoring and grading features become paramount because you’ll need to make sure that you’re focusing on the warmest leads at each stage to help your sales team close deals at that scale. You’ll also need to be carefully tracking engagement metrics, and that’s where data analytics software comes in. Engagement becomes much more important when targeting an entire account, and getting regular data on how well your campaigns are performing withe each of your target accounts is the best way to make sure that you’re able to deliver the right information at the right time.

ABM – like any other marketing strategy, isn’t going to work for everyone. Creating your own list of pros and cons will help you identify the ways in which ABM may – or may not – fit into your overall marketing strategy. Making sure you’re closely aligned with your sales team and your c-suite will help you set goals for your overall marketing efforts and make sure that as your strategies evolve, you’re able to meet the needs of your clients and prospects. Still not sure if ABM is right for you? Reserve your seat for ‘Beyond the Hype: Making Account-Based Marketing Work for You‘ and hear from guest speaker Lori Wizdo for Forrester Research.