What is Account-Based Marketing?

Account-based marketing is a B2B marketing strategy that focuses on specific customers or accounts and targets each as a market of one with highly personalized 1-to-1 experiences and content.

Account-Based Marketing Overview

Account-based marketing, or ABM, focuses your marketing team and resources on a select number of high-value target accounts. ABM now accounts for 28% of total user marketing budgets, and 77% of ABM users achieve 10% or greater ROI. With the right teams, tools, and processes in place, any B2B company can execute a successful ABM strategy.

Here are some key things to know about ABM.

  • ABM can be an effective strategy for almost any B2B company — from enterprise to small-and-medium-sized businesses, across every industry.
  • ABM does not replace your broad-based marketing strategies and tactics. In fact, it works best when executed in conjunction with strategic broad-based marketing to target top accounts.
  • Effective ABM strategies are based on developing highly personalized, targeted, 1-to-1 experiences.
  • 92% of B2B organizations have a plan to start an ABM program, but only 19% are confident in their ability to execute it.
  • ABM can help you find new, high-value customers based on your best accounts today. Additionally, it can help you grow your existing customer relationships through elevated service and upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

The B2B Marketer's Guide to Account-Based Marketing

Learn all you need to know about account-based marketing, all in one guide. Not sure where to start with ABM? We have you covered.

Get the Guide

What challenges can ABM solve?

Marketing and sales teams face many of the same challenges on a day-to-day basis. Here are a few examples of common challenges your team may face — and how ABM might be the key to solving them.

Challenge #1: Your marketing and sales teams are not aligned.

By focusing on a limited number of high-value customers, an ABM strategy streamlines the goals and metrics your marketing and sales teams are responsible for. When both teams are on the hook for reporting revenue and ROI, there is no room for poor communication.

The centralized view of your accounts that your CRM provides can break down silos further — and boost the effectiveness of your ABM tactics — by allowing for seamless data sharing between sales and marketing. Because ABM relies on centralized data, it has the power to bring teams together under a single view of the customer, take full advantage of intent data, and predict when and how to engage a buying committee.

Challenge #2: You lose deals because you struggle to deliver personalized engagements at scale.

EB2B buyers today expect highly personalized experiences. In fact, 82% of customers say that just one extraordinary experience raises their expectations of other companies (State of the Connected Customer).

By concentrating your marketing and sales resources on a handful of target customers, you can deliver the kind of hyper-personalized, 1-to-1 experiences that engage entire buying committees and lead to conversions.

Challenge #3: You have data, but aren’t sure how to use it to build engagements that align with your buyers’ needs.

Every marketer knows that data is the key to personalization, but data overload can paralyze your efforts if you don’t know where to start. By narrowing your focus to key accounts, ABM can help marketing and sales more easily identify and share the data they need to build experiences that align with buyers’ needs and timing.

Challenge #4: You close sales, but struggle to maintain long-term relationships with customers.

The highly personalized, 1-to-1 experiences at the heart of ABM build confidence and trust from buyers. This can lead to longer-lasting relationships and increase the lifetime value of your customers. This works for new and existing customers alike. Personalized engagements and elevated service are at the core of ABM, and can open the door to new revenue opportunities.

Challenge #5: You need to make the most of a limited marketing budget — and be able to show results.

ABM maximizes marketing budgets, increases customer retention, and makes ROI easier to track. Engagement, brand awareness, and lead quality metrics will also be important for demonstrating the effectiveness of your ABM strategy, in addition to revenue and ROI.

Solve Challenges with ABM

How does ABM actually work?

start with your CRM

Start with your CRM.

Your CRM gives you an account-centric view of your customers. Use data from your CRM to identify target customers, get a 360-degree view of each account, and share insights across marketing and sales. You can also use an ABM approach with top existing clients to increase upsell and cross-sell opportunities.

build 1-1 experiences

Build 1-to-1 experiences.

ABM is effective because it zeros in on the needs of specific customers. Based on your customer data, you can create personalized content for target accounts and distribute it according to their specific preferences.

engage target accounts

Engage target accounts.

Close alignment between marketing and sales is critical for a successful ABM strategy. Real-time tracking and data let teams pass leads back and forth, and adjust their tactics based on how target customers engage at different points along their journey. Nurture existing accounts by offering renewals, upgrades, or complementary products at relevant moments — when a contract is up or a product is due for replacement, for example. This not only drives more revenue among your top existing accounts, but adds to personalized customer experiences.

measure and report

Measure and report.

A key benefit of ABM is that it increases customer retention and simplifies measuring ROI. Engagement, brand awareness, and lead quality metrics are also keys to gauging your ABM success.

Simple and Effective Account-based Marketing: Proven Strategies for Success in High Value Accounts

Watch the Webinar

Who uses ABM?

ABM can work for almost any B2B organization, from enterprise all the way to small-and-medium-sized businesses.

ABM for Enterprise

ABM can help enterprise organizations make more informed and strategic business decisions when it comes to identifying and focusing marketing spend on key accounts. Enterprise-level companies often already know their best accounts and are in a position to offer differentiated experiences.

Additionally, ABM can have a positive impact on customer retention and lifetime value. It can also help to bring together previously siloed marketing, sales, and service teams around a single view of the customer.

ABM for SMBs

ABM has typically been described as a strategy for enterprise organizations. However, its emphasis on personalization, customer relationships, and maximizing marketing dollars makes it a natural fit for many small-and-medium-sized businesses as well, especially when used in conjunction with other marketing strategies.

Small-and-medium-sized businesses often don’t have the budgets to target every account, but by focusing on key accounts most likely to lead to revenue, they can drive significant ROI.

ABM for Healthcare

The healthcare and life sciences market is a competitive one, with different audiences that all demand high levels of personalization. ABM can help savvy healthcare marketers address the unique needs of different clients and give them a leg up in an industry that is undergoing rapid digital transformation.

ABM for Manufacturing

Businesses in industries with long buying journeys, large deals, and high-potential for cross-sell and upsell opportunities should consider including ABM as part of their overall marketing strategy. Manufacturing is no exception. With the limited addressable markets many specialized manufacturers deal in, ABM can set your brand apart.

Customer Story: Truly drives ABM strategy and sales alignment with Pardot

Read the Story

Why use ABM?

Companies use ABM to find, nurture, and convert high-value accounts using hyper-personalized content and customer journeys. Taking an ABM approach to current accounts can also deepen customer relationships, elevate service, and increase revenue.

A well-executed ABM strategy can help you:

  • Increase pipeline quality, revenue, and retention.
  • Strengthen customer relationships and increase revenue from top existing accounts.
  • Streamline marketing budget and make it easier to measure ROI.
  • Align sales, marketing, and service teams under a single view of target accounts.

Deliver results with ABM.


Higher Sales Win Rate1


Larger Deal Sizes2


Higher ROI


Faster Revenue Growth4

How to use ABM with inbound marketing

ABM and inbound marketing are founded on the same principle: creating better, more personalized experiences for customers. In addition to driving new leads, ongoing inbound marketing efforts supplement your ABM strategy and provide additional content and engagement opportunities for your target accounts.

But what exactly is inbound marketing?

Inbound marketing is the idea is that creating valuable content — such as whitepapers, infographics, e-books, blogs — helps extend reach to potential customers, engage them with targeted marketing efforts, and eventually lead them to conversion.

Here’s how to get the most from combining inbound marketing with ABM.

repurpose content

Repurpose content.

Repurposing more general content across your ABM and inbound marketing efforts extends its usefulness and allows you to focus more effort on developing highly personalized content for your ABM campaigns.

learn from your data

Learn from your data.

Learning what works — and what doesn’t — from your inbound marketing initiatives can lead to insights that boost your ABM efforts.

identify target accounts

Identify new target accounts.

Inbound marketing has the potential to bring in new potential buyers that you identify as targets for ABM.

How to use marketing automation and AI for ABM

A single platform that shares data across marketing and sales forms the backbone of ABM. This platform — your CRM — collects and manages your customer and prospect data, as well as ensures that both your sales and marketing teams can work from the same data. This is especially important when it comes to identifying new and existing accounts to target and learning their pain points, needs, and goals. Artificial intelligence gives you insight into how, when, and where your customers prefer to engage with you.

But what exactly is marketing automation?

Marketing automation is a software platform that helps you automate your marketing and sales engagement to generate more leads, engage buyers, close deals, and grow relationships.

Here’s how the right marketing automation and AI platform can help you get more from ABM.

1. Identify key accounts.

Aim your ABM efforts at high-value targets by creating an account-centric view across your CRM, engagement, and external data.

2. Engage buyers everywhere.

Build cross-channel and personalized account engagements within a single platform.

3. Deliver connected engagements.

Align your marketing and sales teams around a single account-centric view to get more from your ABM efforts and close bigger deals.

4. Grow customer relationships.

Optimize your business with account analytics to increase customer lifetime value.

How to use marketing automation and AI for ABM

Check out these webinars to learn how you can use AI-driven insights to elevate your ABM.

Lead nurturing for ABM

Lead nurturing is an essential component of any ABM strategy. It helps you find new high-quality prospects, re-target prospective accounts, and improve account engagement through coordinated email and ad nurture programs.

But what exactly is lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing keeps your brand present in the minds of prospects, whether they're ready to buy or not. Automated lead nurturing is the process of sending a series of automated emails that will trigger based on a person’s behaviors or a preset time interval.

Here are a few of the things effective lead nurturing for can do for your ABM strategy:

Free up your marketing team with automaton.

By automating parts of the customer journey, you can free your marketing team to focus on the in-person touchpoints and conversations that mean the most to your target account teams.

Maintain a healthy pipeline.

Lead nurturing keeps target account teams engaged over the course of long — and sometimes complicated — buying cycles, preventing leakage and lost revenue.

Improve engagement.

Drive higher engagement with high-quality targets throughout the entire buying journey by coordinating your message across multiple channels.

Using ABM to grow customer relationships

Most people think of ABM as a way to reel in new customers. However, ABM is also an effective way to grow revenue from your current customer base. If you’re like most companies, about 80% of your revenue comes from 20% of your customers. If you aren’t putting effort — and budget — into growing your current accounts, you may be leaving real money on the table.

Here are a few ways ABM can help you grow customer relationships:

improving customer experience and service

Improving customer experience and service.

Personalization is a key factor in delivering meaningful customer relationships. According to “B2B Marketing Trends,” 69% of business buyers today expect companies to anticipate their needs. ABM takes personalization to a new level by delivering highly-targeted, 1-to-1 content and experiences.

increasing cross-sell and upsell opportunities

Increasing cross-sell and upsell opportunities.

More relevant, personalized content targeted to a customer’s specific needs and goals can help you make a stronger case for an upgrade or a complementary product.

encouraging subscription, warranty, and service agreement renewals

Encouraging subscription, warranty, and service agreement renewals.

Personalized, 1-to-1 experiences show customers that you are dedicated to giving them a pleasant, valuable, and consistent product and experience. This can increase the likelihood they renew subscriptions, warranties, and contracts.

An ABM strategy for current customers looks very similar to one meant to target new accounts and operates on the same principles of developing highly personalized, 1-to-1 experiences.

How to get started with ABM

Launching any new marketing strategy can feel daunting, but lucky for you, we’ve mapped out the steps you need to get started.

Answer the questions in the following steps to start your ABM journey.

1. Determine if ABM is right for you.

  • Does your company sell to a limited market?
  • Do a few, large accounts generate a majority of your company’s revenue?

2. Set goals for your ABM efforts — both short- and long-term.

  • What are your company’s top business and marketing goals and how can ABM support them?

3. Determine if you have the right tools in place to implement ABM.

  • Do you have a marketing automation platform?
  • Do you use AI to get a 360-degree view of your customer?

4. Talk to other teams — sales, executives, and others — who will have a say or be impacted by implementing an ABM strategy.

  • What are their revenue and retention goals?
  • Are the data or communication gaps to address?
  • What metrics and KPIs do you need to capture and report?

5. Identify your target accounts and develop personas.

  • Who are your best customers today, and can you target others like them?
  • Do you have automatic lead scoring in place to help identify target accounts?
  • Who are the different members of target account teams, and what are their roles and priorities?

How to choose the best marketing automation platform for ABM

Check out these resources to help you find the right marketing automation platform to get the most from your ABM strategy.

How Pardot can help

Pardot helps marketers and sales teams engage buyers, close deals, grow relationships — and more. Here’s why we’re different from other B2B marketing automation platforms:

Salesforce Account-Based Marketing

This is your complete ABM solution powered by AI and built on Salesforce, the World’s #1 CRM.

Time to Value

You can implement Pardot quickly to start generating more leads — and revenue — faster.

Marketing Analytics

Use B2B Marketing Analytics to organize and analyze all of your data across sales and marketing to make data-driven decisions.

Sales Activation

Automate sales processes and build marketing-approved campaigns so sales teams can focus on closing more deals.

Find out more about why you should try Pardot.

Ready to see how marketing automation can help you grow at record speeds?
Request a personalized demo today!
Need help?No problem. Chat with our sales experts or call us at 1-800-667-6389.