4 Signs Your ABM Mindset Needs a Tune-up

Everyone has their own definition of ABM and how to leverage it for their business. For some, it’s retargeting with display ads. For others, it’s a better version of demand gen.

For me, it was built around direct mail. In my mind, any company could come up with a target account list and send champagne to its best contacts. Lots of people still believe this.

4 Signs Your ABM Mindset Needs a Tune-up

But this is an outdated view of being account-based, and now, with a data-driven approach to building a target account list (no, not just plucking a list of ‘impressive’ names and shoving them in a spreadsheet) you can scale this beyond the status quo. 

With the right technology, ABM becomes a sophisticated and coordinated marketing and sales play that enables teams to reach new audiences with precision. It's not just one channel or just one tactic; it's a mindset.

Here are four signs you may need to rethink your approach to ABM.

1. There’s a mindset that ABM is only for big teams

Historically, there’s a lot of focus on ABM being a business strategy that only works for bigger, more complex marketing teams. Or, it’s been a pretty siloed sales approach, focusing on key accounts and only affecting a sales cycle. 

Neither is the reality anymore. 

To be honest, account-based is just the new best-in-breed approach to B2B marketing. We have so much more information, and more technology, to map out our key targets and build lists and programs to go after them. 

I’m a team of one, and I’m account-based. That will be the new norm.

If anything, I’m laser-focused on programs that work and only spend time and money where it really matters. There are no extras lying around to put toward ‘spray and pray.’

Instead, I have a key focus, I run digital and acquisition against them, and measure results against this clear set of accounts. It’s anything but complex; it just makes sense. 

2. There’s a reliance on direct mail

Once upon a time, companies would incentivize sales meetings by promising things like iPods. 

These direct mail campaigns were successful in getting meetings, but the hands-on human intervention required made them a huge time sink. For these folks, it took multiple people, a ton of processes, and a lot of chatter around “Who’s going to buy this?”

Up until the pandemic hit, many companies were still relying on manual direct mail campaigns. Their questions tend to center around “How are we going to track this?”

Like anyone who’s ever grappled with a manual process can attest, their results weren’t always timely or reliable.

At this stage in the game, the question is “How do I empower my team?” And the answer lies not in direct mail, but in digital—at least for the foreseeable future.

With the majority of B2B buyers stationed at home, marketers need to identify other ways to reach them when mailing clever gifts isn’t viable.

That means embracing digital models that enable companies to offer efficient, scalable incentives through campaigns they can track in real-time and analyze at the account and contact level.

3. You don’t have enough meaningful information to act on

Knowing who to target is the cornerstone of a successful ABM program.

But without clearly defined ICPs (Ideal Customer Profiles) and limited segmentation, some small teams wind up targeting their entire database. Their efforts to nurture become more “batch and blast” than account-based.

This also puts them at a disadvantage when trying to attract new buyers. Focusing entirely on a few narrowly defined target accounts may not make sense all the time, but a “spray and pray” approach is rarely effective.

Digital ABM helps to establish and maintain the right balance. Instead of hoping people visit your company’s website and leave a cookie behind, brands can bring their own data to the table to get very specific about their retargeting campaigns.

With the right tools in place, they can capture new audience segments in the process.

4. Retargeting efforts are too broad

Events were our main source of demand gen (within accounts, of course) at Appify before the pandemic.

But as we watched other companies promote virtual events to the point of saturation, we knew we needed to rethink our approach to engaging our target audience.

We were already advertising on social and retargeting through Google, but we wanted a way to capture the right people without devoting most of the budget toward things that might fail to reach them.

The goal was to earn attention from key accounts when we weren’t necessarily top of mind—so we shifted our event budget toward nurturing and retargeting tactics that would net results.

After building a list of target accounts and groups in Salesforce, we loaded up personalized ad campaigns, launched RollWorks, and expanded our clicks from people we’d “cookied” to people we actually wanted to get clicks from.

The shift from blindly following whoever left a cookie resulted in smarter retargeting that made our budgeting more efficient and campaigns more impactful.

Getting ABM ready for its close-up

Success with ABM doesn’t lie in specific tactics. No matter how someone defines it, an account-based strategy works best when a brand understands the pain points of its target audience and tailors its messaging accordingly.

For Appify, that meant going beyond a manual target account list and direct mail approach to treat ABM as a mechanism for future growth—and that kind of play requires technology (no, CRM and MAP don't cut it alone).


About the Author

Ian Brown, Director of Marketing

One man ABM team at Turbo Systems with a history of bringing startups from growth to scale

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