ABM in 21 Days: 3 Steps to Get Started Today

We get it — taking the plunge into something new can seem daunting. We tend to mull over important decisions, weighing the pros and cons — ultimately adding one more thing to our ‘to-do’ list. And for most marketers we’ve talked to, that’s exactly what’s kept them in the ‘waiting zone’ before dipping their toes into more account-based programs. 

The reality is that during that extended waiting period, your competition may be snagging up accounts that are looking for the product or service you’re selling right now while you’re debating getting started. 

And if the misconception that ABM is too tough to try or takes a big team/budget to get started is what’s holding you back, we’re here to show you how to get started in three quick steps. After all, recent RollWorks research shows that 45% of companies relying on ABM  have fewer than 500 employees, and 32% have fewer than 100 employees. Plus, the benefits speak for themselves — recent Ascend2 research shows 60% of companies investing in ABM  plan to increase investment this year. 

3 stress-free steps to implement ABM in 21 days

With this simple set of tips, we’ve seen everyday B2B marketers become account-based marketers in just three weeks. Yes, you heard that right — 21 days. 

  1. Get clear on your account-based acronyms (yes, ICP & TAL) and how to build them 
  2. Leverage intent to make sure you're not wasting budget or sales outreach
  3. Launch those multi-touch, multi-channel campaigns that show results ASAP
  4. Bonus: How to prove unforgettable ABM 30-60-90 day results to your leadership team 

Step #1: Get clear on your targets — this is the backbone of your ABM success 

First thing's first: a few definitions to get out of the way to understand where you need to focus when it comes to identifying the best fit accounts for you. With so many acronyms floating around, it’s no surprise that at times it's hard to know what you need to do, why you need to do it, and when. Here are the basics:

  • Total addressable market (TAM): The total potential market demand for your product or service, from any vendor. Usually talked about in terms of potential revenue from the category.
  • Ideal customer profile (ICP): The attributes of your ideal customer (the customer that is the best fit for your product and will bring the most value to your business). 
  • Target account list (TAL): A data-driven list of highest-priority accounts, based on static and dynamic signals, and agreed upon by marketing and sales.
  • Campaign audiences: Sub-segmented audiences of accounts or contacts created based on fit and readiness signals, used to activate specific, often time-bound campaigns across channels. 

Basically, you can see this as a waterfall approach where you need the core building blocks of your ICP and TAL in order to get down to those sub-segmented campaign audiences used to launch ABM programs across channels. Here’s how you can do that:

Identify and validate ICP: You’ll want to sift through your data to identify key trends in ‘best-fit’ accounts based on past customers or website traffic pulling from firmographic and technographics. You can use this handy template to get started.

Firmographics are descriptive attributes of companies that can be used to aggregate individual organizations into meaningful market segments. Essentially, firmographics are to businesses and organizations what demographics are to people. Some examples are:

  • industry (e.g., investment banking, financial services, accounting)
  • geography (e.g., U.S., Canada, UK, Ireland)
  • company size (e.g., 500-5000 employees)
  • revenue (e.g., $10MM+)

Technographics are a set of attributes that give insight into the tech stack of customers, including contract lengths and other details. Some examples are:

  • marketing automation platform
  • CRM
  • direct mail vendor
  • website hosting vendor

Build TAL based on sales team + goals: This will look different for every company given the nature of your sales team, your capacity, and your overall revenue targets. Use this calculator to determine the size your TAL should be, and then rely on your database or an ABM vendor to pull a list of accounts that match your ICP and prioritize from there with your sales team. 

Score TAL to prioritize best-fit accounts: You’ll also want to get crystal clear on which accounts you should put your marketing resources toward first, yes, we’re talking budget and time. Not all accounts can be treated equally, so it’s key to use machine learning to your best advantage to score/rank your TAL. With that, you can start to break it out for your sales team on who’s priority to pursue, and who may just get a lighter touch treatment. And that’s where intent comes in (yes, step #2).

Step #2: Get your hands on behavioral data to prioritize marketing and sales investment against ready-to-buy accounts 

If there are thousands of accounts that could use your product or service, that’s a LOT of pressure on your marketing and sales team. Simply put, you probably don’t have the budget or the sales capacity to give each one of those accounts your complete attention. 

Instead of spinning your wheels trying to focus on every single account equally, give your team a guiding light by singling out accounts that are the most ‘ready-to-buy’. For accounts that aren’t aware of your brand or haven’t shown engagement, you can still find out whether they’re in market right now. 

After all, most buyers now do ⅔ of their research online before even chatting with a rep! That’s a lot of research that you could be getting in front of. That’s where intent signals come in. 

By bringing intent data to your account list, you’ll be able to highlight which accounts are already searching for solutions like yours across the web. From there, you can create a list of ‘hot’ accounts that receive the majority of your marketing investment and sales outreach. Both your budget and your sales team will thank you. 

Here’s a quick snapshot on how you can get this off the ground:

  • Select the intent topics most relevant to your TAL and monitor for those displaying the highest level of intent 
  • Isolate those ready-to-buy accounts and layer them over your existing tiered TAL to get a more segmented audience 
  • Enable your marketing and sales team with these segmented lists to start running multi-channel campaigns in tandem (spoiler: we’ll show you how to do that in step #3)

Step #3: Get your target accounts to engage with multi-channel, tiered plays 

Once you’ve really gotten laser-focused on the accounts and buyers you’ll be engaging, the real fun starts: marketing campaigns. When you’re starting with your 'hottest’ list showing intent, it’s time to partner with sales and get together some multi-touch, multi-channel campaigns. 

They don’t need to be complex or overly engineered, and there’s a clear formula of channels we’ve seen hit results when you get off the ground. 

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Display: With b2b display advertising poised to grow by 32.6% in 2021 to hit $5.09 billion, it's no wonder this will be a powerhouse for ABMers. The key to get this off the ground quickly? Start with your high-fit, high-intent audiences and run coordinated messages that align to all of the channels listed below. This is your key channel for reaching unknown contacts at your account — something you can't expect out of some other ABM channels.
  • LinkedIn: Not only can you leverage this channel organically or for sales outreach, but as a tried-and-true channel with some of the best lead generation capabilities. 
  • Email: Email is no new channel to b2b marketers, but adding an ABM flavor looks like segmenting your TAL based on company size, or industry, and various other factors so that you can personalize the message -- even with a few words switched in a subject line and CTA, this will drive engagement of your existing database to move them through the funnel. 
  • Content syndication: Another way to get in front of unknown buyers at your accounts? Hello, content syndication. Check your vendor choice first by making sure your chosen vendor has a TAL-first mentality and will only deliver you the highest quality leads from your TAL. From there, lay on the other channels to nurture them from unaware of your brand to aware and beyond.
  • e-Gifting/direct mail: Everyone loves something at their door (or in their inbox), especially in the era of WFH. By keenly coordinating your SDR outreach with gifting, we've seen up to 10x more opps created from just one simple campaign.
  • Sales outreach: Last. but certainly not least, this is where true ABM comes to life -- both marketers and sellers should be engaging throughout the entire process with cohesive messages. Be sure to craft follow-up that's personalized and clearly moves them from engaged to ready to meet. 

Bonus Step: Get your 3-step ABM plan in front of your team

Once you have all of this ready to go, make sure you know how to win over your leadership team with an A+ plan that wraps everything into a big picture strategy. With input from hundreds of customers on what really makes ABM ‘stick’ with marketing and sales leadership, we pulled together a presentation deck that can be plug and play for your unique business, presenting the high-level facets of the ABM plan you just built in 3 simple steps. 

What’s Next? Prove Your Results from Reach to Revenue

Once you get your ABM off the ground, you’ll be able to start showing the full sweep of ROI — and here’s how to start thinking about setting up your reporting:

  • Prove value to GTM function : Marketing & sales & CS (long-term):  Ultimately, ABM serves to align GTM teams to close bigger deals, faster (and retain happy customers). That’s where the ultimate, long-term ABM metrics come in — proving ABM as a critical business strategy. 
  • Prove value to marketing leadership (ongoing): Once you’ve been running ABM for a bit, you’ll want to start tracking the progression of all of your accounts through the multi-channel buyer's journey, you’ll be able to spot gaps in your funnel and identify new campaign strategies. Not to mention you’ll be able to secure buy-in that ABM is working, and allocate more budget to move the needle for your entire team. 
  • Prove value to yourself (short-term): How do you know which channels are working day-to-day and quarter-over-quarter? How do you know when to invest or divest? That’s where channel deep dives are critical to analyze and inform larger scale decisions. You’ll see more immediate impact in the first 30-60-90 days here. This is where the optimization happens.

Whether it’s proving your short-term wins within the first 30-60-90 days or the long-term business impact (hello revenue), you’ll need a clear blueprint for proving why ABM is the right choice for your team. By tracking accounts as they progress throughout the buyer’s journey, you can keep tabs on which levers you need to pull to optimize your campaigns or focus on any key segments. 

Ready to put all of this into action?  Download our latest ABM Essentials kit with all of the audience templates, planning templates, reporting templates...you name it. Consider it the ignition to your new ABM engine — moving you at the speed you need to show impact ASAP and focus on the programs that work best for you. 

About the Author

Caroline Van Dyke, Head of Content

Caroline is a B2B marketer with a knack for building start-up content strategies from scratch. With a passion for crafting the right message at the right time (and a good pun), she leads content for real marketers by telling their real stories. In the rare case she's not busy writing, you can find her consuming true crime podcasts, stand-up specials, and copious amounts of cheese.

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