Account-Based Marketing: From Idea to Implementation

 In B2B Marketing

“Treating individual accounts as a market in their own right”

-ITSMA, on account based marketing


Account-based marketing, or ABM, might just make it onto the list of most buzzed-about B2B terms of the year. SiriusDecisions noted: “In the past 12 months, it [account-based marketing] generated enough global search traffic to warrant its first appearance on Google Trends.” The excitement around ABM demonstrates a shift in how B2B marketers are choosing to target and nurture their prospects.

The fact is that B2B companies sell to companies, not individuals. At the core, this is why B2B marketers must develop their strategies at the company level. Strategic account outreach enables marketers to target a valuable audience with high certainty, and deliver that coveted precise and personalized engagement, which lends itself to quality lead generation. The strategy is effective: In a recent ITSMA survey over 80% of respondents said that their ABM initiatives outperformed other marketing investments. Despite these promising stats, ABM still poses a challenge for marketers.


When ITSMA surveyed marketers and inquired about their spending plans in FY2014, 72% of its respondents projected an increase in spending in ABM. However, marketing budgets (and certainly B2B marketing budgets) are limited. To maximize budgets, marketing campaigns should target only those accounts that are likely to close and lead to revenues. The challenge in determining which account warrants attention is that there are multiple contacts within a company who contribute to that account’s overall propensity to buy. Matthew Sweezy, Pardot sums this up as the concept of “collective decision making.” Think about it: An account is made up of an ecosystem of decision makers (contacts) in different departments and teams, each with individual buying agendas. Some of those contacts already exist on sales’ and marketing’s radars. Other buyers do not. Therefore to understand an account’s true propensity to buy, marketing teams must have insights into the behaviors of both known contacts and unknown prospects within that account. Without this knowledge, marketers risk rolling out campaigns to accounts that, turns out, actually aren’t ready to buy.


Understanding an account’s real propensity to purchase is critical to executing targeted ABM. And to determine an account’s true propensity to purchase, we’ve established that it requires a holistic view of both known contacts and unknown visitors within the account. But how can marketers have insight into what they don’t know? This is where anonymous behavioral data comes in: By digging deep into prospective buyers’ digital footprints (behavioral data), purchasing intent is revealed. By analyzing a wider set of data, unknown but active contacts with high intent to purchase are revealed, and the account score becomes more accurate.

Considering only the limited set of activity from known contacts has little predictive value for determining an account’s propensity to buy; there is simply not enough data from one person to accurately predict a large B2B purchase. But tying together the activity of ‘unknown visitors’ and the activity of known contacts results in exponentially more data—data that can then be used to build models and make strong account-based predictions.

Be prepared to act on those new insights to deliver a targeted experience to the accounts that are worth your time. Ultimately, the point of account-based marketing is to create a hyper-focused, personal engagement experience across an account that is highly likely to purchase. In the end, this approach will lead to better conversion rates and increased revenues.*

*We’ve seen these results among our customers


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Image Source: Libby Levi for

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