4 common account-based marketing (ABM) mistakes, and how to fix them
With almost three-quarters of businesses increasing their ABM budgets in 2017, Mike Boogaard takes a look at the most common ABM hurdles (and how to overcome them)
As with any tool or strategy, ABM isn’t a sure thing; it depends on your execution. Many businesses starting ABM programmes are doing so from scratch, learning as they go. It’s no surprise when they fall into one of the many pitfalls present.
But it’s not just beginners that slip up. Even businesses with an experienced ABM team can fall into these traps. For these teams, it's often the pressure of trying to scale their ABM programme that allows critical errors to creep in.
For both beginners and experts, these four pitfalls will serve as a timely reminder of what to look out for when implementing an ABM strategy.
1. Failing to coordinate with the sales team
Success with ABM requires your sales and marketing teams to not just align, but to partner. They must:
- Identify ABM targets together, deciding which accounts, which decision-makers and influencers are the most important and agreeing on what actions come next.
- Work together to create great content, combining the insights of the sales team with the creativity of the marketing team.
- Align the tools they use, such as CRM platforms, to ensure everyone is working from the same statistics and insights.
Many marketing departments start ABM without the full sign-on of their sales team, who may be swamped and unable to give the project the support it needs. Getting this support is essential to success.
2. Risking your strategy on an unclean database
Using ABM effectively requires extensive research into your customer because the content, message and channel should depend on their challenges, opportunities and preferences.
But what happens when you find out two months too late that your target company has made several key changes internally? Influencers you’ve been targeting have either moved on or are now in alternate roles, and your programme has been wasting money for several weeks.
Professionals are changing jobs and moving companies more often than ever, and your data is only good if it's current. The time and effort you invest in ABM make it mandatory to maintain a squeaky-clean database.
3. Not creating unique, highly-personalised content specifically for ABM
The whole idea behind ABM is to narrow in on the challenges and opportunities of specific companies – then use targeted, unique content to engage with their decision-makers and influencers. Yet, many businesses fall into the temptation of reusing or repurposing existing generic content for their ABM programmes.
These non-specific, non-targeted content pieces save money, but they’re not effective. ABM only works when communications and content are personalised and relevant. Without unique content, ABM is simply an expensive way of delivering your existing marketing materials.
4. Failing to map the account
When you choose an account for your ABM programme, your next step is to map it out. When this is done ineffectively, or skipped, it is hard to correctly target your personalised content. Taking a deep-dive into the internal business structure is important because not every individual in that business has the same challenges or perspective.
Your content shouldn’t just be specific to that business but should be specific to different divisions and job titles, sometimes even down to the level of individuals.
For example, there are big differences between the content you need to show a c-level decision-maker and the content you should show an influencer, such as an IT manager. They have different challenges, different questions and they might even have a different level of awareness of your brand.
This certainly is not an exhaustive list of pitfalls, and as your programmes evolve different challenges will arise. Starting small and allowing yourself room to improve will save you time and money in the long run.
ABM is the most exciting and the fast-growing flavour of B2B marketing, with early adopters showing phenomenal success and redrawing the map of sales and marketing relationships. But amid a barrage of hype from tech vendors, what does best practice really look like