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  • What is an ABM campaign ?

    In the headlong rush to Account-Based Marketing, many B2B businesses are, quite naturally, looking to implement ABM in a manner which allows them to dip their feet at the proverbial water.
                                                                
    In the agency business, such as ours, this has led into a notable uptick of interest in what are often called (from the customer): "ABM Campaigns." A normal narrative in these situations: We have been hearing about ABM, our manager is asking about ABM, we would like to try ABM, can you help us put together a campaign so we can test the waters and give ABM an attempt?

     

    There's just one problem: there really is no such thing as an "ABM Campaign."

    ABM is a strategy, and a wholly different way of looking at how leads, opportunities and revenue are created.

     

    ABM has different metrics ("leads" as such don't actually enter into the conversation), requires a different creative approach that's specific to companies, personas, even people, and needs highly personalized, relevant content. It is a strategic initiative which involves (or should involve) both sales and marketing at all levels of the organization.

     

    That isn't to say, however, you can not successfully design and implement a highly targeted, tightly integrated, multi-channel, multi-touch campaign aimed at a finite number of specific, key accounts. However, more than just semantics, it is a mistake to call such a campaign "ABM" because doing so implies that the relative success or failure of the program is a measuring stick for whether ABM makes sense on a bigger scale.

     

    Instead, let us call such programs "target account campaigns". Target account campaigns have a role to play in the wider demand generation mix, and can even be an effective way of testing many ABM tactics (segmentation, personalization, sales alignment, integrated channels), but they're primarily strategic in nature, and implemented independently of any larger ABM initiative.

     

     

    There are other differences:

    • Target account lists are typically based on industry sector, company size, or even complete whim, whereas ABM typically employs more insight-based account selection through such tools as predictive analytics
    • Target account campaigns may involve personalization, but such personalization is typically limited, or, at minimum, less scalable than the Kind of personalization employed through a full-scale ABM plan
    • The achievement of goal account campaigns is typically measured by responses or leads or meetings, whereas ABM strategies are measured by account-level metrics such as awareness, influence, and penetration
    • Target account campaigns are potential leveraging only the most basic in marketing automation and ad technology (for example, programmatic display advertisements.) To be executed at scale, ABM typically requires additional functionality, such as account-level scoring, advanced sales play orchestration, and Ad/Web personalization.
    • Goal account campaigns are marketing-driven and typically involve the sales team only peripherally (for instance, after an appointment is set up with an experienced lead.) Successful ABM programs require the buy-in, sponsorship, and active participation of multiple teams, notably sales, but maybe even customer service, at each stage of the process.

    With the proper preparation and executive order (and possibly an expert partner -- ahem), it is possible to implement ABM modestly, in phases, or on a "pilot" level, without breaking the bank or diminishing the size of the marketing team.

     

    So, by all means, give ABM a try. Just please don't feel that one campaign, however successful, is a legitimate test of whether ABM makes sense for the company.

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