Used in the right way, account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategy that can deliver valuable business benefits, such as:
- Stronger, more personalized engagement with leads and customers
- Less time and money wasted on leads that don't generate revenue
- A shorter, more efficient sales cycle
- Better relationships with existing customers
An increasing number of businesses are recognizing the advantages of ABM and making it a part of their wider marketing strategy. More than 90% of marketers reportedly believe ABM is essential to B2B marketing, while 84% of firms say this approach generates higher ROI than other strategies.
There’s a lot to be gained from ABM, but to really get the best from it you need to be aware of the challenges as well as the opportunities. Here are some of the biggest risks you should be aware of to maximize your chances of ABM success:
1. Failing to align sales and marketing
Marketing and sales operating in isolation from one another is a common problem for many businesses. Achieving the right alignment between these departments is particularly important where ABM is concerned, since members of both teams need to fully understand how the strategy works and what they can do to help it succeed.
Sales and marketing will need to work together to make decisions such as which accounts are best-suited to ABM.
Cooperation between the departments will also shed light on what further research and insights are required to ensure the content and messaging you're using to engage customers delivers results.
2. Taking a short-term view
ABM should be viewed as a marathon, not a sprint. A key step in gaining company-wide buy-in for the strategy is building understanding that it may take some time for the results to become clear.
One of the biggest risks to avoid where ABM is concerned is viewing it as a quick win or a short-term project.
Research has shown that the length of time required to see results is the number one challenge of this form of marketing, followed by how to get started and devising a content strategy.
3. Targeting the wrong accounts
It should come as no surprise - given what the 'A' stands for in ABM - that the success of this approach is heavily dependent on selecting the accounts that are best-suited to the program.
You can start this process by coming up with a picture of what your ideal target account looks like. In the case of B2B marketing, this profile should include elements such as:
- Company size
- Annual revenue
- Preferred product/service criteria
- Likelihood of repeat purchase
When the time comes to identify leads and customers you feel would be a good fit for ABM, you need to have maximum confidence in the data you're using to inform the decision. Working with outdated or inaccurate CRM records will put you at a major disadvantage before the program has even begun.
4. Targeting too many accounts
One of the common pitfalls companies encounter when introducing ABM is thinking too big and attempting to roll out the strategy across too many accounts. The amount of time, research and personalization required to make ABM a success means it's nowhere near as scalable as mass marketing.
It's wise to start small and give your team the time they need to ensure your first steps into the world of ABM lead to success. Starting with too many accounts will raise the risk of sub-standard campaigns and poor results because your staff are overstretched.
Getting your ABM strategy off to a slow, careful start and expanding it gradually will also give you the time to assess which elements are working well and which aspects should be revisited before the program is rolled out to more clients.
5. Ineffective measurement
Success in ABM - like all forms of marketing - isn't just about planning, launching and managing campaigns. It's essential that you're able to follow up on your efforts to nurture and support specific accounts with effective measurement.
This means coming up with metrics and KPIs that are relevant to ABM. Where mass marketing campaigns might use generic metrics such as email newsletter click-throughs or generation of sales-qualified leads, ABM campaign measurement requires a more nuanced approach.
Tracking changes in the quality of your customer relationships and strength of engagement with target decision makers, for example, will help you draw informed conclusions about the success of your ABM program.