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Fran RugoAugust 30, 20236 min read

How to start running ABM without adding to your martech stack

B2B marketing has shifted from traditional methods to digital tactics. The COVID-19 pandemic only accelerated the buyer’s journey transformation as customers were no longer in the office. To effectively reach customers, marketers invested in martech tools, sometimes more than necessary. That’s where account-based marketing (ABM) comes in. The beauty of ABM is that you don’t need to add more tools to your stack. Read how you can customize an ABM strategy to meet your specific needs and work with your current set of tools.

For years B2B marketing has been moving away from traditional marketing means to more modern digital tactics. Accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, B2B marketing went through a rapid transformation into the digital space. Abrupt shifts to buying behaviors meant you had to reach customers where they were – which was no longer the office – and the best way to do that was through digital strategies. To keep up with the changing landscape, marketers invested in martech tools—many invested in more martech tools than they knew what to do with.

According to new research from the Winterberry Group, 1/3 of companies with revenues above $500 million use more than six different tools to support their marketing efforts. What’s interesting is that the marketers in the study also ranked identifying and targeting the right audience as their primary challenge. Data that is scattered and spread thin across multiple tools makes it more difficult to understand who you should be targeting and how you should reach these audiences.

That, coupled with the fact that 2/3 of CFOs believe the surge in martech spending has not met company expectations tells us that we shouldn’t be adding to our martech stack, but instead optimizing our current stack for results.

Where should you start? Try leaning into account-based marketing (ABM). That’s a beautiful thing about ABM – you don’t need to add to your existing martech stack to get started. You can build an ABM strategy to meet your needs and work with your current set of tools.

There are so many reasons to run ABM. A few key benefits include reducing the need to add to your tech stack, increasing ROI, shortening sales cycles, improving efficiency, and bettering customer experience.

ABM benefits

  • No need to add to your tech stack: You don’t need to invest in an expensive tool to run ABM. As long as you have good data, sales and marketing alignment, you can start running ABM right away.
  • Increased ROI: ABM focuses on the best, high-value accounts for your business. Devoting more efforts to these leads can help you see higher ROI and increased customer loyalty.
  • Shorter sales cycle: You’re focused on potential customers who are a great fit for your company. This means they are likely already closer to making a purchase decision than other leads.
  • Improved efficiency: For the same reasons we’ve stated in the last bullet points, ABM helps you reach your goals more efficiently. Focusing on these accounts allows you to optimize and personalize programs to get them to convert.
  • Better customer experience: You can provide more value to prospects by using data to understand their unique pain points and customize your messaging.


How to start running ABM


#1 Build out you ABM list

The first step in running an ABM campaign is to build a list of target accounts.

Ideal Customer Profile

The best way to start is by identifying your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). Think about the demographics, firmographics, behavioral data, and psychographics of your best customers. Using this information, you can build out an ICP to help you select customers for your ABM program.

Layer on intent data

Then use intent data to look for customers who are showing interest around your product or service. In our recent research, 97% of those surveyed said that intent data leads drive more pipeline than non-intent data leads.

Online activities, like visiting web pages, reading blogs, or engaging on social media create intent data.  This data is then used to pinpoint individuals who are in-market by showing who is researching topics related to your business. This lets you narrow a large account list down to a small group of more likely-to-convert prospects. With intent, you won’t waste time and effort on accounts that aren’t close to a buying decision. From there, you can also use their intent data to understand what types of content will resonate with the prospects so you can tailor your outreach for best results.

Expand your list with content syndication

If you’ve identified a list of accounts but want to add to it, try running content syndication to collect more contacts within the buying groups at those companies. You can take your existing list and use the information you have to target similar individuals at different companies. This effectively helps you cast a larger net using very specific criteria. As people engage with your content syndication program and it generates more leads, review the leads to see if they are a good fit for your ABM campaign.

#2 Begin a targeted campaign to reach your ABM list

Start your ABM campaign through a channel or channels you know your audience will be engaged with. For example, if you know your audience is highly-engaged on social media and email, these may be the best places to start.

Incorporate personalization

One of the major benefits of ABM is that since you’re using a small list it is easier to personalize your outreach to your targets. Personalization is a great way to make your prospect feel connected to your brand. However, it’s important to time your personalization right. Personalizing too much before a prospect has engaged with your brand can come across as creepy.

#3 Retarget them with high-value content

Once your target accounts have begun to engage with your initial emails or ads, plan to retarget them with high-value content or offers. At this point, you know that they are in-market for your services and your goal is to move them down the funnel.

Retarget them with a personalized social media ad or through a well-thought-out nurture email to keep them engaging as they get closer to their purchase decision.

#4 Host ABM events

ABM events are a great way to give a little extra attention to these high-priority prospects. Remember this shouldn’t be a sales pitch. Use these events as an opportunity to build relationships with the prospect and provide them some additional value.

These events are best suited as intimate events with one or a handful of prospect accounts. They can provide some educational element related to one of their pain points or interests as well as a fun activity to foster relationships (think axe throwing or a mixology class).

ABM events don’t necessarily need to be in person— you can leave the same impact through hybrid or virtual events. Remember to goal is to create a positive experience with the prospect and help build their relationship with your company.

Looking forward

As you move through your campaign, it’s important to work closely with your sales team. They’re going to play an important role in building and fostering your relationship with your ABM prospects. Continue to review and optimize your ABM program. Learn from what works for your team and build it in to your future ABM strategies.


Fran Rugo

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