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Account Based Marketing: A Complete Beginner’s Guide

July 10, 2018 Lizzie Hoffman

Keeping up with the latest and greatest marketing tactics can be exhausting. It seems like a never-ending cycle of strategies that will solve your marketing woes with false promises, a few button clicks, and a nice portion of your budget. Account Based Marketing isn’t one of those strategies.

To help you navigate the waters, we’ve put together a complete (and quick) guide to this marketing methodology, taking you from start to finish and showing you just how it makes a difference without the typical false promises.

Account Based Marketing: What it is & What it isn't

Account Based Marketing isn’t anything new. In fact, it’s been the strategy your sales team has used for years, targeting accounts specifically rather than contacts. It’s a matter of who companies target as their audience, what tools they use, and analyzing the data for optimization in the future. Account Based Marketing is not

  • a set it and forget it methodology
  • something you can use to send out a general message to thousands of contacts and hope for the best
  • a guessing game.

Account Based Marketing is a strategy. It requires careful analysis of customer profiles, consistent effective communication with your Sales team, and willingness to play the long game with SEM and SEO tactics.  

Let’s take it all back to where we started, the Inbound funnel. Awareness, Consideration, and Decision stages are drilled into every marketer’s brain so much so they can recite the mantra in their sleep. Account Based Marketing is a marketing strategy comprised of four steps rather than three, but to focus on those steps appropriately, we have to flip the funnel. That’s right, we’re flipping it. The first three steps in Account Based Marketing are Identify, Expand, Engage.

The Ultimate ABM Guide

Identify, Expand, Engage: The Golden Trio


This is where Account Based Marketing gets fun, especially if you love communicating with clients and are eager to work more productively with your Sales team. To Identify your target audience in Account Based Marketing is to create an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). When you create your ICP, you have a laser-focused target audience you know everything about. But it isn’t the contact you’re analyzing, it’s the account. The customer in the ICP is the account you want to be working with. To determine your ICP, you must know your target account’s:

  • Industry
  • Company size
  • Technographics
  • Revenue
  • Location
  • Departments
  • Employee Responsibilities
  • Employee Roles

By doing this, you are improving the accuracy of your Buyer Persona(s), which ultimately expands your reach.


What is better: Reaching one marketing employee or four decision makers? With the 2nd step to Account Based Management, it’s all about expanding your influence. By reaching more than one friendly face at a company, your chances of entering the next round of decision-making increases.

There are a number of ways to expand your number of contacts associated with an account in your database. One method of expanding your contacts at a given account is by using data enrichment tools. This method involves implementing applications or bringing on companies to help get the missing pieces that make the difference in your marketing. Another method is similar to the 3rd step, Engagement.


Engagement is a combination of having your Buyer Persona(s) on point, the content those Buyer Personas need, and the budget to spend on targeted ad campaigns. This is where Inbound Marketing is important, and there’s a good reason for it. Inbound and Account Based Marketing are a team.

With both ABM tactics and Inbound methods, you easily boost reach and have the content to support the influx of leads. Both tie into one another and can’t exist exclusively. It would be like buying only a left or right running shoe rather than the pair — you inhibit your activity and lose potential for improvement, especially in lead quality.

When you have a balanced paid and owned (inbound) strategy that included personalized content aligned to the buyer persona, the quality of leads engaging with your content is better than before. They have received relevant content via paid media, email, direct mail campaigns, referrals, a social media post, or they could have discovered your company through organic search. From here, it’s easy to see how accounts smoothly transition into the Sales cycle and more easily become customers.

The 4th Step to Account Based Marketing: Advocacy

Your customers don’t disappear off the face of the planet after their purchase. In fact, keeping in close communication with them is vital to the success of Account Based Management. One of the channels that starts the entire process is referral, and studies show over 80% of buyers prefer referrals before purchasing across all industries. Knowing this, it’s important to create continuing engagement programs with customers. You don’t have to worry about email regulations or Facebook privacy concerns when customers refer your business themselves.

Account Based Marketing Breaks Down Department Barriers

Departments are no longer silos in ABM. From start to finish, Account Based Marketing is a joint effort, requiring knowledge from Sales, Marketing, and your loyal customer accounts. Flipping the funnel, building a carefully-researched plan, working with advocate accounts -- Every little bit counts. With this guide in hand, you’re well on your way to success.


The Ultimate ABM Guide


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