Top 12 Reasons Account-Based Marketing Campaigns Don't Get Results

Account-based marketing (ABM) is one of the most effective strategies for B2B sales. That’s why 87% of marketers using ABM strategies say that ABM outperforms every other type of marketing investment.

When ABM is done right, it can get results like these:

So, with all of these wonderful benefits, why doesn’t every organization utilizing ABM realize these kinds of results?

ABM is easily one of the most misunderstood things in B2B marketing today. Many companies are conducting targeted demand-generation campaigns and thinking they are running true ABM campaigns. While demand generation is part of the sales process, there is so much more that goes into a successful ABM strategy.

Here are the top 12 reasons why ABM campaigns don't get results.

Lack of Marketing and Sales Alignment

Perhaps the biggest reason ABM campaigns don’t produce the desired results is a lack of alignment between marketing and sales teams.

ABM can significantly increase alignment by forcing marketing and sales to work together, but it only works when there’s true alignment in goals. This requires sales and marketing to fully understand how ABM works and jointly develop strategies.

Account-based marketing follows a 5-step process:

  • Identification of target accounts
  • Development of Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs)
  • Content creation for each stage of the buying journey
  • Campaign execution
  • Measurement and optimization

With alignment, ABM campaigns can struggle to produce results and foil sales enablement. Unfortunately, this lack of cohesion is all too common. For example, a Forrester study showed that just a third of the content generated by marketing teams is actively used by the sales team. The remaining two-thirds are either difficult to find, undiscovered by sales teams, or don’t contain the information sales teams feel they need to close deals.

Not Using Common KPIs

Another common problem is when sales and marketing teams use different KPIs to measure ABM success. While there will certainly be some differences in goals, there must be common KPIs to evaluate overall success.

If marketing teams, for example, are judged by their ability to generate leads, it incentivizes them to produce more leads without regard to quality. Yet, ABM excels when it targets high-quality leads. At the same time, when sales teams are evaluated only on sales metrics, such as deal size, it may result in sales only engaging with a subset of leads they determine are worth their time.

By creating aligned KPIs across the entire process, both teams will be held to the same standards and focused on the results.

Poorly Defined Ideal Customer Profiles

Ideal Customer Profiles (ICPs) are essential to creating customized content for targeting. This helps you eliminate marketing waste by focusing on target prospects that are most likely to buy. If your ICP is too broad or doesn't align on data points or qualities that can be used to personalize content, it can be easy to miss the mark.

Developing the best ICPs take research, including:

  • Quantitative research
  • Qualitative research
  • Purchase intent data
  • Predictive analytics

Remember that ICPs are not customer personas; they are focused on finding the types of companies most likely to have an interest in or need for your products or services.

The more tightly you can draw your ICPs, the more likely you will have success.

Not Prioritizing ICPs or Using Buyer Intent Data

Besides segmenting, you also need to prioritize your target accounts. This can help you focus your most intense efforts on best-fit accounts. A good strategy is to assign target accounts to tiers, such as:

  • Tier 1:  Accounts that have a demonstrated need for your products or services and the likely budget to afford it.
  • Tier 2: Accounts that meet your ICP criteria and have shown some level of interest, but may be smaller than the ideal size in terms of revenue.
  • Tier 3: Accounts that meet some of your ICP criteria, but are either early in the buying cycle or there are unknowns.

Integrating buyer intent data into your ABM strategy helps match prospects against ICPs to find the most likely prospects. For example, Tier 1 prospects that have demonstrated buyer intent are exceptionally high-value targets. They are more likely to convert with a shorter sales cycle. As such, they should be your highest priority in ABM.

By identifying this high-value group, you can customize content even further, moving from one-to-many ABM to one-to-one ABM strategies.

Not Micro-Targeting High-Value Accounts

Another mistake marketers make is not targeting at the C-level or micro-targeting/personalizing high-value leads. Some of the most effective ABM strategies include customizing content for C-suite executives in buying groups.

This requires a deep understanding of account-based marketing strategies and organizational roles. Your approach to CFOs and CIOs would be different even for the same product. For example, if you are marketing a SaaS platform, you would want to emphasize ROI for CFOs while highlighting data security to CIOs.

Not Targeting By Roles

If you’re targeting a large company, you could have hundreds or thousands of employees in a potential pool but only a handful will have input into a buying decision. If you’re not targeting by role and function, you’re wasting a lot of effort and marketing dollars.

Using Overly Broad Target Account Lists (TALs)

ABM works best when you target smaller groups of high-value accounts. If your target account List (TAL) is too large, you may fail to maximize the value of ABM. Since your target account list provides the foundation upon which you deliver your marketing strategy, this can be a fatal flaw.

It is possible to have large target account lists if you are segmenting them. Using firmographics data, such as geographic location, industry, organization, or revenue can help you sort TALs efficiently and create segmented groups for targeting.

Not Utilizing ABM Personalization

Creative that isn't built for or personalized for your ICP and TAL is a missed opportunity. At the heart of ABM is the ability to customize content at scale to deliver the right messaging to your target accounts.

Today’s technology allows for automated personalization in an assortment of ways from personalized email outreach to dynamic content on websites that changes depending on past behavior to customized sequences based on micro-conversions. However, it all has to work in concert to achieve optimal success.

Using an Inefficient Tech Stack

To maximize your ABM strategies, you need a centralized and integrated tech stack. Many organizations still have separate customer databases or have siloed information which makes it nearly impossible to track the customer journey through their lifecycle. Marketers are thus unable to monitor and measure effectively at each touchpoint to deliver the best possible content at the right time in the buyer’s journey.

You need a holistic solution with a centralized database that makes it easy to identify, nurture, track, and measure. ABM platforms like 6sense, Demandbase, or Terminus help build scale and efficiency in a centralized platform to create a seamless marketing and sales pipeline.

Not Creating The Right Content

Effective account-based marketing requires developing content for every stage of the buying journey and the ability to customize for your B2B prospects. This can be a significant challenge for marketers, especially when they are first implementing B2B strategies and haven’t built up their inbound marketing content.

40% of B2B marketers say one of their biggest challenges is developing the right content for target customers. Many organizations try to shortcut their asset development and fail to have the available content they need at certain points in the buying journey.

Focusing on Demand Gen and not ABM

With demand generation, you are pushing content out across several channels to different segments of your prospects. While this is a part of ABM, it’s only part. With account-based marketing, you are trying to capture specific accounts with personalized content.

While demand generation campaigns create new leads, ABM nurtures these leads with complex, automated sequences designed to turn marketing qualified leads (MQLs) into sales qualified leads (SQLs) for conversion.

If your campaigns are structured more for demand gen and not ABM, or not utilizing your demand gen programs along with your ABM programs properly, you’re missing the opportunity to realize the power of both strategies.

Failing to Test and Optimize

One of the great benefits of ABM is that you can test various combinations of content to see what performs best. Do different email subject lines lead to higher open rates? Do certain CTAs lead to more clicks?  Do gated assets lead to more product demos?

You can conduct A/B tests or multivariate testing for almost anything to constantly optimize performance and realize the full benefit of account-based marketing. Analyzing the data and how targeted accounts interact at each touchpoint can reveal patterns to refine your marketing approach and maximize results.

Avoid These Common ABM Mistakes

While there are many ways in which ABM campaigns can fall short, when you are implementing best practices and using a proven ABM strategy, it can supercharge your marketing and sales efforts. Avoid these common mistakes and you significantly increase your odds of success.