How to Optimize Your ABM Campaigns the Right Way

We Need To Increase Leads – Can We Try That “ABM Thing”?

ABM is a strategic approach, not a tactic. If you chat with an expert at BusinessOnline, you’ll hear this repeated over and over. 

And it’s true! 

Treating ABM like just another line item on your marketing to-dos, is exactly how we see ABM programs fail.

Too often, we hear clients say ‘We want to increase leads – can we try that ABM thing?’ 

Moving to a Strategic Approach

TOPO’s 2019 ABM Benchmark study cites coordinated programs across marketing and sales as the top factor contributing to ABM success.

Strong ABM programs revolve around a close, collaborative relationship between marketing and sales.

Changing the mindset of your marketing and sales organizations, to work toward common goals —  like winning net new logos, growing revenue, and reducing churn — helps build a united front, and ultimately, improves ROI. 

Creating exceptionally tailored, personalized experiences pushes these goals forward.

Reducing waste, both in targeting and media spend for marketing, and in time spent on sales, enables greater focus on what’s really important: the customer. 

Having an approach centered on alignment and personalization will set you up for what’s next: defining and tracking success. 

Before You Can Optimize Your Campaigns, You Must Set Expectations

Appropriately setting your expectations, goals, and KPIs will help further maintain alignment as ABM campaign progress. Ideally, this would happen BEFORE a campaign is even in-market. 

Understand and reflect on some of the most common misconceptions and missteps around account identification, campaigns set up and reporting.

Getting buy-in for these goals and expectations from sales, marketing, and your executive team prevents future headaches.

Collaborative planning sessions help to ensure every team feels heard and represented and has a chance to communicate what is most important to them. 

Take a (realistic) data-driven approach to account selection Rely only on accounts you wish you worked with
Focus on quality of leads and pipeline metrics – SQLs, pipeline acceleration, expected revenue Prioritize volume of leads over quality
Consider individuals within buying committees Target only the primary decision-maker


Taking an AI-Supported, Human-Driven Approach to Optimization

ABM relies on granular, de-anonymized account reporting. ABM tools can help here!

Additionally, most of these tools have advanced features to support account identification, targeted media capabilities, advanced intent data, and AI-driven models for prioritizing accounts. 

As technology and media nerds, we LOVE the prospect of having systems automatically determine the right path forward for our campaigns – but have learned over the years that these systems are really only as good as the data put into them. 

Take, for example, lookalike account lists. If you upload a list of 50 companies that are largely unrelated, the outputs will have much less in common and will be less likely to hit the mark. 

On the flip side, if you’re building a lookalike of accounts with clear commonalities, the outputs will feel a bit less random. It’s always worth a second look at the outputs to ensure that the accounts still make sense for your business.

A great way to determine if new accounts are really a good fit is by chatting with your sales team. 

While comparing any new targets to your ICP framework is a good first step, getting specific feedback will help identify criteria, not in your ICP. 

Often, there’s a  range of reasons outside of typical ICP identifiers that an account is or isn’t a good fit, or why particular contacts make more sense than others to target. 

Having an open line of communication with your sales team can help keep your programs on track. 

Optimizing Campaign Tactics

When it comes to actual campaign tactics within your ABM strategy:

Test, Measure & Iterate

Using the same content, messaging and tactics over and over again will not get you new results. Don’t be afraid to allocate a healthy portion of your budget to testing. 

  1. Test: This can be everything from ad copy, to content and even channels. Don’t be handcuffed to your typical search/social/display/email digital channels! Creating personal experiences means really taking a look at where your audience operates. Some thought starters:
    • Is there a podcast that you know a few of your target accounts are likely interested in? Sponsor it! 
    • Are there industry organizations that multiple target brands belong to? Target those groups on LinkedIn, or host a co-branded webinar with the association.
    • Events they attend? If attending it as a sponsor, or hosting an adjacent event (HH, Roundtable) is out of the question, consider digital OOH placement around the event, or real-time geo-fencing.
  2. Measure: Before you set a test, know your goals, and track against them. Realize that like with all marketing approaches, ABM tactics can have different objectives. If you’re running a webinar, your goal could be registrants within target accounts, whereas event sponsorship could be measured with pre-and-post account intent scoring in your ABM tool. 
  3. Iterate: If a particular channel or targeting tactic didn’t work, think about how it could be done differently before totally scrapping the effort altogether. Even if it was successful – consider if there is a different way you could segment or a new way of messaging that might resonate.

While all of these tactics can help kickstart your successful ABM journey, the most important thing to remember is BE REALISTIC. This is a fundamental shift in how you’re approaching marketing, and it can’t happen overnight. Patience, attentiveness, and a hefty dose of bravery will really pay off here.

LEARN MORE ABOUT Business Online’s ABM Process Here!