The Top Account-Based Marketing Challenges - And How To Overcome Them

Turn your account-based marketing challenges into opportunities with these expert tips.

The results are in, and the benefits of account-based marketing are undeniable: better operational efficiency, higher customer retention, increased revenue and more. But that doesn’t mean ABM is without hiccups, especially if your program is in its infancy. 

Beginners face many account-based marketing challenges, usually due to the complexity of their systems, manual processes, and overall inexperience. Yet even experienced ABM’ers face problems brought about by changing markets, economies, and laws. Optimizing your ABM program requires constant innovation and agility, especially in today’s unpredictable and volatile world. 

Some of the ABM challenges below have always existed. Others are new, caused by shifts in B2B sales and in the workplace due to the worldwide pandemic and economic recession. One thing they all have in common: With the right tools and expertise, they are completely solvable. 

Challenge #1: Aligning Your Team

Organizational alignment is one of the top benefits of a successful ABM program, but it isn’t always easy to achieve. Your stakeholders - the executive team, marketing, sales, and IT - all want different things. Even getting buy-in from the executive team can be difficult. Then you must still bring everyone together to align on goals and metrics. These aren’t usually teams that are used to working together, so solving this account-based marketing challenge will take some skill.

What you can do: Get started on alignment right away. Meet with each team separately to gather information, then hold discovery sessions with everyone together where you share that information and reach alignment.  

Challenge #2: Using the Right Metrics

Shifting your mindset away from traditional metrics is a big ABM challenge for many marketers. If the marketing team is used to tracking visitor-centric metrics like traffic, page views, or impressions, they may be in for a surprise. Sales will also need to stop thinking in terms of metrics like marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) or net-new leads and start thinking about marketing-qualified accounts (MQAs) instead. Account engagement, pipeline velocity and customer retention are also important KPIs to track that may be new to your team.

What you can do: Get to know ABM KPIs so you can explain them to your team, then involve everyone in the process of choosing what you will measure. This account-based marketing challenge will be easily solved once your team sees how your new metrics help prove pipeline revenue

Challenge #3: Aligning Your Technology

The popularity of ABM has skyrocketed in the past few years – and so has the amount of ABM technology available. Many marketing teams have built their ABM programs piecemeal, adding media management here and full-funnel analytics there. While you don’t necessarily need to use a full-service ABM platform, you do need to ensure data interoperability, implement closed-loop reporting and optimize your tech stack so that everyone is working together, not siloed. 

What you can do: It can be hard to take a holistic, objective view of your own programs and systems. This is one ABM challenge where you may want to bring in the experts. An outside team like BOL has established processes to evaluate and align your technology, so you can implement a truly data-driven marketing strategy

Challenge #4: Personalizing and Differentiating Content

Personalization is the cornerstone of any ABM strategy – without content that is highly personalized and targeted, you’re not really doing ABM at all. The first step to personalization is to build your target account list (TAL), which can be an ABM challenge in itself (this goes along with challenge #3: when your technology is optimized, making and updating TALs gets much easier). Then you still need to create content that will connect with that list on a deeper level.

What you can do: Always put your audience first: Create an account-based content marketing strategy that focuses on what matters to your target accounts, not to your business. Dig into their pain points and offer content that helps solve them. It’s the reason content is king, in any type of marketing. 

Challenge #5: Inability to Scale

This account-based marketing challenge goes hand-in-hand with personalization: After all, content personalized to a particular industry, decision-maker or even individual is great for breaking through to your target audience but less great for scaling your ABM program. And in today’s landscape, every marketer is responsible for proving the ROI of their efforts – an ROI that is often realized through scaling. 

What you can do: With the right content strategy, you can create assets that are easily refreshed for specific industries or decision-making roles. You can also create templates for things like landing pages that you can use for 1:1 campaigns. But, like many other ABM challenges, the real answer here is technology. Automate as much of your ABM process as possible, and ROI will follow. 

Challenge #6: Remote Work and Events

Now we’re getting into some new ABM challenges marketers are seeing that have been brought about by the recent shifts in the workplace. By some estimates, 25–30% of the workforce will be working at home more than one day a week by the end of 2021, and those numbers rise for work that can easily be done at home – like your B2B buyers. Plus, the pandemic has completely transformed the sales funnel – and this trend isn’t likely to reverse itself in the near future, at least not entirely. All of this affects your ability to track, target and reach B2B buyers.

What you can do: Now is the time to focus on segmenting and optimizing your data. Explore new channels that aren’t usually associated with ABM or B2B marketing, such as Facebook, Twitter, Gmail display ads, podcasts, and over-the-top ads for smart TVs. And tailor your messaging to speak to the times, without being overbearing. 

Challenge #7: The Death of Cookies

With the recent passage of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and the New York SHIELD Act, plus upcoming laws in many other states, consumer privacy has become one of the hottest account-based marketing challenges. Tech companies are getting in on the debate, giving users new privacy settings that could affect your tracking. And third-party cookies are disappearing, impacting the bid stream and your media performance.

What you can do: Data isn’t completely dead, but it will change. First-party data will become king, as it can be used appropriately and in accordance with the new laws. Contextual targeting and real-time behavioral data will also be important pieces of the new data puzzle. 

While you’re sure to encounter some ABM challenges on this journey, at the end of the day, it shouldn’t be stressful. Every challenge has an answer if you know where to look.