Here are a few email subject lines that might ring a bell for B2B buyers:

  • Time to chat?

  • Hey [First Name], here’s some more info about X

  • Did you find what you were looking for?

Imagine an HR manager at an organization is searching for a new platform to organize employee records. Every morning she opens her inbox to a slew of these B2B emails on her buyer journey. If a company with a proprietary HR platform sees her interacting with its content, what should the company do? How does it approach, engage, and guide this HR manager to conversion?

One possible solution is account-based marketing (ABM), the practice of marketing and directing content to targeted accounts — like the HR manager, along with her team members — instead of a traditional top-of-funnel approach. While there are many missteps that can hinder the momentum of any ABM strategy, there are also many factors that contribute to its success, such as the intelligent use of data.

At a company wide level, ABM calls for huge changes in the traditional B2B marketing and sales mindset, and these changes go beyond having the data to target key accounts. Here are some major shifts to consider if you’re thinking about doing ABM effectively:


1.  ABM is not a campaign


All along, we’ve been reading about the resurgence of ABM, mostly due to the breakthroughs in how artificial intelligence analyzes and employs data. In part because of these strides in AI, marketers and sales teams have been able to target more specific accounts, and create more personalized content for them.

This access to AI and data has led some companies to equate ABM with familiar “campaign” approaches we often see in both B2B and B2C. Marketing teams, for example, will flesh out journey maps for target personas, pinpointing key touchpoints across awareness, evaluation, purchase, onboarding, retention, and advocacy. These touchpoints drive content creation for certain campaigns.

The problem with this way of thinking is ABM isn’t campaign-focused. There isn’t one definitive customer path. Instead, ABM should be considered an adaptive, fluid mindset, where marketers, sales teams, and others understand that ABM never stops.

It’s more effective to look at ABM as a strategic initiative that takes constant effort and adaptation across an organization.

2.  ABM requires company-wide support

According to Salesforce’s “State of Marketing” report surveying 3,500 marketing leaders, 65% of business buyers say they’re likely to switch brands if a vendor doesn’t personalize communications to their company. With this in mind, not getting buy-in for ABM, especially from the C-suite down, is risky business.

If executive-level team members don’t see the value in targeting key accounts, marketers can’t strategize appropriately, or create and distribute valuable content. Sales teams won’t have the assets they need to personalize every email, phone call, and pitch deck. Customer service reps won’t be able to resolve issues effectively.

ABM requires a massive shift in a company’s approach to winning new business, and without teams aligning their goals or key stakeholders backing the effort, there’s little chance it’ll lead to positive results.

3.  Marketers need to think like sales teams


The “State of Marketing” report also shows that high-performing B2B marketers are 2.1x more likely than underperformers to be aligned with sales teams on goals and metrics. They also better understand how their efforts directly impact individual accounts.

These marketers have made a key change in their approach to ABM: they’ve started to think like sales teams. In doing so, they’ve broken silos between teams, and changed their mindsets. One approach to sales is to view potential leads as individuals, rather than accounts. Marketers need to start doing the same thing, especially with data at their fingertips that provides extensive insight into the key players within a target account.

As marketers at more and more companies, including SMBs, start to improve their ABM strategies, they’ll continue to move away a campaign-focused mindset. Instead they’ll get buy-in across their organizations, and think more like salespeople.

Learn more about how to elevate your B2B marketing efforts with our guide to intelligent ABM.