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B2B lead generation is undergoing a transformation, with account-based engagement (ABE) emerging as a game-changer. 

An impressive 75% of marketers say ABM allows them to find and engage the right accounts earlier in the buyer’s journey (RollWorks Opportunity Study). 

B2B marketers are building on their ABM strategies and developing a more targeted, personalized approach to client engagement. Unlike traditional lead generation methods, which cast a wide net, ABE prioritizes customer engagement within specific accounts. 

This article will explore ABE, its role in the ABM campaign funnel, and how it can drive revenue growth for your marketing team. Let’s get to it! 

What is Account-Based Engagement

Account-based engagement, an approach within account-based marketing, targets high-potential B2B prospects through personalized messaging, experiences, and outreach

ABE aims to generate high-value leads, which will improve the ROI of marketing campaigns. This involves analyzing past and current client data and examining the behaviors and motivations of high-value accounts.

There are two avenues to explore here: digital account-based engagement and physical account-based engagement. Let’s look into the differences between each approach.

Digital Account-based Engagement

Digital account-based engagement refers to online interactions with your prospects. This includes

  • Email Engagement: Opening emails, responding to messages, and engaging with email content.
  • Website Visits: Navigating your website, visiting landing pages or product pages.
  • Content Interaction: Comments, downloads, and shares of whitepapers, ebooks, blogs, and thought leadership pieces.
  • Surveys, Forms, and Chatbots: Filling out a survey, form, or communicating with a chatbot or other interactive element.
  • Newsletters and Mailing Lists: Signing up to receive ongoing communication from your organization.

Over three-quarters of B2B buyers prefer digital customer experiences and communication. Digital account-based engagement allows you to reach prospects in their digital habitat, provide real-time support, and maintain consistent touchpoints throughout the buyer’s journey.

Physical Account-based Engagement

On the other hand, physical account-based engagement involves real-world interactions where you're engaging with target accounts through various channels, such as

  • In-Person Events: Conferences, seminars, dinners, and workshops.
  • Post and Mail Packages: Gifts or mailers tailored to the interests and preferences of target accounts.
  • Direct Conversations: Phone calls, in-person meetings, or demos.

Physical account-based engagement can be a high-touch approach to ABM personalization, allowing you to establish stronger relationships and leave a lasting impression on target accounts.

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Is Account-Based Engagement (ABE) the same as Account-Based Marketing(ABM)?

As a senior marketing leader, you’ve no doubt dabbled with Account-Based Marketing (ABM). After all, 87% of companies say it produces a higher return on investment than any other marketing approach.

Account-Based Engagement (ABE) can be considered a subset of ABM because both focus on optimizing marketing efforts toward specific accounts and customer relationships. 

You need aligned marketing, sales, and customer support teams to succeed with ABE and ABM

While ABM is the umbrella term for the overall approach to targeting key accounts, ABE dives deeper into the tactics of engaging with those accounts. This includes an in-depth analysis of prospect buying journeys to engage the right accounts at the right time.

In short: ABM refers to your organization’s overall approach to marketing, and ABE involves the strategies for ensuring effective client engagement within that approach. 

How to Develop an Account-Based Engagement Strategy

Developing a comprehensive Account-Based Engagement (ABE) strategy is the best way to optimize your touch-points with key accounts. Let’s dive into how to create an effective ABE strategy. 

Research and Build a Comprehensive ICP

To kickstart your ABE strategy, begin by researching and building a comprehensive Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and customer personas. First, identify your target audience and their pain points by looking into: 

  • Company Background: Understand your target company's history, mission, and goals.
  • Industry Trends: Stay updated on your target industries' challenges and opportunities.
  • Customer Pain Points: Identify the key pain points and challenges your target customers are facing.
  • Where Your Target Leads Spend Their Time: Determine the online platforms, industry events, and communities where your target leads are active.

Refine your ICP by analyzing data from past successful engagements to identify common traits between your high-value customers. Then, calculate your Total Addressable Market (TAM) to prioritize the most promising market segments and use resources effectively. 

Calculate your TAM using the following formula: TAM = Average revenue per user (ARPU) x total potential customers.

With your ICP defined, you can now apply it to identify and engage with real-world accounts and prospects, which we'll explore next.

Use Your ICP to Pinpoint Real-World Prospects

Now that you've defined your target audience and their pain points, it's time to pinpoint real-world accounts and prospects using intent data, buying centers, and customer journey mapping. This means: 

  • Utilizing Intent Data: Use intent data to identify prospects searching for solutions like yours. By monitoring online behaviors and signals, such as keyword searches, website visits, and content consumption patterns, you can identify prospects showing high levels of interest and engagement.
  • Understanding Buying Centers: Dive deeper into your target accounts' organizational structures to identify the individuals who influence buying decisions. By mapping out buying centers within target organizations, you can tailor your engagement strategies and focus on building relationships with key decision-makers, influencers, and stakeholders.
  • Mapping the Customer Journey: Utilize customer journey mapping to understand the stages and touch-points your prospects move through before making a purchase decision. Customer journey mapping helps you engage prospects at the right time to deliver personalized ads, content, and experiences.

By integrating these strategies into your ABE approach, you can identify and engage with your ideal prospects, ensuring your efforts are targeted and impactful. In the next section, we'll explore how to define and leverage meaningful engagement data to monitor and refine your approach.

Determine the Most Effective Forms of Engagement

Armed with your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), intent data, insights into buying centers, and a customer journey map, you have a robust understanding of your target audience and their behaviors.

By analyzing this data, you can identify the most effective forms of content and engagement channels to reach and resonate with your target accounts. 

Whether it's personalized email campaigns, targeted social media ads, or interactive webinars, selecting the right mix of content and channels ensures your outreach efforts are impactful and resonate with your audience.

“When it comes to engaging with individual accounts, the best practice is to develop custom content that addresses each account's specific challenges and goals,” shares Keran Smith, Co-Founder and CMO of LYFE Marketing. “Marketing leaders looking to implement ABE should prioritize collecting detailed engagement data, leverage case studies as blueprints for success, and tailor their engagement tactics to meet the unique needs of each account.”

In the next section, we'll explore which metrics to track to monitor the effectiveness of your engagement activities and refine your approach accordingly.

Define Meaningful Engagement Data

Now that you've pinpointed real-world accounts for engagement, it's time to figure out how you’re going to monitor inbound engagement. This data will guide your strategy refinement and ensure targeted and impactful interactions.

Key ABM metrics you’ll track to monitor engagement include: 

  • Impressions: Track the number of times your content or message is displayed to your target audience.
  • Clicks: Measure the number of times prospects click on your content or call to action, indicating interest and engagement.
  • Opens: Monitor email opens to gauge prospect interest and the effectiveness of your subject lines.
  • Downloads: Track the number of times prospects download resources or materials, indicating deeper engagement and interest in your offerings.
  • Website Visits: Monitor website traffic to understand prospect behavior and areas of interest.
  • Comments and Form Completions: Engage with prospects who interact with your content by leaving comments or completing forms, indicating active interest and engagement.

Use the list above to inspire your choices, but remember not every metric will be relevant to your approach and campaigns. Once you've decided what to track, investing in data analytics tools, such as CRM and marketing automation, is best to ensure efficient data monitoring. 

Use Marketing Automation Tools for Optimization and Monitoring

Data is king for successful ABM and ABE strategies, but you’ll need help to understand it all. Here are our top recommendations for ABE tools:

  • Terminus: Terminus is a leading platform for ABE that offers comprehensive capabilities for identifying and engaging target accounts. It provides account-based advertising, sales intelligence, and analytics to help businesses drive revenue through personalized engagement.
  • Demandbase: Demandbase is a powerhouse in the realm of ABE, offering a suite of tools designed to orchestrate personalized engagement across sales and marketing teams. It provides account-based advertising, sales enablement, and account-based analytics to align efforts and drive results.
  • RollWorks: RollWorks, a division of NextRoll, offers a suite of ABE tools designed to help businesses identify, engage, and convert target accounts. It provides account-based advertising, personalized content, and account-based analytics to optimize engagement and drive pipeline growth.

For more information on these tools and others, check out our guide, Best Account-Based Marketing Software: Reviewed for 2024. Selecting the right ABE tools for your business is the first step in executing and refining your ABE strategy for maximum impact.

Prepare and Align Your Sales Outreach

You now know who, how, and where you’re going to engage target accounts, but what happens after successful engagement? Your next step?  Aligning sales outreach with marketing activities to drive conversion and revenue. This can be done by 

  • Sharing Your ABE Strategy: Share and collaborate with your sales team while developing your ABE strategy. This ensures sales outreach activities are aligned with the goals and objectives of ABE.
  • Personalize Outreach Efforts: Use the insights gathered from your ABE activities to improve the personalization and impact of your outreach.
  • Include Multi-Channel Engagement: To engage with prospects, employ a variety of communication channels, such as email, phone calls, and social media, and implement a coordinated approach across channels for a cohesive and effective outreach strategy.
  • Focus on Relationship Building: Prioritize building relationships with key stakeholders and decision-makers within target accounts, nurturing leads through a personalization strategy, and providing value-added content and resources to foster trust and credibility.

How to Measure and Optimize Your ABE Strategy

You’ve implemented your ABE, so it’s time to enter the maintenance and optimization stage. Start tracking each engagement in-depth to develop an overall engagement score, which will require the following information:

  • Activity Date: The date the engagement occurred.
  • Prospect Name: The full name of the prospect.
  • Prospect Title: The prospect's job title.
  • Account Name: The name of the company the prospect belongs to.
  • Prospect Engagement: The type of engagement, such as a scheduled demo, call, resource download, etc.

These data points inform engagement scores, which quantify prospect interest and commitment. For example, significant actions like scheduled demos warrant higher scores, indicating stronger interest.

Collaboration is the cornerstone of ABE or any account-based approach. You also want to track the effectiveness of sales outreach activities using key performance indicators (KPIs) such as response rates, conversion rates, and pipeline velocity. 

This will inform the success of your ABE program and allow you to adjust the strategy as necessary to improve ROI and retain qualified leads within your sales funnel. 

ABE FAQs

Are certain days of the week more popular for engagement than others?

Engagement patterns can vary depending on your industry and target audience. Analyzing your engagement data can help identify trends and determine the most effective days for outreach. However, keep in mind that personalized engagement strategies may be more impactful than focusing solely on specific days of the week.

How well does each account-based engagement type perform?

According to Jon Miller, the former CMO of Demandbase, “A high-quality, live interaction will always be the most powerful way to initiate a discussion, deepen a relationship, or accelerate a deal.”

However, today, live events can occur both in person and virtually. The success of both digital and physical engagement will depend on factors such as your target audience, industry, and the nature of your offerings. So, why not try both? Track performance metrics for each engagement type, such as attendance, response or conversion rates, to determine the most effective approach for your organization.

How do individual prospects engage with your company?

Effective engagement with target accounts hinges on delivering highly personalized and relevant interactions for each prospect.

To do this, take note of their behavioral cues:

  • What do they engage with most? Identify preferred communication channels and content formats.
  • When do they engage? Observe response patterns, including peak engagement times.
  • What happens when they engage? Determine which messaging or engagement tactics elicit the most positive reactions.

Then, you can utilize these insights to refine your approach further.

Ready, Set, Engage!

Congratulations! You've now ready to take advantage of Account-Based Engagement (ABE). 

From crafting an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) to leveraging intent data and customer journey mapping, each stage of the process is essential for driving meaningful connections with your target accounts. By tracking engagement metrics and refining your approach based on data-driven insights, you can continuously optimize your ABE strategy for maximum impact.

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By Michelle Leighton

Michelle Leighton is a seasoned content writer and social media specialist with a remarkable track record in building thriving online communities. Michelle excels at translating customer insights and market trends into compelling content strategies that spark engagement and foster meaningful discussions. Michelle's work has been featured by The Indie Media Club, The CMO, The Ecomm Manager, Narcity Canada, Input Magazine and more.