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Key Takeaways

Alignment Is Non-Negotiable for ABM Success: Want your ABM strategy to succeed? Alignment between sales and marketing teams is non-negotiable. Get executive buy-in and foster collaboration to create shared goals. It's the foundation for effective planning and execution.

Treat Your ABM Framework as a Roadmap : An ABM framework is your step-by-step guide to crushing your ABM goals. It keeps you on track from start to finish, ensuring you don't miss critical steps like aligning teams, identifying target accounts, and engaging them effectively.

Identifying the Right Target Accounts is Key to ABM ROI: Choosing the right target accounts is make-or-break for your ABM strategy. Take the time to understand and agree on which accounts will deliver the best ROI. Don't skip this crucial step!

Budget Allocation: Spend Smart for Maximum Impact: Allocating your ABM budget wisely is essential for success. Assess the potential ROI of high-value accounts to ensure you're using resources efficiently. Regularly review and adjust your strategy to optimize results.

Why worry about an account-based marketing framework?

Because successful ABM campaigns are a mix of planning, execution, and leadership buy-in. And you need a structured approach to get to the finish line.

You also need to strike a careful balance between account identification, personalization, engagement, and alignment between your sales and marketing teams.

In this guide, we'll cover building cross-functional teams, identifying and sorting target accounts, mapping buying committees, and more to help you build a robust ABM framework for success.

How to Create the Right ABM Framework for ABM Success

An ABM framework is your map to a successful ABM strategy. Consider each step as the waypoints on your trail, linking together to create a complete account-based marketing program.

By adhering to the steps laid out in your ABM framework, from team alignment to engaging targeted accounts, success becomes a calculated journey rather than a guessing game.

Step 1: Align on Your ABM Strategy with Leadership and Cross-Functional Teams

Your first step in an ABM framework is to secure buy-in from your sales and marketing team's executive leadership. Account-based marketing falls flat without this alignment, and 92% of highly successful ABM marketers prioritize aligning sales and marketing.

Select representatives from each department to join your ABM team, and conduct cross-departmental workshops to get all members onboard with their roles and responsibilities. To eliminate potential inconsistencies, standardize your tech stack across departments.

Pro tip

Pro tip

We integrated our CRM and marketing automation tools to ensure everyone was on the same page. This integration was a game-changer, as it allowed our sales and marketing teams to share data effortlessly and stay aligned on our goals.

Tom Golubovich, Head of Marketing, Ninja Transfers.

When fostering alignment between teams, prioritize the following:

  • Establishing clear goals and a shared budget upfront, considering all resources available.
  • Assigning roles based on ABM team member's strengths and workload.
  • Allocating budget by analyzing potential ROI of high-value accounts to ensure efficient use of team resources.
  • Hold regular review meetings to align marketing efforts and the sales process.

Before building your ABM strategy, you must achieve alignment between marketing and sales. If you're struggling with this step, you might be interested in our guide on how marketing and sales work together.

Step 2: Identify and Select Your Target Accounts

With your marketing and sales teams aligned on the goals and mission of your account-based marketing strategy, your next step is to define your target accounts. "Building a successful ABM program starts with a clear understanding of your target accounts and a well-defined strategy," highlights Adil Farooq, CEO & Founder of Silverstone Technologies.

Start by outlining your ideal customer profile (ICP). Your ICP is a list of attributes high-value accounts share, including factors such as industry, company size, and revenue. Define customer personas within your target accounts, looking into aspects such as demographics, key contacts, and customer pain points.

Next, assemble your target account list. This is the complete list of accounts that match your ICP. As Farooq highlights, it's best to segment your target account list. "We use a tiered approach to prioritize high-value accounts and tailor our engagement strategies accordingly," he explains.

As you identify and build your target account list, consider:

  • Leveraging customer intent data to identify key accounts in-market for solutions or expressing interest in your offerings.
  • Conducting market research by diving into industry reports, market trends, and competitor analysis to better understand valuable customer relationships.
  • Collecting direct feedback from existing accounts and stakeholders through targeted surveys and interviews.

Do you need further help identifying your list of target accounts? Check out our five-step guide to building a complete target account list.

Step 3: Map Out the Buying Committee

In the previous step, you outlined your ICP and customer personas. This included highlighting the key decision-makers within specific accounts. The next step in your ABM strategy is to map out the relationships between key stakeholders to understand their roles on the buying committee.

Key steps for mapping out buying committees include:

  • Using a mix of firmographic, demographic, and psychographic data to define and understand buying committee members.
  • Identifying key stakeholders and their level of influence over the purchasing process.
  • Gathering information on each stakeholder’s priorities, goals and pain points, and creating personalized engagement strategies for each stakeholder.
  • Understanding the communication flow and decision-making hierarchy within the account.
  • Using sales and marketing tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator or DemandBase to collect in-depth account intelligence.

Mapping out the buying committee improves your ability to tailor marketing and sales activities to each stakeholder's specific needs and influence level.

Step 4: Determine Your ABM Approach

The next step in your ABM framework is determining your approach to account-based marketing and account personalization. Each approach has unique benefits depending on the target account or account segment:

  • One-to-One: This approach prioritizes hyper-personalized campaigns for target accounts with significant revenue potential, strategic importance, or long-term partnership opportunities. While resource-intensive, it can yield significant ROI and business growth.
  • One-to-Few: This approach targets a small group of accounts with similar attributes or needs. Campaigns are personalized but leverage common elements to address the group's shared attributes. It best suits valuable mid-tier accounts but does not justify the investment level required for one-to-one ABM.
  • One-to-Many: Also known as programmatic account-based marketing, it targets many accounts with generalized campaigns. This is best suited for lower-tier accounts that may not be ready to purchase yet and require further lead nurturing.

To select the best approach for your ABM program, it's best to:

  • Assess the resources available, including budget, personnel, and technology. A one-to-one ABM playbook requires significant investment, while one-to-many ABM leverages automation for efficiency.
  • Align your account-based marketing approach with your overall business objectives. If deepening relationships with key accounts is a priority, one-to-one ABM is suitable. For market penetration and brand awareness, one-to-many might be more effective.

Selecting the right approach to account-based marketing ensures your marketing efforts are aligned with your business goals, improving lead generation, sales engagement, and ABM campaigns as a whole.

Step 5: Draft Your ABM Content Strategy

The account-based marketing approach you select will dictate your ABM content strategy. Your content must align with your audience’s mindset, challenges, and buying approach.

Some top-performing content formats for ABM include:

  • Podcasts and interview series
  • Personalized landing pages
  • Webinars and video
  • Email outreach
  • Paid social ads

Careful content planning is required to nurture leads throughout the entire sales process. Starting with awareness and leading through to a purchase decision, it's important to create relevant content for the differing needs at each stage of the buyer's journey.

When drafting a content strategy for your ABM program, it's best to:

  • Ensure content addresses audience challenges and pain points for each stage of the ABM funnel.
  • Select marketing channels that your buyers frequent.
  • Use buyer persona data to pinpoint content topics and leverage tools like Google Keyword Planner and SemRush to identify content gaps.
  • Invest in a marketing automation platform like Hubspot to schedule, manage, and monitor content distribution and performance.

For more information on using content to achieve your ABM goals, read through our in-depth guide to building an ABM content strategy

Step 6: Run a Pilot Campaign to Ensure Executive Buy-in 

Before launching a full account-based marketing push, run a pilot campaign to test your account-level data and assumptions. This is important to maintain executive buy-in across your organization, as it backs up initial ROI assessments.

pro tip

pro tip

I think the best way to build a solid foundation for account-based marketing would be through elimination. Testing tactics and strategies in a limited sandbox of accounts makes it a lot easier to identify not only the core needle movers, but also what might be a waste of time.

Zachary Murray, Founder, Foreplay.co.

Key steps for initiating an account-based marketing pilot campaign include:

  • Selecting a small subset of target accounts for the pilot.
  • Testing your ABM strategies and tactics on these accounts.
  • Collecting data and feedback to refine your approach.
  • Demonstrating early success to gain further executive buy-in and support.

This is a crucial step in your ABM framework that you should not overlook. Testing your assumptions early on ensures fewer hiccups down the road and brings you closer to account-based marketing success.

Step 7: ABM Campaign Execution and Management

Finally, review your ABM framework to ensure your teams are ready to execute. Review the steps you've completed to ensure all important aspects of your ABM strategy are primed and ready.  

Download our free ABM framework checklist to align your teams and fuel success!

Download our free ABM framework checklist to align your teams and fuel success!

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Be sure to outline ABM campaign responsibilities between sales and marketing and identify shared duties:

Marketing Focus

  • Developing Targeted Content: Marketing should create high-quality, personalized content tailored to each target account's specific needs and pain points. This includes case studies, whitepapers, eBooks, webinars, and other content formats that resonate with the target audience.
  • Multichannel Campaigns: Execute campaigns across multiple channels such as email, social media, content syndication, and paid advertising. Ensure consistent messaging and branding across all channels.
  • Orchestrating Timelines: Manage campaign timelines, ensuring all marketing activities align with the sales cycle and account engagement plans.
  • Tracking Engagement: Monitor account engagement with your content and campaigns. Use analytics tools to track key metrics such as website visits, content downloads, email opens, and event participation.
  • Providing Insights to Sales: Share actionable insights and data with the sales team to inform their outreach and engagement strategies. This includes identifying engaged accounts and key stakeholders interacting with your content.
  • Automated Nurturing: Implement marketing automation to nurture leads within target accounts through personalized email sequences and retargeting ads.
  • ABM Personalization: Enhance the personalization of campaigns using account-specific data, ensuring each touchpoint feels relevant and valuable to the target account.

Sales Focus

  • Personalized Outreach: Conduct personalized outreach to key stakeholders within target accounts. This includes phone calls, personalized emails, and social selling techniques to build relationships and trust.
  • Tailored Presentations: Prepare and deliver tailored presentations and demos that address the specific needs and challenges of the account, highlighting how your solution can provide value.
  • Content Utilization: Use marketing's personalized content to engage and educate key decision-makers. Share relevant case studies, whitepapers, and other materials during conversations and meetings.
  • Providing Feedback: Give feedback to the marketing team on the effectiveness of the content and messaging, suggesting improvements based on interactions with the account.
  • Strategic Account Plans: Develop and maintain strategic account plans that outline each target account's goals, strategies, and key activities. Ensure alignment with the overall ABM strategy.
  • Collaborative Planning: Work closely with marketing to align on account-specific strategies and tactics. Regularly update plans based on new insights and account developments.
  • Tracking Progress: Monitor the progress of target accounts through the sales pipeline. Use CRM tools to track interactions, follow-ups, and deal stages.
  • Timely Follow-Up: Ensure timely and consistent follow-up with engaged accounts, promptly addressing any questions or concerns to move the account forward in the buying process.

Joint Marketing and Sales Efforts

  • Alignment Meetings: Hold regular alignment meetings between marketing and sales to discuss account progress, share insights, and adjust strategies as needed.
  • Shared KPIs: Establish shared key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the success of ABM campaigns and ensure both teams are working towards common goals.
  • Continuous Improvement: Collaborate on analyzing campaign performance data to identify areas for improvement. Adjust tactics and strategies based on what is working and what isn’t.
  • Feedback Loops: Create feedback loops where sales provide insights from their interactions with accounts, and marketing adjusts content and campaigns accordingly.
  • Unified Experience: Ensure a seamless and consistent experience for the target accounts, from initial engagement to sales. Both teams should work together to provide a cohesive customer journey.
  • Customer-Centric Approach: Focus on delivering value at every touchpoint, ensuring that the needs and expectations of the target accounts are met throughout the engagement.

By clearly defining the roles and responsibilities during ABM campaign execution, you can ensure a coordinated and effective approach.

Step 8: Measure the Impact Across the Buyer Journey

According to Gartner, 42% of businesses struggle to measure the performance of their account-based marketing programs. This is often due to the vast amounts of data and analytics needed to understand the ROI of your ABM efforts.

Monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) like conversion rates, pipeline velocity, and customer acquisition costs is essential for enhancing and verifying the ROI of your ABM program. Campaign data and ABM metrics used to monitor success include:

  • Conversion rates
  • Pipeline velocity
  • Customer acquisition costs (CAC)
  • Account engagement metrics
  • Click-through rates (CTR)
  • Time spent on page
  • Bounce rates
  • Revenue generated
  • Customer lifetime value (CLV)

That's a lot of data to manage, so monitoring analytics across each stage of the buyer's journey is best. This not only breaks massive amounts of information into smaller data sets but also allows you to pinpoint and address inconsistencies in your ABM framework.

Awareness:

In the awareness stage, your goal is to gauge how well your marketing efforts attract the attention of your target accounts. Metrics to monitor include website visits, content downloads (e.g., eBooks and whitepapers), and social media engagement.

Google Analytics is a free tool for monitoring these metrics. However, you can also use social media analytics tools, like Sprout Social, to assess your content's effectiveness in capturing interest and raising brand awareness.

Interest:

During the interest stage, measure how target accounts engage with your content and show interest in your solutions. Key metrics here include webinar registrations, demo requests, and visits to case studies and solution pages.

All-in-one tools like Hubspot and CRM systems can help you track these interactions. These metrics indicate your prospects' interest level and intent, helping you evaluate which accounts are moving closer to making a purchase decision.

Consideration:

The consideration stage focuses on how prospects evaluate your product or service in detail. Metrics to track include interactions with detailed product/service pages, engagement with technical documentation, and attendance at product demos.

CRM systems and website analytics tools are essential for capturing these interactions. Monitoring these KPIs helps you understand how well your detailed content persuades potential buyers and addresses their specific needs and concerns.

Decision:

In the decision stage, the focus shifts to prospects' final steps before purchasing. Important metrics include proposal requests, meetings scheduled, contract negotiations, and close rates. Sales engagement platforms, like Apollo.io or Salesforce, are useful for tracking these activities.

For more guidance on measuring the impact of your ABM efforts, check out our guide to account-based marketing analytics. Selecting the right metrics and leveraging data-driven insights will help you continuously improve your ABM strategy.

3 Best Practices For Your ABM Framework

Certain tactics and strategies cannot be overlooked, no matter how you build your ABM framework. Let's review the following ABM best practices to ensure your success.

Nurture Prospects Throughout the Buyer's Journey

Nurturing prospects throughout their buyer journey is crucial for maintaining engagement and guiding them toward a purchase decision. Start by mapping the buyer journey, identifying the key stages such as awareness, consideration, decision, and post-purchase.

Align your content types and messaging with each stage to address prospects' specific needs and questions at each point. Use account-specific data to tailor your messaging and ensure relevancy. Employ a multi-channel approach to increase touchpoints and engage prospects across email, social media, webinars, and direct mail.

However, be careful to maintain consistency in your nurturing efforts across each channel. This is where marketing automation tools like Hubspot come in handy. These tools allow you to monitor all channels from one central dashboard, improving cohesive messaging and lead nurturing efforts.

Prioritize Best-Fit Target Accounts

Consider the "sweet spot" between your ideal customer profile (ICP) and accounts that are in the market and interested in buying from you. This sweet spot is where you'll find the best-fit, high-value accounts to drive the results you're looking for.

To find your best-fit accounts, compare your ICP with intent data. Intent data helps you prioritize accounts based on buying signals. Aligning this data with your ICP helps your teams engage target accounts that deliver the most impact.

Intent data can also be used as a data enrichment tool, helping you improve and update your data on existing accounts and customer personas. Popular ABM tools like Cognism, DemandBase, and 6Sense provide features for intent data collection and other tools to support your ABM program.

intent data screenshot
Source: Gartner

Experiment with ABM Tactics

There is no "one size fits all" approach to account-based marketing. Tactics that deliver the best ROI will depend on your industry, target account list, and resources.

Experiment with different tactics as you build out your ABM framework. Remember to run pilot ABM campaigns and test your assumptions in a small sandbox of accounts. This will help your teams pinpoint the exact approach to account-based marketing that delivers the best results for your chosen goals.

An ABM Framework is Your Roadmap to Success!

Account-based marketing can feel like a behemoth if you don't have a clear ABM framework in place. There are many moving pieces to consider, from data management requirements to integrated marketing campaigns.

Remember to align your sales and marketing teams, identify and prioritize your best-fit target accounts, map out the buying committees, and continuously nurture your prospects throughout their buyer journey. Don't be afraid to experiment with different ABM tactics, and always measure your impact across the buyer journey to refine your strategy.

We hope this guide has helped provide a starting point for your ABM approach. Feel free to revisit this guide whenever you need to re-align your strategy.

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Michelle Leighton
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.