The Basics of Account-Based Advertising

By Madison Taylor
September 14, 2020
business professionals pointing at screen of laptop while holding a note pad

The Basics of Account-Based Advertising

We’ve talked a lot about account-based marketing on this site, and with good reason. In the right circumstances, ABM can be one of the most powerful tools in a B2B marketer’s arsenal. It offers better ROI, better personalization, and better efficiency than any other strategy if it’s executed correctly.

But there’s another aspect of ABM: account-based advertising. It starts with the same selection of target accounts as account-based marketing, finding the companies that fit your business best and identifying the key decision makers at each one. Account-based advertising is how you deliver customized, highly personalized messages to each person on that list. Here’s how to get started.

Why Account-Based Advertising is So Useful

Account-based advertising is like any other digital advertising campaign, except it’s laser-focused. Rather than casting a net to anyone who might be interested in what you’re offering, you can narrow in on only the accounts you want to engage.

With ABA, you can amplify your existing campaigns to boost your reach and chances of winning a deal by retargeting everyone involved in decision-making, not just the one person who visited your website.

Step 1: Picking Your Options

There are a huge number of digital advertising options, so there’s something out there that will work for whatever your needs are. Make your selection based on your marketing budget, messaging, and audience. Here are a few choices:

  • Programmatic advertising: based on cookies, these ads appear natively in-channel on websites and apps through ad networks like Google, Avocet, and AdRoll.
  • LinkedIn paid advertising: in the right B2B spaces, LinkedIn has become a huge player in the world of digital advertising. They offer a huge number of formats and options for you to target your ads down to the individual job title, company, or even specific people. You can even A/B test different sets of ads based on your goals, where you are in the funnel, and the scale of the campaign
  • Syndication: this isn’t exactly a new tactic, but it’s no less effective. If you can find the right syndication networks to get your content in front of the right audiences, you can get a substantial bang for your buck out of your blogs and other materials.
  • Retargeting: also a familiar tactic, this is the strategy of delivering ads that are relevant to people’s recent searches and browsing history. Seeing the same ads on every site can get old, so make sure to mix them up to stay relevant.

Step 2: Remember the Audience

ABM and ABA can’t ever work if you don’t have detailed and specific buyer personas. Your campaigns have to be personalized, and that can only happen if you know exactly who you’re talking to.

Do the research into the account, the industry that it operates in, the decision-makers, and the individuals inside the account. Find out about their habits, their pain points, their priorities, and their goals — and then empathize with those problems. Your goal is to build a dialogue with the right people so that they’ll feel compelled to reach out and follow up with you.

Step 3: Focus on Relevance

If you’re advertising one on one, you can’t afford to be vague or off-target. You need to speak to the challenges of the decision-makers, but don’t forget about the organization at large. Keep in mind that the person making the purchase is often not the same as the person who’s actually using the product on a day-to-day basis, so you’ll need to find out what the end users want, too.

Look for light-touch personalization like names, company names, job titles, industry, and location. These may seem like trivial details when it comes to big B2B decisions, but they add a personable touch that might get your foot in the door.

Step 4: Build Keywords Around Intent

The temptation is to create keywords around your product or service, and that’s a good instinct — usually. The problem is that ABA is almost exclusively used for B2B purposes, and B2B products can be a little obscure. If you build keywords around what your product does, they might not be recognizable to the people you’re trying to reach and you’ll miss each other in passing.

Instead, build keywords around the problems your target customers are trying to solve (again, emphasizing the importance of research). What kind of queries are they searching for? What are their main priorities? And most importantly, can you address them?

The Way Forward

Account-based advertising and account-based marketing in general are here to stay, and more organizations are starting to incorporate these programs into their existing strategies. With the explosion of data and technology in recent years, it’s even easier to execute these strategies with precision and personalization. If you want to get ahead, this is an area well worth looking into.