What is Account-Based Marketing?

By Madison Taylor
February 17, 2023
3d black hole or funnel

One of our favorite things about marketing is that it’s always changing. There’s always something new and exciting on the horizon, whether it’s a new social media platform, the use of AI integrations, or even different consumer trends. 

Today, one of the latest and greatest developments in marketing is account-based marketing — also known as ABM. For the right business with the right customers, ABM can be a hugely advantageous, lucrative strategy. Here’s how it works.

Start at the Bottom of the Funnel

Think of ABM as a reversal of the traditional funnel model. In most marketing strategies, you cast a wide net. You’re not going after everyone, obviously, but you are attempting to bring your product to the attention of virtually anyone who might be interested. From that wide base of attention, you narrow down to a smaller number of interested leads. You nurture and engage those leads, building their interest. Finally, you convert some of them.

When it comes to account-based marketing, however, you start at the “bottom” of the funnel — with a few good leads. You’ll choose those leads first, based on their compatibility with your company and your product — we’ll get to how in a minute — and then nurture and engage them from there. It’s the precision approach to lead generation. Rather than casting a net, you’re using a spear.

At the most granular, ABM consists of making a pitch toward a single company, tailor-made to their exact needs and specifications. At a broader level, you’re creating marketing materials for companies in a specific industry or vertical, but you’re still only presenting those materials to a list of companies that you build beforehand.

Who’s a Good Fit for ABM?

B2C businesses don’t have much to gain from account-based marketing. They simply have too many customers, and it would be time-consuming (not to mention logistically impossible) for you to find individual customers and target your message to them in a discrete way. 

While ABM may not be best for B2C organizations, the ABM approach is catching on for many B2B companies. In fact, more than 60 percent of B2B organizations planned to launch an ABM-based campaign in the last year. That being said, even with modern technology helping B2B brands keep their customers organized, there’s a limit to the number of individual campaigns you can manage. That’s why it’s important for organizations to be thoughtful about whether or not ABM is a good fit for their marketing and sales efforts.

Typically, ABM is best suited to companies that service one of two types of business:

  1. Industries with only a few big players. If you make software that helps shipping companies manage the logistics of their vehicle fleets, there are only a few dozen companies that might want your product — and if you land a multi-year contract with UPS, FedEx, or Amazon, you might not need another account. Tailoring your marketing to each client is well worth your while when there aren’t many to go around.
  1. Very specific industry needs. Let’s say you make the machines that spas use for laser hair removal — it should be pretty easy to narrow down the businesses in your area that could benefit from that kind of product. You don’t need to cast a wide net if you already know where the fish are.

You May Already Be Doing ABM Without Realizing It

You might be reading this article thinking, “That sounds familiar.” In fact, a lot of B2B businesses are already engaged in ABM, even if they don’t call it by that name. Some people refer to it as “key account marketing,” while others don’t even have a term for what they’re doing. If your list of prospects is fairly narrow, you might already know which companies you’re trying to sell to – that’s ABM at its finest.

Regardless of what you call it, ABM is a powerful tool that can help the right organizations realize powerful marketing results. By starting from the bottom of the funnel and narrowing in on specific key accounts, organizations can optimize their resources and execute their strategies with laser focus.