There’s no question that B2B marketers are quickly realizing the potential of account-based marketing (ABM). In fact, 97% of marketers achieved a higher return on investment (ROI) with ABM than with any other marketing initiative, according to Alterra. If that’s not proof enough, consider the fact that a number of marketing technology companies have updated their current offerings or created new ones to meet the growing demand for ABM.

So how do you navigate the landscape and choose the best technology to support a repeatable, scalable strategy for your business? Let’s take a look:

ABM 101: A Review of the Basics

At its core, ABM is a strategy that aligns marketing with sales to focus on key accounts and increase the impact of marketing activities on a company’s bottom line.

Traditionally, B2B marketers created broad-based marketing campaigns to attract a large number of prospects. However, ABM flips this approach by encouraging marketers to focus their efforts on a defined set of target accounts that typically generate higher value for the organization.

However, the key is not only to target these high-value accounts as a whole, but also to identify key decision-makers within each one and launch personalized campaigns across channels that resonate with their unique needs and attributes. In many cases, that is easier said than done. To map and manage strategic communications at this level, sales and marketing alignment need to be in lockstep—from shared tactics, to account identification, to targeting and outreach, and continuous feedback.

To do this successfully, you need a solution that can centrally manage named account lists, seamlessly execute multi-channel campaigns efficiently, and effectively to individual target leads within these accounts—at scale—and deliver real-time insights to marketing and sales to act on.

If ABM is right for your organization, it’s critical that you equip yourself for success and choose a solution that will support your strategy.

An ABM solution should have these three essential capabilities to support your strategy and ensure continued, scalable success: account targeting, cross-channel engagement, and account analytics. Let’s take a closer look at these capabilities and what they should include:

1. Targeting and Management of Named Accounts

The first capability to look for in an ABM solution is the comprehensive management of named accounts in a centralized location.

As you’re working with sales to identify strategic accounts for your organization, you might use different criteria determine them:

  • High yield: drive higher revenue (e.g. Fortune 500 companies)
  • Product fit: business needs match your solutions
  • Quick wins: short purchase-decision process (e.g. companies with specific sizes or structures)
  • Strategic importance: align with your company’s strategy (e.g. acquiring an industry-recognized logo for social proof)
  • Competitors: competitors’ prospects and customers
  • Territory: specific regions to support sales

Collaborate with your sales team and review your customer relationship management (CRM) history for high-yield and quick win companies. Whatever your criteria are, your solution should enable you to quickly identify existing opportunities from accounts in your database that fit the ‘ideal profile’ you’re looking for in a named account.

You should be able to segment these accounts into lists based on a number of factors such as industry, company size, geographic location, and more and score them based on factors like firmographics, cumulative behaviors, or even predictive capabilities. Make sure you can import your list(s) from your CRM, define them as a specific audience, and modify them at any time.

The right ABM solution will allow you to do all of these strategic activities within a single platform—with access to the data and database you use for traditional broad-based marketing. Additionally, you may want to consider a solution that includes accounts as first class objects and offers fine-tuned account segmentation based on a variety of factors—industry, revenue, pipeline, or current lifecycle value. And if you choose a solution that has built-in account scoring, your marketing and sales teams will be able to prioritize accounts, leveraging existing lead scores or different dimensions—industry, size of business, current pipe, or any other historical data.

2. Personalized Engagement Across Channels

Another key ABM capability is engaging the right people from high-value accounts at multiple touch points throughout the buyer’s journey. This translates into interacting with key decision-makers from named accounts across any channel and device with the right message—from ads to email to your website, and on desktop to mobile, and beyond.

However, considering that on average 5.4 people have to formally sign off on each B2B purchase, according to CEB surveys, stakeholders in any purchasing decision can come from a variety of roles, teams, and locations. And each decision-maker may have unique needs requiring different messaging and content. The right ABM solution can ensure that you reach each decision-maker with the most relevant content to nudge them closer to purchase.

Look for and implement a cross-channel solution that offers ABM natively as a part of its marketing platform so you can deliver personalized, coherent campaigns to your target accounts across the channels they engage on. In addition, your solution should allow you to track engagement levels for each decision-maker and share this data with sales to identify top prospects and high-value opportunities.

An ABM solution that is native to your engagement marketing platform will help you track and manage your ABM target accounts and deliver informed, real-time, and coordinated cross-channel engagement and targeting. Listening and understanding your target accounts’ behaviors equips you to deliver highly personalized messages at exactly the right time. Additionally, an ABM solution that’s native to your engagement marketing platform or marketing automation solution offers complementary capabilities beyond those that standalone ABM solutions can like ad targeting, web personalization, email, event, and more.

3. Analysis of Results Across Target Accounts

Once you have your ABM strategy in place, it’s time to start tracking results and revenue impact. Without a way to deliver measurable results to the marketing and sales team, your efforts can quickly fall short.

Make sure your ABM solution can provide real-time, actionable, and intelligent KPIs to reveal exactly how each target account, or group of accounts, is progressing and the impact of your ABM programs. You should be able to easily view previous and current marketing activities for each account, as well as a score that indicates the status of each one. In addition, make sure you can track interesting or meaningful events have occurred that marketing and sales should be aware of, such as downloading a late-stage piece of content or an account stakeholder scheduling a demo.

Both the marketing and sales teams should have full visibility into how accounts are engaging with personalized content and which content is most successful. A comprehensive ABM solution will provide analysis from a high level, like on your top accounts, all the way down to the specific account level, which ensures a continuous feedback loop.

Marketing and sales collaboration is a foundational element of a successful ABM strategy and a complete ABM solution will cater to and enable this cross-team collaboration. This can manifest as a sales-focused dashboard and view that makes it easy for marketing and sales teams to work together to identify high-value accounts from a particular list, decision-makers that should be prioritized, and hot leads based on certain engagement behaviors.

Choose a Complete ABM Solution

Ideally, it’s best to leverage a sophisticated marketing automation platform with a native ABM solution; this allows you to easily integrate your ABM efforts into your overall marketing strategy, which may still include broad-based marketing. A complete ABM solution that’s native to your engagement marketing platform leverages your existing lead scoring activities, analytics, dashboards, campaigns, and more.

Once you have a platform that covers the three essentials, you can consider adding complementary solutions to enrich and expand your ABM activities, such as targeted advertising, predictive lead scoring, data enrichment, and internal workflow management.

Marketo ABM is the first ABM solution that’s a native part of an engagement marketing platform and marketing automation solution, which has long been recognized as the best lead management solution focused on engagement. With Marketo ABM, marketers can now leverage built-in ABM capabilities (that include the three essential capabilities), on top of a platform that already excels in engaging people and collaborate with sales to drive revenue.

Interested in learning more about how to pick the right ABM solution? Download our ebook The 3 Essential Components of an ABM Solution to understand how to find the right solution that allows you to target and manage key accounts, engage them across channels, and measure your impact.