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By now most B2B marketers know why Account Based Marketing is good for their business, but now the question on most marketers lips is, “How do I execute an ABM campaign, exactly?”

And this is understandable. Most blog posts and whitepapers on the subject of how to execute an ABM campaign are pretty fluffy. This two-part blog post series will be anything but fluffy.

Below we’ll teach you:

  • How to transform your traditional marketing into an ABM campaign
  • How to set-up your target account lists
  • Examples of how we at AdRoll have started our ABM programs

How to approach Account Based Marketing

All veteran marketers have one common flaw: they’re already good at marketing.

That may seem like a strength, but in fact it can also be a weakness. B2B marketers who have been around for awhile already know what works for their marketing strategy. The problem is that when we’re trying to innovate we need to set those preconceived practices aside.

For instance, in the case of adding Account Based Marketing to our marketing strategy, we need to rethink our process for finding our ideal audience. Rather than thinking broadly, we need to think narrowly.

This is because in traditional inbound marketing, we’re rewarded when we expand our audience to bring in new leads that haven’t been touched yet. In a winning ABM strategy, however, we’re rewarded when we narrow our sights on just a few hundred companies.

The way we think about this at AdRoll is in terms of audience, offer, channel.

audience, offer, channel

And here is how we adapt our traditional marketing to an Account Based Marketing approach.

As you can see the difference is subtle, but it does require a slightly different approach and a little bit more work. That little bit of extra work, however, can produce huge results.

According to a survey by SiriusDecisions, organizations with an ABM strategy in place had 200% pipeline growth and a 20% increase in deal size. Our own ABM program has also resulted in positive ROI.

Transitioning from inbound marketing to ABM

Looking at the above graphic, the first thing we need to do to create an ABM program is to figure out our targeted audience. This is probably the single most important step in Account Based Marketing, and where you should spend most of your time.

That being said, figuring out your target account list isn’t as difficult as most people think. We like to take a 4 phase approach to setting up our target account list for ABM. Here’s what it looks like:


Marketing figures out who the ideal customer profile (ICP) is that we want to target. This can be done based on big past deals, size of revenue, or simply companies we think could be a good fit for our product. The idea here is to be selective. You can do an exercise like the customer journey mapping canvas to visualize your ideal customer with the rest of your team.


After marketing has gathered our list of potential customer profiles we run them through a predictive scoring tool. There are many tools you can use for this (we use Infer), but essentially they use big-data and machine learning to predict how likely the customers on your target account list are to be a good fit for you.

Step 3: SALES

Next, we speak with sales to see which companies they’d like us to reach out to. Usually, sales has a hit list of their own that they’ve manually researched so it tends to be very well vetted and perfect for an Account Based Marketing campaign.


Lastly, we present our list to the executive team to do some final vetting. The exec team might add some companies who they have relationships with, or take away companies who they feel wouldn’t be good to associate with.

Building a target account list can take between 2-6 weeks depending on how many people you have to build the list and how many people you need to get input from.

The most important thing to remember when setting up a target account list for ABM is that it’s an iterative process. You want to get your list right, but you also don’t want to stall the process by being too much of a perfectionist.

Once you start running your first ABM campaigns you’ll quickly realize what works and what doesn’t and you can adjust your marketing efforts accordingly.

We’ve covered a lot in this post, so we’ll save that for part 2. We’ll dive into specific tactics that we use at AdRoll, along with live examples for you to see.

If you’d like to jump ahead and learn learn more about what metrics to look at with ABM, you can read this E-book all about the metrics that matter for ABM.