Account based marketing

5 common ABM mistakes marketers make (and how to fix them)

We all make mistakes. This is how you turn your marketing bloopers into opportunities.

5 common ABM mistakes marketers make (and how to fix them)


When we first started out as a full-service marketing agency, we were ambitious. Our goal was to help our clients tackle account-based marketing with a strategic approach for record-breaking sales. Looking back, we can proudly say that we’ve achieved a lot. We’ve tried, tested and perfected our approach. We’ve turned our challenges into opportunities. And we’ve transformed opportunities into growth.

In this blog post, we want to share what we’ve learned. These are the five ABM mistakes marketers frequently make and how to avoid them.

1. Selecting the wrong accounts

A few years ago, account-based marketing was all the hype. This strategic marketing approach uses highly targeted, personalized campaigns. By focusing on a few accounts instead of a big pool of leads and sending them tailored messages at the right time, ABM was a new way of providing real value to customers.

A lot of companies went all out and invested a great deal in their ABM efforts. But quite often, it didn’t pay off. So, what went wrong? They didn’t think. Instead of researching their ideal customer, they accepted a list of target accounts the sales team provided them with and got cracking. With zero results.

Instead of account lists, you need to use the concept of the Ideal Customer Profile (ICP), a description of the account that is the perfect fit for your solution. To define your ICP, you need to look at the data of your top accounts. What do they have in common? What did their customer journeys look like? Also, focus on the customers you want to attract in the future.

2. No sales alignment

While simply accepting an account list provided by sales isn’t a great idea, it is important to collaborate with your sales colleagues when you start with ABM. Account-based marketing is typically a joint marketing and sales effort. Combining thorough knowhow of marketing best practices with sales-provided customer insights, you can set up truly successful ABM campaigns.

But sparking your sales colleagues’ interest to collaborate on ABM is easier said than done. How do you get sales excited about what you’re doing? It’s all about trade-offs. If you can prove them your marketing efforts can actually reach the people they’ve been trying to convince, they might be more willing to chime in and help you target the right accounts. So, set up a test case and impress your colleagues. Once you’ve gained their trust, everything is possible.

Struggling with marketing and sales alignment? Check out our blog and start building bridges. Get started

3. Not diversifying your content strategy

Different accounts have different needs. And that’s why you should tailor the type of content and the level of attention to your target audience and goal. With the graphic below, you can determine the right content strategy for your various target accounts, based on their stage in the buyer journey and the potential opportunity size.

  • Programmatic ABM, also known as one-to-many, is a strategic way to raise awareness among your target audience. The content is not personalized and the investment per account is low.
  • ABM lite is a model that is targeted at building relationships with both new and existing accounts. It involves lightly customized strategies for a few clusters of five to ten accounts.
  • The strategic ABM approach focusses on a few accounts and is executed on a one-to-one basis. It involves the creation and execution of highly customised programs for individual accounts.

4. Focusing on a static account list

Once you’ve established an account list, it’s important to keep evaluating the relevance of these accounts. Prioritizing, expanding and even eliminating accounts is important to keep your target audience up to date.

By using critical demand gen tactics and by monitoring engagement reports to help sales target new prospects, you can shift your marketing budget to where it is needed. At the same time, you need to keep track of account activity. If certain customers don’t show any engagement with your content, you need to move them down the prioritization chain.

5. Not testing or optimizing your tactics regularly

It takes quite a while to get an ABM strategy right. And when companies have finally nailed it, they often think they can sit back, relax and watch the magic happen. Sadly, it doesn’t work that way. Every marketer should know that testing and optimizing your tactics is a vital part of any marketing strategy.

Connecting your data and automating optimisations is the first step to keeping your results up to speed. Combine data from your customer database with data from top-of-the-funnel leads. Use these insights to tailor your messaging, timing and channels across campaigns.

Start small, think big, scale fast.

Account-based marketing is a zero-waste strategy that focusses your time and efforts on a specific number of highly targeted accounts. Over the years, it has proven to be a successful way to grow your business and convert leads into customers. But you need to get it right. Want to give ABM a shot? Give us a call, we’d love to help out.

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