Our ABM engine contributed the majority of the sales pipeline and over 50% of our company’s total revenue, tripling our top line.

The goal of B2B marketing is to make a meaningful contribution to revenue. As a former CMO and now CEO, I’ve found account-based marketing (ABM) to be a targeted and scalable approach to feeding the sales pipeline that enables marketing teams to tie into the financial goals and growth aspirations of B2B enterprises.

Scaling the revenue impact of marketing was my primary focus as a CMO, and the principal contributor was an ABM engine that contributed the majority of the sales pipeline and over 50% of our company’s total revenue. It tripled our top line, leading to a successful exit with a strategic acquirer.

ABM is a strategy to engage your most promising prospects – at scale

Sometimes ABM is understood to be an exclusively 1:1 tactic, which underappreciates its power. The case could be made that is not an approach for marketing, it is the approach for building a revenue-impact marketing function. Today, as CEO of B2B Marketing as a Service leader, 2X, and strategic partner to LLR’s portfolio companies and value creation program, I work closely with revenue leaders to help implement and scale ABM.

Best practices to deploy ABM at scale

The central tenet of account-based marketing is personalization – delivering customized messages, offers and value to a specific audience with a unique business problem. In its early usage, ABM targeted a small list of top accounts where each account received its own 1:1 marketing program designed specifically for them. Today, ABM can be done among clusters of accounts and personas who share common business problems. When thinking of ABM this way, it allows for an ideal mix of personalization and scale so that demand gen oriented-offers can generate lift in response and engagement far above traditional digital marketing alone.

Create lists in partnership with sales and ABM in mind

At the foundation of scalable ABM is the target list. No ABM effort can be executed without understanding your total addressable market (TAM) and serviceable addressable market (SAM). Both TAM and SAM help you identify the characteristics of an ideal prospect and enable you to build a list of target accounts that meet those profiles. This account list is where marketing (and sales) can hunt with ABM. It can then be expanded to an individual contact list – the names, titles, and contact information of the key primary buyers and influencers in each of the named accounts.

Because ABM focuses marketing on paving the way for revenue-generating sales outcomes, list creation should be a joint effort between marketing and sales. That way, they are targeting named accounts that both parties agree are the ideal prospects for your solution.

Cluster ABM targets around customer pain points

Once marketing and sales agree on the accounts they want to reach, they can group them into ‘targeting clusters’, which are segmented groups formed around specific business pain points or challenges your solution expertly solves. You can align pain points that occur within specific industries, geographies, existing technology footprints, or recent triggering/compelling events (a merger or new CFO, for instance). These targeting clusters allow B2B marketers to present tailored content and offers that hit the right note and lead to greater conversions.

The drop-off between raw website leads and leads routed to sales can be as high as 90% for some organizations, due to a mismatch between the respondent and the ideal customer profile.

Cluster ABM targets around pipeline stages

You can also cluster accounts by their stage in your pipeline. You may be putting significantly more effort into pushing pipeline accounts over the finish line, but this also allows you to personalize how you manage unengaged accounts, nurture new leads, accelerate pipeline accounts into customers, and expand existing customers with cross-sell/up-sell opportunities.

This detailed targeting approach becomes a very powerful B2B marketing tool in increasing conversion rates when you consider that the drop-off between raw website leads and leads that are routed to sales can be as high as 90% for some organizations, due to a mismatch between the respondent and the ideal customer profile. When marketing operates within the parameters of these lists, the quality of respondents and leads increases significantly. Messaging and offers tailored to specific pain points, along with a laser focus on account clusters, is how you shift from marketing to everyone to revenue impacting ABM.

(For another example of how ABM transformed growth potential for an exited LLR portfolio company, and lessons they learned along the way, read How Account-Based Marketing Boosted Our Sales Pipeline by 40%.)

Crawl, walk, run your way to effective Account-Based Marketing

Building your list foundation is critical, but it is just the first step. To create a sustainable, long-term ABM engine that magnifies demand generation efforts and delivers revenue impact, you’ll need the right mix of ABM components.

Crawl: Build and launch ABM campaigns

Once you’ve built and clustered the list, you need content to market. Start with low-hanging fruit, like the larger clusters or areas where you already have content that could be easily modified or repackaged (often called content atomization) to meet the unique pain points of the cluster.

If your cluster is a top-of-funnel (unengaged) audience, content items such as thought leadership papers and eBooks can add the most value. For a mid-funnel (engaged) audience, it can be a case study or webinar recording. C-level cluster? Try an infographic or shorter/snackable content item. Content message and type can and should vary by cluster.

And if you’re concerned about overusing email, despite the maturity of the channel, email is still a viable tactic for new-age ABM. By tailoring to prospect pain points and personalizing to the cluster, email can break through inbox clutter.

Prioritize advertising channels that allow you to name the list of accounts and/or the contacts to market to, rather than a set of criteria.

Consider also the advertising channels that reach your target list. Audience-based advertising, which is available in many social media channels, like LinkedIn, allows you to advertise to a specific list and only that list. Prioritize advertising channels that allow you to name the list of accounts and/or the contacts to market to, rather than a set of criteria.

Lastly, you need a foundational CRM like Salesforce or HubSpot to efficiently enable lead routing and lead scoring so that marketing can 1) pass engaged accounts and contacts to sales for follow up, 2) support sales in the nurture and acceleration of these prospects, and 3) report on the pipeline and revenue contribution from those collective efforts.

Walk: Expand and enhance your ABM with content syndication and intent data

Once you’ve demonstrated early impact and validated that your clusters value the targeted messaging, it’s time to elevate the maturity of prior tactics in two primary ways:

  • Experiment with different messaging angles and segments to see what creates lift in your email and ad campaigns.
  • Expand your content inventory and atomize your content by both asset type (eBook, webinar, blog, 1-pager, etc.) and message (by cluster, persona, or buyer journey stage).

Then, you are ready to add both intent data and content syndication into the mix. Unlike the traditional sponsorship marketing channels, content syndication can focus exclusively on your clusters, ensuring you reach only those on your target list.  First-party intent tools help you understand which accounts and contacts may be anonymously interacting with your brand and your digital properties. Third-party intent tools identify which accounts and contacts are interacting with the content topics you support across other brands and websites. Many content syndication providers today also enable prioritization of advertising by intent levels.

Well-run ABM programs enable a self-funded marketing budget.

Run: Leverage specialized ABM technology and reporting to optimize and expand

Well-run ABM programs enable a self-funded marketing budget. Early programs generate returns that increase revenue, and subsequently enable more marketing investment to expand impact. Once you have a successful baseline ABM engine, this can be accelerated further by implementing ABM-specific martech platforms (like 6sense) to unify all of these approaches, automate more ABM activity at scale, and increase the granularity of reporting.

Not all B2B companies are ready for ABM platforms and specialized tools out of the gate, but when deployed, they enable more effective and accountable ABM. With powerful reporting and insights, they can help demonstrate, at an advanced level, the connection between marketing activity, pipeline generation and accelerated revenue.


Here’s the bottom line.

Account-based marketing is much more than a 1:1 tactic or program – it is a vehicle to address individual prospect pains and, at scale, activate large numbers of prospects into your sales funnel. ABM can be highly scalable, thoughtfully targeted and your secret weapon to engage the market. It brings the sales and marketing organizations together to focus on targeted pipeline growth and ultimately, measurable and predictable revenue generation.

This GrowthBit is featured in LLR’s 2022 Growth Guide, along with other exclusive insights from our portfolio company leaders and Value Creation Team. Download the eBook here.