What if there was a way to 10x your conversion rates and boost revenue by 300% from your dream accounts? An Account-Based Marketing approach makes this possible, yet most teams fail to realize this potential. From focusing on the wrong accounts to poor alignment, common yet overlooked mistakes sabotage success. We uncover the top ABM mistakes to avoid and provide actionable solutions to finally conquer your most important accounts and accelerate growth.
With over a decade of experience and countless ABM mistakes, our team has accumulated a wealth of knowledge, insights, and practical expertise which I’m going to share in this article. Additionally, all of the ABM strategies and tips outlined in this article have been successfully implemented in real-world scenarios, attesting to their validity and effectiveness.
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- Don’t treat ABM as a one-off campaign. Develop it as an ongoing, long-term strategy across multiple quarters or years.
- Invest time researching your target accounts to understand their specific pain points, objectives and decision-making processes.
- Foster marketing and sales alignment through regular communication, shared goals and metrics, joint planning sessions and cross-functional collaboration.
- Create personalized content tailored to the unique needs and pain points of each target account to drive engagement.
- Develop a clearly defined strategy for selecting target accounts based on revenue potential, strategic fit and ability to deliver value.
- Track metrics like pipeline generated, opportunities created, conversions, account engagement and revenue won to measure ABM success.
- Leverage ABM tools like DeckLinks and HubSpot for ABM automation to enhance personalization, gain insights and streamline workflows.
- Incorporate strategies for nurturing and expanding existing accounts post-sale as part of your ABM plan.
- Balance outbound ABM with inbound marketing to attract and engage target accounts.
- View ABM as a long-term investment that requires consistent effort and patience over time. Avoid seeking quick wins.
List of the most common ABM mistakes that marketers make
|Common ABM mistakes||Solutions|
|Treating ABM as just another marketing campaign||Develop a holistic strategy that spans multiple quarters or years. ABM is not a one-off marketing campaign, but an ongoing commitment to your target accounts.|
|Lack of deep understanding of the targeted accounts||Invest time in researching your target accounts. Understand their business, industry trends, and the specific pain points of key stakeholders.|
|Struggling with marketing and sales alignment||Align your sales and marketing teams around common goals. Regular communication, shared metrics, and joint planning sessions can help foster marketing and sales alignment.|
|Overlooking the importance of personalized content strategy||Create personalized content tailored to the unique needs and pain points of your target accounts. This can improve engagement and conversion rates.|
|Lack of a clearly defined strategy for selecting target accounts||Develop a clearly defined strategy for account selection based on factors like market potential, fit with your product or service, and revenue potential.|
|Focusing on vanity metrics||Focus on meaningful metrics that demonstrate ABM success, such as pipeline generated, opportunities created, and revenue won.|
|Mistaking ABM technology for ABM strategy||Remember that digital marketing technology is a tool to support your Account-Based Marketing strategy, not the strategy itself. Develop your strategy first, and then use technology to enable and enhance it.|
|Neglecting account retention and expansion||Incorporate strategies for nurturing existing accounts and identifying upsell and cross-sell opportunities in your ABM plan.|
|Neglecting inbound marketing strategies||Balance outbound ABM activities with inbound marketing strategies. Create valuable content to attract and engage your target accounts.|
|Viewing ABM as a quick fix rather than a long-term investment||Understand that ABM is a long-term strategy that requires consistent effort and refinement. Be patient and keep optimizing your approach based on feedback and results.|
|Thinking that running ABM Ads equates to implementing an ABM strategy||Remember that ads are just one part of ABM. An effective ABM strategy involves personalized outreach, content marketing, marketing and sales alignment, account profiling, and more.|
|Underestimating the importance of data quality||Regularly clean and update your account data. The accuracy of your data directly impacts the effectiveness of your ABM initiatives.|
|Ignoring account health||Regularly review account engagement and satisfaction levels. Address any issues promptly to maintain a healthy relationship with your targeted accounts.|
|Lack of consistent communication||Establish a regular communication cadence with your target accounts. This could include newsletters, personalized emails, social media engagement, etc.|
|Overcomplicating the ABM approach||Keep your ABM approach simple and focused. Concentrate on a few key accounts and strategies, and expand as you see success.|
|Underestimating the role of customer success teams||Involve your customer success team in your ABM initiatives. They can provide valuable insights into account health and opportunities for expansion.|
|Failing to regularly review and adjust the Account-Based Marketing strategy||Set a schedule for reviewing and adjusting your ABM strategy based on feedback and results. This could be monthly, quarterly, or biannually depending on your organization's needs.|
|Not clearly defining and communicating ABM goals and expectations with the marketing and sales team||Clearly define and communicate your ABM goals and expectations to all involved teams. Ensure everyone understands their role in achieving these goals.|
|Underutilizing customer advocacy||Create a structured ABM program to encourage your existing customers to become advocates. This could include incentives like exclusive access, discounts, or recognition in your community. Showcase success stories of your existing customers. Involve your customer advocates in webinars, speaking opportunities, and as references in sales conversations.|
|Failing to understand the decision-makers||Map out the decision-making unit within each target account. This includes identifying who has the final say, who influences the decisions, and who the end users are. Tailor your messaging to address the needs and concerns of each group.|
ABM mistake 1/20:
Treating Account-Based Marketing as just another marketing campaign
One of the most common ABM mistakes I see ABM marketers do is treating Account-Based Marketing as just another marketing campaign, rather than an ongoing program, it’s like building a house without a solid foundation. You might have the most beautiful design, but without a sturdy base, the structure is bound to crumble.
Account-Based Marketing isn’t a short-term strategy; it necessitates a long-term, dedicated approach. Each targeted account is a market in itself and requires consistent nurturing and attention. Shift your mindset: view ABM as an ongoing marketing campaign that evolves with your target accounts.
In my 10 years in sales and marketing, one of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned is that Account-Based Marketing is not an overnight solution.
I recall working with a tech company that was initially skeptical about Account-Based Marketing approach. They were used to quick-fix solutions and had a hard time understanding the value of nurturing relationships with key accounts. However, after implementing a robust Account-Based Marketing strategy and maintaining patience, they began to see a significant increase in engagement and conversions after six months. This experience solidified my belief in Account-Based Marketing as a long-term strategic investment.
ABM mistake 2/20:
Lack of deep understanding of the targeted accounts
A lack of deep understanding of the target accounts – their pain points, objectives, and decision-making processes – is another common error I see many ABM marketers make. Comprehensive knowledge about your targeted accounts, is imperative for ABM success. Invest time in thorough research: understand the industry, business challenges, and key players within the target accounts. Make this an ongoing process to stay updated and relevant.
A lack of this understanding is akin to a developer constructing without knowing the terrain. It’s not about building the tallest building, it’s about constructing the most resilient one that suits the landscape.
From my experience, a lack of proper research always leads to poor response rates. Instead of sending out generic email marketing materials without understanding the unique challenges and pain points of your target accounts, invest time in understanding each target accounts specific needs, organizational structure, and decision-making processes, and then tailor their messaging to these insights.
ABM mistake 3/20:
Struggling with marketing and sales alignment
Misalignment between sales teams and marketing teams in an ABM strategy is like a car with its wheels turning in different directions. It’s not just about moving; it’s about moving cohesively in the same direction. Disjointed Account-Based Marketing efforts will only lead to a bumpy ride, not a smooth journey to the destination.
Account-Based Marketing is a team sport, and collaboration between sales team, customer relationship management, and marketing team, is crucial. Regular communication, shared goals, and mutual feedback form the bedrock of successful ABM implementation. Implement strategies to foster better marketing and sales alignment.
ABM mistake 4/20:
Overlooking the importance of personalized content strategy
Overlooking the importance of personalized and relevant content, and treating ABM as a one-size-fits-all solution is a pitfall to avoid. One-size-fits-all is a myth in the realm of ABM. Our work with diverse companies across various industries has taught us that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution in ABM; each strategy must be uniquely tailored to align with the specific needs and goals of the business.
All targeted accounts are unique, and your ABM approach should reflect this. Using the same content for all of your target accounts, assuming that all businesses have the same needs will result in low engagement and conversion rates.
Instead, develop personalized content that resonates with each target account, addressing their specific needs and interests. Personalization drives engagement, making your Account-Based Marketing efforts more effective.
One of our clients had a specific challenge: they wanted to target a niche set of key accounts within a highly competitive market. Through our ABM approach and customer research, we were able to identify the unique needs and preferences of these specific accounts, develop a highly personalized content marketing strategy for top accounts, and ultimately, help them increase target accounts engagement and penetrate this niche market.
ABM mistake 5/20:
Lack of a clearly defined strategy for selecting target accounts
I experienced first-hand how the absence of a precise and established account selection plan disrupted our ABM initiatives. And it wasn’t pretty. The selection process is crucial in Account-Based Marketing. Identify top accounts based on parameters like revenue potential, strategic alignment, and market influence. A clearly defined strategy for selecting target accounts can greatly increase the effectiveness of your ABM program.
The absence of a clearly defined strategy for account selection in ABM is comparable to setting sail without a compass. It’s not about navigating the entire ocean; it’s about charting the most favorable course to reach your desired destination. Lack of a clear ABM strategy almost always results in wasted resources and poor ROI.
ABM mistake 6/20:
Focusing on vanity metrics
Neglecting to measure the right metrics, focusing only on vanity metrics, won’t yield actionable insights. Focusing only on vanity metrics in Account-Based Marketing is like admiring the shiny exterior of a car while ignoring the engine’s condition. Metrics like engagement, reach, and opportunity creation can provide a clearer picture of your ABM success rate. Make sure to track and analyze these metrics regularly to steer your Account-Based Marketing efforts in the right direction. True ABM success is measured by meaningful metrics that reflect actual progress.
Some companies make the mistake of abandoning Marketing-qualified leads (MQLs) in favor of Marketing-qualified accounts (MQAs), essentially focusing on vanity metrics rather than meaningful ones. Both MQLs and MQAs should be measured to ensure a balanced ABM and demand gen strategy.
For example, sales and marketing teams that focus only on the number of new accounts they gain and fail to measure account engagement or account-based revenue will be missing valuable insights into their sales process and ABM strategy effectiveness. The sales and marketing teams should always define and track ABM-specific metrics, such as account engagement, account influence, sales cycle, pipeline velocity, and Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
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ABM mistake 7/20:
Mistaking ABM technology for ABM strategy
Buying an ABM technology doesn’t mean you’re implementing Account-Based Marketing. ABM is a strategy that tools and digital marketing technology can support. Underutilizing technology and automation tools available for ABM is like trying to carve a sculpture with a blunt knife. These tools can streamline marketing and sales process, provide valuable insights, and enhance personalization. Explore and adopt ABM-specific tools that can make your job easier and more effective.
Make sure to leverage account-level analytics, personalized content creation and delivery, and multichannel engagement to make the most out of Account-Based Marketing.
Very often I see companies purchase ABM technology and assume that simply having the tech means they’re executing ABM. In these cases, the purchase often comes from a directive from higher-ups, without a clear understanding of what ABM is and how it works.
You should first establish whether ABM is the right go-to-market strategy for your sales and marketing team, define what ABM means for your company, and only then look at the digital marketing technology.
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ABM mistake 8/20:
Neglecting account retention and expansion
I have noticed that many new ABM marketers fail to understand that Account-Based Marketing should not be limited to acquiring new business accounts. It’s often more cost-effective to retain existing customers and expand existing accounts than to acquire new ones. Marketers who fail to leverage these opportunities may miss significant revenue potential.
ABM doesn’t stop with the sale; it extends into cultivating long-term relationships. Engage with key accounts post-sale, provide continued value, and explore further opportunities for business growth. In my experience, post-sale relationship nurturing can sprout great opportunities for upselling and cross-selling.
ABM mistake 9/20:
Neglecting inbound marketing strategies
An over-reliance on traditional outbound tactics and neglect of inbound marketing strategies in an ABM campaign is like insisting on using a map in the era of GPS. From my experience, a balanced blend of outbound and inbound marketing strategies can greatly boost ABM results. Ensure that your ABM strategy includes tactics for attracting inbound leads and outbound leads.
ABM tactics and lead generation are not mutually exclusive and should be used in tandem. The larger and more complex your deals, the more your go-to-market strategy will rely on ABM; for smaller, high-velocity deals, lead-generation tactics are more appropriate.
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ABM mistake 10/20:
Viewing ABM as a quick fix rather than a long-term investment
Viewing Account-Based Marketing as a quick fix rather than a long-term investment is akin to expecting a seed to sprout into a tree overnight. ABM is a strategy that yields significant results over time, not overnight. Be patient, be persistent, and view your ABM program as a long-term strategic investment for your organization.
I can’t stress whole point of this enough – ABM isn’t about instant results; it’s about gradual growth. ABM is a long-term investment that blooms over time, not a magic bullet!
ABM mistake 11/20:
Thinking that running ABM Ads equates to implementing an ABM strategy
Over the years, I’ve seen marketers often make the mistake of confusing ABM ads with a complete ABM strategy. I had a client, a healthcare tech company, they were initially solely focused on running ABM ads. They assumed this would be enough to attract their target accounts. This “ABM approach” wasn’t very fruitful. After including personalized content, account-specific landing pages, and well-aligned sales and marketing efforts, their ABM campaign effectiveness significantly improved.
ABM ads can be part of your overall Account-Based Marketing strategy, but alone, they don’t constitute a strategy. ABM ads can help maintain “air cover” on your target accounts in a three-tiered approach to an ABM campaign, but they should be part of a broader well-rounded Account-Based Marketing strategy.
The term “air cover” in this context refers to the consistent and broad-reaching visibility of your brand or product across the key accounts you are targeting. It’s about ensuring your brand is top-of-mind when decision-making time arrives.
When running ABM ads, it’s crucial to understand the specific objectives you are trying to achieve. Are you aiming to increase brand awareness? Are you trying to drive engagement or conversion? The answers to these questions will influence the design, content, placement, and timing of your ads.
ABM mistake 12/20:
Underestimating the importance of data quality
Imagine, if you will, a sniper trying to hit a target with a misaligned scope; the outcome is not likely to be favorable. In a similar vein, an ABM strategy saddled with poor-quality data is akin to aiming in the dark.
The fallout? A compromised ABM strategy that fails to deliver on its promise of precise, personalized targeting, leaving you shooting in the dark and missing the mark more often than not.
Account-Based Marketing stands or falls on the twin pillars of data quality and data accuracy. Over the years, I have noticed that many ABM marketers do not realize the true importance of having high-quality data. This can cause a chain reaction of ABM mistakes in targeting and personalized marketing, ultimately harming the effectiveness of Account-Based Marketing.
ABM mistake 13/20:
Ignoring account health
Tracking account health is crucial to understanding the overall relationship with the account, anticipating churn, prioritizing the right accounts, and identifying up-sell and cross-sell opportunities. Ignoring account health may lead to unexpected account churn and missed growth opportunities.
Tracking the health of key accounts is your compass, your map, your guiding star, and your early warning system. It gives you a critical understanding of your overall relationship with the target accounts, allows you to anticipate potential churn, and uncovers up-sell and cross-sell opportunities that may otherwise go unnoticed.
ABM mistake 14/20:
Lack of consistent communication
The bedrock of successful Account-Based Marketing strategy lies in a simple truth: consistent communication. Based on my experience, if you don’t update your clients about new products, updates, and industry trends, it’s similar to maintaining a relationship with inconsistent communication. As a result, interest and engagement decrease, and ultimately the relationship dies out.
A lapse or inconsistency in communication can have a similar effect, leading to a loss of interest and engagement from the target accounts side. The takeaway? Consistent, engaging, and meaningful communication is the lifeblood of any successful ABM strategy.
ABM mistake 15/20:
Overcomplicating the ABM approach
Complexity can be a double-edged sword. On one hand, it allows for a nuanced strategy; on the other, it can lead to confusion and inefficiency. The realm of ABM is no different.
Many marketers succumb to the allure of complexity, layering their ABM approach with a plethora of tools, tactics, and strategies. The result? An overcomplicated ABM strategy that is more akin to navigating a labyrinth than executing a streamlined, focused plan. The antidote to this pitfall is simplicity and focus, ensuring efficiency and effectiveness in your ABM endeavors.
ABM mistake 16/20:
Underestimating the role of customer success teams
Very often I see ABM marketers fail to incorporate their customer success teams in their ABM strategy. Imagine having a treasure trove of insights and not leveraging it. That’s what it’s like when marketers fail to incorporate their customer success teams into their Account-Based Marketing strategy.
The customer success teams, often the closest to the customers, hold a wealth of knowledge about the needs, pain points, and preferences of the accounts. Ignoring their input is akin to leaving a goldmine untapped, a missed opportunity to enrich and refine your ABM strategy with first-hand, ground-level insights.
ABM mistake 17/20:
Failing to regularly review and adjust the Account-Based Marketing strategy
Account-Based Marketing is a living, breathing strategy that thrives on adaptation and evolution. It’s not a monolith set in stone, immune to changes in the market, key accounts feedback, or the effectiveness of the strategy.
Ignoring regular reviews and adjustments is much like trying to navigate a rapidly changing landscape with an outdated map. The result? Ineffective targeting, wasted resources, and a strategy that is more a relic of the past than a dynamic tool for the present.
ABM mistake 18/20:
Not clearly defining and communicating ABM goals and expectations with the marketing and sales team
Just as an orchestra requires each musician to know their part to create a harmonious performance, so too does Account-Based Marketing demand that every team member understands their role and the overall goals of the strategy. This begins with clear goal setting and robust communication of expectations.
In my experience, it is very important to clearly define and communicate goals and expectations. Not doing so is like sailing without a compass or climbing a mountain without a map.
Clear goals and expectations can help you create an effective ABM strategy, wherein every action is directed toward achieving a specific end. This clarity fosters marketing and sales alignment, ensuring that everyone is pulling in the same direction. It helps to eliminate confusion and facilitates the evaluation of progress, enabling marketing and sales teams to pivot or adjust as needed.
ABM mistake 19/20:
Underutilizing customer advocacy
In the realm of marketing, word-of-mouth is a legendary hero. Its power of persuasion is well-known, and its potency is undeniable. In Account-Based Marketing, this translates into customer advocacy, encompassing elements like testimonials, case studies, and customer referrals.
Despite its power, customer advocacy is often underutilized by ABM marketers, a decision akin to having a superpower but choosing not to use it. I often notice that ABM marketers overlook this powerful persuasion tool that can improve engagement with target accounts, increase credibility, and add authenticity to their digital marketing efforts.
Customer advocacy brings a human element to any successful ABM strategy. It presents your potential customers with relatable stories, successful experiences, and genuine endorsements from your existing customers. It’s a compelling way to highlight the value of your offering, providing your target accounts with tangible proof of your claims.
ABM mistake 20/20:
Failing to understand the decision-makers
In the intricate art of ABM, the target is not just a single entity, but a collective of stakeholders, commonly known as the decision-makers. These decision-makers are composed of various stakeholders, each with their own needs, preferences, and influence over the buying decision.
Understanding the decision-makers is about more than just knowing who they are. It’s about understanding their role in the decision-making process, their pain points, their preferred communication channels, and their perception of value. It’s about crafting a personalized approach for each member, ensuring that your message resonates with them on a meaningful level.
Based on my experience, if you incorporate a deeper understanding of the decision-makers into your ABM campaigns, you can create a more effective ABM strategy that engages and influences each member of the buying committee. This can improve your chances of success with your ABM campaign and increase the likelihood of turning targeted accounts into successful business relationships.
The landmine of ABM mistakes is vast and often obscured, but with careful navigation and attention to detail, these pitfalls can be avoided. I’ve covered the most common mistakes that could be silently wreaking havoc on your Account-Based Marketing strategy. By understanding these missteps and implementing our suggested solutions, you can turn your strategy around, increase your ROI, and drive your marketing success to new heights.
Remember, the road to ABM success is not always smooth, but with diligence, adaptability, and continuous learning, you can master it!
What are the most common ABM mistakes marketing teams make?
The most common ABM mistakes include having unrealistic expectations, poor target account selection, lack of executive buy-in, ineffective messaging, and not integrating ABM with existing strategies. Taking the time to set clear goals, choose accounts carefully, tailor messaging, and align efforts is key.
How can marketing teams avoid common ABM mistakes?
To avoid common ABM mistakes, start by thoroughly researching target accounts, securing executive sponsorship, developing personalized outreach, tracking performance rigorously, and ensuring marketing and sales alignment. Bringing all teams together to collaborate on strategy helps circumvent issues down the line.
Why do many ABM programs fail to deliver results?
Many ABM programs fail because expectations are too high or not properly set, target accounts are poorly chosen, personalization is lacking, or sales and marketing teams are misaligned. Unclear KPIs, inadequate budgets, lack of full-funnel insights also contribute to failure. Careful planning and execution is required.
What steps can marketing teams take to improve ABM performance?
To improve ABM, develop buyer personas, document customer journeys, create tailored content for key accounts, ensure sales and marketing collaboration, leverage intent data, track performance closely, and optimize based on insights. Ongoing refinement and executive support are essential for ABM success.
How can companies maximize account engagement with ABM?
Companies can maximize account engagement by identifying ideal customer profiles, monitoring buying signals, running multi-channel campaigns, personalizing outreach, developing relationships, and providing relevant, valuable content. Hyper-targeted, orchestrated, insights-driven efforts yield better engagement.
How does poor data quality affect ABM?
Poor data quality in ABM hampers targeting precision, diminishing the accuracy of account selection and personalization, leading to wasted efforts and suboptimal ABM KPI outcomes.
What's the impact of sales and marketing misalignment in ABM?
Sales and marketing misalignment in ABM can hinder KPI achievement. It leads to inconsistent messaging, confuses prospects, and reduces the effectiveness of nurturing high-value accounts, ultimately impacting ABM success metrics.
How to avoid neglecting personalized content in ABM?
To avoid neglecting personalized content in ABM, conduct thorough buyer persona research, segment accounts, and employ dynamic content strategies tailored to specific stages and needs, enhancing engagement and boosting ABM KPIs.
What's the role of analytics in ABM success?
Analytics play a pivotal role in ABM success. They empower data-driven decisions, optimize strategies, and enhance ABM KPIs like ROI, conversion rates, and customer retention by providing insights for continuous improvement.
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