What is account-based marketing?

What is ABM?

Account-based marketing (ABM) is all the rage right now. But what actually is it?

Put simply, it's a strategic approach to B2B growth where sales and marketing foster deep alignment on campaigns that focus on targeting and engaging specific high-value accounts rather than casting a wide net to attract a larger audience.

This personalised marketing approach typically allows companies to tailor their efforts to the unique needs and preferences of individual accounts, ultimately driving more meaningful and relevant interactions, which should turn into closed won revenue.

By adopting this targeted approach, organisations can effectively nurture relationships with key accounts, increase customer retention, and drive business growth.

The three main types of ABM

There are three main types of (ABM) that companies can adopt;

  • One-to-one
  • One-to-few
  • One-to-many


One-to-one ABM, where companies focus on building personalised relationships with individual accounts. This approach allows for highly tailored marketing and sales efforts and is ideal for companies with a small number of high-value accounts.


One-to-few ABM involves targeting a small group of accounts with similar characteristics or needs. This approach allows for some level of personalisation while still being scalable.


Lastly, there is one-to-many ABM,  which involves targeting a larger audience with similar characteristics or interests. This approach allows for broader reach while still maintaining a level of personalisation.

Overall, the key to successful ABM is understanding the unique needs and preferences of each account and tailoring marketing efforts accordingly, and adopting one of the approaches above dependant on the type of company you are going after.

The benefits of ABM

There are multiple advantages linked to account-based marketing and below, we've listed some of the main ones.

Marketing and sales alignment

Ahhhh this old chestnut.

"Marketing doesn't drive enough high quality leads."

Sales to the CEO.

"Sales aren't converting them at the same rate."

Marketing to the CEO.

I think one of the best ways respond to conversations like the above (and I appreciate they don't all pan out exactly like this!) is;

"You're on the same team*, talk to each other and help each other out!"

*as in, they all work for the same company!

Anyway, ABM is (in my opinion at least) embedded deeply in the fact that it is sales-focussed initative being executed by marketing teams. Therefore, pretty much from the off there should be broad alignment over what success looks like - and one the main things that cause lack of alignment between any team is lack of clarity over what goals/success looks like. 

ABM won't ensure complete alignment between these two teams, but it should definitely help.

A focus on your ideal customer

One of the first things you need to do as part of any ABM activation is figure out who your ideal customer is. The reason for that is because everything you do in an ABM campaign is tailored around the customer. Therefore the more you hone in on them, the more resonant your messaging will become across both marketing and sales communication which should only increase the quality of relationships you have with both prospect and customer alike.

Growing high value accounts

Land and expand is a fairly common turn of phrase in B2B, and it's very applicable in ABM. The play is also backed up by countless stats - and here's one from Semrush:

The probability of selling to an existing customer is between 60% and 70%.
The probability of selling to a new customer is only between 5% to 20%. 

Within ABM's arsenal is the fact that the tactics (see later in this article) are not just limited to new logo - cross and upsell opportunities can also be a focus. In fact sometimes, there are economies of scale of running the same content, events, etc to new and existing customers alike.

So if you offer multiple product or service lines, and you know that your product or service will add value to your existing customers as well as new logo accounts - ABM is potentially, a great route to go down.

ROI is easier to track (but it can still be hard)

Marketing ROI and attribution is a pain - and it's only going to get harder.

But, ABM is relatively easier to track because you're basically saying "here's 10/50/100 accounts we really want to win, let's go after them."

That means that even at a campaign level at the very least you can say "this worked" or "this didn't work". Whether you'd get to the granularity of working out which assets/emails/events/gifts/etc contributed the most is probably a stretch, but you can track overall campaign effectiveness - and that's hard to do with some other marketing plays.

Is ABM a fit for your company?

ABM is a marketing strategy that is really only a fit for certain types of organisations. You'll probably need at least 50% of the below:

  • Annual/total contract value of >£50k
  • Sales cycle of over 3 months
  • A human-intensive, relationship-based sales process
  • More than 4 stakeholders involved in the buying process
  • A clearly defined ICP
  • Broad alignment between marketing and sales
  • Enough resource to generate tailored content for your audience

If you've got less than 50% of the above, then ABM could still work but it's more than likely other strategic plays like inbound or demand gen may work better for you.

ABM tactics & channels

Tactical plays within ABM vary wildly, and typically will depend on the type of ABM you are running. 

More personalised tactics/approaches are required for one-to-one, such as gifting, personalised mail or private events, such as roundtables.

You can be less personalised with one to many - more generic advertising, direct mail, unpersonalised video.

The below isn't exhaustive, but gives a good overview of what you can generally think about when considering what tactics and channels to employ:

ABM Tactics Map


In conclusion, account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategic approach to B2B growth that focuses on targeting and engaging specific high-value accounts. By tailoring marketing efforts to the unique needs and preferences of individual accounts, companies can foster deep relationships, increase customer retention, and drive business growth.

However, ABM is not a perfect fit for every B2B org. It is most suitable for organisations with certain characteristics, such as higher contract values, longer sales cycles, and a relationship-based sales process. To implement ABM successfully, companies need to employ various tactics and channels, depending on the type of ABM they are running and be continually monitoring performance.

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