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5 Account-Based Marketing Challenges (and How to Solve Them)

We explore a number of account-based marketing challenges that marketers face and look at how to address them.

Inbound Marketing   |   ABM

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Lucy Jones

strategicabm 550 60

Dec 13 2017 - 5min Read Date published: Date modified: 2021-01-06

ABM common issues.png

We explore common account-based marketing challenges and look at how to solve them. 

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is an increasingly considered B2B strategy; designed to drive growth and awareness with specific high-value, high-propensity accounts. Many marketers are already using ABM to some success - yet still face a few challenges.

For example, as ABM campaigns are highly personalised and targeted, they can require substantial resource. Knowing how and where to focus to implement effective ABM campaigns can be complex.

So what can be done? With insight from a recent Demandbase webinar, this post will explore common challenges you may face, and give tips to circumvent them.

Related: What is Account-Based Marketing?

Common Account-Based Marketing Challenges and How To Solve Them 

1. Aligning Sales and Marketing

What is this challenge about?

In the case of account-based marketing, sales and marketing alignment is especially important - a misalignment between sales and marketing makes it hard to measure contribution and attribution between each department, causing problems and disjointed action.

So instead of sales teams being solely focussed on deals and revenue and marketing only focussing on MQLs, opportunities and generating demand, both sides need to be aware of, and consider their joint impact through all stages of the funnel.

Related: Sales & Marketing Alignment For Account-Based Marketing Success

How can this challenge be addressed?

Before any ABM activities start, both teams need to agree on, and understand the goals, KPIs and metrics they are jointly working towards. Both must collaborate - sharing insight to drive the best approach and expand relationships within key accounts.

As ABM is a full funnel activity, not just a marketing strategy, your team as a whole should be able to track and measure every aspect of your ABM campaign from first to last touch.

2. Knowing how to select target accounts

What is this challenge about?

ABM is only effective if you focus on the right opportunities - so, you need to develop a manageable, scalable process that identifies the right fit accounts for your efforts to succeed.

How can this challenge be addressed?

If you’re already conducting inbound activity, you can use your pool of inbound leads to identify best fit (high-value, high propensity) opportunities for ABM (an Inbound to ABM model). At a top level, this inbound to ABM process can ensure you’re focussing on, and nurturing the right-fit accounts, and will ensure you have a pool of accounts to consider as you scale activities.

However, you might instead start with a long list of named potential accounts (often sales sourced, modelled on recently closed deals). When the list is substantial, leveraging technology and data science can help to identify and expand account information -  reducing manual aspects to make the account selection process more scalable. Keep in mind here that selected accounts should always be manually double checked by your team before any activity goes ahead.

3. Delivering an account-focussed website experience

What is this challenge about?

Your website is a key tool for ABM. Create the right site experience for each individual in your target accounts, and you should see better engagement.

How can this challenge be addressed?

So how can you create those relevant experiences for each individual?

The process should start with understanding; as part of your account research you’ll be profiling individuals in your key account to identify their buying stages, role, preferences etc to inform aspects such as messaging - and site experience.

You should also look at any historical data you already have on account individuals. How are they visiting your site, what content do they engage with? If you have no historical data, explore how other similar contacts act. Next, use this insight to tailor a site experience to your key accounts.

For example you might;

  • Start with your homepage, or an account-specific landing page; personalising the copy and design to appeal and adapt to account-specific visitors.

  • Create personalised CTAs tailored to an individual’s position in the buyer’s journey and their topics of interest.

  • Create personalised (by name or organisation) video content, imagery, and other content for that page.

  • Finally, keep experimenting, testing and measuring the results to find what works best. Identify if specific actions you are taking are working - so you can replicate and adapt for other accounts.

4. Knowing what content to deliver

What is this challenge about?

“Attention is something that can’t be refunded or recalled. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.” - Seth Godin

How can you deliver a content experience that keeps individuals in your target account engaged - holding their attention to accelerate them through their buying journey, even when you don’t know who they are specifically?

How can this challenge be addressed?

To retain attention and accelerate account visitor’s journeys, you need to know what content to serve. You must be able to serve a ‘content experience’ - starting with one engaging, well-delivered, and account-personalised asset; before leading them to other assets relevant to them.

When you know who a visitor is, this is simple; with an identified contact, you can interact and recommend a unique content experience for them appropriately. But what if you know that a visitor is from one of your target accounts - but not yet who they are as an individual?

In this case, presenting a range of account-personalised content to suit each buying stage is wise as it offers more personalisation and relevance. Technology can again help here - with the right tools it’s possible to intelligently and dynamically serve appropriate next-stage content, based on what your visitor is looking at and where they are from. providing a more scalable and unique content experience for each individual.

5. Identifying and connecting with the buying committee at target accounts

What is this challenge about?

The way accounts are contacted has changed dramatically over time. In the past, sales teams used to focus on volume - sending sales-focussed emails to a wide array of contacts.

But today (following more inbound-based approaches), it’s important that ABM sales and marketing teams focus on quality and value rather than quantity - to build value-based and insight focussed relationships with decision makers.

How can this challenge be addressed?

There are often many individuals within a target account. To see success it’s important to be able to identify the key decision makers and account influencers - and to get to know them; truly recognising them as individuals, to build positive, relevant relationships. 

Research is crucial to this process. If you can identify firstly, which of your account contacts are part of the decision making unit, then secondly uncover the insight you need to make a real human connection, you’re more likely to see success. 

There are a number of touchpoints that you can use to learn about account contacts, and build a foundation for quality connections. For example you can:

  • Read news, press and blogs to explore current topics that your account may be interested in,

  • Explore your accounts (and key account individual’s) website and wider digital presence to build a more comprehensive understanding,
  • Research the buying committee via social channels to uncover further insight and interests.

All of the above can be used by your sales and marketing teams to inform communications, and to build account-specific messaging that will resonate.

Overcoming ABM Issues

Conducting ABM can be a challenge. After all, delivering considered, personalised marketing - especially at scale is complex. Yet with the right technology and strategy it is possible to see success.

Yet while technology is important, testing, experimentation and human judgement are also crucial; you team as a whole must be prepared to collaborate, communicate and continually reassess with one another to truly see results.