Understanding the 3 Types of Account-Based Marketing

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The IT Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) defines ABM as “treating individual accounts as markets in their own right.

In “A Practitioner’s Guide to Account-Based Marketing,” authors, Bev Burgess and Dave Munn take it a step further. They define ABM as a

“structured process for developing and implementing highly-customized marketing programs to strategic accounts, partners, or prospects.”

They list the 3 Types of ABM as follows:

1) One-to-One – Also known as Strategic ABM, this approach is usually reserved for strategic accounts and executed on a one-to-one basis. It involves the creation and execution of highly-customized programs for individual accounts.

Characteristics of One-to-One ABM

* 50-50 accounts

* Focus on existing key accounts

* Deep dive account research

* Highly customized programs for each account

* Integration with account plans

The most effective campaign tactic for the one-to-one model is face-to-face meetings. This is closely followed by account-specific development and dissemination, innovation days, executive engagement plans, as well as private/internal business events. This is according to ITSMA’s Account Based Marketing Survey in March 2016.

The 2017 version of ITSMA’s report lists the best tactics for one-to-one ABM to include account-specific thought leadership, innovation days, executive engagement plans, and one-to-one meetings.


2) One-to-Few – Also known as ABM Lite, this model involves the development and implementation of lightly customized marketing strategies for small clusters of accounts (usually 5-15 each) that share similar needs and pain points. The ultimate focus is to build relationships and spot opportunities with both new and existing accounts.

Characteristics of One-to-Few ABM

* Clusters of 5-15 accounts each

* Focus on new and existing key accounts with similar issues

* Deep dive cluster research

* Highly focused programs with modest personalization

The best campaign tactic for the one-to-few model is face-to-face meetings. This is closely followed by email marketing, executive engagement plans, customized collateral/videos/podcasts, and reverse IP/targeted digital ads/content. This is according to ITSMA’s 2016 ABM report.

The 2017 version of the report says email marketing, account-specific thought leadership, as well as roadshows/events are most effective in running one-to-few ABM campaigns.

3) One-to-Many – Also known as Programmatic ABM, this method involves different campaigns, different budgets, and different levels of personalization. Clustering is by technographics, industry, problem, etc.

Characteristics of One-to-Many ABM

 * 100s of accounts

* Focus on relevant new accounts

* Market and account intelligence

* Broad programs with light personalization

* Technology investment for scale

It involves a heavy use of automation software to track personalized marketing communications with individuals at targeted accounts. Technologies such as CRM and Marketing Automation are used to implement and personalize marketing campaigns for specific, named accounts at scale, The ultimate focus is lead generation from both new and existing targets.

The most effective tactic for running a programmatic ABM campaign is email marketing. This is closely followed by face-to-face meetings, reverse IP/ targeted digital ads/content, direct mail, and blogs/social engagement. This is according to the 2016 version of ITSMA’s report.

The 2017 report says email marketing, reverse IP/targeted digital ads/content/retargeting, as well as road shows/events are most effective for one-to-many ABM campaigns.

Which of The 3 ABM models Is Most Successful?

ITSMA’s 2017 report lists the success rate for one-to-one as 91% while one-to-few posted a 91% success rate. One-to-many had a rate of 78%.

Some of the companies surveyed are moving towards a blended approach while the majority is implementing just one type. Here’s a breakdown:

* 12% are implementing all 3 types

* 23% are implementing 2 types

* 65% are implementing one type only

High performing ABM organizations are more likely to follow a blended approach for the reasons mentioned in this post.

Case Study: A Peep into SAP’s Award-Winning ABM Program

A few years back, SAP North America had a business challenge. It was to consolidate previously scattered marketing initiatives, develop a common ground across regions, and maintain consistency by sharing reports.

To tackle the challenge, it instituted an ABM program to improve the level and quality of customer engagement as well as ensure a long-term value recognition and growth from customers.

The program utilized personalized newsletters and webcasts, dedicated enterprise social networking sites, account-specific digital marketing, and onsite 1:1 events. The program was successful and led to the expansion of the project to include 55 accounts in 2015.

Here’s a breakdown of the results, according to ITSMA Senior Vice President, Rob Leavitt:

* Marketing Pipeline Touched (MPT): $209M Touched, $27.6M has closed

* Marketing Progressed Pipeline (MPP): $57M Progressed, $30.3M has closed

* New Opportunities Created: 49 for $27M in new pipeline

* 1,200 New Line of Business (LOB) Contacts

Is Your B2B Enterprise Using ABM?

If your business is not utilizing ABM principles, it’s high time you did. Wondering where and how to start?

Rahul Khosla, CEO of edynamic, a global digital marketing and technology agency focused on customer engagement, provides a 4-step guide to rolling out an ABM program.

To run a successful ABM program, you’ve got to crawl before you can walk; you’ve also got to walk before you can run. Start small. Execute a pilot to prove value and create a roadmap.

Have you read the ABM Playbook? Download and read the definitive guide to nailing your account-based marketing strategy. No fluff, just good stuff.