5 ABM Mistakes (And How to Avoid Them)

In the rush to succeed, many professionals are guilty of seemingly simple mistakes that detract from their business goals. When it comes to account-based marketing (ABM), some errors can significantly damage successful outcomes. ABM efforts have many moving parts, making it easy to let some important pieces slip through the cracks.

The good news is that a little bit of awareness and planning can go a long way toward preventing these errors. Read on to discover which five ABM mistakes are most common, and learn how to avoid them.

Lack of Defined Target Accounts

One of the most common and detrimental mistakes account-based marketers can make is failing to put enough effort into listing their target accounts. The first step in marketing is to know who you’re trying to reach. Without an understanding of your target audience, marketing initiatives will fall short.

Even for those used to making a list, it’s easy to miss potential accounts. The best way to make sure your list of target accounts is comprehensive is to methodically work through all varieties of potential target accounts. Possibilities include:
New business accounts. Any companies with which you’ve never conducted business.

  • Current customers. These accounts offer many opportunities for growth or “cross-selling.” For example, current customers may be good targets for additional products or services. They also may have additional departments you’d like to target or other geographical areas you haven’t reached.
  • Past customers. Customers you’re no longer working with may be good targets for new or updated products and services. Consider them as you construct a target accounts list.
  • Relocated past customers. Customers who worked with your company in the past but then moved to a different provider.

Spotty Customer Research

Once you know who you’re trying to reach, develop a thorough understanding of your target market. The best way to do this is comprehensive research. Thorough customer research will give you insight into specific characteristics of companies in a sub-set of a larger industry category, which will allow you to identify their unique concerns.

Without this knowledge, it’s impossible to create effective marketing content and delivery strategies. This is especially important for ABM because the whole approach relies on customization: quality rather than quantity. Although it takes time and effort, beginning the ABM process with extensive customer research is a must.

Poor Coordination of Sales and Marketing Efforts

The ABM process relies on an interconnected network of people and activities. If components of the process are out of sync, it will undermine the entire effort. The best remedy for this error is to get sales and marketing teams in the same room (or virtual space) and determine the following:

  • Who are your target accounts?
  • What are the desired outcomes?
  • How will labor be divided among members of different teams?

Be as specific as possible, and make sure communication is open and honest. Some of the information may change throughout the sales cycle or as marketing efforts get underway. The best practice is to set up regular meetings between teams to discuss these and other important questions. The more communication between different constituents, the better the results will be.

Failure to Establish Constructive Metrics

An ABM strategy must be carefully evaluated to determine where and how it’s succeeding or failing. Without establishing and tracking appropriate metrics, marketers run the risk of repeating unsuccessful efforts or targeting the wrong strategies to the wrong accounts.

An additional complicating factor for ABM is that the sales cycle is typically much longer. Marketers need to establish metrics that aid in assessing strategies mid-cycle, or they risk missing potentially crucial information. If proper metrics are established and monitored throughout, account-based marketers can better assure that they aren’t wasting efforts or missing an important piece of the puzzle.

Here are some of the more important metrics for ABM. Business owners and analysts must employ these factors to effectively measure results before the end of a sales cycle:

  • Coverage. Do you have the right contacts at each of your target accounts? If there are gaps in coverage, marketing programs may not succeed.
  • Awareness. Measuring target accounts’ level of awareness is crucial to understanding where you can increase marketing of specific products and services.
  • Engagement. How much engagement are you seeing from each of your target accounts? If engagement declines in the middle of the sales cycle, the result could be damaging to revenue.
  • Impact. Gauging the impact specific marketing programs have on each target account will help you determine what works, and for whom.

Using Rotating Banners or Carousels

Rotating banners or carousels may seem like a great solution for companies that want to communicate several messages to several target audiences. Despite their popularity, however, these tools are a bad idea for ABM outcomes. Studies show that most users ignore rotating banners and carousels. This is especially detrimental for ABM marketers because they typically depend on fewer clients with higher levels of engagement.

Rather than trying to use a one-size-fits-all feature, account-based marketers benefit from using personalized web elements. A great way to customize your web presence is to create tailored “hero” banners or CTA messages for each target account.

Depending on whether the visitor is a potential client or a current one, you can create appropriate messages to reach them. For example, current customers might see information about upcoming events, while potential customers might see a message that offers to connect them with a sales rep. Truly personalized content will be much more likely to garner attention than a generic banner or carousel.

Checking the Basics

Measure twice, cut once. It may sound elementary, but this old adage is true for many professionals beyond the world of carpentry. Without proper plans and careful oversight, even the best execution can fail. Account-based marketers can avoid the most egregious errors by making sure to create a comprehensive plan, collaborate with team members, and communicate clearly along the way. It may take some coordinating, but it’s well worth the effort to avoid costly and time-consuming errors.