For the last few years, account-based marketing (ABM) has been the go-to solution for B2B marketers who have access to programmatic advertising. It makes sense — ABM represents a targeted approach to digital advertising, and it follows the way in which business development managers typically sell their services. Sales representatives choose companies with which they hope to do business. They target that company and reach out to the stakeholders who have a role in purchase decisions. Following the sales team’s lead makes this a logical way to leverage digital advertising if you’re selling to other businesses.
But ABM isn’t without its drawbacks. It promises the world to B2B marketers, but it doesn’t always deliver on those promises, partly because it can cast too wide a net within the accounts it targets. Unlike past incarnations of ABM, which entailed phone calls and sending direct mail pieces or emails to individuals within an organization, today’s ABM is often less focused. Rather than personalized messages in a mailbox or inbox, display advertising is targeted to the organization as a whole. While some providers claim to reach only employees with specific titles or roles within an organization, not every ABM campaign is so targeted. That can result in the following challenges:
- There is a lot of advertising budget wasted with ABM. ABM, by definition, targets companies. For example, there are 124,000 employees in Microsoft, so if Microsoft is the target, you’re technically targeting everyone from the mailroom to the C-suite — and you may not have insight into whether any of the decision makers you need to reach have seen your ads. A better approach might be targeting individual people or roles within the organization based on your first-party data, and possibly merging with quality B2B third-party data. That way, you’ll know exactly who’s seen your ad. By only targeting the decision makers you need to engage, you can be sure you’re not wasting money on employees who have no influence over purchase decisions.
- How do you know if your ABM campaign worked? If you’ve run a campaign targeting an account, it’s hard to confirm if any stakeholders have seen a single ad — unless a decision maker has engaged with an ad and completed some kind of conversion that required them to provide personal information. Very few ABM providers are able to provide this level of detail. Unless you’re using first-party data and/or a partner who can provide this data, it’s hard to tell if ABM is working — especially if you’ve got several campaigns running simultaneously.
- ABM is not actionable. Even if your campaign is extremely successful and receives a lot of clicks, you still can't tell who exactly clicked unless they’ve completed a form or converted in some other way. That’s especially disappointing in goal-oriented ABM campaigns. If you’re getting clicks, you want to be able to tell your sales teams that you’ve been able to open the door into their “dream” account — yet you don’t know who’s taken action and who sales should be contacting.
Once campaigns launch, ideally, sales teams will have insight into which individuals are progressing toward a purchase within each organization and have the opportunity to follow up along the way. With more focus on humans, along with more targeted data and insights, ABM can deliver results that have a real and positive impact on the business.
Dmitri Lisitski is the co-founder and CEO of Influ2, the first person-based marketing (PBM) solution. A serial entrepreneur with 20 years of experience in online marketing and advertising, Dmiri has successfully launched, managed and advanced multiple IT-powered companies in the U.S. and EU markets, including BonusTec (which was sold to GlobalLogic) and ThickButtons. Prior to Influ2, Dmitri was Global Head of Delivery & Services at Gett. He holds Executive MBAs from Columbia Business School and London Business School.