Account-based marketing has seen a surge in popularity in recent years, and for good reason — when sales and marketing teams are aligned on the best prospects to target, companies save time and close more deals.

Sounds simple enough. But without the best possible data about your current customers and future prospects, even the most well-thought-out, account-based marketing playbook will fail to hit its targets.

This data-driven guide to account-based marketing, or ABM, will help ensure your company’s plans get off on the right foot.

Account-Based Marketing: What it Means, Why it Works

Account-based marketing is a strategy in which marketers treat every account as a market of one, personalizing efforts to address the buyer’s specific needs. It’s the process of identifying high-value accounts and developing marketing strategies that appeal to their specific personas and needs.

Here’s why account-based marketing is important for any modern revenue team:

Improved customer experience: Personalization is the biggest selling point of ABM. When you offer highly targeted information and content to an account, you speak to their specific needs — and nothing else. This personalization results in a unique, hassle-free buying experience where your customers feel understood and appreciated.

More efficient campaigns: ABM is a hyper-targeted strategy — you won’t waste time and resources on prospects that might not be ready to buy. By targeting specific accounts, you can be sure that only the best and most sales-ready buyers enter your pipeline. 

Stronger sales and marketing alignment: ABM is not just a marketing initiative. It’s a business-wide strategy where both sales and marketing work together to target specific accounts. ABM facilitates stronger alignment by forcing the departments to work together. You won’t have to worry about disagreements over the quality of inbound leads because your teams are proactively targeting agreed-upon accounts and ultimately working toward the same goals.

How Data Makes Account-Based Marketing Possible

Once it’s time to build an account-based marketing strategy, you’ll need to get all stakeholders to agree on the data that forms the foundation of everything that happens next. Here are four key account-based marketing data factors to keep in mind:

1. Prospect and customer data allows you to tailor your targeting strategy

An effective ABM strategy is dependent on how you choose your target accounts. Account selection is a critical step in your strategy and it hinges solely on contact and customer data analysis.

To target your key accounts, you must first develop an Ideal Customer Profile, or ICP. An ICP is a profile detailing critical characteristics of your most valuable customers and accounts, created using a combination of firmographic and behavioral data points.

Analyze your contact and customer database to identify commonalities between your best customers. This might include things like:

  • Industry
  • Company size
  • Revenue
  • Location
  • Budget
  • Average purchase size
  • What technologies they use

Ultimately, your ICP will serve as the blueprint for your account targeting process. If you get this step wrong, your entire strategy will derail.

2. Contact and account data ensures optimal account coverage

Account coverage refers to your ability to identify and penetrate a large number of key accounts. This metric is critical to the success of your campaign. Here’s why: If you have a ton of target accounts but can’t reach any contacts within them, you won’t be able to convert those targets into customers. On the flip side, if you have only a few target accounts and you manage to reach all of your contacts within each — you’ll still only have a few new customers at best.

There are two primary types of data you will need for optimal account coverage: business structure data and accurate contact data.

Business structure data: This refers to information regarding a company’s hierarchy and decision-making process. Create an organizational chart that shows an account’s key stakeholders and where they fall in the general structure of the business.

Contact data: You won’t reach key stakeholders if you don’t have their accurate contact information. Direct dials are particularly important, especially when targeting upper-level stakeholders. In fact, you’re 46% more likely to reach prospects at the director level, and 147% likelier to reach a prospect at the VP level if you use a direct dial.

If you don’t have access to information regarding business structure or contact details, your account-based marketing strategy will fail — quickly. Work with a B2B database or contact information provider to make sure you’re primed and ready to succeed.

3. Data facilitates sales and marketing alignment

Account-based marketing isn’t limited to just sales or just marketing. It’s truly a collaborative effort where sales and marketing share equal responsibility — so you need the help of data to ensure both teams are on the same page at all times.

The problem is, companies often use systems and technologies that don’t integrate — sales and marketing data are kept in separate silos. That means marketers are looking at different metrics than the sales team, running different reports, and ultimately failing to share data at all.

Follow these tips to make sure your teams continue to share data and maintain sales and marketing alignment:

Implement tools that integrate: Don’t keep data in silos. Use integrated marketing and sales automation tools so that both teams have access to the exact same data.

Use shared reporting: If your sales and marketing departments are working with different metrics or dashboards, they’ll ultimately be working toward different goals. This can widen the rift between the two teams and ultimately cause your account-based marketing initiatives to fail.

Communicate openly: Have regular meetings between your marketing and sales teams. Examine data together to make sure both teams have a shared understanding of your data and how it impacts your overall ABM strategy.

4. Data enables personalization

Personalization is a top priority of any account-based marketing campaign. But how can you personalize your campaigns if you don’t know anything about the account or person you’re trying to reach?

Fortunately, access to the right data will help you tailor your messaging so it resonates with the person you’re targeting. Remember, your account-based marketing strategy needs to appeal to the unique problems and interests of each account and of each important contact.

Look deeper than basic demographic information and collect data concerning your buyer’s problems, their stage of the buying cycle, and online behavior. This information will allow you to craft content that speaks directly to the matters that are most important to them.

How to Measure and Analyze ABM Performance

Planning, informing, and executing an account-based marketing strategy — even with the best possible data foundation — won’t matter much if you can’t tell what’s working and what missed the mark.

Start by comparing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) from normal sales and marketing activities to results from your account-based marketing efforts. Basic metrics to keep track of and compare are:

  • account penetration
  • deal-to-close time
  • win rate
  • annual contract value (ACV).

If you’re not seeing the right results, backtrack and find out where things went awry. And if your B2B contact data is the culprit, make sure you’ve got the best-in-class source of marketing insights available.