B2B Marketing blog

What makes account-based marketing a success?

In the roundtable meetings of spotONvision, marketers share their experiences about different subjects involved in their marketing strategies. A subject that is discussed often is account-based marketing (ABM) and today’s main question is “How can you truly measure the ROI of ABM?” Experienced B2B-Marketers from Schiphol Real Estate, CGI and T-Mobile share their thoughts. Many times research showed that ABM yields more profit than regular marketing campaigns, but how does this work?

Start at the beginning

A key requirement is to drive close teamwork between marketing and sales and focus on a specific account, or a group of target accounts. Start with setting goals for you and your team at account level. Sales regularly has their own account opportunity list and that is a great start for an ABM-strategy.

Ratio, realism and risk

At the IT and Business consultancy company CGI, they start with a ratio: They start with insight into the probability of success. For example: What is the chance that sales can land that one deal? The higher the chance, the better you are investing your marketing budget. First calculate the chance of bringing in the prospect. Is your calculation positive? Then go for it!

Next you and your team should put the targeted accounts on the board, and you want to know which colleagues are of value to successfully executing the plan. For every account you map the different possibilities, the needed time and the needed recourses. Preferably choices will be made based on data. A very important part is to keep checking whether your plan is realistic. Do you have the correct resource and the internal support to complete the project?

Last but not least you need to calculate the risks: Sometimes you may have thoroughly worked out your plans and started working on the project when suddenly large, impactful changes appear at the target account. Dependent on your ways of working you can anticipate on these changes. For a company like Schiphol Real Estate the reorganisation of a target account is almost a regular thing. This has direct impact on their plans and execution.

If you start using these 3 things you are well on the way, with that we all agree. But the biggest challenge is to make your activities scalable. We recognise that large batch and blast campaigns will not fail the test of personalization. But when addressing the need of personalised account-based activities we need to think of an approach to scalability.

How can you make ABM scalable?

Experience teaches us that ABM-campaigns need to be scalable to work. If all the pillars are directed on few accounts this could consume a lot of resources without the required return on investment.
T-Mobile was smart with the use of their time with respect to planning and content. A lot of attention was put into the segmenting of the accounts. This is because the target group would otherwise be to large and if you invest too narrowly on few targets that could quickly become too expensive. Segmenting is possible on known classifications like region, industry and company size. But it is also possible to segment in different areas that play a part in the market. For example, durability, sustainability or co-creation opportunities. This way you can put campaigns to good use in either industry marketing, or industry ABM.

The choice of accounts, and investment levels you make will be driven by where sales and marketing jointly believe you have the greatest chance of success . Do you have a smaller defined market where you can get big deals? In that case ABM is definitely interesting. Or a bigger market where the size of the deal is smaller? Then an option would be to start a theme or industry campaign.

Share your successes

All stages of developing and executing your ABM-strategy take a lot of time. And you will notice that there are many moments to take a look at your success. Don’t get distracted by the delusion of the day and take time to evaluate. So once more: share your successes however small they might be.

Which moments should you celebrate?

  • Have you arrived at your target account list or your segmentation based on ratio, realism and risk? And do you have hands together with the sales and marketing team? Hooray! May be celebrated!
  • Have you collected account insights and also gained insight into the contacts you already have within the accounts? It is a real achievement to complete this first deep dive.
  • Do you have insight into the content needs of your contacts within your accounts? You can now really get started with campaign development. Celebrate this start together!
  • Do you see steps towards more engagement of your target accounts with your company / people, online and offline? Continuously monitor progress and discuss the results on the basis of a dashboard.
  • Do you make the account a customer? Yes, champagne can be opened!


To answer the question “What makes ABM successful?” There is no easy answer. The success depends on a lot of different factors. What does become clear is that the start, the assumptions en de team are the most important ones. Without a good start, no ROI.

Want to know more about ABM please contact us

Ingrid Archer

Ingrid Archer is a marketing and communications professional ‘pur sang’ with more than 20 years of experience in B2B marketing and communication. She is co-founder of spotONvision and the B2B Marketing Forum. She initiated successful campaigns in various sectors and is one of the experts in the field of content marketing, buyer personas and lead nurturing in B2B.