Account-based marketing (ABM) has been appearing on plenty of trend lists for 2017 – much like it did this time last year, and the year before that.

The likely reason it keeps popping on those trend lists is that it’s a complicated old business, which requires sifting through a whole load of data to send the right prospect the most appropriate message.

Complex idea

B2B marketers are still struggling to wrap their heads around how ABM works in practice, preventing the approach from truly taking off – hence its status as a trend list regular.

When you pitch the approach’s complexities alongside the risks associated with it – namely, putting all your eggs in basket – it’s easy to see why marketers might defer from using the strategy.

So, what does a successful ABM strategy look like? Forbes offers a place to start with some top tips:

1. Use data to identify the most achievable accounts

The safest way to avoid coming a cropper from putting all your eggs in one basket is to prioritise the accounts which appear to be the most achievable and are able to deliver the greatest return on investment.

To help ensure your time is well spent pursuing an account, look to metrics like potential deal size, ability to influence the market, highest profit margin, and probability of a repeat purchase. Use your own data or purchase data from a company, too, to sieve out the doubtful from the achievable accounts.

Also, focus your efforts on the decision-makers and influencers who are actually able to authorise investments, which is what ABM is all about – targeting everybody, rather than just the marketing executives.

Everybody quiet

2. Make addressing pain points the focal part of your campaign

This is where content marketing and ABM really start to overlap. The difference is that ABM necessitates you to address the pain points of the account you’re trying to target, as opposed to the industry as a whole.

In order to do that, of course, you’ll need to spend time defining personalised messages by analysing all the data that shapes your understanding of individual business challenges. The key is to connect the solutions of their pain points to your business, without going all salesy on them.

3. Address all channels (where possible)

It’s easy to get caught up in the digital world, but we shouldn’t forget that some businesses are still regularly using more traditional channels such as print, email and mobile. ABM is meant to be all-consuming, remember, so be sure to address all channels with the same message, which will help you reach more business prospects.

However, some countries or regions might have specific channel restrictions that may impede your ABM efforts. So don’t waste your time creating channel-specific messages only to fall foul of the rules.

4. Use technology to coordinate your campaigns

A successful ABM campaign relies upon your ability to coordinate content to create a unified message and look to what you’re marketing. There is only so much one team can do to facilitate this coordinated approach manually – technology is the only realistic method of being able to roll content out in an effective way.

Automating some of the processes will also provide you with more time to ensure there’s a coordinated look and feel to all that you share. It won’t sap all your creative energies, either.

Kanye

5. Continually test and measure your campaign

There’s a chance your first couple of ABM campaigns won’t yield bountiful business. However, all is not lost, as the campaigns will have yielded tons of result metrics – email open rates, multi-touch attribution, click-through rates and more – which can be applied to ensure a solid ROI next time.

A campaign shouldn’t just be measured once it’s ended, of course – your ABM efforts should continually be tested and improved, proving to the C-suite that the company’s time and money is being well spent.

Persistence is a key attribute of a successful ABM strategy. You shouldn’t lose hope if an account leaves your website – simply measure, adjust and retarget. You’ll be reeling in your dream clients in no time.