B2B Articles - October 12, 2017

Best Channels for Account-Based Marketing Campaigns

Ironpaper often works with clients to generate leads from a tightly targeted “wish list” of accounts — a strategy often called Account-Based Marketing, or ABM. The advantages of this approach are:

  • Clearer utilization of marketing budget
  • Better sales handoff process (sales were excited about the leads we were generating)
  • Clearer vision for company-wide content marketing, since we knew our target’s job role, function, and company size
  • Foreseeable payoff of marketing investment, since targeted leads were already deemed to be budget qualified

While the traditional inbound marketing approach is to cast a wide net to specific personas, an account-based marketing strategy goes a step farther to target specific roles at specific companies. This helps position company resources for the right audience.

After several months, we identified clear winners and losers for account-based marketing. So we’ll share with you the challenges, limitations, and solutions we faced, in order to identify the highest performing channel for ABM campaigns.

Challenges of Account-Based Marketing

With ABM, we relied on a tightly targeted list of company names and job functions. Therefore, we needed to find strategies to reduce “noise” of non-targeted leads coming in, so we weren’t paying for non-targeted leads.

Secondly, we needed marketing channels that had a large enough reach to justify spending budget there. For example, we discovered we could pour plenty of money into Facebook Ads for high reach — but since our targeted audience wasn’t spending time there, any investments would be a wash.

Limitations of an ABM Channel

In order to run a successful account-based marketing campaign, we needed to consider some very important factors and limitations for potential investments. This helped us determine where to promote our content, and in turn, which kind of content to create.

Soon, this list became our “litmus test” to invest time and resources into a new channel:

  • The channel must be testable — able to run A/B test structures to gain insights, either automatically or manually.
  • The audience building must be comprehensive and offer enough reach to gain substantial impressions.
    • Tip: It’s helpful to determine your ideal cost-per-lead, then run a few tests on the channel to determine if you can remain within that budget scope.
  • Lead data must be good within the channel — That is, can we receive more than just an email address?
  • Conversion opportunities must be reliable — Is there a built-in conversion opportunity on the channel, like LinkedIn’s Lead Generation forms?
  • Ideally, the channel would allow direct (or simple manual) integration with our CRM for further targeting, nurturing, and behavior analysis.

Learnings from our Account-Based Marketing Campaigns

After running upwards of 40 tests over several months, we identified a few truths about ABM:

  • The best medium for targeted leads is targeted content marketing — white papers, eBooks, infographics, and report sheets written specifically for the audience.
  • The message must be targeted and useful — that is, we found that adapting or “recycling” a generic content offer into several, more relevant variations for different positions was a fantastic conversion tool. For example, we adapted one white paper into an A and a B version, each suited for a different job function. With this strategy, we were able to reach 1% conversion rates on campaigns, over 2x better than industry standards established at the outset.


MOZ: Content marketing documentation MOZ: https://imgur.com/Jm1mjEl


Best channels for ABM

The best channels we utilized for ABM included LinkedIn Ads, email marketing, and partner marketing.

Why did we arrive upon these specific channels? Because they met our litmus test above, and generated reliable qualified leads. Read our article for specific agile strategies used for LinkedIn Ad campaigns.

The caveat here is that these channels worked well for our specific ABM audience for a global B2B company, but your audience may live on different channels. So testing different channels is crucial to identify your own best practices for B2B marketing.

While email marketing allowed us to convert existing leads into Marketing Qualified Leads, obviously we were limited by targeting our existing email list, which is not a scalable solution. That’s where partner marketing comes into play:

By partnering with well-known industry leaders, such as partner and third-party organizations, we promoted our best content offers to a wider yet tightly targeted audience list. We found the best success with a sponsored webinar, followed by having our content offers included in email newsletters and promotional blasts.

Marketing Alone Can’t Sustain ABM

According to SiriusDecisions, B2B companies with closely aligned marketing and sales teams grow revenue 19% faster.

We can’t stress enough that marketing efforts must be paired with an ABM sales function. Here are tactics we’ve found useful for sales teams to align with marketing-generated leads:

  • Sharing explainer videos (Like VidYard Go Video) for a demo of product or solution
  • Creating targeted content that aligns with marketing content, particularly case studies and competitor differentiator documents
  • Sending targeted and well-timed email messages through a CRM
  • Practicing social selling by connecting with prospects across platforms
  • And, of course, regular meetings and communication between marketing and sales leaders

ViewedIt video for ABM



B2B companies with closely aligned marketing and sales teams grow revenue 19% faster. - SiriusDecisions


By investing in channels that pass a “litmus” test for account-based marketing, we were able to increase targeted lead generation for our client by 5500% in two months.

Trading in your wide-casted net for targeting tactics has a high payoff, but it is a process that requires thoughtful investment, iterative testing, targeted content marketing, and an alignment between marketing and sales teams.

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