Do’s and Don’ts for Building a Successful Strategic ABM Program

Do's and Don'ts of building a successful strategic ABM Program, based on results from the annual Account-Based Marketing benchmark study.

Julie Schwartz

by Julie Schwartz

December 15, 2021

Strategic ABM

The Embedding ABM: Next Steps for Market Leadership report, which highlights results from the fifth annual Account-Based Marketing (ABM) benchmark study from ITSMA and the ABM Leadership Alliance, documents both the continued maturation of the discipline and the reality that most ABM programs are still in early stages of development.

The report highlights both the successes and the struggles that organizations are experiencing with ABM. While ABM works – 72% of companies reported greater ROI from ABM than other types of marketing, and 70% said that ABM principles influence the way they do all marketing today – ABM programs continue to struggle in several key areas. Marketers can do more to align with sales, customize content and campaigns, and measure business impact.

The report also identifies Do’s and Don’ts for a successful ABM program. To create this list, we looked at those organizations with the most mature, experienced programs and identified what ABM leaders do to ensure they’re delivering improved business impact and driving strategic growth. They:

  • Position ABM as a company-wide growth strategy, not a marketing initiative
  • Develop ABM talent and create a formal career path for ABM-ers
  • Strengthen collaboration with sales and integrate marketing into the account planning process
  • Centralize ABM program management; standardization is key to program maturity and impact
  • Measure and report across the three Rs: reputation, relationships, and revenue

What came as a surprise is what they are NOT doing. We found that ABM leaders do not:

  • Spend more money on ABM. The research shows that ABM leaders dedicate 28% of their budget to ABM; all other respondents report spending 27% of their budget on ABM
  • Deploy different types of ABM. Both mature and emerging ABM programs employ a blend of ABM or targeted marketing, including One-to-One, One-to-Few, and One-to-Many ABM as well as Deal-Based Marketing
  • Use different marketing tactics. While the research shows slight differences in top preference for tactics, all ABM programs leverage account-specific content, executive-to-executive programs, webinars and virtual events, microsites, paid social media, and email marketing
  • Take a different approach to staffing. When asked for their top approaches to attaining ABM skills and talent, nearly every respondent had the same responses. They:
    • Train existing marketers
    • Hire from outside the company
    • Outsource to agencies
    • Hire from within the company, but outside of marketing
    • Use interim staff or consultants

Looking at these Do’s and Don’ts more closely, it’s apparent that the difference between ABM leaders and the rest of the pack isn’t necessarily what ABM-ers do, but more about how they approach their programs.


To see the results of the ABM Benchmarking Study, download the free report, Embedding ABM: Next Steps for Market Leadership.  If you’d like to hear Julie Schwartz, Donna Thach, and Robert Hollier explain the results and bring them to life with case study examples, watch the How ABM Leaders are Driving Business Growth webcast [free to members; available at a nominal cost to non-members].

Related Resources

Strategic ABM

Do’s and Don’ts for Building a Successful Strategic ABM Program

Do's and Don'ts of building a successful strategic ABM Program, based on results from the annual Account-Based Marketing benchmark study.