How to Build a Scalable, High-Converting ABM Program from Scratch in 2024

Create an effective ABM framework using AI for buyer mapping, networks for intros, and multichannel tactics. Prove to leaders how ABM boosts revenue.
Shankar Ganapathy
Co-Founder, Boomerang
Jul 1, 2024
5 min


Developing new strategies to optimize account-based marketing (ABM) programs is a complex and expensive process. As part of ABM development programs, marketing teams are mandated to collaborate with the sales team, look at CRM and Intent data, and present a forward-looking account based marketing plan on how to generate predictable revenue from the ABM programs. However, beyond proving ABM is a science to the executive leadership, they are plagued with bad data, slow engagement from target buyers, and high costs, sometimes more than $590K/year as per research by Forrester.

So where do we start?

Define Your ABM Framework

Developing an effective ABM strategy is crucial for delivering personalized experiences that resonate with target accounts. It's practically impossible to personalize outreach to every buyer individually, so finding the right balance between 1:1, 1:N, and N:1 personalization approaches is essential.

1:1 Personalization for High-Intent Accounts

Reserve the highest level of personalization for accounts displaying strong buying signals or those already in the sales pipeline. This could include accounts where a former customer champion or executive stakeholder has recently joined, or accounts actively engaged in an opportunity. ABM tactics for 1:1 personalization may include highly targeted advertising, personalized email campaigns, and tailored content experiences.

1:N Personalization to Nurture Intent

For accounts displaying similar characteristics or intent signals, a 1:N approach can be effective. This involves segmenting accounts based on factors like industry, company size, or persona, and delivering personalized content and messaging tailored to each segment. For example, showcasing a case study or success story from a similar company in the same industry can resonate well with these accounts.

N:N Personalization to Develop Intent

For accounts that may not yet be actively considering your solution, an N:N approach can help generate interest and awareness. This involves creating and delivering top-of-funnel content tailored to the specific challenges and pain points faced by your target ABM accounts, positioning your solution as the ideal remedy.

Aligning your team structure with your ABM framework is also crucial. At scale, consider having dedicated field marketers aligned with specific sales teams and an ABM program manager to oversee the entire program. Coordinating ABM tactics between field marketing, ABM marketing, and sales activities can deliver a unified and seamless buying experience for target accounts.

Account Recruitment Strategies

Depending on the size of your revenue goals, the ABM target list could have anywhere from a few hundred to thousands of accounts that are part of the ABM program. A best practice is to split your target accounts into a "core" list and an "adaptive" list using a 60:40 ratio.

The core list, comprising 60% of your targets, should be defined at the beginning of the year. These are accounts that fit your ideal customer profile and align with your strategic priorities. The adaptive list, making up the remaining 40%, should be populated throughout the year based on new signals and insights you gather.

Leverage your sales team's knowledge and insights to build the core list. Your territory reps and SDRs often have the best understanding of top accounts in their regions. Capture their input directly to identify the most promising targets.

For the adaptive list, continuously monitor for high-value intent signals that indicate an account's readiness to buy. These signals could include job changes among champions or key stakeholders, surges in intent data from an ideal customer profile account, insights from company filings or press releases, new executive hires, and more. Every company will have different signals that indicate a heightened propensity to purchase, so identify the ones most relevant to your business.

Review and update the adaptive list monthly, adding or removing accounts based on the latest signals and insights. This dynamic approach ensures your account based marketing strategy remains agile and focused on the most promising opportunities throughout the year.

Mapping the Buying Committee

One crucial aspect of an effective ABM marketing strategy is accurately mapping the buying committee within your target accounts. This involves identifying and tracking all relevant stakeholders who influence or make purchasing decisions. To maximize coverage and ensure you're reaching the entire buying group, consider the following ABM best practices:

Capture Target Titles Thoroughly: 

When defining target personas, it's common to focus on primary or secondary title variations. However, there could be dozens of different variations that, if not accounted for, can lead to critical buying group members being missed. For example, if "Revenue Operations" is a target title, there are numerous variations to consider, such as RevOps, GTM Ops, Sales Ops, and more. Additionally, account for different levels like CXO, VP, Director, Manager, and Individual Contributor. Capturing all possible title variations is essential for comprehensive coverage.

Stay on Top of Job Changes:

Traditional data vendors like ZoomInfo, Cognism, or 6sense may miss up to 30% of the buying committee due to infrequent database refreshes, often occurring only once every few months. As a result, key stakeholders who have changed roles may never be reached by your ABM program. Implementing a solution that provides real-time updates on job changes within your target accounts is crucial to ensuring your data remains accurate and up-to-date.

Align Engagement Plan with Sales:

Your marketing and sales teams should have a shared success and engagement plan for breaking into or expanding within target accounts. This plan should outline clear goals, actions, and ABM tactics to ensure a unified approach. By aligning your efforts, you can effectively coordinate personalized outreach and maximize the impact of your ABM program.

Leveraging Customer Networks

One of the most powerful assets for an effective ABM marketing strategy is your existing customer base and their professional networks. At scale, research shows that 95% of your target buyers in an account likely know at least one of your customer champions from their past roles, educational institutions, or industry communities. Mapping these connections can unlock warm introductions from trusted sources, significantly increasing engagement and conversion rates.

The challenge lies in the fact that sales reps often don't have full visibility into which customer champions have connections to which specific target buyers within an account. Manually identifying and facilitating these introductions is a daunting task. However, getting your customer champions directly involved in your ABM outreach can be a game-changer.

By leveraging AI and network mapping technologies, you can automatically surface the relevant connections between your customer advocates and the targeted buying committee members within your ABM accounts. This allows you to strategically engage your champions to provide warm introductions, lending credibility and familiarity to your outreach efforts.

The benefits of facilitating these warm introductions from trusted sources are numerous. Target buyers are far more likely to engage with a familiar face and respond positively to recommendations from respected peers or former colleagues. This personal connection can significantly shorten sales cycles and increase conversion rates, as the initial barriers of trust and credibility are already established.

Furthermore, involving your customer champions in the ABM process strengthens their advocacy and commitment to your brand. By actively participating in the success of your ABM initiatives, they become more invested in your company's growth and more likely to provide valuable insights, referrals, and testimonials.

Mapping your customer networks and facilitating warm introductions should be a key component of any successful ABM marketing plan. It leverages the power of personal connections and trusted recommendations, while simultaneously fostering stronger customer relationships and advocacy.

Proving ABM's Value to Executives

Securing executive buy-in and ongoing support for ABM programs is crucial for their success. Executives are primarily focused on driving revenue growth and maximizing ROI, so it's essential to demonstrate the tangible value and impact of ABM initiatives. Here are some strategies to get leadership excited about and supportive of ABM programs:

Align ABM with Strategic Priorities: 

Tie your ABM efforts directly to the organization's overarching goals, such as increasing market share, penetrating new verticals, or driving expansion revenue. Highlight how ABM can accelerate progress towards these priorities by targeting high-value accounts and delivering personalized experiences.

Showcase Revenue Impact: 

Quantify the revenue contribution of ABM programs by tracking metrics like pipeline generated, deal velocity, and closed-won revenue from target accounts. Present ABM campaign examples and case studies of successful ABM campaigns that resulted in significant revenue gains or high-value customer acquisitions.

Emphasize Efficiency Gains: 

ABM strategy examples can demonstrate how ABM programs optimize resource allocation by focusing efforts on the most promising accounts. Demonstrate how ABM reduces wasted spend and improves the efficiency of marketing and sales activities, leading to higher ROI and better utilization of budgets.

Highlight Account Insights: 

Leverage the deep account intelligence gathered through ABM programs to provide executives with valuable insights into target accounts' challenges, priorities, and buying processes. This intelligence can inform strategic decision-making and give your organization a competitive advantage.

Collaborate with Sales Leadership: 

Engage sales leaders early and often in the ABM process. Their buy-in and active participation can help validate the value of ABM programs and ensure alignment between marketing and sales efforts.

Establish Clear Metrics and Reporting: 

Define clear, measurable goals for your ABM programs and establish a consistent reporting cadence to keep executives informed about progress, successes, and areas for improvement. Transparency and accountability will build trust and support.

Celebrate Wins: 

Regularly communicate ABM success stories, whether it's landing a major account, expanding within a strategic customer, or receiving positive feedback from target buyers. Celebrating wins reinforces the value of ABM and keeps the momentum going.

By consistently demonstrating the revenue impact, efficiency gains, and strategic value of ABM marketing, you can secure executive buy-in and ensure ongoing support for these initiatives.

Best ABM Platforms & Tools

To effectively execute account based marketing strategies, marketing teams need the right tools and platforms. Here are some of the best ABM platforms and tools to consider:

Account-Based Advertising: 

Platforms like Terminus, RollWorks, and Demandbase allow you to serve highly targeted ads to specific accounts and buying committee members across various channels.

ABM Analytics & Attribution: 

Tools like Bizible and Full Circle Insights help you measure the impact of your ABM efforts, attribute revenue to specific tactics, and optimize your programs based on data-driven insights.

Sales Engagement: 

Platforms like Salesloft, Outreach, and Groove enable your sales team to efficiently engage target accounts with personalized outreach at scale.

Intent Data Providers: 

Companies like Bombora, 6sense, and The Big Willow provide account-level intent data to help you identify which target accounts are actively researching solutions like yours.

LinkedIn ABM: 

LinkedIn's account based marketing tools allow you to target specific accounts, serve personalized content, and engage key decision-makers on the platform where B2B buyers spend much of their time.

Data Enrichment:

Tools like Clearbit, ZoomInfo, and DiscoverOrg help you enrich your account and contact data, ensuring you have accurate information for your ABM campaigns.

Gifting Platforms: 

Sending personalized gifts can be a powerful way to capture the attention of your target accounts. Platforms like Sendoso, Alyce, and PFL streamline the gifting process and allow you to track the impact of your efforts.

Content Experience: 

Platforms like Uberflip, PathFactory, and Sigstr enable you to create personalized content experiences for your target accounts, serving them the most relevant content based on their interests and stage in the buyer's journey.

When selecting ABM platforms and tools, consider your specific needs, budget, and existing tech stack to ensure seamless integration and maximum impact.

Overcoming Data Challenges

One of the biggest hurdles in executing effective account based marketing programs is dealing with bad or incomplete data. Inaccurate data can lead to targeting the wrong accounts or stakeholders, resulting in wasted efforts and resources. Common issues include outdated contact information, incomplete buying committee mappings, and a lack of insight into account-level intent signals.

To overcome these data challenges, organizations must prioritize data quality and adopt ABM best practices to continuously cleanse and enrich their data. Here are some solutions to improve data quality for ABM programs:

Implement Data Hygiene Processes: 

Establish regular data cleansing routines to identify and remove outdated or inaccurate records. Leverage data enrichment tools to fill in missing information and validate existing data.

Leverage AI and Automation:

Adopt AI-powered solutions that can automatically map buying committees, detect job changes, and surface real-time intent signals. These technologies can significantly improve data accuracy and completeness, reducing manual efforts.

Integrate Data Sources:

Consolidate data from multiple sources, such as CRM, marketing automation tools, and third-party data providers, to create a comprehensive view of target accounts and stakeholders.

Collaborate with Sales: 

Foster close collaboration between marketing and sales teams. Sales representatives often have valuable insights into account dynamics and stakeholder relationships that can enhance data quality.

Prioritize Data Governance:

Establish clear data governance policies and processes to ensure data consistency, accuracy, and compliance with relevant regulations.

By addressing data challenges head-on, organizations can enhance the effectiveness of their ABM programs, delivering more personalized and relevant experiences to target accounts and maximizing the return on their marketing investments.

Driving Engagement from Target Buyers

Securing engagement from your defined target accounts and buying committees is crucial for the success of your ABM program. Here are some account based marketing tactics to increase engagement and response rates:

Personalized Multi-Channel Outreach:

 Create personalized, account-specific content and deliver it through multiple channels such as email, social media, direct mail, and advertising. Tailor your messaging and creative to resonate with each account's unique pain points, challenges, and goals.

Account-Based Experiential Marketing: 

Host exclusive events, webinars, or experiences tailored specifically for your target accounts. These immersive experiences can foster deeper connections and create memorable touchpoints with key decision-makers.

Strategic Content Syndication:

Leverage content syndication platforms to distribute your high-value content assets directly to your target accounts. Ensure your content is relevant, educational, and addresses their specific needs.

Influencer and Advocate Amplification: 

Identify and collaborate with industry influencers, thought leaders, and customer advocates who have credibility and reach within your target accounts. Leverage their networks and voices to amplify your message and increase visibility.

Sales and Marketing Alignment: 

Ensure seamless alignment between your sales and marketing teams. Equip your sales team with relevant account insights, content, and talking points to drive meaningful conversations and engagement with target buyers.

Continuous Optimization:

Continuously monitor engagement metrics, test different ABM tactics, and optimize your approach based on what resonates best with your target accounts. Leverage data and insights to refine your messaging, channels, and overall strategy.

By implementing these account based marketing tactics, you can effectively capture the attention of your target buyers, nurture relationships, and ultimately drive higher engagement and response rates within your ABM program.

Managing ABM Program Costs

Executing comprehensive ABM programs at scale can be incredibly expensive, with some research indicating costs upwards of $590,000 per year. However, there are strategies that marketing teams can employ to help reduce these high costs:

Prioritize High-Value Accounts:

Rather than casting too wide a net, focus your ABM efforts on a carefully curated list of high-value accounts that align closely with your ideal customer profile and have a higher likelihood of converting. This targeted approach can help maximize ROI and minimize wasted spend.

Leverage Existing Content and Assets:

Creating highly personalized content for each account in your ABM program can quickly become cost-prohibitive. Instead, look for ways to repurpose and customize existing high-quality ABM content assets to align with specific account needs and pain points.

Automate Where Possible:

Investing in marketing automation and AI-powered tools can help streamline and optimize various aspects of your ABM program, from account selection and buying committee mapping to personalized campaign execution and lead nurturing. Automation can drive significant time and cost savings at scale.

Align Sales and Marketing Efforts:

Ensuring tight alignment between your sales and marketing teams can help reduce redundant efforts, improve targeting accuracy, and create a more cohesive, cost-effective buying experience for your ABM accounts.

Continuously Measure and Optimize: 

Regularly evaluating the performance of your ABM program can help you identify areas for optimization and cost savings. Use data-driven insights to refine your strategies, reallocate resources to higher-performing tactics, and eliminate inefficient spending.

While ABM can be a significant investment, implementing cost-conscious ABM strategies like these can help marketing teams maximize the return on their ABM efforts while delivering a highly personalized, effective experience for their most valuable accounts.

Measuring and Optimizing ABM Success

Measuring the success of your ABM program is crucial for demonstrating its impact and identifying areas for improvement. Key metrics to track include engagement rates, pipeline contribution, deal velocity, and revenue generated from target accounts. However, it's important to go beyond just tracking vanity metrics and focus on those that directly correlate with business outcomes.

To continually optimize your ABM performance, it's essential to have a robust testing and iteration process in place. This should involve regularly experimenting with different tactics, messaging, and channels to see what resonates best with your target accounts. Continuously gather feedback from sales and customer-facing teams to understand what's working and what's not.

Additionally, it's crucial to have a well-defined attribution model that accurately captures the impact of your ABM efforts across the entire customer journey. This will help you identify the most effective tactics and channels, and allocate your resources accordingly.

Another important aspect of optimizing your ABM program is to leverage data and insights from various sources, such as intent data, engagement data, and customer feedback. Use these insights to refine your targeting, personalization, and messaging strategies, ensuring that you're delivering the most relevant and compelling experiences to your target accounts.

Finally, don't forget to celebrate and showcase your ABM successes, both internally and externally. This will not only help build buy-in and support for your program but also provide valuable insights and best practices that can be shared with the wider marketing and sales community.

Leveraging AI & Automation for ABM

AI and automation can greatly enhance and streamline various aspects of your ABM programs. Here are some key use cases:

Data Management & Enrichment

AI-powered data enrichment tools can automatically map your entire buying committee, keeping data fresh by detecting job changes, new hires, and company updates in real-time. This ensures your ABM outreach always reaches the right stakeholders.

Content Personalization at Scale

AI can analyze buyer behavior signals, content consumption patterns, and buyer context to dynamically assemble personalized ABM content experiences for each account and buying group member. This allows you to deliver truly personalized ABM at scale.

Multichannel Campaign Orchestration

Use AI-powered campaign orchestration to automatically coordinate personalized multichannel plays across ads, email, social, direct mail and more based on real-time buyer behavior and stage.

Conversational AI Assistants

Leverage conversational AI assistants to engage target accounts with pertinent information at each stage of their journey based on real-time intent signals.

Revenue Intelligence

Apply AI to analyze historical deal data, buyer signals, and engagement patterns to predict which accounts to prioritize, what actions drive conversions, and forecast revenue impacts.

By leveraging AI and automation, you can overcome key ABM challenges around scaling personalized engagement, maintaining data quality, coordinating multichannel execution, and measuring revenue impact. This drives higher conversion rates while reducing manual effort.


Developing and executing a successful account based marketing program requires a strategic, data-driven approach that leverages the latest technologies and best practices. By defining a clear ABM framework, recruiting the right accounts, accurately mapping buying committees, and leveraging customer networks, you can deliver highly personalized experiences that resonate with your target accounts.

To prove the value of your ABM efforts to executives, it's crucial to align your program with strategic priorities, showcase revenue impact, and emphasize efficiency gains. Leveraging the right ABM platforms and tools, such as account-based advertising, analytics, sales engagement, intent data, and LinkedIn's account based marketing tools, can help you effectively execute your ABM strategy.

Overcoming data challenges, driving engagement from target buyers, managing program costs, and continually measuring and optimizing performance are all critical components of a successful ABM program. By leveraging AI and automation to streamline and enhance various aspects of your ABM efforts, you can drive even greater impact and efficiency.

Remember, ABM is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It requires continuous experimentation, iteration, and optimization based on your unique business needs, target accounts, and market dynamics. By staying agile, data-driven, and customer-centric, you can unlock the full potential of account based marketing and drive significant growth for your organization.

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