abm strategy

B2B SaaS ABM Strategy: 5 steps to personalization

Bruno Ueda
Jan 11, 2021

There’s a difference between your total addressable market, your serviceable available market and your serviceable obtainable market. It’s not about how large your market is, or what proportion of that market fits you -- it’s about how much of that market you can reach. 

This is why account-based marketing, or ABM, centers around segmenting your leads to execute personalized outreach. By the end of this, you'll know how to analyze your existing customers to understand who you can best serve, find more companies like them, and effectively target them through ABM. 

Let's jump in!

What is account-based marketing? 

Acount-based marketing (ABM) is a business-to-business (B2B) marketing outreach strategy that focuses on identifying your 'ideal customer profile,' and then targeting companies that match your ICP. 

By engaging with decision-makers at different levels across your ICP with personalized messaging that will most resonate with their pains and dreams, you can engage with each account to best support them and their future growth goals (in addition to your own). 

That's why understanding your ideal customer profile is so critical to this form of B2B outreach. Once you've defined your ICP and their fears, dreams and hopes, you can begin researching which accounts align with your ICP the most. 

5 steps to personalize ABM campaigns 

Personalization is a growing trend within marketing, and customers are demanding it as competition for attention grows stiffer.

Salesforce found that consumers are 2.1x more likely to view personalized offers as important versus unimportant. And in another report, Adobe found that 67% of consumers say it's important for brands to adjust their content for a real-time personalized experience. 

Because of this, many brands are engaging with customers on a personal level through content and messaging. But how do you get the insight needed for personalization, and what next? 

Step 1: Understand your existing client insights

The first thing to do in ABM research is to examine your current clients and pipeline. Sit down and look at their data -- by cleaning it up, you can understand their ICP.  

There’s a simple manual way to find this: collect every existing client list and enrich the data with these metrics: 

  • Firmographic
    • Primary industry
    • Secondary industry
    • Headcount
    • Revenue
  • Geographic
    • Contents
  • Technographic
    • Enterprise resource planning (ERP)
  • Contextual
    • Use case
    • Channel
    • Department size
    • Growth 

Identify the minimum revenue and headcount of your current customer base, and this will give you a better idea of where to focus your efforts. 

Then, categorize and aggregate this data by industry for a big-picture view across industry and field for a multiple-market scope of your solution’s potential ICP demographics. An example of your client breakdown after analysis this might look like: 

Clients

Industry

Headcount

Revenue

Sales Team Growth

Headcount Growth

9

Computer Software

706

$123,422,222

29.4%

14.7%

7

Information Technology and Services

222

$40,100,000

16.4%

9.7%

3

Medical Devices

2892

$4,110,866,667

20.7%

12.3%

2

Financial Services

2056

$2,009,150,000

10.0%

1.0%

2

Marketing and Advertising

322

$89,350,000

1.5%

-1.0%

1

Logistics and Supply Chain

1651

$2,500,000,000

5.0%

1.0%

1

Health, Wellness and Fitness

43

-

0.0%

25.0%

1

Staffing and Recruiting

206

$25,200,000

7.0%

0.0%

1

Broadcast Media

2095

$2,800,000,000

3.0%

1.0%

1

Import and Export

75

-

4.0%

-4.0%

1

Pharmaceuticals

102

$2,100,000

450.0%

74.0%

1

Biotechnology

129

$10,000,000

0.0%

-10.0%

 

Now that you have this list, you can see commonalities between your highest-paying accounts, your lowest-paying accounts, and your average accounts -- thus gaining insight into what industries you can best serve, who can’t optimize your solution and where to consider penetrating next. 

Let the features and metrics of your “best fit” clients guide your Ideal customer profile development, and impact the rest of your ABM process. 

Step 2: Validate your ICP

Then, when you’re doing lead generation you can identify companies with this amount of growth, revenue and headcount to find the best fit for you and will bring in the most revenue. This gives you a general overview of market size, serviceable attainable market, and serviceable obtainable market, so you can understand how to allocate and optimize your inputs. 

Optimize your resources and make sure you’re targeting your most valuable and best-fit clients first -- if you only have one BDR, identify what accounts will be the best fit and go after them first. By sending your SDR to the most valuable accounts, you’re increasing the chances of getting the perfect account instead of a medium-fit account. 

An example of an ICP backed by the findings from your current customer research looks like this: 

Headcount

200-1000 employees

Rate of Growth Sales Team 1yr

Industry

5%<

5%+

10%+

50%+

Companies Found

Grand Total

Primary

Industry

Computer Software

2

26

121

36

185

378

Marketing and Advertising

17

26

42

8

93

Medical Devices

1

26

25

3

55

Pharmaceuticals

3

9

28

5

45

Secondary

Automotive

5

28

26

1

60

282

Banks & Financial Services

9

41

62

5

117

Retail

3

12

15

2

32

Telecommunications

2

9

12

2

25

Wholesale

4

35

9

0

48

Grand Total

660

 

Depending on the most important metrics for your own customer base, the columns might have different labels. Nevertheless, this should give you highly actionable, targeted steps to move forward.

Step 3: Create your database

This will be your central list of targeted accounts -- the accounts you put into your CRM. This should have all of the information you need and the companies that might be on your horizon, and you should do this with multiple providers. 

There is no provider under the sun with all of the information you need -- instead, collect data from purchased lists, Linked Extractions, Web scraping, manual research and managing entries -- and you can tell if this is adequate if every single company could have potentially come through inbound by your website is also part of your database. 

If you have a list of 10,000 prospects, you need to divide and segment your list firmographically. You can build this in a spreadsheet and set the columns as filters like Company size, yearly revenue, growth %, and other firmographic traits to categorize each contact that can be used later for segmentation. 

To download your own ABM database, click here

Step 4: Define ICP and create a hit list

Now that you have your database, you are going to make different filtered views of your contacts so you can segment and narrow your potential leads to 1,000 companies and focus on these accounts for the next 3-6 months. Anything less than 1,000 potential prospects will make outbound hard. 

To define your ICP, create “drafts” of your ideal customers based on your current customers and choose a vertical (healthcare, higher education, medical services, etc). Next, create a list of all target accounts and consider outreach strategy. 

Factors to consider when making a hit-list are: 

  • How large is the market? 
  • How many open deals occur each year? 
  • How easy is it to locate and reach these people?

If you have less than 1,000 accounts on your list, there might not be enough to execute ABM with this framework. But, if your list has 200 contacts, all of these outreaches might be 1-to-1 because you can’t afford otherwise. 

Outreach personalization tactics for your accounts

1-to-1

With these 1,000 companies, you can measure the fit of your product and the company based on how close they match up with your ICP. If it’s a “perfect” fit -- or as close to perfect as possible -- you want to do something highly personalized when reaching out. Make a phone call, or maybe even fly a sales rep there for bigger accounts. This will be around 10-20% of your contacts list. 

1-to-few

For the accounts that are low fit, high value or low value, high fit, continue to make phone calls and send personalized emails, but don’t put all of your attention on these accounts. 

1-to-many

The accounts that fall under this section are the “email blast,” copy-and-paste emails and outreach messages. Because these emails aren’t a good fit, the generic messaging and outreach practices will suffice. 

Step 5: Set up campaign goals and objectives

Next, establish your goals for outbound, accounts and contacts with these metrics as a guideline. Include all of these in your database of accounts and track all of these numbers to evaluate and benchmark your progress. 

Outreach

  • Volume of outputs
  • Open rates
  • Reply rates
  • MQL level
  • SQL level

Account-level

  • Number of connections
  • Connected or not
  • If they use a competitor
  • Number of ICP

Contact-level 

  • Individuals you’ve connected with
  • Companies you’ve connected with
  • Engaged
  • Interested

Channels and resources

What channels are you using? Where does your ICP live? Because this is account-based marketing, LinkedIn will probably be the biggest help. Identify how many individuals you could connect with on LinkedIn that fit one of your personas, total number of active companies, total of calculated researchable contacts, and any other metrics deemed important. 

Next, list the channels available to use -- phone, direct mail, email, local forums, intent keyword ads, etc. 

Evaluating your campaign performance with KPIs 

Now that you have your channels, your content, your data and benchmarks, you can start messaging! 

For outbound metrics, these are good basic sales benchmarks to use for holding your team accountable for results and identifying areas of improvement. 

  • LinkedIn ABM KPIs: 
    • 75 connections per day
    • 15% connect rate
    • 5% reply rate
    • 3% positive reply rate
  • Email ABM KPIs: 
    • 50-75 emails per day
    • 35% open rate
    • 5% reply rate
    • 0.5% positive reply
If your initial ABM efforts aren't successful, don't worry - every industry, field and sector are different and it often takes refinement, A/B testing and research to optimize each campaign's efforts. For more resources on ABM, download our guide to executing an effective ABM campaign, and feel free to ask us any questions. 
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Learn more about account-based marketing

Download our guide to B2B SaaS Account-Based Marketing Campaigns and use it as reference in the future. 

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