The Impact of Account Based Advertising (ABA) | Punch! ABM

The Impact of Account Based Advertising

If you aren’t already aware by now, putting account-based in front of anything signifies a significant shift in approach; best explained through fishing, it’s the transition from casting a wide net and hoping to catch…to picking up a spear and doing the catching yourself! Quality over quantity…and that’s exactly how account based advertising works.

What is Account Based Advertising?

Account based advertising (ABA) is an approach to digital display advertising that focuses on influencing a specific list of target accounts that matter the most to you.

ABA does-away with the wasted and costly efforts of traditional advertising, which uses generalised messaging to appeal to a vast audience with the hope of reaching as many future customers as possible.

Retargeting Vs Pre-targeting (ABA)

ABA takes the initiative on how much exposure your target accounts have to your adverts and works in a similar way to “website retargeting”. If you don’t currently know what that is, don’t panic, chances are you have experienced web retargeting without realising!

Have you ever noticed that after you have been shopping online, you start to notice the very same things that you were shopping for in adverts on other web pages?

What a coincidence!

Except, it isn’t a coincidence. What’s happening is called web retargeting, a form of online advertising that serves to keep a brand in front of bounced web traffic.

Retargeting is a cookie-based technology that anonymously ‘follows’ your audience all over the web. When a visitor comes to your site they receive a browser cookie (not the edible kind!)… Later, as they continue to browse the web, the cookie will allow your retargeting provider to know when and where to serve ads.

This ensures that your ads are served only to people that have previously expressed interest in your site/service/product, at the times when they are exposed to advertising space. Highly efficient.

The important thing to note is that retargeting is only able to impact the conversion chances of people that have chosen to visit your website. ABA does things differently, you use a pre-targeting cookie that doesn’t require your audience to have previously visited your website!

This cookie uses the IP addresses of your target accounts in order to track them as they browse the web. In the same way as retargeting, you are then able to automatically fill up the advertising space of the websites they visit, as they visit. You are advertising to them, in the places that they choose to visit which increases awareness a lot more effectively. The crucial difference is that ABA is able to efficiently advertise to your audience regardless of previous exposure, it’s proactive.

Messaging that matters

So, you’re selecting the best accounts to advertise to and you’re only advertising to them on websites as and when they visit. With that, you can focus on making sure your adverts are as appealing as possible to encourage clicks, and this is where ABA truly adds value.

With ABA you are able to fine tune your advert’s message to reflect the needs of each specific account, as well as consider where they are in their buying journey.

Account-Based Everything

You might be thinking at this point…hang on, isn’t this sounding a lot like account based marketing (ABM)? You’re right to think so!

If you’re doing ABM then you already have your target accounts, you’re creating personalised and relevant messaging, and you’re timing your efforts across a shorter campaign having leveraged intent data. This intent data and account understanding is utilised when it comes to ensuring that your ABA is of the utmost relevance to your target accounts!

ABA is a form of digital display advertising that you need to be thinking about if you’re doing ABM. It enables you to win business with the companies you care about, quicker. You’ll be able to increase the velocity of your sales cycle by increasing the awareness and relevance of your adverts.

So how does the account based approach change the expectations around ROI?

Now that we are thinking account based, marketing and sales are finally talking the same language; but in order to be truly aligned, they need to share the same measurements of success. They need to be moving towards the same goal, generating revenue.

Click-through rates and impressions that would traditionally determine an advertising campaign as a success, are difficult to correlate directly to revenue. So ABA needs to be measured and held accountable to the same revenue goals as sales.

This doesn’t mean you can’t still get insights from click-through rate and impressions when doing ABA. In fact, they’re now more reliable than traditional advertising standards, as you know every click and impression is relevant as it’s someone from your target audience! Furthermore, Terminus state that click through rates are 6.3 times higher than the industry average of the traditional counterpart.

Once you’ve had an advertising campaign up and running for a while, compare the sales numbers from before the campaign began to what they currently are. This will indicate the impact your campaign is having and will give a fairly direct correlation to your advertising.

You may get engagement from a targeted future customer that doesn’t come directly from a click on your ad. They may have picked up the phone or gone directly to your site instead, but as you have targeted them, it is likely your ad peaked their interest. One way to measure this, is put a different phone number on the advert, so any calls you receive on that number, you know came as a direct result of your advertisement.

According to Terminus, ABA generates 28% more sales opportunities and shows a 59% increase in sales email open rates. That doesn’t sound too difficult to link to revenue now does it?

Ready, set, social

Social is not something to be overlooked in ABM, and LinkedIn is vital. Its many tools are what make it essential: Sales Navigator, paid advertising, and Matched Audiences.

Within the latter is account targeting, which is crucial to implement during ABA. It allows the user to insert a list of target accounts, then narrow down those companies’ employees using LinkedIn’s filters such as role, location, etc. From here, LinkedIn will cross reference your criteria across its massive database, so you can roll out either sponsored updates or sponsored in-mail knowing that they’re being seen by the right people.

That’s not to say other social networks can’t be used for ABA, Twitter and Facebook both have similar features in Tailored Audiences and Custom Audiences respectively; but LinkedIn is the business social network, and with job roles and companies readily available on their network, it’s the most logical place to start.

Guiding light in the content fog

Marketers everywhere have realised the importance of content marketing. The sudden demand for producing content has resulted in a downwards surge in quality, coupled with a large increase in quantity. Therefore, simply creating content and using social/search engines to drive buyers is no longer cutting it. However, if you can create content specific to your target accounts and their pain points, and use account-based advertising to precisely target them, then your content will have much more impact.

According to a DemandGen Report, 95% of buyers chose a solution provider that “Provided them with ample content to help navigate through each stage of the buying process”, so it’s important to have advertising that helps the customer make a purchasing decision.

Take the ABA plunge!

The measurement for return on investment with ABA over traditional advertising methods are clear, but the best aspects of ABA aren’t in its metrics, they’re in the process. The problem with traditional advertising is it’s both expensive and comes with the acceptance that it’s inefficient, as the majority of people that see the ad aren’t in the right audience. But ABA allows you to drive greater impact with your target audience with less investment. Furthermore, as you know the people you’re targeting, you can be much more personalised in your approach.

This means that you’re much more capable of reaching your ICP accounts and the decision makers in those accounts than with other advertising methods. So don’t just chuck your advert out there and hope the right people get in touch, target your future customers with ABA!


One-to-one, one-to-few, one-to-many, programmatic, lite…it’s understandable why account-based marketing can seem daunting at first! But regardless of the ABM terminology being used, the basic principles are the same. Putting more resources into fewer target accounts who are more likely to convert, and provide a greater ROI. Which kind of ABM approach you should adopt depends on a number of factors. In this blog you’ll find out what the 3 types of ABM are, and which is right for your business.

the three types of ABM

So you’ve decided that adopting an ABM strategy is right for your business and that’s definitely a wise choice.


It’s understandable that you might have some concerns, running an ABM programme requires a shift of mind-set. It takes sizeable marketing ‘balls’ to shift resources from more typical marketing strategies to account-based marketing.


But that’s exactly what organisations are doing – the number of companies with an advanced ABM programme doubled from 2017 to 2018. And why?


Simple – because in a recent study, 97% of marketers reported a higher ROI from ABM than other marketing campaigns. Any successful ABM campaign is one that balances these three measures –


  • The likelihood of a given target account buying
  • The resources required to acquire them as a customer
  • The potential ROI to your business if they convert

The differences between the 3 types of ABM are driven by a need to align these factors, so let’s look at exactly what each approach involves and what factors should inform your ABM strategy.

One-to-one ABM

The original and probably best known of the 3 types of ABM, and the approach you’re most likely already familiar with.

One-to-one ABM is a strategic approach that treats your most valuable target accounts as their own individual markets. This means engaging with each of them in a specific and bespoke way.


A typical one-to-one campaign would involve targeting 5-10 key target accounts, the ones whose business would make your year or even change the direction of your company.

The resources required to engage with each account in a one-to-one ABM campaign are significant. With that in mind, it’s vital that you have deep insight into how likely the target account is to buy. Intent data is a great way to choose your target accounts based on whether they’re starting a buying journey.


By focusing on 10 accounts that you know are likely to buy, you can allocate more resources to engaging with each, knowing that they are more likely to convert and provide you with a great ROI.

You should consider one-to-one ABM as your strategy of choice if –


  • You can research the accounts in detail and gather detailed insights on how likely they are to buy
  • Your products and solutions are high-value and high-consideration
  • You’re selling into a mature or even saturated market
  • Your opportunity to close rate is high
  • You have clear and genuine points of differentiation from your competitors
  • Each account has a large number of key stakeholders from whom you need buy-in
  • You have the resources available to create content bespoke to each account
  • You have the available people resources to engage and nurture each target account

One-to-few ABM

One-to-few ABM, or ABM Lite as it’s also known, is a way of using the one-to-one ABM principles and applying them at scale to a greater number of target accounts.

For example, you might be dedicating 40 days per month to your top 5 accounts in a one-to-one strategy.


If you then wanted to reach out to your top 30 accounts, you most likely wouldn’t be able to scale up the same approach unless you have 240 days worth of resources available to do this. So what’s the answer?


Your best strategy would be to focus on small groups of target accounts, rather than individual accounts. These groups can then be treated as their own individual markets, in the same way as individual accounts were with one-to-one ABM.


The most common way to organise accounts into groups of 5-10 is by sub-sector. If you’re targeting the retail sector, your sub-sectors might be fashion, groceries, DIY and homeware.

You can then build specific content that will resonate with that sub-sector, identifying trends and solving their challenges.

Consider one-to-few ABM as your strategy of choice if –


  • You have a small addressable market of target accounts
  • You’re selling high-value, high consideration solutions or products
  • You have to get buy-in from 3-4 key stakeholders at each account
  • You’re able to gather insights into the challenges facing each target sector
  • You have the resources available to create sector specific content
  • You have the available people resources to engage and nurture each target account
  • Your product or solution has clear points of differentiation from its competition

One-to-many ABM

One-to-many ABM takes the ABM approach and scales it so the principles can be applied to a larger number of target accounts.


How many? That’s up to you, as there are no hard and fast rules as to where one-to-few ends and where one-to-many begins.


Similarly, you might be wondering where to draw the line between one-to-many ABM and just ‘marketing’? Well you’re not alone, there’s not a clear agreement even among leading practitioners of ABM.


It depends on the lifetime value of those accounts to your business, the greater the value, the fewer you should go for.


The average number of accounts for a one-to many campaign according to the ITSMA sits at around 100. However you may choose to go for more than this and dedicate fewer resources to each, or use an approach closer to the one-to-few model, and dedicate more resources to engaging with each account.

You should consider one-to-many ABM as a strategy if –


  • You want to increase brand awareness whilst also creating engagement at key accounts
  • Your solution is new to market, or the market need educating on its potential
  • There is one or a couple of key stakeholders at each target account
  • You have the available people resources to engage and nurture each target account
  • Your pipeline to close rate is low and could be improved
  • You don’t have access to information on which accounts are starting a buying journey
  • You need some accounts to convert more quickly in order to see ROI sooner


In these times of uncertainty, making the most out of your marketing budget is more important than ever. In Account-Based Marketing you reduce the number of accounts you target significantly and then increase the amount of resources you spend on them. This makes the actual account selection process very important because you can’t afford for an account that receives significant resource to just fall by the wayside. So with that in mind, here a five tips for best practice account selection.

Have you thought about targeting different industries?

People are getting scared and more cautious about taking meetings and calls. So, who is engaging?


Some industries are booming at the moment such as:


  • Video conferencing technology
  • Project management tools
  • E-learning
  • Ecommerce
  • Gaming

With an influx in demand, they might just be looking for your solution. But for industries heavily effected, you need to rethink your GTM strategy to be as humane as possible; if your solution is something that would be deemed essential to these businesses – keep helping. If it’s more of a luxury, consider targeting different industries where an influx of demand means they might be on the lookout for your solution.

Sales and Marketing, Name a Better Duo

We always talk about the importance of sales and marketing alignment, but it comes into play with regards to account selection as well. A common mistake is allowing one department to select all of the target accounts for a campaign.


If the sales team are solely responsible then you run the risk of them giving you all of the ‘problem’ accounts that they have yet to achieve any traction with. As Jamie Hardin, Senior Marketing Manager of ON24 explains “ABM should be viewed as augmenting the current strategy, not a ‘Hail Mary’ initiative on an inactive account.” Similarly, it would be foolish for marketing to be solely responsible without using the information that sales already have on the accounts that they’ve been engaging with.

This could be information on which accounts are reaching a contract renewal date, previous positive conversations with the clients, or even contacts that could have used your services in a previous role at another company.

By combining the information marketing has alongside insights from sales, your account selection can lay the foundation for a successful campaign.

Are you intent on this?

Utilising intent data is the best way to select accounts. This helps you understand which companies are in a buying window based on the websites they’re visiting and the content they’re consuming. However, platforms such as Bombora and Nexus aren’t at everyone’s disposal, which is why a combination of the above tactics gives the next best chance of selecting accounts that are most likely to convert.


Account selection is perhaps the biggest factor in the success of an Account-Based Marketing campaign. Good accounts, that fit your ICP and are showing intent are bound to be successful, whereas accounts that aren’t selected on insight and reasoning are likely to fail. There’s never a sure fire way to pick accounts that are destined to convert, but by following these tips you’ll have a solid foundation for your ABM programme.

Do it early!

One of the most consistent mistakes we come across with account selection is doing it too late in the ABM journey. After first defining your ideal customer profile or ICP (link to other blog) and selecting your sector, you should be looking to choose your accounts. Prioritising selection early on in the process will give you ample time to gather insight into them, allowing you to really personalise your message that will resonate with the target DMU.

Make Sure They Fit Your ICP

Using an ICP to frame your account selection ensures that your target accounts are most likely to be a good fit for your business. It also ensures that you don’t fall for those ‘dream’ accounts that you may have put on the list because you want the logo on your website, or you’ve always dreamed of working with. If they aren’t right for the programme, you shouldn’t be targeting them. It’s not about if you want them, as much as it’s about if they want you.

So, you’re thinking about adopting Account-Based Marketing…

Fantastic! But there are three different types of ABM; one-to-many, one-to-few, and one-to-one. So, which one is right for you? Luckily, we have a handy little calculator that will tell you exactly that.