8 reasons why B2B account-based marketing fails (and 7 ways to fail-proof your ABM campaign)

Learn eight common reasons B2B account-based marketing campaigns fail, reduce your chances of making mistakes, and improve the ROI of your ABM campaigns
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Want your B2B account-based marketing (ABM) to deliver impressive ROI?

Understanding what ABM is — strategically targeting high-value accounts that are likely to convert — and chalking out your campaign plan are only the first steps. Next, you’ll need to maximize your chances of success by fail-proofing your account-based B2B marketing tactics.

To do that, it’s important to understand why ABM campaigns typically fail and how to reduce your risk of making the same mistakes. Learn how to do this and more as we explore eight reasons why account-based marketing falls flat and seven ways to fail-proof your ABM campaign.

8 reasons ABM campaigns fail

First, let’s start by looking at common reasons why B2B account-based marketing fails.

Why your ABM campaigns fail

1. Lack of alignment between sales and marketing teams

Since account-based marketing typically starts off as a marketing strategy, businesses assume ABM campaigns are fully marketing-owned. But this assumption is one of the biggest reasons why most B2B ABM campaigns fail. 

The truth is that successful account-based marketing thrives on coordination between B2B marketers and sales teams.

This alignment helps marketers create personalized content for each stage of the funnel using the information the sales team shares about the target buyers’ pain points and sales journey. Such personalized content is, in turn, crucial for generating the most relevant, high-quality leads.

 On the other hand, the sales team nurtures and converts warm leads that the marketing team sends their way. All of this makes it super important for both departments to be on the same page. 

2. Lack of common KPIs for determining a campaign’s performance

“Account-based marketing campaigns, in my opinion, fail due to a lack of common KPIs,” shares Daily Profit Cycle’s Founder, Nick Hodge.

“While there will undoubtedly be some disparities in objectives, there must be common performance indicators to measure overall achievement. If marketing teams are evaluated solely on their ability to create leads, for example, this incentivizes them to generate more leads regardless of quality,” Hodge explains. 

“Simultaneously, when sales teams are assessed solely on sales metrics such as transaction size, sales may engage with a fraction of prospects they deem worthwhile of their time.”

However, having common KPIs to track and pursue helps improve the performance of account-based marketing campaigns.

3. Little to no campaign personalization

Another reason why B2B account-based marketing fails is that the content the marketing team creates to attract, engage, and convert target accounts isn’t hitting the mark. 

UserGems’ Senior Director of Revenue Operations, Joss Poulton, observes, “Unsuccessful ABM campaigns blast the same generic emails to one large audience of target accounts and lean on sales reps to do that painful work in the middle to draw people in where marketing couldn’t.”

In reality, creating content that’s tailored to meet your target account’s requirements is a foundational step in doing ABM marketing the right way.

It’s only when your content addresses the target accounts’ struggles, offers them helpful solutions, and speaks their language that it can engage prospects.

4. Not taking the customer into account

According to Bergel Law’s Director of Operations, Lanny Tuchmayer, customer dissatisfaction is another leading reason why B2B account-based marketing tactics fail. 

“Account planning, and ABM, must be centered on the client,” Tuchmayer advises. “More than your own solutions, you must comprehend the customer’s world and how you might assist them.”

A self-centered approach to account-based marketing does little to earn your target accounts’ trust. If anything, target buyers see you as a business motivated to drive sales — not as someone invested in their success. Consequently, your message won’t resonate with leads. And it will fail to gain their trust, stifling your ABM campaign’s progress. 

5. Lack of top-down support and consistency

“I think the key here is that the ABM initiative needs support from higher up,” points out UserGems’ Marketing Campaign Lead, Khuyen Nguyen.

Without it, the odds of your B2B account-based marketing campaign’s success go down. 

“Because ABM requires a high level of commitment and teamwork from across multiple resources in the company, support from the top is critical for its success,” Nguyen explains.

6. Deploying every marketing trick in the bag

Pipeline anxiety is real. And can lead you to try out countless marketing tactics, channels, and content assets. But the kitchen-sink approach to B2B ABM campaigns only ends up diluting your focus.

It also makes it challenging for you to track each tactic’s progress, making it harder to understand which ones are the top performers. 

Not to mention, when your focus is poor, and you’re trying too many tactics at once, reaping early wins gets harder. This, in turn, makes it difficult to get stakeholder buy-in.

7. Giving up to early

Yet another reason why ABM campaigns fail is simply giving up too early. Like when you don’t see immediate results with initial campaign levers such as paid media.

However, a results-driving ABM strategy relies on consistency. Instead of assuming an ABM lever has failed, review the plan to see what could possibly be optimized.

8. Not leveraging the right tools

The right tools for powering your account-based marketing in B2B are essential for helping you find and target relevant accounts and optimize each stage of your ABM campaign.

For example, by tracking and showing details of how leads are interacting with the content you share with them, the right CRM can help you personalize your interaction with target accounts.

Similarly, by using automated pipeline generation playbooks to fill the gaps in your buying committees or track when key contacts join a target ABM account, your campaign team can automate outreach. OR reach out to satisfied alumni customers and accelerate the deal.

Keep in mind, though, that not using the right tools doesn’t necessarily cause an ABM strategy to fail. Instead, it slows progress, which can lead you to give up too early — a common reason why ABM campaigns fall flat.

How to prevent your ABM campaigns from failing

Now that you know the potential reasons behind a B2B account-based marketing campaign’s failure, let’s walk you through ways to fail-proof your campaigns.

how to prevent your ABM campaigns from failing

1. Make sure your sales and marketing team are aligned

To begin with, encourage sales and marketing teams to align on the target accounts’ persona, their pain points, and common KPIs to track progress.

But make sure this alignment remains intact throughout the campaign. Because even if the teams are aligned at the beginning, Trinity Nguyen, VP of Marketing at UserGems, observes they can fall out of alignment in a quarter or two.

“It is easy to start the ABM program being aligned. But it is much harder to stay aligned and orchestrated over time when the two teams often have conflicting priorities,” she notes. 

Sharing her experience, Nguyen writes, “In one of my previous companies, we had all the best ABM tools. We also had alignment on our target account list and process. Or so we thought.

“A quarter after launching the program, we realized that the sales team only worked on half of the target accounts. So essentially, the marketing team wasted 50% of their ABM spending. [No wonder] the results weren’t as stellar as the team had hoped. This led to mistrust between the two teams, and there went the ABM program.”

The solution? Ensure the teams coordinate throughout the campaign — encourage them to meet weekly or biweekly to review performance and share intel about the target persona.

For instance, at UserGems, where we’ve grown revenue by 5 times in one year with our ABM program, the ADR team sits within the marketing function.

Nguyen elaborates, “It ensures that the marketing team and ADRs go after the same accounts — and the same buyers — at the same time. When it is coordinated, our conversion rates double.”

It’s also important here for both teams to predefine and coordinate on which KPIs to track. This will ensure they are each held responsible for delivering the same standard of work and are motivated by the same results.

2. Personalize your ABM campaign

“Successful ABM is hyper-personalized at both the company and persona levels and includes an input list of target accounts that are carefully researched and hand-curated,” explains Joss Poulton, the Senior Director of Revenue Operations here at UserGems. 

And to create such a personalized experience, create an authentic inbound interest by addressing your target accounts’ pain points and educating them on how you can help resolve them. 

Poulton recommends using thought leadership content for this. “…[Create] brand presence through thought leadership and [stoke] product interest between the top and middle of the funnel.”

Remember: it’s crucial to offer value to target accounts with the content you create. One effective way to do this is by providing helpful solutions to the problems your customers struggle with.

And while you’re at it, don’t limit your presence to one marketing channel. Stay active on at least two different channels your target accounts use so they can see your business as a trustworthy source that can help them solve their problems.

3. Focus on your customer

With every piece of content and every interaction you plan for target accounts, make sure your marketing efforts answer the what’s-in-it-for-me question that prospects ask. This makes your account-based marketing framework customer-centered instead of business-centered — the key to earning prospects’ attention and trust.

As Tuchmayer puts it, “Marketing must be genuine and based on the success of the consumer. Without that, it will become a sales distraction, and the buyer will perceive it as a bother.”

But before you can answer the what’s-in-it-for-me question, it’s essential both your sales and marketing teams have a thorough understanding of who the ideal customer is and what they struggle with.

Create a detailed list of common issues prospects have and determine how your product or service helps them solve those problems. Use it as a guide to create personalized marketing content and to frame your product as a solution for a most customer-centric approach.

4. Get stakeholder buy-in early on

“To guarantee buy-in for future ABM campaigns, getting an early win is crucial,” suggests Travis Lindemoen, the Managing Director at Nexus IT Group.

To score an early win to set stakeholders by your side, it’s important you “Make sure you have the budget to generate targeted content assets (ads, mailers, and so on), the time to collaborate with sales more closely, and the media spend to run the necessary quantity of paid media to meet your ABM goals,” Lindemoen says.

It’s only when you get the basics of B2B account-based marketing right that you can score quick wins and get leadership on your side.

5. Start small with a sharp focus

Although there are a ton of marketing tactics, channels, and content assets that you can create, start small with these steps: 

  1. Select 1-2 marketing channels your target accounts commonly use. 
  2. Work out which marketing tactics you want to run with. For example, LinkedIn ads, newsletters, thought leadership content, etc.
  3. Decide which content assets you need to create. Choose from ad content, educational blog posts and videos, and LinkedIn articles, for instance.

Selecting your marketing tactics, platform, and content types beforehand gives you focus. And you are more likely to deliver better results. All while making it easy to track the progress of each marketing tactic, channel, and content asset.

6. Be consistent with your efforts

“To be successful with ABM, you must be willing to make a multi-year commitment,” explains Lindemoen. It’s why it’s crucial to be consistent.

To start off, setting the right mindset is important. As Lindemoen notes, “Organizations that intend to adopt ABM can expect marketing and sales operations costs to climb in the short term since a large amount of planning, testing, and collaboration is required to get traction.” 

Similarly, marketers and B2B sales teams working on ABM marketing should also expect to invest first and wait to reap results in the long term.

To this end, it’s crucial you don’t change your strategy or switch between tactics if you don’t immediately see results. Instead, after you’ve put the initial legwork into planning a well-thought-out ABM strategy, stick with executing it by the timeline you originally set.

And if a tactic or two doesn’t seem to deliver results, take the time to evaluate where it could be going wrong before deciding to drop it altogether.

7. Invest in the right tool stack

Choosing the right sales prospecting tools for your account-based marketing campaigns can be overwhelming. However, you don’t need an elaborate tool kit. Instead, a CRM that meets your business needs paired with a simple sales prospecting tool is enough.

As Evking’s Managing Director, Gavin Johnson, advises, “A customer relationship management (CRM) platform that can report on engagement and the progress of customers moving through the sales process is all you need at the most basic level.

“You can use LinkedIn, Facebook, and AdRoll for account-based ad targeting after you’ve mastered these KPIs, or you can try with gifting applications for your first campaign.

“To execute a small pilot, none of these products demand six-figure yearly commitments or contracts. It’s time to start looking at adding additional horsepower to your toolkit when you’ve successfully demonstrated that an ABM approach will work for your firm,” Johnson adds.

At UserGems, our B2B ABM strategy wasn’t powered by a big budget or dozens of tools, either. Instead, we used:

  • Salesforce for understanding our ideal customer profile (ICP)
  • Our own account tracking product that helps identify and add relevant prospects to target to our CRM 

Improve your B2B account-based marketing today

Successful account-based marketing boils down to strong alignment between B2B marketers and the sales team. Communicate about who target customers are, their pain points, and how your product or service can help them. It’s also important for both teams to track common KPIs and review progress together to evaluate how well the campaign is attracting, nurturing, and converting customers.

Everyone involved should understand that ABM marketing takes significant time and effort upfront before it delivers ROI.

And, it’s essential you invest in the right tools to speed up progress and improve your ABM strategy’s odds of success. A powerful CRM is a must.

You’ll also need a pipeline generation tool like UserGems that identifies warm target accounts such as alumni customers who have used your product and are likely to use it again in their new roles.

The best part? UserGems automatically shows these prospects and their new contact information in your Salesforce. This way, you can see new accounts to target and convert right away in your CRM — without additional admin work.

Don’t believe it? Try UserGems for B2B account-based marketing today to give your ABM campaign a competitive edge.

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