Using ABM to propel niche high-tech to mainstream markets

Jun 11, 2022


Narayan Prasath

In 2018, Snowflake made a significant entry into the NYSE, with its stock value doubling on the day it launched. This marked  a significant moment in tech industry history.

This wasn't just about financial gain; this monumental success was the culmination of a journey that began three years earlier, during which Snowflake experienced a 300% growth, expanding from servicing a few hundred companies to thousands.

This impressive growth trajectory serves as a textbook example of what Geoffrey Moore describes as "Crossing the Chasm," a critical transition in the technology adoption lifecycle from appealing primarily to early adopters to successfully engaging the early majority.

At the heart of Snowflake's strategic ascent was Account-Based Marketing (ABM), a method where synergy between sales and marketing propelled the company forward. Sales identified prime prospects, while marketing tailored strategies using data analytics, honing a focused approach that turned potential into profit.

Understanding the technology adoption lifecycle, especially in high-tech sectors, is crucial. "Crossing the Chasm" signifies a decisive phase where innovative companies must navigate from capturing the enthusiasm of early adopters to meeting the pragmatic demands of the early majority.

Snowflake's story isn't merely about growth; it's a lesson in strategic evolution, where ABM wasn't just a tactic but the backbone of engaging with a market ripe for change.

Following is a detailed breakdown of a targeted Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategy tailored for high-tech scaleups poised to cross the chasm between early adopters and the early majority. These companies have already seen significant adoption among innovators and are on the brink of breaking into mainstream markets. The strategy emphasizes how marketing and growth teams can leverage the key elements of ABM not just as a support mechanism, but as a crucial driver to scale into the mass market effectively.

ABM Foundation

  • Role of ABM

  • Target Lists

  • Content Mapping

ABM Activation

  • Paid Growth Acceleration

  • Encircling the Buying Committee

  • Scaling Personalization & Experimentation

ABM Analytics

  • Measuring Impact

  • ABM as the Signal Center

  • Learning & Optimizing

ABM Foundation

The Role of ABM

Understanding that ABM is inherently a business growth strategy, and not just a marketing strategy is crucial. Embracing a sales-led motion does not mean marketing takes a backseat. On the contrary, it's about marketing teams leaning on sales for direction and guidance while simultaneously bringing their insights from market signals and customer interactions to the table. This two-way exchange enriches the overall strategy, ensuring that sales efforts are supported by data-driven insights and personalized marketing touchpoints.

Contrary to demand generation's emphasis on generating a pipeline through leads, MQLs, and SQLs, ABM champions a strategic alliance with sales. It acts as a force multiplier in winning deals.

  • Shortens and accelerates sales cycle

  • Uncovers and highlights key market signals

  • Maximize your business’s relevance among target accounts

  • Enables Personalization at scale

It's a strategy where every action is calculated, aimed at surrounding and influencing decision-makers, ensuring that efforts lead directly to tangible business outcomes.

Target Lists

Quality data is the cornerstone of successful Account-Based Marketing (ABM). The accuracy of target lists initiates a strong start, guiding ABM strategies effectively.

Segmentation is the compass that guides ABM efforts, ensuring that marketing resources are channeled towards engaging with entities most likely to convert.

Setting up account priorities and tiers is a team sport, While data provides the foundation, sales lead the strategy, focusing on accounts with the highest potential based on solid insights.

While 'early adopter' segments include companies that align with your philosophies and share your values and long-term vision, supported by champions and executive sponsors who are committed to your solution's success. In contrast, the early majority segment demands a different approach, anticipating products that deliver immediate results. Properly segmenting and tiering accounts from the outset is crucial for success.

The process begins with identifying relevant contacts, primarily through LinkedIn, especially in the B2B tech industry. This initial stage goes beyond mere collection to establish a data-rich groundwork. Utilizing tools like LinkedIn Sales Navigator, tailor your target audience database to fit your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP).

The next step is data enrichment, using platforms like Zoominfo and Clearbit to deepen audience insights. This phase is vital for transforming basic information into comprehensive profiles, leading to more personalized engagement strategies.

Content Mapping

Aligning ABM with content marketing is essential for maximizing engagement and conversion, especially when targeting specific accounts.

Utilizing a messaging matrix to map content to meet the needs and interests of different groups—such as industry, vertical, account type (Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3), and contact type (Champion, Executive Sponsor, etc.)—you ensure that every piece of content, from blog posts to social media updates, resonates deeply with your audience, addressing their unique aspirations and motivations

Moreover, implementing a case study matrix becomes a powerful tool in this strategy, serving as a repository of social proof tailored to various segments. By organizing case studies and testimonials by industry, vertical, product, and use-case, you provide your sales teams with targeted materials that can help nudge prospects who are nearing the closing stages of the funnel.

ABM Activation

From awareness to conversion via engagement.

Paid Growth to accelerate ABM

When attention today is fragmented, the necessity for businesses to cut through the noise and connect meaningfully has never been more critical. By steering paid growth initiatives directly towards selected accounts, companies can elevate their visibility, and spark engagement.

Programmatic ABM

Audience building is the building blocks of a solid programmatic ABM. This step is linked to the target lists we covered earlier in the article. The idea is to leverage target accounts, and build audiences on publisher networks. This involves uploading the lists to Google Ads' Customer Match and Facebook's Custom Audiences. An advanced move entails integrating a Customer Data Platform (CDP) or data orchestrating platforms like Hightouch into the marketing stack. Such platforms streamline the process of reaching target audiences across diverse advertising networks, enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of ABM campaigns.

From a programmatic standpoint, having multiple layers of audience targeting is beneficial. Firmographics, demographics, precise geolocation, and behavioral targeting are good starting points.

But the real differentiator here is intent data. Bombora is a tool that comes to mind when talking about adding in an important layer of 'intent' data. You get to further refine your outreach to audiences who are already in-market and are actively on the lookout for a product in your category. And data aggregators that specialize in intent data for ABM enable you to capture these audiences. So you can go after prospects who have clearly expressed demand.

You would want to hone in on your target audience for maximizing precision so your marketing dollars are spent efficiently.

Encircling the Buying Committee

Awareness within TAM using Omni-Channel

The journey from awareness to decision in B2B sales often necessitates multiple interactions, typically between 8 and 13, spanning 6 to 12 months.

Also, ABM recognizes that B2B buying decisions involve multiple stakeholders, making it essential to engage with the entire buying group effectively. The most effective campaigns anticipate and cater to this collective journey.

By leveraging insights about members’ roles, pain points, and objectives, ABM can deliver relevant and tailored messaging that resonates with each buying committee stakeholder. With the goal of rapidly increasing awareness within every member of the buying committee. In this phase, targeted display campaigns, video ads, and OTT ads are crucial, executing a one-to-many ABM strategy through performance marketing. Marketers should pivot their focus towards metrics such as impression shares and completion rates for pre-click activities, which are indicative of the audience's initial engagement. Retrospectively, the true measure of success lies in analyzing the lift in conversions and deal velocity, comparing audiences exposed to the campaigns versus those who were not.


Diversify Content Types

The old tactic of simply promoting “book a demo” ads is outdated. Instead, adopt a tailored approach by delivering educational content at each stage of the customer journey. The key to success in paid growth in B2B is engaging in a diverse format of content as your audience generally display a variety of appetite when it comes to content. Its not always one or the other format, contacts and accounts consume all the way from snackable forms like social posts, images, videos to long form blogs, case studies, white papers, etc.

While you want to stay on theme, and consistent message across channels, you definelty need to mix up the format, and show variety.

You have diverse dimensions at you disposal here to test and try out.

  • Content type - top-funnel, social proof, etc

  • Media - blog, case study, video, podcast, etc

  • Length - short form, long form

  • Channel - social, search, display, email, etc

Ad Sequencing

Implementing sequential messaging in your paid ads stands out as a transformative strategy, particularly when aligned with Account-Based Marketing (ABM).

It's about telling a story, guiding your audience through a crafted journey from awareness to decision-making. You ensure that each ad resonates with the audience's current phase in the buying cycle, thereby enhancing engagement and fostering a deeper connection with your prospects.

Facebook and YouTube(Google) offer these as part of their platform to implement ad sequences. You can tell your brand's story in a structured and coherent manner, ensuring that each piece of content builds upon the last. This tactics builds a narrative that enhances brand recall, leading to more cost-efficient campaigns, enhancing engagement and conversion rates.


Multithreading is as personalized as one can get in terms of 1:1 ABM. The focus here is fostering multiple connections within one target account with unique messages to each function.

Effective multithreading utilizes targeted advertising designed for individual personas within a company, enabling extensive cross-departmental connections.

Success in cutting through market noise and capturing attention depends on the ad's messaging being highly specific to the targeted persona. For instance, businesses can engage owners or department heads with ads that highlight specific pain points, approach individuals in change management with ads that prompt specific actions, and attract the attention of the C-suite and CFOs with ads that demonstrate social proof.

Scaling Personalization

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is traditionally categorized into three distinct strategies: one-to-one, one-to-few, and one-to-many. However, the quintessence of ABM lies in its ability to scale personalization, particularly in a one-to-many context. For unconverted site visitors, initiating with a one-to-many personalization framework is pragmatic, tailoring the web experience to reflect industry specifics and even explicitly acknowledging the visiting company by name.

Post-conversion, it becomes imperative to shepherd these users into a personalized content journey, aligned with their professional roles and responsibilities. ABM thrives on the multiplicity of stakeholders within an account, each playing a pivotal role in the procurement journey.

A bespoke digital experience for each stakeholder – from the champion and executive sponsor to influencers, budget holders, and end-users – is not just beneficial but essential.

Each stakeholder has unique requirements.

While top-of-the-funnel engagement might resonate with some, others, for instance, champions may seek evidence-based content, like case studies, to foster internal buy-in, while executive sponsors might look for overarching strategies. End-users, on the other hand, benefit from detailed information on how technology fits into their daily routines.

A nuanced content strategy, attuned to the individual aspirations and motivations of these varied roles, enhances engagement and fosters alignment.

Centralizing your website as the hub for this multifaceted content necessitates the use of advanced personalization tools like HubSpot or Mutiny. This approach not only cultivates engagement through dynamic, personalized advertising but also extends a seamless, customized experience across the website and subsequent email marketing efforts.

Conversions on multiple occasions

The ultimate goal transcends mere awareness or single-instance conversion; it is to achieve multiple conversions across various contacts within an account, thereby not only maintaining top-of-mind awareness but also crafting circumstances conducive to serendipitous discoveries.

These strategic interactions can significantly expedite the sales process, shortening cycles, and enhancing deal conversion probabilities through optimal timing. Sequential messaging, leveraged effectively, can build on previous interactions, steering prospects towards conversion with content and propositions that grow progressively compelling.

ABM Analytics

Measuring ABM Impact

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) involves a longer and more intricate sales cycle, typically extending over 6 to 12 months. Consequently, ABM campaigns are often planned for a duration of 12 to 18 months. It's critical to invest in all stages of the customer journey and to continuously utilize and refine the diverse multi-touch creative assets prepared for these campaigns. As such, when it comes to performance measurement and attribution in ABM, the focus shifts towards multi-touch attribution and metrics that capture 'influence' over traditional, shorter-term lead-generation metrics.

Traditional demand generation strategies prioritize evaluating performance based on individual sources or channels, adjusting focus and resources based on these insights. However, in the context of ABM, it is more appropriate to employ linear attribution or time-decay multi-touch attribution models. These approaches are better suited for assessing the performance across the extended customer journey, recognizing that ABM involves multiple marketing touchpoints.

Particularly, it's vital to consider channels like email, which are not only cost-effective but also crucial for nurturing relationships with accounts over time. In ABM, the emphasis is on understanding how various marketing interactions contribute to the pipeline. Hence, generating reports that reflect the influence of marketing activities on the sales pipeline provides a more meaningful insight into their effectiveness.

ABM Engine as the Signal/Intel Center

Ultimately, ABM should serve as the intel center, providing actionable insights to growth teams. The essence of these insights is fueled by marketing efforts that not only demonstrate impact but also reveal product interest, propensity signals, and more. The core objective of ABM is to transition from unknown to known engagement, effectively deanonymizing web traffic. This transformation allows businesses to start answering critical questions such as:

  • Which companies are interested in our product?

  • What topics interest our tier 1 accounts?

  • How are key contacts within top accounts interacting with our content?

  • From which industries are our website visitors from?

Account Scoring

Develop an account engagement score that reflects the depth and breadth of interactions across the account. Leveraging a blend of intent and behavioral insights, companies can craft a scoring model that effectively allows teams to harness intel. Turning raw marketing data into a narrative that’s useful for sales.

The fundamental model could include metrics such as the number of engaged contacts within the account, frequency, types of interactions (website visits, content downloads, email opens, event attendance), and the quality of those interactions. And not just individual contacts, you can consolidate individual interactions and look at the account level to see account engagement.

On top-of-it, to make it really effective is a way for you to operationalize these insights by enabling real-time notifications to sales when accounts that cross a certain threshold in the propensity score to trigger a sales action such as a syndicated outreach email for example.

Learning & Optimizing

Continuous learning from these insights allows for the optimization of strategies and tactics, ensuring that marketing investments are both effective and efficient in nurturing key accounts. In the nuanced world of Account-Based Marketing (ABM), certain non-obvious elements can significantly influence strategy effectiveness.

For instance, a lack of engagement from a target account often signals a need for content and strategy realignment rather than an increase in outreach efforts. It's crucial to recognize that high engagement rates do not always equate to sales readiness; understanding the context behind interactions provides clearer insights into actual intent.

Interestingly, smaller, less engaged accounts can sometimes offer higher returns on investment than larger, more visibly active ones, emphasizing the importance of quality over quantity.

The critical role of cross-departmental synergy between marketing, sales, and customer success teams cannot be overstated, as it often uncovers unique opportunities and insights. Moreover, while data-driven strategies are essential, they should be complemented by intuitive understanding of a target account’s culture and values, blending analytical precision with human insight to guide ABM initiatives towards greater success.

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