How to Execute an ABM Strategy Using Digital Advertising

How to Execute an ABM Strategy Using Digital Advertising

Digital advertising has a huge reach, which is why so many marketers use it in their campaigns. The Google Display Network alone reaches 90% of global internet users and 94% of internet users in the United States. Thanks to this reach, many marketers are turning to display advertising to help them build an account-based marketing (ABM) strategy. 

Having a target account list is key to ensuring that the leads an organization generates are aligned with their overall goals. While all leads may not come from that ABM list, the companies that an organization contacts should have some key similarities to those on the account list, such as company size and industry. But how are companies generating their ABM lists?

Run Display Ads Based on Persona or Topic Targeting

While putting out a wide net is great for getting a lot of impressions on a brand, marketers want to make sure those impressions count. Therefore, rather than running display ads anywhere and everywhere, marketers should target their ads based on context that’s related to their product or by targeting specific personas. For example, a cybersecurity company might run ads on articles that discuss cybersecurity or internet threats, or they could target IT managers and up in companies with more than 100 employees in the United States.

Contextual targeting is generally better, with users being 50% more likely to click on a contextual ad than a non-contextual one. Additionally, topic-based targeting will still be viable, even with Google phasing out third-party cookies. Marketers just starting out with a display campaign should focus on targeting relevant topics, rather than personas.

Gather Data From Display Ads

Marketers running display ads should already have some reporting in place to see how many impressions, clicks, and conversions they’re getting from their ads. This data can also include a breakdown of the demographics of ad viewers, including which company they work for. Marketers can compile a list of these companies to ensure they’re targeting lead generation efforts to businesses that have at least heard of their organization, increasing the likelihood that a lead will convert.

Include and Exclude Companies Based on ICP

However, not all companies that view an ad should be placed on the organization’s ABM list. Advertising data isn’t 100% accurate, and even with persona targeting, some companies may not fit a vendor’s ideal customer profile (ICP). Plus, some people who viewed a vendor’s ad may work for a company that’s already a client. Instead, marketers should compile a list of the companies that viewed their ads and cross-reference it with current client lists, making sure that the remaining companies fit their ICP. This will help keep lead budgets from being wasted on unviable leads.

Create More Than One List for Personalization

Just like marketers have different campaigns for different personas, they should also have separate ABM lists depending on the type of campaign they want to run. The same asset that resonates with a small business, won’t necessarily have the same effect on a multi-national corporation. 

Once a marketer has compiled the list of all the companies that have seen their ads, they should split the list based on industry, company size, and or geography. Then, they can run more personalized campaigns, which are more likely to convert. In fact, 71% of consumers expect personalization, and 76% are frustrated with marketing tactics that aren’t personalized.

Display ABM Pitfalls

Using digital advertising to develop an ABM strategy is not without its challenges, and marketers must take care to avoid common pitfalls.

Only Running Display to an ABM List

While ABM lists are fine tools for lead generation, they can severely limit a marketer’s ability to run display campaigns if they try to deliver ads only to people in the companies on their list. An ABM list automatically ads a limit to how many impressions a campaign can deliver. For one thing, there are only so many people that work at the companies on the list, and most of them won’t fall into the vendor’s target persona. Add to that the fact that 27% of internet users in the United States use some kind of ad blocker. That immediately removes about a quarter of the impressions that could’ve been delivered. 

Not Gathering Data on Display Impressions

The information that display advertising can provide marketers is invaluable, but it does take some time to collect and refine. While it might seem easier to ignore the reports, marketers that do will have a hard time optimizing their campaigns, let alone creating an ABM list of companies that have already interacted with their brand.

Treating the ABM List as the Only Option

Once some marketers have their ABM list, they’re unwilling to stray from it, regardless of the opportunities that exist outside of the list. While an ABM list is a great start, it’s ultimately a list of companies that a vendor wants to work with — not the list of companies that want to work with the vendor. Additionally, all of those companies might not be in-market for the vendor’s product at the moment. When using an ABM list for lead generation, vendors should use the list as a starting point but explore lookalike companies as well to find companies that are actively looking to fill a need.

Display Advertising Can Kickstart an ABM Strategy

When exploring an ABM strategy, it can be difficult to figure out how to build a list. Using display advertising as a starting point, marketers can identify companies that are already interacting with (or are at least familiar with) their brand. This will increase the likelihood of conversion during a lead generation campaign, lowering the opportunity cost and increasing revenue.

For more help building an ABM campaign, check out our tips & tricks on succeeding with ABM.

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