Drive High-Impact ABM with High Quality Data: 4 Steps to Success

Account-based marketing (ABM) focuses marketing and sales resources (budget, people, data, technology, etc.) around a predefined set of target accounts. While ABM has clearly been shown to boost return-on-investment and revenues when compared to traditional marketing approaches, doing ABM “right” requires  significant maturity in your data management, as well as lots of high-quality data. “ABM programs result in significant improvements in pipeline growth,” says Todd Berkowitz, Practice Vice President at Gartner.

ABM Works to Drive More Revenues

ABM is so popular because, when done well, it’s a proven driver of revenues. The numbers don’t lie: 80% of marketers surveyed by SiriusDecisions reported a higher win rate with ABM compared to traditional marketing approaches. A stunning 97% of marketers surveyed said ABM had a higher ROI than other marketing approaches, according to Alterra Group.

Companies making the fastest progress with ABM programs are those with over 1,000 employees, with nearly 3 out of 4 (71%) of them having either a full or pilot ABM program in place. The top industries that reported full ABM programs were: (1) software, (2) IT and services, and (3) marketing and advertising. If you’re not “doing” ABM now, or at least considering ABM, you’re in a distinct minority.

Data Quality: The #1 Challenge to ABM (By Far)

The top challenge reported for ABM, whether a full program, a pilot, or in the consideration phase, is data quality and data management. The key success factor in nearly all approaches to marketing, but especially with ABM, is (1) knowing your customers, which takes data, and (2) leveraging what you know (i.e., data) in order to send relevant messaging that facilitates customer conversion and the buying journey.

Doing ABM right requires accessing and leveraging high quality account data at every step of the ABM process, having the capacity to transform that data into actionable business intelligence, and then acting upon that relevant data in a timely manner that enables conversion and supports customers. Data is especially important in ABM where larger buying groups are common and sales cycles are typically long. ABM, even more than other marketing initiatives, must be fueled by the right account targeting, the right data (for buying groups), the right account metrics, the right reporting, and the right technology and partner relationships to fuel the entire ABM infrastructure.

Stirista can simplify ABM for you with real-time data onboarding, data deployment, customer identity resolution, account segmentation, campaign optimization, and reporting. Often, the quickest opportunity for ABM success is merely growing the number of contacts per account, and Stirista has you covered there too. 

Doing ABM Right: 4 Steps to Success

To drive high-impact ABM, high-quality data is a must, from program set-up to every step of the buying cycle. As Vincent Pietrafesa, Stirista’s VP of B2B Products, explains it: “data is key for ABM. If you put junk data in, you’ll get junk results out, your account targeting and your campaign results will be ineffective.”

Pietrafesa believes there are four key steps to driving high-impact ABM, and all require high-quality data to fuel success:

  1. Defining your ABM objectives and identifying the “right” accounts to target.
  2. Getting as much information about these accounts as possible.
  3. Creating content tailor-made for the account’s needs and distributing this content to the right person within the account at the right time.
  4. Measuring the results of account engagement and optimizing your way to ROI.

Let’s examine each of these steps in depth, exploring the role of data and highlighting how Stirista can help you fuel ABM success.

ABM Step 1: Identifying the “Right” Accounts to Target

Having access to high-quality data is absolutely critical to ensure you choose the right accounts to target for ABM. You should develop an “ideal customer profile” before you begin selecting accounts, then use various types of data to determine which accounts are “a good fit” for your predefined profile. It’s also wise to get help in targeting accounts. Stirista Data is a business and consumer deterministic database of 30 million business professionals and a company level database with over 22 million individual business locations with firmographic, employee attributes, industry, functional area, tech stack used, and intent data. 

We can help you identify and prioritize the accounts to target based on your ideal customer profile, so you don’t waste resources targeting accounts that lack the ability or intention to buy from you. As Pietrafesa says, “company data is so important for ensuring that you're targeting the right accounts for your ABM efforts. For example, if your product’s price point is a hundred thousand dollars, then you probably want to target a larger size company because smaller companies simply can’t afford your product.”

Once you’ve decided on which accounts to include in your ABM program, you have to map out and identify the right people who make up each account’s “buying group,” so you can target them with the right messaging that nurtures and converts. “Part of ABM targeting,” says Pietrafesa, “is having quality email addresses and making sure that the people in the buying group you want to target are actually at the [company] domain you're trying to engage via ABM. All of that requires high quality data so you don’t waste your time and resources chasing stale or outdated contacts.”

Stirista can help by providing you with email addresses for all relevant people within the account domain, enabling you to set up (and track) a buying group to engage with. Perhaps most importantly, Stirista “fuels ABM effectiveness with our identity graph perspective,” says Pietrafesa. “If you want to dig into who's at those accounts, we can provide more data about the people within that domain. If you're trying to target and do identity resolution, we can help you there too.” Knowing your customers is foundational for all marketing, but especially for ABM — Stirista’s identity resolution can be vital for your targeting, nurturing and overall ABM success.

ABM Step 2: Getting as Much Information About Accounts as Possible

Business people have personal lives too, so the linking of business profiles  to consumer profiles is something that marketers often forget to leverage. Stirista helps, providing contextual data so you get to know the prospects and buyers within each account, in a holistic way. If you're targeting a B2B account and you want to find all the people that are at or above a certain title or in a certain department, Stirista can provide you with that essential targeting and contact data.  Most companies out there can target accounts at the company level, but what about the decision makers and targets within those companies.  “It is people that make the decisions and Stirista can help target at the individual level,” says Pietrafesa.

“We take the account’s domain and we find, with our identity graph, all of the people and devices that are associated with that domain. We target them and then report on it for you,” says Pietrafesa. And while lots of data is relatively “passive” (contact name, employer), it’s key to collect more dynamic data for ABM so you can respond to fluid situations that may trigger purchases: “We can help you monitor the buying signals coming in real time from your accounts so you can follow up on them immediately,” explains Pietrafesa.

You can onboard data in minutes directly into Stirista’s DSP, AdStir, including email, device ID, postal, and IP Address. They show up right away, and you can include these segments in your ABM campaigns. We onboard domains too, and can resolve those to identities in roles at the accounts/businesses you are targeting. Stirista helps you identify the contacts in your target accounts regardless of how little information you might have about them.

ABM Step 3: Creating Content Tailor-made for the Account’s Needs and Distributing it to the Right People

With a high impact ABM program fueled by high-quality data, you can determine what content is performing effectively. “If the data shows that a certain creative asset has a better response from prospects than another,” says Pietrafesa, “that signal can help you do A/B testing to define your content approach, helping you define what works and what doesn’t.” You can take that “content performance data” to help inform your discussions about the formats and types of content you create to better engage your accounts, as well as improve how you distribute that content.

You can analyze what’s working (what channels, what content formats, what cadences, etc.) and why, and then use those insights to improve content creation and distribution. Data serves as the fuel that drives the right content to the right accounts at the right time. Attribution, defined as the ability to connect specific marketing actions with specific customer outcomes, is foundational for ABM, giving you visibility into what a buying group is doing when they get your messaging. “If you're finding that your website traffic is not being impacted by campaigns, and that the signals you’re getting back from the target domain are weak,” says Pietrafesa, “you probably need to adjust your account targeting, your tactics, or your content.”

Or maybe you've placed tags in different places and you find that domain targets are going to a certain place, but they're not downloading your white paper or not going to your e-commerce site to buy. Then you might need to change your content or site based on these signals, in order to see the response rates improve. Signals and attribution help you adjust and optimize tactics, your campaign assets, even your offerings. You can use attribution like a GPS system guiding you towards improved outcomes.

ABM Step 4: Measuring the Results and Optimizing to ROI

The ability to identify and “know” your accounts with high-quality data supports both attribution and the ongoing improvement of tactics. “There are two things we can do on a domain level for accounts,” explains Pietrafesa. “First is site visits. So if your campaign is seeking to push account prospects to your website, we can track visits and match it back against the domain, so you’ll be able to attribute.”

Stirista can also provide what Pietrafesa calls “campaign exhaust data.” You can connect the campaign and the site visit to a sale. As Pietrafesa explains, “not only does the data offer good granularity on the targeting of campaigns against the account domain, but we use it to match back the campaign to actual sales,” which is a powerful indicator of ABM effectiveness. With data used for measurement, you can run ABM programs with an “experimental mindset,” making tweaks and improvements based on incoming data/feedback as you move forward to ROI.

How Data Enables Ongoing Improvement, Better Account Targeting

By definition, attribution is actionable. That's why you do it —so you can say “this action or content drove this result or maybe didn't drive it, so we need to adjust,” says Pietrafesa. ABM also helps you find the right audience to sell to. If you're doing ABM targeting, engaging with certain types of businesses, you can see if that vertical works for you.

From a sales perspective, ABM helps you figure out which verticals work best for your offerings and how you can optimally target them. As a result, ABM can be a great guide for sales and product strategies.

Stirista Versus Other Solutions

Stirista provides an integrated package of data and distribution solutions that help you drive high-impact ABM. “We use our first-party data for identity, so we solve the identity issues for you,” says Pietrafesa. “You know exactly who you’re engaging with, what they do in response to your content, enabling you to create better content, profiles, and segments.” Stirista also provides high quality data about companies and individuals that can add to and enhance data already in your CRM.

“We even take care of campaign delivery and data onboarding/activation for you, as well as reporting and attribution. With other solutions that might do only one thing, you have complexity and a lack of integration that causes cost, data loss, and delays,” explains Pietrafesa. With other providers of data, for instance, you will wait hours and days for data onboarding and typically need to use a third-party onboarder like LiveRamp. That means a ton of data management and potential data loss.

You don't have all that hassle when you onboard and activate data with Stirista. Whatever data you onboard works 100% with our DSP. You get reporting in real time. “We've tied all the pieces together for you so you save cost, time, and headache, that’s what makes us unique. Why would you go to three different places, so you need to become an integrator? As soon as you add another interface, there's data loss and time loss and the need for integration,” says Pietrafesa.

Stirista also enables you to do more high-impact ABM with channels like CTV. You can execute your ABM campaign across online and offline channels and use AdStir to buy media at cost across major platforms such as Hulu, Roku, Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Peacock, HBO Max, and more. Plus, you get access to the best data globally, which comes fully integrated for micro-targeting and audience selection. Unlike traditional methods, these are tailored for ABM, since they are 1:1 ads explicitly served to an individual within the account buying group. That's the next frontier of high impact ABM.


ABM’s goal is to deliver tailored campaigns and provide a personalized buying experience for the accounts you’ve targeted. Stirista can simplify ABM for you with our real-time data onboarding, deployment, optimization, and reporting. Whether you’re experienced running ABM, or looking to pilot an ABM program, Stirista’s high quality data and our vast experience with ABM can help you every step along the way to ABM success.

To learn more about how Stirista can help you succeed with ABM, reach out to us here https://www.stirista.com/contact

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