Skip to content

The What, Why and How of Inbound in Account-Based Marketing

4 mins read


Account-based marketing (ABM) is a strategic marketing approach. Rather than targeting a large pool of individuals, it focuses on key accounts. All aspects of the campaign (emails, blogs, videos, downloadable content, the whole lot) are hyper-targeted to these key accounts. And the whole point of it? To create a personalised experience to the people/companies/accounts who matter the most.

Here's everything you need to know about ABM, plus how you can incorporate the inbound methodology into your ABM strategy (because contrary to popular belief, the two aren't mutually exclusive).

D22 - Mark

What is ABM and How Does it Fit Into the Inbound Methodology?

We briefly explained what ABM is at the beginning of this blog. Now it's time to discuss how it fits into the inbound marketing methodology.

At a first glance, ABM appears to be the opposite of inbound marketing. The inbound methodology is designed to nurture people along a buyer’s journey that then results in them buying your products or using your services over time.

The beauty of inbound marketing is that it’s not tailored or suited to particular organisations. It has few restrictions on who should use it and aims to attract a wider pool of prospects. Whereas, ABM pinpoints and targets specific accounts, companies and people.

We know - they sound like two complete opposites of the spectrum but they dovetail really well and can prove to be a complete success. But how? Let’s discuss.

Are ABM and Inbound Compatible?

Although it may seem like the two are complete opposites, they actually share some qualities which make the two work so well together.

Firstly, in order to create engaging content that makes the reader want more, you’re going to have to understand their pain points. For example, marketers can gain knowledge from sales research to understand how to target their audience more accurately and hit them with the right content at the right time.

Like inbound, ABM focuses more on quality leads than sheer quantity. Both methods value creating lasting relationships with the client in order to lead them closer to conversion. There’s no point wasting your time marketing to the wrong prospects if they’re just going to waste your time, is there?

Why Combine Inbound and ABM?

Inbound and ABM are often thought as two very different entities. This is usually the case as ABM is categorised as a sales strategy and inbound is a marketing strategy.

This isn’t the only difference, of course.

D22 - White room

Both are different in the way they approach prospects. Inbound casts a wide net and looks to attract a whole different range of prospects at different stages of the buyer’s journey, whereas ABM is far more specific.

So, by combining them both, you’re opening up two different methods of attracting top-quality prospects.

ABM alone can lead you to miss prospects that inbound may have caught because your search was far too narrow. Whereas, if the two prospect funnels are working together, you’ve every chance of catching and attracting new clients to your business. Two methods are more effective than one, right?

This isn’t the only way in which your two funnels will complement each other. They can also help attract clients on the other’s list even more.

For example, your inbound efforts may be that effective that a client on your ABM list may become increasingly more interested in your product or service. Therefore, you can use inbound to perfectly time your ABM messaging and nurture them into that all-important purchase.

Sometimes, either of these methods on their own may bring prospects to the website that might not be a good fit, so nothing comes of it.

However, with a dual approach, you’re doubling the chances of them being a good fit for your business. They might not turn out to be a perfect inbound fit, but they might be a shoo-in for your ABM list. So, you’ve found another client without having to do as much of the leg work - winner!

D22 - Emily and Mel

Some marketers think that because you’re taking a double-edged approach to your marketing strategy that you have to create two pieces of content to suit. This isn’t the case. You can create content that fits the keyword and drives a load of traffic to your site while also providing all the relevant key points you need to inform your ABM list with too.

How to Implement Inbound into your ABM Strategy

Use a Tiered Approach

By setting your approach out into tiers you’re mapping out exactly the kind of prospect that you want to land. Obviously, the same blueprint doesn’t work for each business but you can take the tiered approach and adapt it in various ways to see which is the best fit for your company.

We recommend that you split up your target prospects into three tiers:

  • Tier one - These should be your dream clients. The big money clients that would be amazing for your business. This list shouldn’t be long at all, but it completely depends on how ambitious you are as a business.

  • Tier two - Take your ideal demographic fit for your business and create a list of your ideal prospects. This should be longer than tier one, but should still be business specific and not generalised at all.

  • Tier three - Now it’s time for that monster generic list to be made. This should be an audience profile of your ideal customer depending on behaviour and demographic fit. This doesn’t have to be business names and can be a very wide scope.

For all three tiers, you’re going to need a different approach and strategy. What works for your defined clients won’t work for your generic audience and vice versa.

Align Your Sales and Marketing Teams and Create a Service Level Agreement

Typically, sales and marketing departments aren’t the best of friends. But, in order to make this dual approach work, they’re going to need to be. If they don’t gel and work together then the whole thing is likely to flop and be a failure.

You need to have a strong alignment between the two departments. A service level agreement (SLA) is a formal agreement that the teams will have to sign, so it’s there in black and white that they’ll both be working together and can’t go back on their words.

To get the most out of ABM, you’ll need to identify your key accounts. Your sales department spend most of their time learning about potential new clients, so they’ll definitely have some key information that your marketers can benefit from. If both departments could form a strong relationship, then this information could be really valuable in generating stronger converted leads.


Once you’ve got the departments gelling and working together effectively, you can break down the components of the strategy and make sure that everyone is clear on what they’re accountable for. That way, you can then see where it’s falling down (if there are any problems) and address the situation to find a solution.

Give Personalisation a Go

ABM is all about targeting and nurturing your leads, so what better way to engage your recipients than personalising your content? You’re much more likely to click on something or take further interest in something if it has your name on it, it empowers the reader and makes them feel valued as opposed to receiving emails that have just been sent to all without any thought.

HubSpot allows you to create smart website pages, emails, landing pages and CTAs that adapt to different visitors based on their previous behaviour. It’s a great way to deliver the right content at the right time to your visitor and will hopefully lead them further down the Buyer’s Journey.

Find Out More About Utilising Account Based Marketing to Boost Your Enterprise Inbound Efforts

So, now things are a lot clearer on how inbound and ABM can combine to create a successful strategy, the next step is implementing it and sticking to it so that it helps with the effectiveness and efficiency of your business.

We understand this sounds easier said than done, however worry not as we’ve created an all-in-one guide that’s packed full of useful content ranging from more ABM strategy advice and tips to finding the right CRM software for your business to succeed.

To get your free copy, hit the download link below today.