Account-Based Marketing vs Marketing Automation: How to Use Automation to Drive ABM Success

Shahin Hoda 6  mins read Updated: March 15th, 2024

Planning and executing an account-based marketing campaign is not easy. It requires a lot of strategic thinking combined with tactical leg work.


Effectively leveraging marketing automation tools within your ABM strategy is one of the best ways to tackle this legwork, and it thus becomes very critical for the overall success of your marketing and sales teams. 

Furthermore, if your company is hoping to adopt account-based marketing at scale, you absolutely cannot do so without automation.

Speak to an Account-Based Marketing specialist to find out how you can leverage your current teach stack to implement an ABM strategy. 

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    In this article, we will look at three ways in which you can leverage your existing marketing automation platforms to drive efficiency, scalability and success.

    Can we even use marketing automation tools for ABM?

    The short answer to this question is YES, but only for specific use cases.

    Confused? Let's look at some details.

    ITSMA defines three tiers of account-based marketing based on the end objectives you are trying to achieve. These are listed below.

    Strategic or one-to-one ABM

    This type of strategy is mainly leveraged when a business is trying to expand into large key accounts. These could be existing accounts or ones at the bottom of the sales funnel.

    They fit into the company's ideal customer profile and are also significant contributors to its revenue.

    In the one-to-one account-based marketing approach, a senior-level marketer works with the sales team to implement custom campaigns tailored to specific stakeholders and decision-makers.

    Although the marketing budget for strategic ABM is usually very high, the scope of leveraging marketing automation is less since the idea is to create tailor-made personalised customer experiences.

    ABM lite or one-to-few

    One-to-few ABM initiatives focus on ten to fifteen target accounts with similar attributes and pain points.

    Marketers work with the sales team to identify high-value accounts and create relevant content and campaigns for the entire group of businesses that fit the ICP. 

    Based on this definition, you would be able to guess that there is some scope of automated workflows in the ABM lite approach.

    Programmatic ABM or one-to-many

    Programmatic account-based marketing is newer compared to the previous two types. 

    In this approach, sales and marketing teams target hundreds of accounts and potential customers across multiple channels by publishing valuable industry-specific content. Think of it as an inbound marketing / ABM blend. This is where marketing automation tools play a critical role and can be leveraged to achieve scalability and efficiency.

    With the above brief background of the types of account-based marketing strategies, you should now be able to confidently point out the scenarios in which marketing automation tools can offer you the highest ROI. Just in case you read the above few lines in a hurry, ABM lite and programmatic ABM are those scenarios. 

    Three ways to use marketing automation platforms to drive a successful ABM strategy

    From here on, you should be clear that whenever we are talking about account-based marketing, we are essentially talking about the programmatic approach. 

    So without further ado, here are three things you should do to drive ABM success using automation.

    Integrate your marketing automation tools with your sales CRM



    Programmatic ABM campaigns can very quickly get morphed into traditional demand generation initiatives. Remember, they are close but not the same. The difference lies in the fact that ABM is a more focused approach for reaching out to decision-makers from a particular set of targeted companies.

    Seamless integration between your marketing automation software and sales CRM in terms of a contact list can be of great value for companies.

    The marketing team can get intelligence on customer stakeholders the sales rep is engaging with and use it to push specific ABM campaigns.

    Furthermore, having the data from your automation and CRM platform integrated will ensure everyone is on the same page from an overall sales and marketing strategy standpoint.

    The million-dollar question is how to achieve this integration?

    The easiest way is to ensure that you are doing enough due diligence when making any marketing investments. 

    However, considering the rapid evolution of marketing technology, you might not always get the latest martech.  In such a scenario, the following are some routes you can take: 

    • Build a custom integration with the help of IT vendors 
    • Look for third-party plug-ins that facilitate a "conversation" between the two systems
    • Modernise certain areas of your martech to meet your scalability objectives. 

    Repurpose content at the market level and push it throughout the customer journey



    Repurposing existing content is not a novel idea. As marketers, we refurbish and customise content all the time, but the key to a successful ABM approach lies in pushing out that content across multiple channels intelligently.

    An essential aspect of an account-based marketing strategy is to present the target account stakeholders with valuable content at each stage of the customer journey.

    You might attract the customer by sending them a sequence of emails. You may then engage them with a "how-to" ebook download and potentially delight them by getting their feedback about your services on, let's say quarterly basis.

    All of these customer touchpoint communications can be executed with ease, at scale and with the account-based marketing flavour, via automated workflows.

    Leverage marketing automation software to gather intent data



    Intent data plays a significant role in determining the specific accounts that you and your sales teams want to target.

    Even in the case of a programmatic account-based marketing strategy, having relevant data about your target customers could be of immense value. 

    Information on things like which account stakeholders browsed your website or downloaded an ebook can help you separate the low hanging fruit from long shots.

    Leveraging marketing automation software for intent data can, in some cases, prove to be your competitive advantage as marketers often miss considering it while in the planning stages of their account-based marketing campaigns.

    Remember, a sophisticated marketing automation platform will help you provide relevant account-level intelligence. It will give you the data to identify your best accounts and, consequently, help you close deals faster.

    Where do ABM platforms fit into all of this?



    We have talked about ABM platforms in the past. The decision to invest in it depends on the objective you are trying to achieve and the corresponding type of account-based marketing strategy you are following.

    There are obvious advantages of having one single platform that helps you plan, research and execute your account-based marketing strategy from a unified interface but making sure that you and your team are ready should be the primary consideration.

    Below are some criteria you can use to evaluate the current readiness of your marketing and sales teams in terms of adopting an ABM platform:

    • Both teams are comfortable with the "ABM" way of working - i.e. sales and marketing alignment on everything
    • Both teams understand that account-based marketing requires patience - it is not about generating random leads but more about creating a high-quality pipeline.
    • They have experienced multiple account-based marketing campaigns - successful and unsuccessful.


    The points mentioned above are not comprehensive. For instance, this decision tree from Gartner can provide you with additional things to look at, over and above what you have read so far. There are many such frameworks out there, but as a marketing executive, you need to seek what works best for you.


    Lastly, a great advantage of ABM platforms is that most of them will work in synergy with your existing marketing automation tools and potentially enhance their overall capability. So, if you are worried about the ABM platform making your current martech software systems redundant, worry not! Go for it with confidence. 


    That's all we’ve got for this article!

    We hope the content in this piece will provide you with some strategic direction on how you can better leverage your existing marketing automation platform and gain maximum value out of it.

    If you need a helping hand on this journey, contact us today!

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      xGrowth brings a very structured approach to ABM. It’s been amazing working with you.

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      Michele Clarke
      Head of Marketing, APAC Secure Code Warrior
      When I think ABM, I think xGrowth. xGrowth were 100% committed, the whole team was just like our business partner. I would say you are not a business vendor; you are our business partner.
      reena misra
      Reena Misra
      ANZ Marketing Leader