Skip to main content

In this 3-part blog series, we dive into the three types of ABM plays that are designed to drive net new pipeline, how they may differ, and how to use them effectively to reach, engage, and sell your target audience.

Despite its popularity among B2B leaders, there are a lot of misconceptions about what account-based marketing (ABM) is.

ABM is not a channel or technology – it is a strategy designed to identify, target, and convert your best-fit accounts into clients using multiple channels with personalized efforts. When we talk about ABM programs, we often reference plays or campaigns.

Definition of an ABM Play:

In account-based marketing, a play refers to a specific strategy or action you implement to reach your goal. It can be standalone or as part of a greater ABM campaign.

Definition of an ABM Campaign:

An account-based campaign combines one or more plays with a clear message and execution.

5 Types of ABM Plays

A true account-based strategy engages all arms of a company’s go-to-market team (sales, marketing, and customer success) to drive customer acquisition, retention, and expansion. However, many organizations focus on their go-to-market team’s sales and marketing arms before expanding into customer success.

  1. Awareness – Create awareness among your ideal customer profile to stimulate demand
  2. Drive Pipeline – Create an environment to turn in-market buyers into sales opportunities
  3. Accelerate – Close qualified deals faster by effectively reaching the entire buying committee
  4. Retain – Identify at-risk customers using intent through customer success initiatives
  5. Expand – Identify high-potential customers for up-sell and cross-sell opportunities

The following post focuses on how to set up, execute and measure the first stage of an ABM program, the Awareness play.

ABM Awareness Plays

Awareness plays are the foundation of any account-based program and complement many of the demand gen motions that go-to-market teams are already familiar with.

When to Use an Awareness Play

The goal of an Awareness play is to do just what it says – drive awareness and stimulate demand with your best-fit prospects because, at the end of the day, someone cannot buy from you if they do not know you exist.

This type of strategy is designed to hit the 90% of accounts that are currently not in-market for your solution, meaning they have low intent and/or awareness.

These marketing-only activities create a more favorable environment for your ideal customers to educate themselves on your brand and solution through several traditional marketing channels. This builds a much-needed level of trust that modern B2B buyers are looking for.

How to Design an Awareness Play

Once you have identified the accounts and buyer personas you want to get in front of, you must assemble how you will reach them best.

Most Awareness plays use an arsenal of traditional marketing channels to increase the likelihood of creating meaningful reach. Some of these channels include social paid (think LinkedIn), programmatic display advertising, events, and email marketing.

Once you have selected the combination of channels that are most effective for your target accounts, the next step is to get them to notice you. In the modern buying journey, this can be extremely difficult because so much noise is occupying the buyer’s digital space.

If you do not have a cohesive and impactful messaging framework and content to support this stage of the buying journey, you can waste a lot of time and effort on plays that will create any positive influence on the account level.

The most impactful Awareness plays provide relevant value for free. Free, valuable resources at these top-of-funnel stages make your brand more likable and stickier, enabling you to accelerate pipeline movement and grow faster in the long run.

How Awareness Plays Are Measured

While most GTM teams understand why awareness plays are necessary and often can associate the value with reaching these accounts effectively – these types of plays are often the most misunderstood in terms of measurement.

When measuring an ABM campaign, we are not defining success in terms of leads but accounts. Ultimately, that means we are looking at top-level engagement metrics to determine if we’ve successfully reached our initial goal: create brand awareness with our ICP.

Engagement measurement can vary depending on the channels and technology you use to create awareness. ABM is not a one-size-fits-all motion but should be tailored directly to your accounts and channel efforts.

Common Account measurements from our partners at RollWorks, an account-based marketing platform, include:

  • Accounts Reached – the number of targeted accounts that were reached by serving an ad
  • Accounts Visited – the number of targeted accounts that visited at least one page of your website and were served at least one ad
  • Engaged Accounts – the number of targeted accounts that visited at least three pages of your website and were served at least one ad
  • Unique Visitors – the number of unique visitors from all reached accounts
  • Engaged Visitors – the number of unique visitors from targeted accounts who visited at least 3 pages on your website

While many of these metrics depend upon your tech stack, there are a number of ways that teams capture what engagement looks like at an account.

To determine what’s best for your Awareness play, bring together your GTM team to document agreed-upon metrics.


Example of an Awareness Play

As we mentioned earlier in this article, a play is a specific action you take to reach a goal. Regarding an Awareness play, your play could be anything that drives a target account to your website or engages them with an ad or piece of content in another marketing channel.

A good example of an Awareness play is programmatic display advertising. This type of channel platform uses DSP infrastructure to serve display ads to your specific target account list and buying personas.

B2B Display Ad Example

Source: RollWorks

Depending on your level of ABM and who you’re targeting, these ads should be personalized to create as much relevancy with the account as possible so that they engage with the ad and stimulate demand.

Want to Learn More About ABM Awareness Plays?

A lot goes into building a full GTM motion using an account-based strategy, and articles like this are designed to help you get an idea of where to start. If you’re ready to shift your team to a strategy that creates a more predictable pipeline and larger average deal sizes, don’t hesitate to contact our account-based experts to help you audit your current GTM environment and plan for what’s needed to achieve pipeline growth.


Contact Us