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ABM and Inbound: The Marriage of Two Winning Marketing Methodologies

On the surface, it doesn’t seem that inbound marketing and account-based marketing have much in common. On the contrary, they are almost opposites. ABM marketing is all about nurturing specific client accounts (or target accounts) to encourage conversion, repeat sales and upselling. Inbound marketing, meanwhile, is about attracting leads by creating relevant content and positive brand touchpoints.


ABM Marketing vs Inbound Marketing

The differences between ABM and inbound are pronounced. With ABM, you identify and target the leads you want as clients. You do intensive work to learn about those businesses, create buyer personas and perfect your marketing pitches. When you are ready, you reach out directly to buyers or decisionmakers at the target company. With inbound, you create content that is relevant to your target base. That content could take the form of a blog post discussing common industry pain points, a website that provides in-depth information about your services or something else.

Ostensibly, inbound marketing is about casting the lure and hoping that someone bites. You have a general idea of the people or accounts you are targeting, but not a specific one. ABM, meanwhile, uses outbound channels such as email, telephone, and direct mail to reach particular contacts. How can these two seemingly opposite types of marketing coexist in the same campaign?


Using ABM and Inbound Together

In truth, ABM marketing and inbound marketing have a lot more in common than it may seem at first. For instance, both strategies are, at their roots, about providing relevant messaging to clients or leads. With ABM, you want to learn everything you can about a prospect so that you know what to pitch them, how to and when to pitch to them. Once you have a client account, you need to keep using ABM to nurture that relationship, understand new and existing client pain points and anticipate client needs.

With inbound marketing, meanwhile, you create content that answers questions, provides potential solutions to pain points or otherwise targets clients with specific needs. The goal is to convince leads that 1) you have the answer to their problem and 2) you are an authority in this field that they can trust.


As you can see, both ABM and inbound marketing are ultimately defined by their sensitivity. Both forms of marketing require the marketing team to be sensitive to a client’s situation, challenges, and requirements. By thinking about this similarity, we can start to understand how ABM and inbound might work in harmony.

The other important thing to understand is that, while ABM and inbound marketing have the same goal—converting leads into clients—they go about it differently. Inbound marketing is a powerful form of lead generation. It’s an excellent way to get businesses that aren’t on your radar to engage with your brand and contact you. ABM, meanwhile, has very little to do with lead generation. By the time you are building personas and perfecting marketing strategies for ABM accounts, those clients are very much on your radar. In fact, for your ABM marketing strategies to work, you need to know pretty much everything about them.


Used in unison, then, inbound and ABM work together beautifully. Inbound marketing can generate new leads, while ABM marketing can help you convert those contacts into clients and foster strong relationships with them. There are even marketing technologies out there to help you combine these two marketing approaches into one unified strategy. In September of this year, HubSpot and Terminus—two foremost names in the martech industry—joined forces to bridge the gap between ABM and inbound.

It won’t always make sense to use both ABM and inbound marketing. If your B2B market niche is very small and specific, you probably already know all the companies that can benefit from your product or service. If your market is larger and more diverse, though, you can gain a lot of steam by using the right marketing technology to manage ABM and inbound in the same campaign.


>> Read our blog: The Future is Account-Based Inbound Marketing - You Heard it Here First! <<

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