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Account-based Marketing Vs. Traditional B2B Marketing: Is There a Winner?

account based marketing vs traditional marketing

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As a B2B marketer, you constantly strive to reach your target audience effectively and efficiently. But with so many approaches to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to start. 

That's why it's important to understand the key differences between account-based marketing (ABM) and traditional B2B marketing.

A recent study found that 96% of B2B marketers who have tried ABM have seen higher engagement rates compared to conventional approaches. In fact, queries for ABM have witnessed a continual increase since 2015.

differences between account based marketing (ABM) and traditional marketing

On the other hand, another study found that 46% of B2B marketers feel that traditional B2B marketing is the most effective approach.

The choice between ABM and traditional B2B marketing ultimately depends on your goals and target audience.

Key Differences: Account-based Marketing Vs. Traditional B2B Marketing

ABM is a highly targeted and personalized approach that focuses on specific accounts, while traditional B2B marketing targets a wider audience with a less customized methodology. 

To help you determine which approach is right for your promotional framework, let's take a closer look at both ABM and traditional B2B marketing.

ABM vs Traditional B2B Marketing

ABM Traditional B2B Marketing
Focuses on specific accounts Targets a wider audience
Personalized and tailored to each account Less personalized
Measures success through account-specific metrics Measures success through overall campaign metrics

By understanding the key differences and benefits of each approach, you can make an informed decision and choose the best strategy for your business.

Target Audience

ABM focuses on specific accounts and tailors its approach to meet its unique needs and goals. On the other hand, traditional B2B marketing targets a broader audience and takes a mass-market approach.


ABM is highly personalized, making use of account-specific data to deliver targeted and relevant messages to each account. Traditional B2B marketing, however, is less customized and focuses more on overall messaging and branding.


ABM is a targeted and strategic approach aimed at maximizing the impact on specific accounts.

In contrast, traditional B2B marketing takes a mass-market approach, reaching a wider audience with less personalization.

Measurement of Success

ABM focuses on measuring success through account-specific metrics, such as increased engagement and conversion rates. Traditional B2B marketing, on the other hand, focuses on overall campaign metrics, such as lead generation and cost per lead.

Account Based Marketing Funnel

The ABM funnel is flipped in contrast to traditional B2B marketing. 

Account Based Marketing Funnel


In ABM, the focus is on specific accounts and the demand generation process starts with the identification and targeting of these accounts. 

Instead of starting at the top with broad awareness campaigns, ABM commences at the bottom – concentrating on tailored efforts to engage and convert targeted customers.

The lead funnel in ABM is optimized for each account and is designed to drive specific account-based metrics. The emphasis is on delivering highly custom experiences and relevant content to each account throughout the funnel.

In contrast, traditional B2B marketing focuses on a wider audience and the demand generation process starts at the top – focusing on broad awareness promotions. 

The lead funnel is optimized for the overall campaign and the measurement of success is through generic metrics.

Advantages of ABM

Increased Engagement and Relevance

ABM focuses on specific accounts and delivers extremely custom services, driving engagement and relevance. By tailoring your approach to meet the unique requirements and aims of each account, you can achieve greater impact and results.

Better Alignment with Sales Teams

ABM aligns your marketing efforts with the sales team to target and engage specific accounts. This closer collaboration between marketing and sales leads to a more streamlined and effective process, helping to drive better outcomes

Higher ROI

Advantages of ABM- Higher ROI


ABM has been shown to deliver a higher return on investment (ROI) compared to traditional B2B marketing. According to research by ITSMA, 87% of marketers who tracked their ROI ranked ABM as their top marketing investment. 

This is because ABM focuses on high-value accounts that have a higher probability of making a purchase, leading to more effective use of marketing resources and a higher ROI.

Advantages of Traditional B2B Marketing

Wider Reach

Traditional B2B marketing targets a wider audience, allowing you to reach a larger number of potential customers. This can be beneficial if you are looking to build brand awareness or generate leads on a larger scale.

Lower Cost Per Lead

Conventional promotional tactics typically have a lower cost per lead (CPL) compared to ABM. This is because it targets a wider audience and doesn't require the same level of customization as ABM. 


Traditional B2B marketing offers more flexibility. You can make changes to your campaign at any time and adjust your approach based on performance. This level of flexibility can be beneficial if you need to quickly respond to market shifts or adjust your strategy based on results.

When Is ABM the Right Approach?

When Is ABM the Right Approach?Source

ABM is a targeted strategy that concentrates marketing efforts on a pre-selected set of target accounts instead of casting a wide net to reach a larger group of potential customers. This approach is designed to be more customized and precise compared to traditional marketing methods.

Let's explore a few scenarios in which ABM can be particularly advantageous:

Targeting a Limited Number of High-value Accounts

If your business has a small number of key accounts with high potential, ABM can effectively concentrate your marketing efforts on those accounts, thereby increasing the chances of success.

Offering a Highly Specialized Product/Service

ABM is an effective way to reach and educate your target audience about a specialized or complex product/service that your business offers.

Long Sales Cycles

When your sales cycle is drawn-out, ABM provides an opportunity to build relationships and nurture leads over time.

Boosting Customer Retention and Loyalty

ABM can also be utilized to reinforce relationships with existing customers, leading to increased customer loyalty to your brand.

Account-based Marketing Examples That Generate Success

Here are a few examples of successful ABM campaigns:

  • Tailored email outreach: A company can send targeted emails to specific accounts with custom messaging, offers, and content to engage and drive conversions.
  • Personalized webpages: A firm can create dedicated landing pages for targeted accounts with relevant messaging, discounts, and information to enhance conversions.
  • Customized direct mail: A company can share personalized direct mail to specific accounts, with tailored messaging, deals, and materials, to engage them.
  • Individualized demonstrations: A firm can offer custom demos to targeted accounts to demonstrate the value of its product/service and improve conversions.
  • Networking events and online workshops: A company can organize events or host webinars for targeted accounts to showcase its product/service, provide industry-relevant insights, and interact with potential clients.
  • Account-targeted social media ads: A company can use social media advertising to reach targeted accounts and engage them with custom messaging, offers, and content.

When Is Traditional B2B Marketing the Right Approach

When Is Traditional B2B Marketing the Right Approach


Traditional marketing refers to conventional advertising methods that have been around for an extended time. Examples of these include television and radio ads, print ads (newspapers and magazines), direct mail, and outdoor ads (billboards).

There are several scenarios where traditional marketing proves useful:

Targeting a Particular Group

Traditional marketing channels can be valuable in reaching specific demographics or locations. For instance, if your aim is to reach an older audience, you might consider using direct mail or print advertising.

Boosting Brand Recognition

Traditional marketing is a helpful tool to raise brand awareness, especially when paired with digital marketing efforts. For example, a TV ad can reach a massive audience, leaving a lasting impression, and a social media campaign can aid in solidifying the message and directing traffic to the company's website.

Supplementing Digital Marketing

Traditional marketing can be utilized to enhance digital marketing efforts, such as providing a call to action that redirects consumers to a website or social media page.

Achieving Specific Objectives

Traditional marketing is ideal for reaching specific objectives, such as generating leads or increasing sales. For example, a direct mail campaign can target potential customers with exclusive offers or promotions.

Examples of Effective Traditional B2B Marketing Campaigns

Here are some examples of successful traditional marketing campaigns:

  • "Share a Coke" by Coca-Cola: Coca-Cola replaced its logo with the most popular names in each country where the campaign was launched, creating a personalized connection with consumers that went viral on social media.
  • "Just Do It" by Nike: Nike's well-known slogan was accompanied by advertisements featuring inspiring messages and images of top athletes and celebrities, motivating people to take action and achieve their goals.
    Examples of Effective Traditional B2B Marketing Campaigns


  • "Think Different" by Apple: This campaign featured black-and-white photos of iconic figures such as Einstein, Gandhi, and King Jr., with the tagline "Think Different" positioning Apple as a company that promotes creativity and innovation.
  • "The Man Your Man Could Smell Like" by Old Spice: This humorous campaign featured a confident and charming man promoting Old Spice products in a series of TV commercials, leading to increased brand awareness and sales.
  • "I'm Lovin' It" by McDonald's: This catchy slogan has been used by McDonald's for over 15 years and has become one of the most recognizable marketing campaigns.

Integrating ABM with Traditional B2B Marketing

Blending ABM and traditional marketing involves incorporating the targeted focus of ABM with the broader strategies of traditional marketing. The specific approach will vary based on the company's objectives and the accounts being targeted. Integration methods can include:

  • Employing traditional marketing to generate interest among potential accounts and then utilizing ABM techniques to nurture leads and turn them into customers.
  • Uniting the customization of ABM with the wide reach of traditional marketing approaches such as advertising and PR.
  • Employing ABM to target specific accounts and industries and then using traditional marketing to reach a larger audience within those industries.
  • Utilizing traditional marketing to drive traffic and leads to a company's website or landing pages, followed by utilizing ABM to convert those leads into customers.
  • By integrating ABM and traditional marketing, companies can develop more effective and personal campaigns that generate results and achieve their business objectives.

Final Word

ABM concentrates on specific companies or accounts rather than a large audience. It’s a more customized and personal way to approach marketing. 

Unlike conventional marketing, which aims to reach a broad group of potential customers with tactics like ads, email campaigns, and events, ABM enables marketers to create messages and campaigns that cater to the specific needs and preferences of a selected account.

The collaboration between sales and marketing teams is also different in ABM. In this approach, the teams work together to select key accounts and design campaigns accordingly. 

In traditional marketing, however, the sales and marketing teams may have separate goals and methods that are not always aligned.

ABM is also more data-oriented and can be easily measured, enabling marketers to assess their campaigns' effectiveness on specific accounts. This provides valuable feedback and the ability to make adjustments on the go.

In conclusion, ABM is a more personalized and targeted marketing method, ideal for companies looking to establish strong connections with key accounts and increase revenue. Blending ABM with your traditional marketing approach can significantly result in your organization’s growth. 

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