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Affordable, Low-Cost Account-Based Marketing

Last updated Dec 26, 2023

How to Implement B2B ABM on a Smaller Budget

Are you curious about account-based marketing strategies but think ABM is out of reach due to budget or staffing constraints in your company?

Do you need cheaper ABM solutions and approaches?

Well, I have some good news for you. You can afford ABM no matter how small your B2B firm is. Even with a very limited or non-existent ABM budget. And even without a corporate marketing team in place.

This post looks at ways to do affordable account-based marketing, starting with free and low-cost ABM approaches.

Let’s take a closer look below…

Table of Contents (+/-)
    abm cost dial low medium high
    Account-based marketing doesn’t need to be super fancy or expensive. This post looks at a few ways to implement ABM on limited budgets.

    This post contains a few referral links to vendor partners. We may receive compensation for purchases made via these links, at no additional cost to buyers.

    Can B2B Account-Based Marketing Be Inexpensive?

    Doing ABM ‘On the Cheap’

    On the surface at least, it seems that account-based marketing (ABM) might tend to be cheaper than traditional B2B marketing.

    Why? Because ABM is targeted to specific named accounts and/or ‘ideal customer profiles’ (ICPs), rather than broader and less well-defined customer segments.

    Less wasted marketing spend at the top of the traditional marketing funnel, better marketing conversion metrics, and so on. This is all part of the ABM vs traditional B2B marketing discussion.

    The more targeted nature of account-based marketing also comes up when comparing ABM to inbound marketing or contrasting ABM funnels and traditional demand generation funnels.

    piggybank low budget abm cost concept
    Getting started with ABM can be inexpensive. It doesn’t need to break the bank.

    True, ABM can become expensive. It may seem especially so for smaller B2B firms with limited marketing budgets and staff resources.

    Related: See this post to learn more about ABM software platform options and costs.

    The reality is, many very small B2B firms don’t even have ‘marketing departments’ or distinct marketing budgets. They have a small sales staff to sell the firm’s product or service offering, and that’s about all!

    Getting Started With Low-Cost ABM

    But what about the ‘ABM Curious’ folks out there who’ve become aware of account-based marketing and are interested in trying it, but don’t have the resources to invest heavily in it?

    That’s what the next section is about…

    Affordable, Low-Cost ABM Options

    Account-Based Marketing for Limited Budgets

    For B2B firms interested in trying ABM but with very limited budgets and resources to throw at it, there are still a few good options.

    Let’s take a closer look.

    Zero-Cost ABM — The Cheapest Path to ABM

    How to Spend Nothing on ABM — But Still Do ABM

    No-cost or zero-cost ABM has literally zero incremental spend on software or additional marketing tactics that the B2B firm isn’t already engaging.

    Characteristics of zero-cost, free ABM include:

    Sales Driven ABM

    The ABM program is run entirely within the B2B sales team. Account selection and targeting are driven by sales staff, with executive approvals as needed.

    Limited Marketing

    In zero-cost ABM, the ‘M’ part of ABM is very small, and again executed entirely by the sales team. Tactics might include:

    • Small-batch email campaigns customized to individuals at target accounts.
    • Personalized meetings and briefings at key industry events, preferably aided by account-targeted customized content, presentations, etc.
    • Other carefully focused, high-touch tactics that leverage the existing skills of key sales staff and corporate executives.

    Some of the tactics engaged sit in the gray area between sales and marketing but can be executed completely within sales, with very limited or no actual ‘marketing’ support.

    Free B2B Software Tools

    To truly do no-cost ABM, you must spend zero incremental money on software tools.

    Fortunately, this is possible, even if it means limited functionality compared to paid ABM-capable tools.

    For example, you can use the free B2B company IP lookup function provided by IpMeta to help identify companies visiting your website.

    Armed with these fresh website-powered insights for sales, you can then decide how to further engage any target accounts that are visiting your site.

    These website visitors may be from your existing ABM ‘named account’ set, or they may be new accounts that you want to include in a small sales-driven ABM program.

    Other free tools, such as your sales team’s existing LinkedIn accounts, can be used to discover good contacts within the companies identified by IpMeta (or similar website visitor tracking tools.)

    Learn more about the IpMeta solution here.

    Here’s more on how IpMeta works alongside Google Analytics to identify your B2B website visitors.

    ipmeta service provider and network type report
    A sample IpMeta report within Google Analytics. Note the breakdown by ‘network type’ to help identify actual visiting companies of interest.

    Also, if you have a free email marketing service provider, such as a free MailChimp or similar account, you can easily use that for ABM-style email outreach to selected individuals at no incremental cost.

    Good to Know: The GA report above shows IpMeta working within the older Universal Analytics (‘GA3’) reporting interface. IpMeta does support GA4 but with different reporting now per the newer GA4 interface.

    Related: Learn more here about how B2B website visitor tracking tools support affordable ABM programs.

    Bare Bones ABM

    As you can tell from the description above, any program that keeps incremental ABM costs at essentially zero is very skinny by design.

    And it really only qualifies as ‘account-based marketing‘ if there’s at least a little bit of focused ‘marketing’ targeted to the selected ABM accounts.

    Otherwise, it’s just classic ‘named account sales’ or target account selling as commonly handled in B2B direct sales situations.

    The next section builds on these ‘cheap ABM’ concepts by adding a little more in the software support area.

    Low-Cost Account-Based Marketing

    Unlock More Value While Keeping ABM Costs In Check

    This next level of account-based marketing is still in the ‘affordable’ range for most B2B firms. It’s certainly cheaper ABM vs higher-end approaches, if not completely zero ABM cost.

    business cost profit matrix
    Driving more revenue and profit at relatively low cost is a primary goal of lower-cost ABM approaches.

    Moving a step beyond the free IpMeta tool mentioned above, this low-cost ABM approach leverages specialized website analytics and sales intelligence tools focused on B2B website visitor tracking.

    This category of B2B software tools helps to:

    • Identify and track B2B website visitors (at least to the company level)
    • Discover good contacts within visiting companies (contact lookup features)
    • Streamline sales pipeline activities such as lead scoring and automated sales alerts when target accounts visit your website
    leadfeeder-dashboard-company-lead-data
    Sample Leadfeeder dashboard with website visitor insights. Source: Leadfeeder

    Good to Know: Leadfeeder is now part of the EU-based Dealfront platform, which is especially interesting for B2B firms targeting prospects in Europe. Learn more about Leadfeeder and Dealfront here.

    Related: Learn more here about the general category of B2B website visitor ID and tracking software.

    Also, learn more about how B2B website visitor tracking supports account-based marketing, including a simplified form of account-based marketing called ‘Ultralight ABM’.

    These tools are great for supporting initial ABM tactics. Some can even go far beyond introductory account-based marketing, adding more value as your ABM efforts gain momentum.

    Best of all, some of these software solutions can start at under US $50 – $80 per month, with good discounts for annualized payments.

    leadfeeder free trial promotion
    Leadfeeder is a good example of a B2B website visitor identification and analytics tool that supports basic through advanced ABM.

    Moderate-Cost ABM — For Growing ABM Budgets

    ABM Expansion Adds New Costs

    Going a step further, an expanded ABM program might include additional tactics such as account-based retargeting or advertising on platforms such as LinkedIn or other B2B ad networks.

    Tools like Leadfeeder and others help build the target lists for these more advanced ABM outreach efforts.

    Related: Learn how tools like Leadfeeder support ABM retargeting and account-based advertising.

    LinkedIn’s B2B advertising capabilities include company targeting, contact targeting, and retargeting.

    This level of ABM brings new costs and marketing skills into play, but can still be cost-effective given the account-targeted nature of the promotional efforts.

    Learn more about LinkedIn Account Targeting and Matched Audiences here.

    See this video intro to the LinkedIn Audience Network.

    The LinkedIn Audience Network can significantly scale B2B advertising for ABM and other campaigns.

    And this video intro to LinkedIn Matched Audiences.

    LinkedIn Matched Audiences provide even more ad targeting options for ABM.

    Going Further with ABM — Platforms & Services

    Moving Into Full-Scale, ‘Expensive’ Account-Based Marketing

    Beyond the above low-cost or at least cheaper approaches to account-based marketing, you may be looking at some of the broader, full-scope ABM platforms from vendors like Demandbase, Terminus, 6Sense, and others.

    To learn more about these comprehensive and advanced ABM solutions, visit the ABM Leadership Alliance website here.

    Of course, at this level of ABM program commitment you’ve graduated far beyond the bootstrapped, cheap ABM cost level.

    You’ll naturally need a much larger ABM budget at this level to cover additional program staffing, new outside promo spend (e.g., ads, events, etc.), ABM-capable software platforms and tools, etc.

    You may even want to investigate using ABM-focused marketing agencies and service providers. They can provide more specifics on outsourced ABM pricing options.

    Related: Learn more here about ABM software platforms and tools costs.

    As you move up the food chain of ABM tools and platforms, you’ll find that several of the ABM-specific platforms are designed for ‘Enterprise ABM’, and will be out of reach, at least budget-wise, for smaller SMB firms.

    The trick is always to find the tools/platforms that offer the right mix of ABM features, pricing, and product roadmap to meet your current and future requirements.

    Affordable ABM is Definitely Possible

    No-Cost, Low-Cost, and Beyond — Which ABM Approach Suits You?

    No matter what size you currently are as a B2B company, you can at least dip your toes into the waters of account-based marketing.

    It may be just a tiny step into ABM, still rooted strongly in the more traditional world of B2B target account selling. In this case, free tools like IpMeta and basic LinkedIn access may be all you really need.

    Or it may be a stronger push into ABM, using still affordable tools like Leadfeeder or one of its peers to get started and potentially grow into more sophisticated ABM programs.

    In any case, don’t feel like account-based marketing is too much to tackle just because you have budget or staffing constraints.

    Your first steps into ABM can be relatively easy, cheap, and financially rewarding in terms of revenue boost and net profit.

    Related: See this ABM FAQ with common questions and answers about account-based marketing.

    Questions or Comments?

    I hope these ideas about implementing more affordable ABM programs have been helpful! Here are a few questions for you:

    • Are you using any form of ABM in your B2B business today?
    • If so, how limited or broad is the scope of your ABM targeting?
    • What cheap ABM methods have you found to be most useful?
    • What software tools do you use as part of your ABM strategy?

    Feel free to add your insights in the comments below with any thoughts, feedback, or related questions. Thanks also for any social shares on this post via the buttons below!

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