Perfecting HubSpot: ABM Strategy, Tactics, Alerts, and Tools

Hands-On HubSpot B2B Marketing Automation Manager at and author of the Perfecting HubSpot Series, Frank contributes daily at where he's been voted a Top HubSpot Solutions Author since 2017. As a lifelong learner and college educator, Frank builds powerful HubSpot Marketing automation solutions for HubSpot Enterprise and Salesforce-integrated HubSpot users, and publishes a wide range of inbound content for the freelance HubSpot consultant community.
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HubSpot Inbound Marketing plus Account Based Marketing equals success
HubSpot Inbound Marketing plus
Account Based Marketing equals success.
(click to enlarge)

B2B purchase decisions are often impacted by multiple individuals. Influencing all stakeholders in an organization is called account-based marketing (ABM) and is a critical strategy to complement inbound marketing in 2018 and beyond.

But automated marketing success with ABM takes more than just strategy. It takes the proper execution of ABM tactics -- e.g., identifying named accounts, setting up the CRM for ABM, building workflows, etc., the right mix of real-time notifications and responsiveness, and tools designed to help enhance the entire ABM experience.

This article is a good start to using ABM in HubSpot and includes specific examples to assist with setup on HubSpot Pro and HubSpot Enterprise portals.

It all begins with strategy ...

Your HubSpot ABM Strategy

ABM may not be a good fit for every marketing and sales team. Failing to either understand what ABM is or how to complete each step in an ABM strategy can lead to wasted resources and potentially damage your brand.

Loosely defined as a cooperative effort between marketing and sales to identify best-fit accounts and turn them into customers, using an ABM strategy means both teams agree to handle best-fit accounts in a special way.

ABM Strategy

1. Identify

The first step in any ABM strategy is to define best-fit or 'named' accounts. By examining your existing customers you create an ideal customer profile (ICP). This ICP should reflect companies that have been most successful with your product and are the named accounts your B2B marketing and sales teams agree to target using ABM.

2. Expand

In step 2 you'll need to expand the company information with contact information that includes the job descriptions, roles, and responsibilities of the contacts you want to engage in each ideal customer profile. These high-level criteria are used to create buyer personas (used in HubSpot) that describe members of what some ABM advocates refer to as the Buying Committee (BC).

3. Engage

Step 3 is where you engage those decision makers who match the buyer personas defined earlier. This is where many novice ABM marketers and sales teams go wrong. Attempting to engage a named account before properly identifying and expanding on that account will come off as disorganized and lead to excessive engagement attempts.

In many cases, email over-saturation may appear as a spam attack to the recipient email server thereby damaging even already established communications.

Ideally, each type of engagement event you create -- e.g., webinar, email, case study, infographic, or ebook -- will be specific to one of your defined buyer personas and the appropriate stage of their Buyer's Journey -- i.e., Awareness Stage, Consideration Stage, or Decision Stage.

4. Advocate

Marketing doesn't stop after you onboard a customer. In fact, successful customers can be one of your most powerful marketing assets.

Even after closing a deal, your marketing team should do everything in its power to ensure customer success by retaining accounts and keeping them happy. In the HubSpot ecosystem, we call this delighting customers.


Plan the work and work the plan ...

HubSpot ABM Tactics

HubSpot Inbound Marketing Stages (pre-2019)If you already use HubSpot, you know the four pillars of inbound marketing -- i.e., Attract, Convert, Close, Delight. Or, as of INBOUND18, the three (3) stages of inbound marketing -- i.e., Attract, Engage, Delight -- with customers squarely in the center.

Whether you think in terms of the old 4‑stage 'funnel' or the new 3‑stage 'flywheel', you'll want to consider how those stages align with and compliment each stage of your ABM strategy.

Ultimately, you'll need to determine how to setup for ABM in HubSpot and which tactics you'll use to achieve your ABM objectives.

Lead Scoring will be involved, so if you're already assigning MQLs with the Lead Scoring tool you may want to adopt a different MQL strategy in favor of the higher returns offered by your new ABM kung fu.


We'll achieve our ABM objectives by using HubSpot and other tools to target key stakeholders at named accounts with solutions that are timely, relevant, and specific to their pain(s).

HubSpot ABM Setup

HubSpot ABM Named Accounts & Named Account Tiers

When setting up your ABM strategy in HubSpot, you'll need a way of identifying named accounts and account tiers. The easiest way to do this is to create a radio button custom company property -- e.g., 'Named Account Tier' or similar, and identify target accounts.

HubSpot ABM Custom Company Property: Named Account Tier
HubSpot ABM Custom Company Property:
Named Account Tier

Creating and syncing a corresponding custom contact property will help HubSpot users quickly identify all contacts belonging to a named account in the CRM.

HubSpot ABM Named Account Buying Committee Statuses

Ideally, we'll also identify the buying committee status (if any) of each corresponding contact belonging to a named account. This is done by using use a separate custom contact property as shown below.

HubSpot ABM Buying Committee Member Status
HubSpot ABM Custom Contact Property:
Buying Committee Status

Read about -- Creating custom HubSpot properties.

Syncing HubSpot ABM Named Accounts & Associated Contacts

When running ABM campaigns in HubSpot, you'll want to notify named account owners when their accounts engage with your content or website. This will keep your account executives up-to-date on named account activity and allow them to respond quickly. More on this later.

Proper notification requires that named accounts (HubSpot Companies) and all associated HubSpot Contacts are assigned Company Owners and Contact Owners in HubSpot. Typically, we use a rule set and workflow(s) to make this happen consistently.

HubSpot Settings
HubSpot Settings relevant to ABM

HubSpot settings to sync all Contact Owners with their associated Company Owner and Company Lifecycle Stages are important to ensure every associated HubSpot Contact at a named account is properly owned in the CRM and its Lifecycle Stage for each buying committee member is properly updated. These are portal-wide settings that impact all HubSpot Contacts including those that aren't part of your ABM strategy.

HubSpot ABM Workflows

HubSpot ABM Accelerate Hot Leads Workflow

When leads from named accounts begin to show interest in your product — e.g., they either consume key content, open all your emails, or request a demo — you should immediately begin targeting their buying committee with account based advertising to ensure that all the other key stakeholders involved in the purchase decision are aware of your brand. This may help sales secure faster buy-in.

In the HubSpot ABM workflow example below, the enrollment criteria is based on multiple factors that indicate interest. An alternative approach is to use a HubSpot dynamic list as the enrollment trigger to only enroll hot leads.

HubSpot ABM Accelerate Hot Leads Workflow
HubSpot ABM Accelerate Hot Leads Workflow
Source: Terminus
(click to enlarge)

The length of time necessary to influence other key stakeholders will vary with the product and buying cycle. However, it's important to allow account based ads to run long enough to see increased unique website visitors from these targeted named accounts.

HubSpot ABM Nurture Not Ready To Buy Workflow

Marketing qualified leads that aren't quite ready to buy don't have to be relegated to lead nurturing workflows alone. Using account based advertising can help identify key stakeholders that may not already exist in HubSpot.

Nurturing on a channel other than email is also very effective at keeping your product top-of-mind without causing inbox fatigue.

HubSpot ABM Nurture Not Ready To Buy Workflow
HubSpot ABM Nurture Not Ready To Buy Workflow
Source: Terminus
(click to enlarge)

HubSpot ABM Pre-Event Engagement Workflow

Complementing event invitation emails with account based advertising will ensure you build awareness with employees from best-fit named accounts.

HubSpot ABM Pre-Event Engagement Workflow
HubSpot ABM Pre-Event Engagement Workflow
Source: Terminus
(click to enlarge)

HubSpot ABM Pre-Targeting Tier 1 Workflow

Pre-targeting new named accounts is an ABM strategy which uses account based advertising to prepare your targeted accounts for one-to-one sales outreach. Use the following HubSpot workflow to alert your sales reps when an account has been warmed up and is ready.

HubSpot ABM Pre-Targeting Tier 1 Workflow
HubSpot ABM Pre-Targeting Tier 1 Workflow
Source: Terminus
(click to enlarge)
Response time matters ... A LOT!

HubSpot ABM Alerts

ABM success is measured in terms of engagement. Successful engagement that converts depends, among other things, on how quickly we respond to leads.

According to the famous 2011 Lead Response Management Study, an ideal response time to qualify a lead is within 5 minutes of their initial inquiry. The likelihood of qualifying that lead drops by a whopping 21x after just a 30 minute delay.

This makes receiving prompt notification of ABM lead inquiries crucial in order to respond quickly. Because we strive to respond within 5 minutes, we call these notifications about new ABM lead activity 'HubSpot ABM Alerts'.

HubSpot ABM Alert - New Contact On Named Account

If a new contact from one of your named account converts on your website and is added to HubSpot, you're doing something right.

When this happens, an internal alert should immediately notify the named account owner so a pair of human eyes can determine if they're a buying committee (BC) member, influencer, or blocker. In HubSpot, we use workflows to trigger alerts to named account owners via email, SMS, or both. (their choice)

HubSpot ABM Alert Email Template - New Contact On Named Account

HubSpot ABM Alert Email Template - New Contact On Named Account
HubSpot ABM Alert Email Template
New Contact On Named Account

HubSpot ABM Alert - Significant Activity On Named Account

If a contact from one of your named accounts engages with your content in a significant way (i.e., defined by your marketing & sales teams), the named account owner needs to know ASAP. We use HubSpot smart lists to trigger these alerts.

It's important to include the buying committee status (i.e., member, influencer, or blocker) and the type of activity that triggered the alert. As an aside, we define 'blockers' as influencers who just don't have enough good information about our product yet. :)

HubSpot ABM Alert Email Template - Significant Activity On Named Account

HubSpot ABM Alert Email Template - Significant Activity On Named Account
HubSpot ABM Alert Email Template
Significant Activity On Named Account

HubSpot ABM Alert - Lookalike Named Accounts Added

Creating a named account list is required to implement ABM. However, there are undoubtedly lots of other 'lookalike' companies out there that fit your ICP (ideal customer profile).

Configuring HubSpot to keep watch for these lookalike companies and to let you know when employees there are on your website can help you expand and scale your ABM activity. We like to use a combination of lead scoring and internal notification workflows.

Simply put, the goal here is to shift your lead scoring focus from MQLs to ICPs. This is easily done by a HubSpot Super Admin who understands your ICP criteria for named accounts.

As new named accounts are identified based on the criteria set by the marketing and sales teams, we like to add them to HubSpot even if we don't have contacts there yet. Sending periodic notifications to the Sales Director usually leads to additional discovery that results in new contacts on these as yet virgin named accounts.

HubSpot ABM Alert Email Template - Lookalike Named Accounts Added

HubSpot ABM Alert - Lookalike Named Accounts Added
HubSpot ABM Alert
Lookalike Named Accounts Added

More about the importance of timely follow-up and How to Make the Best Follow-Up Sales Call in 2019 is available from our friends at HubSpot.

The right ABM tools for the job ...

HubSpot ABM Tools

What's in your HubSpot ABM toolkit?

If you're going to use ABM as one of your marketing strategies you're going to want tools. And while marketing automation is (or should be) at the top of your tool list, there are others.

OrgChartHub - HubSpot Organization Charts Integration

Use relationship mapping, sales personas, and placeholder contacts to help your team visualize the key stakeholders -

OrgChartHub HubSpot Relationship Visualization Integration
HubSpot Organization Charts Integration

Postalytics - HubSpot Direct Mail Integration

Send personalized and tracked direct mail using HubSpot workflows, contacts and lists to achieve higher engagement without the hassles of traditional direct mail. Detailed delivery and response data is synced back to HubSpot contacts in order to trigger more workflow steps -- particularly important for Tier 1 accounts

Postalytics - HubSpot Direct Mail Integration
HubSpot Direct Mail Integration

Terminus - ABM Command Center

In 2017, HubSpot invested $10M in the company behind the world's most widely used ABM platform -- Terminus -- see Why HubSpot is Investing in Account-Based Marketing Firm Terminus. In 2018, Terminus launched Terminus ABM Command Center. Needless to say, Terminus is currently HubSpot's leading ABM integration partner. Estimated annual contract cost? $12K+ (plus ad spend).

Terminus - ABM Scorecard
HubSpot ABM Command Center Integration

There you have it

These strategies, tactics, alerts, and tools don’t take into account any existing HubSpot setup you may be running. Hopefully though, they serve as a useful starting point from which you can build out a sophisticated ABM solution that is customized to fit your needs. Just be sure to consult a HubSpot expert before making major modifications to your portal.

While all ABM doesn't require killer tech, if your team needs to manage more than a few dozen accounts there's no way around it.
- see How to Budget for Account-Based Marketing (ABM) 

Terminus Workflows: 5 HubSpot Workflow Recipes for Inbound + Account-Based Marketing

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Hands-On HubSpot B2B Marketing Automation Manager at and author of the...