ABM one-to-one, one-to-few, one-to-many... which tactic for which application?


Almost one company in two (47%) worldwide has increased the budget allocated to its Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategy in 2022, even though the trend is towards austerity in a context marked by inflation and geopolitical uncertainties. These are the findings of a study conducted jointly by Nomination and Winbound.

In many ways, the complicated economic climate is driving companies to focus more on ‘direct’ marketing approaches to the detriment of Inbound, in a bid to boost short-term sales performance and drive growth. And what better way than ABM to convert high-potential accounts? In this article, the editorial team takes a look at the three ABM tactics: one-to-one, one-to-few and one-to-many. Let’s get started!

One-to-one, or premium ABM!

The one-to-one variant targets a single prospect account at a time, with a “nominative” mindset. Indeed, every content, every communication, and every approach is characterized by its hyper-personalization, insofar as EVERYTHING is directed at a specifically identified account. This is ABM in the truest sense of the term, which will be mobilized for accounts with very high revenue potential, those that can “change the life of the company,” whether it is an SME or a small business.

Here’s how it works:

  1. The process begins with the rigorous selection of a prospective account based on a thorough analysis of market data and the company’s specific qualification criteria (such as the BANT method). Once the target account is identified and qualified, a detailed study is conducted to understand its needs, challenges, objectives, and key decision-makers;
  2. An intelligence-gathering phase is undertaken to profile the target. Everything is scrutinized: annual reports, market positioning, organizational structure, competition, LinkedIn posts from the company and its decision-makers, and more;
  3. Personalized content is then created to specifically address the identified needs. This includes blog articles, case studies, whitepapers, videos, webinars, and other high-value formats that will be directly addressed to key decision-makers within the company;
  4. Communications with the target account are personalized and directed specifically to the decision-makers: emails, presentations, video conferences, product demonstrations, etc.

Note: these steps are found in all three variants of the ABM, with a few common-sense differences.

AdvantagesDisadvantagesCases where this approach is justified
Targeting Precision: The one-to-one approach allows for precise targeting of key decision-makers, identifying their concerns, and delivering highly specific messages that showcase your expertise.Resource-Intensive: This approach requires in-depth research and information gathering for each account, as well as custom content creation. Therefore, it demands a lot of time and resources.
Strategic accounts for long-term contracts or key partnerships.
Consultative Approach: The quality of the approach and the value provided lay the foundation for a strong and lasting relationship with clients upon signing. Accounts signed in one-to-one ABM typically become valuable clients.Limited Scaling: By individually targeting each account, you won’t be able to broadcast your content to a group of target accounts. The overall reach of the campaign is very limited, as it is focused on a single account.You operate in a niche sector with complex and highly technical requirements.
Interesting Conversion Rate: Nominative personalization is more likely to capture the attention of decision-makers, promising a good conversion rate.Your sector is characterised by long and complex sales cycles.

2. The One-to-Few Approach, or “Pragmatic” ABM

The One-to-Few ABM, sometimes referred to as Segmented ABM, falls between one-to-one and one-to-many in terms of scope and personalization. This tactic involves targeting a small group of accounts with similar needs or shared characteristics. It represents a more balanced approach that pools resources, allowing for some economies of scale while maintaining a meaningful level of personalization.

AdvantagesDisadvantagesCases where this approach is justified
Learning effect By handling several accounts with similar needs, the sales and marketing teams benefit from cross-learning and develop a finer vision of this market segment.Less personalisation than one-to-one ABM The one-to-few approach cannot offer the same level of personalisation as the one-to-one strategy, with the risk of regretting not having done enough, especially if the size of the addressable market is limited.You can be sure of the quality and relevance of your segmentation.
Optimisation of resources By targeting several accounts with similar needs with tailored content, this approach enables resources to be used more efficiently than one-to-one ABM.This approach is more limited in scope than the one-to-many ABM.You target companies with similar needs. If you are a supply chain management software publisher, for example, you could target a segment of car parts manufacturers.
A more cautious approach One-to-one is the most balanced variant, in that it doesn’t put all its eggs in one basket without sacrificing customisation entirely.Your range of products and services is not niche but can address several business sectors across the board.

3. The one-to-many, or all-out ABM

One-to-many, or programmatic or scalable ABM, is aimed at a large number of target accounts while retaining a certain level of personalisation. This variant relies on automation technologies to segment accounts into groups with common characteristics and to personalise messages and offers on a large scale, without having to manually create content for each individual account.

Personalisation in one-to-many is less extensive than in one-to-one or one-to-few because it is based on relatively large account segments rather than individual accounts or mini-segments. Economies of scale are optimised, but the conversion rate is generally low.

AdvantagesDisadvantagesCases where this approach is justified
Economies of scale thanks to the automation and use of the same content across several dozen or more accounts.Less personalised content can reduce the relevance of messages and the likelihood of engaging target decision-makers.The company has identified a large audience of accounts with similar needs and characteristics, and personalisation is not necessarily a key factor in conversion.
The content, which is not excessively personalised, can be recycled for future ABM campaigns, on the blog, in “traditional” prospecting, or as sales material for sales staff.Automated content can appear generic and impersonal, reducing its impact on recipients.The company has a large sales or marketing team and sufficient resources to manage a large number of accounts while maintaining an acceptable quality of service.
High earning potential with several contract signatures. If content resonates with one account, there’s a good chance that it will resonate with similar accounts (statistically).Risk of diluting attention and effort, because by targeting a large number of accounts, resources can be stretched and less focused on the most promising accounts.The company operates in a dense and highly competitive market and needs to reach a large number of accounts quickly to gain market share.
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