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What is the difference between ABM and Inbound Marketing? Confusion persists about what is (and is not) Account-Based Marketing.

For clarity, we define inbound marketing as a general approach to answering customers potential questions and/or concerns. Its purpose is brand/credibility building and progressing a percentage of prospects to request more information.

ABM is about focussing on a key customer (or potential customer). It focuses on the key personnel within that customer to influence their decision-making process.

Account-Based Marketing vs Inbound Marketing – Blurred Lines

Brian Halligan of HubSpot is credited with coining the phrase Inbound Marketing in the mid-2000s. Hubspot, founded in 2005, was one of the first inbound marketing services businesses.

Hubspot defines inbound marketing as “a business methodology that attracts customers by creating valuable content and experiences tailored to them. While outbound marketing interrupts your audience with content they don’t always want, inbound marketing forms connections they are looking for and solves problems they already have.”

But this is more than pushing information on the web that may be interesting to potential customers in the expectation that a proportion responds. Surely ‘tailored to them’ brings in an element of ABM?

ITSMA defines ABM as treating individual accounts as markets in their own right. They suggest ‘Using a combination of market insight, account insight, and individual buyer insight, marketing and sales craft personalized content to drive interest and engagement’

To us, that makes more sense. In our opinion, to define the difference between ABM and inbound marketing, the Hubspot definition needs to lose the ‘tailored to them’ phrase.

The Difference Between ABM and Inbound Content

We categorise the inbound marketing process as general and ABM content as specific. ABM content has a specific purpose, to impact in some positive way on an identified individual or (small) group of individuals. ABM content targets the specific needs of an individual.

In contrast, we define inbound content as the shotgun approach. It has a purpose and aims at a target group, but it is a general promotional tool. Content is either designed to build credibility or to solicit a response (for example a download) for later follow up.

Inbound marketing should solicit an “OK, that’s interesting, tell me more” type response from a prospect. Ultimately its purpose is to persuade a prospect to engage. Until they engage that prospect will be (most likely) unknown to the business.

ABM vs Inbound – The Impact On Sales

To maximise the impact of both inbound and ABM sales and marketing should work together. They must cooperate to decide on the best content and delivery channels to engage the target audience. However, to succeed Account Based Marketing requires a significantly closer relationship between sales and marketing than inbound.

Inbound generally supports lead generation. So once sales have helped marketing decide on the best content to deliver on that objective they can step back from the process. With ABM the reverse is true. Sales must have active involvement in developing the process. Then they must closely cooperate with marketing to deliver that process.

Although both Account Based Marketing inbound and inbound focus on new business ABM requires a deep understanding of the target prospect and the best way to reach them. Inbound is a more general approach.

Read more information on the benefits of Account Based Marketing can HERE. Or visit our Blog to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of inbound marketing.

Should you need any assistance building a Account Based Marketing process, please get in touch. Or, if you have an ABM process and need help with content, we can help with that too.