Why combine Account Based Marketing and Inbound Marketing?

All articles | Marketing
Published Sep 13, 2021 | Written by Osian Barnes

Salt and vinegar.  Tequila and lime. There are some things that just work better together. This blog looks at how ABM and inbound marketing strategies can support and complement each other, to find and close more right-fit leads in the most efficient way.

ABM vs inbound marketing; what's the difference?

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) is a focused sales strategy targeting specific high-value accounts with personalised marketing efforts. Inbound marketing, on the other hand,  aims to attract a broader audience with published content - then filters and nurtures captured prospects through deeper digital interactions. 

Inbound is the process of becoming so entirely customer-focused in your messaging, communications and content generation, that right fit prospects organically gravitate towards you as they navigate every stage of the buyer's journey.

Inbound marketing is one-to-many but ABM is one-to-one or one-to-few,

So, who needs an ABM approach - and how does it relate to an inbound marketing strategy?

What is ABM?  Just consider the peacock

Just why is the Peacock's tail feather display so dazzling and intricately patterned?  Because its chances of successfully mating in its lifetime are only 5%. 

Tragically, the shortsighted Peahen is not good at recognising the male’s advances, so the Peacock creates a bespoke display for her that she cannot miss.   For the Peacock, it’s worth the evolutionary effort involved in creating a specific and compelling display.  

ABM works on the same principle.

Sometimes a sales opportunity is so great, a match so perfect, a prospect so valuable but hard to reach  -  it's worth the extra effort to target them specifically.  

The business won will be sufficiently valuable to justify the time and resource spent developing the tailored messaging and conversations that will resonate most personally with your target buyers.

Companies with long and complex buying cycles and multiple decision makers like  OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) - are prime candidates for such treatment. 

With this highly direct approach, it is possible to fast-track any leads where you know there is a pressing need and opportunity to close.

What do ABM and inbound marketing have in common?

1. Both need in-depth understanding of your ICP and buyer personas.

It is this insight that helps you understand:

  • The structures and requirements of the ideal customers buying process
  • The needs, goals and aspirations of buyer personas (professionally and personally)
  • The nature of their buying cycles and timelines
  • The kind of content that will answer their most pressing questions and help them in their roles
  • How to deliver the content - what media and format will cut through most successfully with them 

Both ABM and inbound need to get the under the skin of their target audience to deliver better content experiences.  

2. Both strategies require creative and storytelling skills  

Knowing your target personas so intimately gives you an excellent handle on their tastes and the content that is likely to move the dial for you.   It helps you angle your storytelling to chime successfully with them and create moments of engagement that transcends the ordinary.

For inbound and ABM you need the creative chops to develop impactful content and messaging - while delivering the practical guides and information that will mark you as the experts they need on side.

For ABM you need these creative skills - and more - to tailor content for ever more specific audiences and purposes.

3. Both require collaboration for continuous improvement

Both strategies use growing market intelligence and feedback from past success to continually improve and optimise campaigns.  The insights and content they create and share can be mutually beneficial.

Your inbound team create great content for your broad target audience - then use gathered insight to continually improve its performance. 

Your ABM team can repurpose this same content, optimise it and publish it.  They can then share their insight on its success - inspiring the inbound team to tweak and optimise what they are doing for better results earlier in their cycle.

In this way, it's easy to see how ABM is a natural extension of inbound - and how both can be deployed together to improve results.  

5 steps for integrating inbound and account-based marketing strategies

Inbound and Account-Based Marketing (ABM) are a perfect match - here's our summary of the steps you can take to integrate the two into your sales and marketing process.

1. Identify: Begin by pinpointing your target ABM accounts using detailed data metrics such as company size, revenue, and location.  Your inbound approach will help you use existing content analytics and user behaviour data to refine your target list.

2. Expand: Develop bespoke content tailored for each potential buyer within the target organisation. An inbound approach helps you create the value-driven content that speaks to the challenges and needs of these buyers.

3. Engage: Plan and execute the specific campaigns and bespoke nurturing tactics designed to snag the interest of your target accounts. You can use the full gamut of marketing techniques honed in your inbound work to achieve this. This may include targeted, customised emails to dynamic web pages, social media ads and event invitations. The aim is to use a combination of manual and programmatic ABM funnel target accounts into ever more personalised nurturing sequences inspired by tailored content.  

4, Advocate:  With each success, strengthen and nurture bonds with select stakeholders who can champion your product or service within their organisation. With inbound's emphasis on building trust and providing value, these stakeholders become empowered advocates, amplifying your message within their company.

5. Measure: Make sure you continuously evaluate the effectiveness of your combined ABM and inbound strategy. Tools like HubSpot's ABM software can provide insights on company growth, stakeholder engagement levels, and content interaction. This data-driven approach ensures your strategies remain agile, effective, and aligned with audience needs - and offer opportunities to improve your creative targeting.


There are benefits to using both inbound marketing and ABM as stand-alone strategies. But, just like Tequila and Lime- they work better together. Any strategy you choose should be unique to the requirements of your business and customers, so there should never be a one-size-fits-all approach.

Do the fundamentals, and do them well. Create great content that reaches customers you have and the ones you didn’t even know existed. And then personalise this content to convert key (target)  accounts.

And don't forget to read our guide to Account-Based Marketing Fundamentals guide which offers a step by step approach to transforming sales revenue.  


Published by Osian Barnes September 13, 2021
Osian Barnes