4 Biggest ABM Myths Dispelled

Passing knowledge from person to person and family to family has played an essential role in society. The study of myths began in ancient Greece and Rome. They were crucial in passing on culture from one generation to the next.

However, when myths proliferate in the business world, they can be costly. After all, myths are folklore, not facts – they’re stories used to explain natural or social phenomena. That’s why today, I want to examine the biggest ABM myths and dispel them.

Myth #1) Running ABM Ads Means You’re Doing ABM

ABM is not a tactic, tool or campaign, but rather an entire go-to-market strategy. Running ads can be, and often is, part of your overall ABM strategy, but alone, ads don’t constitute a strategy.

If you’re following the three-tiered approach to ABM, like many organizations are, then ABM ads would fall under a good tier three tactic to sustain air cover on your target accounts. The goal here is to increase awareness to a broader set of people. This is a great top-of-funnel tactic. The reason this appeals to many is that ABM ads allow you to scale your ABM efforts.

However, at the core of ABM is the delivery of personal, relevant and timely interactions, and I think we may be expecting too much from ABM ads. After all, ABM ads are still ads. In other words, they’re still a programmatic way of delivering a message to many people at once. And, as we all know, ads are not perfect. Some challenges include viewability, click fraud, bots, ad blockers, and viewer fatigue. And perhaps the biggest drawback involves the brand risk of having your ad show up on a site whose content you don’t agree with.

Can you remember a time in the last three months when you clicked on a banner ad and purchased a B2B product? How about in the last 6 months? The last year?

Can’t remember of any? I can’t either.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying don’t do ABM ads. I’m saying if you’re doing ABM ads, it should be one piece done in conjunction with any others as part of your orchestrated ABM campaign.

Myth #2) Buying ABM Technology Means You’re Doing ABM

Let’s return to something I said earlier: ABM is not a tactic, tool or campaign, but rather an entire go-to-market strategy.

A tool doesn’t make a strategy. You must put strategy first, then figure out which tools, tactics, and campaigns will best support that strategy.

ABM is very hard to do without certain technologies. Recently, Jon Miller unveiled our all-new ABM Market Map, updated with everything we’ve learned in the last few years.

Jon explains, “You don’t need to buy technology from each category to do Account Based Marketing! You can dip your toe in the water with a relatively modest investment in new technology, and then add more solutions to help scale over time.”

Here are the foundational technologies you need for ABM:

  • CRM
  • Marketing automation
  • Lead-to-account matching (L2A)
  • Engagement measurement

The other ABM tools in their respective categories will enhance your ABM, but don’t think that if you don’t have them, you can’t do ABM. You can still send direct mail, hold executive events and even launch targeted ads without ABM technology.

Use the tools and technologies that you already have, but create a more targeted message and deliver it to a more targeted list.

Before investing on ABM technology, you must answer these questions to ensure your readiness:

  • Why is ABM the right strategy for your business?
  • Is there executive alignment and organizational buy-in on ABM as your go-to-market strategy?
  • What criteria makes a good target account? How will you decide on your target account list?
  • What does success with ABM look like? How will you measure your progress?
  • What are the roles and responsibilities of the players on your ABM team?

Myth #3) You Must Choose Between ABM or Demand Gen

ABM and Demand generation are not mutually exclusive strategies. In fact, when you combine the two, they have a multiplier effect.

When you’re doing ABM correctly, you have a defined list of target accounts that you are proactively going after. However, there are still plenty of accounts that are not on your target account list that will do business with you. Therefore, having “air cover” via demand generation is important for maximizing your marketing efforts.

Very rarely in B2B marketing, should you be doing ABM and not demand gen, or vice versa.

The challenge is figuring out your mix. Just like there is a spectrum for balancing content personalization, there is a spectrum for balancing ABM and Demand Gen. As a general rule of thumb, the larger and more complex your deals, the more you will rely on ABM. On the other end of the spectrum, the smaller your deals, the more you need to rely on volume, thus, you will need to invest more in demand gen.

At Engagio, even though we’re an ABM platform, our marketing team still executes demand gen campaigns. We sell to companies in the mid-market and the enterprise. We don’t believe in doing just inbound or outbound, but rather we take an “allbound” approach.

Myth #4) You Must Get Rid of MQLs and Replace it with MQAs

There’s no doubt that you’re familiar with Marketing Qualified Leads (MQLs) but if you’re not familiar with Marketing Qualified Accounts (MQAs), here’s a quick definition.

When you move from a lead-centric approach (i.e., traditional demand gen) to an account-based approach (i.e., ABM), the metrics you track will also change. The challenge arises when you ask marketers to forget about MQLs – arguably the most important metric for marketers – and implement MQAs.

This is a big ask. In fact, we actually don’t recommend it. This disrupts your entire funnel, which will have far-reaching implications for everyone involved.

Rather than replacing MQLs with MQAs, we recommend implementing both. In other words, don’t reinvent your funnel. Personally, I love the approach that RollWorks takes with their “double funnel.”

According to RollWorks, “this double funnel approach helps you create organic demand for your products, while also identifying target accounts and providing them with a customized experience via account-based tactics. In a welloiled ABM program, marketers evaluate target accounts on an ongoing basis, with new high-intent accounts from the inbound demand gen funnel added as they are identified and qualified.”


This approach allows you to maximize both strategies by implementing ABM while managing inbound accounts, expressing intent, but are not necessarily on your named account list.

There you have it – the four biggest ABM myths dispelled. If you fell victim to any of these, don’t worry, it’s common. The best thing you can do is fix the problem and get back on track as soon as you can. We have plenty of resources to help, including our Clear and Complete Guide to ABM and ABM experts standing by ready to help.


Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger
Brandon Redlinger is the Head of Growth at Engagio, the Account-Based Marketing and Sales platform that enables teams to measure account engagement and orchestrate human connections at scale. He is passionate about the intersection between tech and psychology, especially as it applies to growing businesses. You can follow him on twitter @brandon_lee_09 or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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