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Key Account Marketing & ABM: Is There a Difference?

ABM, or account based marketing, and key account marketing are terms for similar marketing and sales outreach efforts. Key account marketing and ABM both involve targeting key account stakeholders to drive B2B sales.

However, ABM takes key account marketing to a new level and incorporates additional digital distribution and tracking capabilities.

ABM and key account marketing were given these names because this strategy involves targeting the key stakeholders in high-value organizations with personalized content to convert them into clients.

In the past, salespeople would do research on their prospects, making cold calls until they found someone who was interested in their products and services. Marketers would create content that cast a wide net and hope they could bring in prospects with generalized messaging.

Sales and marketing teams at companies would often be working in parallel, rather than together, to reach and nurture prospects. Results were often disappointing because each team would target prospects indiscriminately and prospects wouldn’t resonate with the general messages.

Now, through account based marketing, marketers are teaming up with salespeople, capturing accurate data, putting their relevant content in front of the stakeholders at the correct time, and seeing much better results for their marketing efforts.

For that reason, account based marketing, the successor to key account marketing, has emerged as a favored outbound marketing strategy of B2B companies. The return on investment is high, and the strategies are paying off. Eighty percent of marketers that measure their ROI report that key account marketing outperforms other marketing investments and 84% of marketers said that ABM had excellent benefits when it came to retaining and expanding their existing client relationships.

According to a survey from SiriusDecisions, 92% of B2B marketers say that ABM is “very” or “extremely” important to their marketing efforts. An August 2016 report from Demand Gen Report demonstrated that 23% of B2B marketers had been using key account marketing for some time, 24% recently launched their strategies, and 32% planned to start in the next 18 months. The other 20% were not using it at all.

B2B marketers are leveraging account based marketing to reach key prospects and target accounts to fill their sales pipelines with highly qualified leads.

Do you want to use key account marketing better target your prospects and drive sales? Contact KEO Marketing today for a complimentary consultation.


With more than 25 years of hands on marketing strategy and operations experience, Sheila Kloefkorn is dedicated to developing marketing strategies and plans that help clients succeed. Some of the world's largest brands have depended on Sheila for marketing programs that delivered tangible and substantial results. Specialties: B2B marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing, sales strategy, marketing strategy, competitive marketing strategy, social media, search engine optimization (SEO), search engine marketing (SEM), mobile marketing, email marketing, website design, marketing plans.