• Blog
  • Account Based Marketing or Marketing Automation? What you need to know before choosing
Valentina Pacitti
17 January 2022
Reading time: 6 min.

Account Based Marketing or Marketing Automation? What you need to know before choosing

Account Based Marketing and Marketing Automation are two terms that have recently grown in importance. What is the difference between these two strategies and how do you choose the right one for your company? We’ll explain in this article. We’ll also look at the how to exploit the two approaches in synergy.

Account Based Marketing and Marketing Automation are two terms that have recently grown in importance. What is the difference between these two strategies and how do you choose the right one for your company? We’ll explain in this article. We’ll also look at the how to exploit the two approaches in synergy. 

Moving from generic to personalized shopping experiences has allowed many companies to improve results and increase customer loyalty.

As part of this revolution, Account Based Marketing and Marketing Automation have become popular strategies. They improve targeting and shorten the sales cycle by offering new customers personalized content.

What is Account Based Marketing?

Account Based Marketing (ABM) is a B2B marketing strategy. Here, marketing efforts and resources focus on a selected list of similar high-value accounts, directly supporting the sales team’s efforts.

The ABM approach is marked by the fact that the stakeholder is not considered an abstract entity. Instead, she is an individual. The goal is to reach the single account that works in a given company.

Account Based Marketing leverages modern technologies, such as real-time ad purchase, IP-based identification, and other tracking means, to create a personalized advertising message and reach a specific company, instead of indiscriminately targeting a broad segment of the market.

Why use Account Based Marketing

If you have a B2B business, your overall strategy becomes more effective with Account Based Marketing because marketing and sales are aligned and you address stakeholders and decision makers directly.

This allows for shorter sales cycles without unnecessary expenses.

Using an ABM strategy you can build a deeper relationship with your potential customers and you have up-selling and cross-selling opportunities that increase deal size.

Companies that have implemented Account Based Marketing have obtained exciting results. According to data collected by Encharge:

  • a 208% increase in sales;
  • A 70% increase in the number of opportunities;
  • 91% of companies experienced a growth in the average size of business (for 25% of over 50%).

What is Marketing Automation?

The other hit of this post is Marketing Automation.

This strategy leverages software that collects data about users and visitors to a company’s website, social pages, apps and so on. This is used to activate mechanical strategies based on that information making them more relevant.

Marketing activities you can automate include: Email Marketing, lead generation, lead nurturing and lead scoring, content publishing, and social advertising.

With Marketing Automation software you can send a custom email or show a specific content to a user or a company that is interested in your offer. This increases your message relevance and your opportunities to convert that contact into a qualified lead.

The benefits of Marketing Automation

Data tells us that Marketing Automation is one of the fastest growing software industries and that 63% of marketers want to increase their automation budgets.

Why is it so successful? The advantages allow you to:

  • segment users and send them specific content;
  • simplify complex workflow;
  • cultivate acquired leads automatically;
  • easily monitor campaign progress;
  • free the marketing team of repetitive, non-strategic tasks.

Account Based Marketing vs Marketing Automation: the differences

After seeing a brief overview of these two new marketing approaches, let’s understand what changes between Account Based Marketing and Marketing Automation.

A company that uses the ABM strategy starts small, creating a list of highly profiled potential customers. These are your dream customers, the ones you want strong relationships with, leading to high-value conversion opportunities.

Once they identify target companies, marketers try to engage accounts in personalized conversations. The acquisition channels of Account Based Marketing are LinkedIn and cold emails.

The typical sales cycle of Account Based Marketing can last months or years but is compensated by high conversion value.

Instead, a company that uses a Marketing Automation platform launches a net with the aim of catching as many fish as possible.

The strategy is to collect hundreds or thousands of emails with a lead magnet. The main acquisition channels are organic and paid traffic.

Then, the collected contacts are segmented and fed through automated emails and later target users or companies that are ready to convert are identified.

The sales cycle is short but the conversion economic value is low.

So, Account Based Marketing and Marketing Automation start from opposite points: ABM goes from small to large, while MA goes from large to small. 

Account Based Marketing or Marketing Automation?

The choice between ABM and Marketing Automation depends on your company and the type of leads you need to reach and convert.

If you are a B2B company selling expensive packages, have a specialized offer for a few selected customers and a long sales cycle, Account Based Marketing is the best solution. It allows you to focus on a selected number of critical target accounts and start a personalized conversation.

In addition, remember that B2B SEO takes much less effort than B2C. There is no systematic effort needed to produce compelling content to organically stimulate lead interest.

This disables one of the main acquisition channels of MA and makes the Account Based Marketing approach much more attractive.

Instead, if you are a B2C or B2B company with an average order value or a low-average customer life value, Marketing Automation is best suited to your needs and the type of customer you are targeting.

It is also possible for your company to address both the B2C market with a low-cost offer and the B2B market with a more expensive product.

In this case, you could develop two different strategies: Marketing Automation for low-level plans and ABM for the most expensive and specialized offer. 

ABM automation: Lite vs Programmatic Based Marketing

In some cases, the principles of Account Based Marketing and Marketing Automation can come together to generate a much more efficient solution than separate approaches.

Programmatic Account Based Marketing: from one to many

There is no room for Marketing Automation in the classic one-to-one ABM approach because the marketer interacts with a small number of accounts and creates a personalized experience for a specific stakeholder or decision maker.

But with the so-called ABM lite approach, the target is set to 10-15 high-value accounts with similar advantages and disadvantages.

Marketers, together with the sales team, create ad hoc campaigns with relevant content. This is where Marketing Automation becomes a significant resource.

Marketing automation tools can integrate Account Based Marketing, identifying individual users and their interests and automating the flow of messages to those leads with personalized content.

Programmatic Account Based Marketing: from one to many

For some time there has also been a new scenario where ABM and MA work together with great results.

It is known as Programmatic ABM.

In this approach, marketing and sales teams reach hundreds of high-value accounts and potential customers with an inbound marketing strategy. This means that they produce specific content of great interest that they put into circulation on different channels.

This is where Marketing Automation can bring significant value by managing all contacts, presenting relevant content at the most advantageous time, and notifying marketers and sales about lead progress along the customer journey.


Tackle the issue Account Based Marketing vs Marketing Automation with clarity. Think about your goals, your offer and the type of leads you want to choose the solution that best suits your needs with greater probability of conversion.

Share this article

Valentina Pacitti

Copywriter and translator since 2012, in charge of SEMrush Italia's blog since 2015. Words are my means of communicating with people - I read and write plenty of them. I like to know them inside and out, so that I can pick the best ones for every story I'm telling. Simple, clear, precise - this is the writing style I prefer. I'm more offline than online, but you can always find me on my social channels to discuss ideas and projects.

    Subscribe to our newsletter