Account-Based Marketing vs. Lead-Based Marketing: Who Wins the Battle?

Following only one marketing strategy is like trying to get in prime physical shape by only doing sit-ups.

Sit-ups are great for strengthening and toning your abs, but they don’t do much for your cardio health, flexibility, or stamina.

You must have a well-rounded workout plan to successfully hit your fitness goals.

The same is true for marketing your brand and services.

You can’t rely on mass email marketing and an email tracking program alone to rein in new business. You have to employ a well-rounded combination of strategies and tactics to create a marketing plan that best suits your business.

For some businesses, account-based marketing (ABM) is gaining popularity over lead-based marketing (LBM), as the focus shifts from reaching the masses to reaching your best-fit, most profitable prospective accounts.

So, is one method better than the other?

The scientific answer is: It sorta depends….but we vote for ABM.

Let’s take a look at the differences and compare.

Quality vs. Quantity

One of the biggest differences between Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and Lead-Based Marketing (LBM) is the time and energy spent on each prospect.

ABM uses customized content and marketing tactics tailored for individual accounts.

The focus is on building relationships with prospects, gaining a deep understanding of their needs, and offering ongoing consultation and solutions. ABM has a laser-like focus on nurturing the relationship on a direct-level.

Overall, ABM is centered around quality over quantity.

With LBM, the focus is on metrics.

Numbers, numbers, numbers. Number of page views, click-throughs, email opens, so on and so forth. The goal is about reaching more leads, not necessarily targeting your most profitable prospective clients.

It’s safe to say that LBM leans toward quantity over quality.

A Few Big Wins vs. Many Smaller Wins

An account-based marketing strategy targets specific prospects, which allows marketers to go all-in on those accounts with customized marketing.

They’re doing things like 1:1 outreach, creating micro-sites tailored to each client, and hosting category-specific trade shows and educational events.

ABM opens the opportunity to build relationships with several key players at a single company, thoroughly understand their challenges, and approach them with solutions that will help them overcome their specific challenges.

But a lead-based marketing approach has its place in the marketing mix as well…

With lead-based marketing, your product or service is mass marketed to tens if not hundreds of thousands of leads with standardized messaging.

You reach the masses, but you forfeit the intimacy of the relationship.

This large volume of leads inevitably means that you’ll be connecting with low quality leads; where an account-based marketing strategy focuses in specifically on higher quality leads….intentionally staying away from bad-fit accounts.

Lead-based marketing is typically most effective when the cost of the product or service is low, and a relationship with the prospect isn’t as crucial.

Power in Personalization

ABM is powered by personalized communication.

With account-based marketing, marketers touch a prospect several times with hyper-targeted and personalized messages that are unique to the prospect’s needs.

They also might talk with several contacts within the target account, building a team of evangelists inside the prospect’s company.

With lead-based marketing, a long list of leads can generate several new clients for your company at one time. Unfortunately, it can also lead to lots of bad-fit, not-so profitable customers.

So, What’s The Bottom Line?

The method in which you market your product or service depends on many factors, but research shows that account-based marketing is on the rise.

According to a recent survey, researchers at the Alterra Group reported that 97% of respondents said ABM has a higher ROI than any other marketing method.

Most respondents said ABM provides significant benefits in client retention (84 percent) and in attracting new clients (65 percent).

Respondents estimated that ABM will continue to grow in terms of marketing dollars spent over time, anticipating a growth from 17% (three years ago) to 44% (three years from now).

As customer behavior shifts, the nature of B2B marketing must evolve. Account-based marketing provides a new avenue to explore.


Just like 100 sit-ups alone won’t get you into peak physical shape, account-based marketing may not be your be-all and end-all strategy.

See whether ABM or LMB brings more revenue to your company, and grow your business from there.

Having a deep understanding of your customer, team, and product or service will lead you down the right path.

Our vote is for ABM, but we support you either way.

Alaysia Brown

Content Marketing Specialist at SalesLoft

Posted on September 22, 2016 in Account Based Marketing, B2B Sales Show, Blog Post

Alaysia Brown

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Content Marketing Specialist at SalesLoft

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