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ABM is having an identity crisis, according to Emma Lowman, our B2B Account Director. And to fix it, we need to change ABM to RBM, or return-based marketing.

Emma Lowman

Author: Emma Lowman

Account Director

Date posted: 16/04/2021

It’s no secret (though as a marketer it’s not something I care to admit) that businesses still see marketing as a nice-to-have. I think we have all heard, ‘Oh, so you work in the colouring-in department,’ at least once when we tell someone we work in marketing.

Now, more than ever, there is a focus on marketing proving the ROI on every campaign, activity, event, piece of content – you name it! We live in a world where all marketers have a value sitting over our head, and we need to show that we are worth every penny of it.

Account-based marketing (or ABM) has made headway in this department over the years, with the sales, marketing and ops teams coming together to ensure that what the company produces really works as hard as it can, and – you guessed it – proves ROI. This is a strategic approach to B2B marketing which uses data and insight to uncover key accounts who are then considered and communicated as markets of one.

By working in this collaborative way, departments are able to bring all the pieces of the puzzle together and really home in on what their target accounts want to hear about, how and where. These interactions are then measured by RRR: relationship, reputation and revenue.


Relationships are key for any business, ultimately – as we say at Purple: if it’s business, it’s still personal. There are real people speaking and real people listening, even in B2B conversations. It’s so important to ensure that what you say really resonates with your audience and adds value to them and their business.


Your reputation is made up of many things. It exists both on- and offline, and is based on what others think and feel about your business, brand and products – all from the interactions they’ve had with it. If you are using an ABM programme to target new accounts, ensuring that they view you in a positive light is even more imperative.


As important as both of the above measurements are, unfortunately we all know that you’re going to be asked, ‘Great, but how much did we make?’ ABM is just as much about the bottom line as it is anything else. Fortunately, using an ABM programme, and the MarTech that supports it, it is easy to see in real time the impact on revenue that you have.

These measurements are a great way of evaluating not only the ROI of your ABM activity, but also the value it brings to the business as a whole. Ultimately, though, we still know the bottom line is the biggest focus, which is why I raise the question, should account-based marketing (ABM) become return-based marketing (RBM)?

While ABM is a very ‘Ronseal’ name for this B2B marketing strategy, it can be difficult to sell to the board. It doesn’t really showcase the benefits of the approach for the business, and – let’s face it – it just sounds a bit too much like a marketing buzzword!

To reposition this as RBM, the main benefit for the business is right there in the name. It shows that marketing has far more business growth potential than simple brand awareness and top-of-the-funnel activity. It is a way to unveil the benefit of taking your marketing strategy deeper – and extending the reach much further – to boost the entire funnel.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and the return on investment is in the name.