The Problem With ABM: Smart Marketing, Dumb Content

By Sean Filidis

ABM content

Did you know that Account Based Marketing (ABM) leads to more return on investment than any other marketing strategy? In fact, 97% of marketers surveyed by the Alterra Group agreed it was their top marketing initiative in regards to ROI

ABM is not a new string in the savvy marketer’s bow, but it is becoming increasingly popular and more accessible due to advancements in technology

Marketers have long understood the power of ABM to create better alignment between marketing and sales, identify best-fit accounts, and run highly personalized campaigns across optimal channels. 

But the ability to measure, test, and optimize campaigns has made ABM a next level player in the sales and marketing world. 

If you’ve ever spent wasted hours trawling through campaign data, desperate to identify re-marketing opportunities amid the noise, you’ll understand the benefits of being able to effectively measure a subset of your audience by the channels and messaging you targeted them with. ABM gives insights that other marketing strategies simply can’t provide. 

And yet, despite all the improvements in technology like data enrichment and content delivery; one crucial component of ABM has remained in the dark ages, creating a massive black hole in your measurement strategy.


Smart marketing, dumb content

Speaking frankly, there’s little point spending a fortune on your martech stack and investing hundreds of hours producing top-notch content if that content isn’t measurable. 

Yet, this happens all the time.

The unfortunate reality is that most marketers still put much of their important content (white papers, ebooks, brochures, ABM assets, etc.) into PDF format, thus creating huge blind spots in their customer journey.

Interactive eBook:

3 Steps to ABM Content Success

Take a birds-eye view of your ABM content and relieve complications before serious issues arise.

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Account-based marketing requires throwing major resources into understanding customers and optimizing campaigns. But with PDF content, the only metric you have to work with is the number of times it was downloaded. 

The modern customer journey is more complicated and contextual than we think — and if you don’t address your blind spots, you simply won’t find your way to marketing success.

Imagine what more you could achieve with your ABM strategy if you knew:

  • Whether prospects even read your ABM documents after downloading them
  • How engaging or effective your ABM assets were, and who they appealed to 
  • If your ABM documents were passed on or forwarded to others
  • Which pages or sections of your ABM asset were most interesting
  • At what point in your ABM content people lost or gained interest. 

While all of these insights would seem elementary for website content, none of them can be gathered (or even inferred) using opaque PDFs

Today’s marketers can’t afford to use a medium they can’t measure and optimize. From this perspective, the continued use of PDF for marketing collateral (and ABM in particular) is somewhat mystifying.

And if that weren’t enough, consider the PDF’s short shelf life. While evergreen content is important, information changes, research becomes obsolete, and proposals expire. 

Once a PDF has been distributed, it cannot be recalled. If a mistake was made, or if information changes, your out-of-date PDF will remain in circulation indefinitely. 

Clearly, it’s time to adopt another format — one that can be measured and optimized like the rest of your content operations. One that can provide meaningful insights about your audience. And one that can be updated after distribution.

Discover: Why you should choose web publications over responsive PDF's


A better ABM format

What ambitious marketers need to succeed in ABM and other marketing activities is a better content format than dumb PDFs. You need interactive documents that are infused with the same smart technology as the rest of your martech stack. 

Imagine if you could see inside your documents and know what pages, what headings, and what sections really grabbed your reader. The messaging that answered their query precisely, or captured their imagination. The words or lines that made them trust your brand over your competitors and encouraged them to convert or get in touch. 

How much more effective would your ABM be?

Then imagine the time you could save, and the high levels of quality and user experience you could ensure if you could retroactively update this valuable content that you’ve already published and distributed, so you never had to worry about version control again? 

These are just some of the common pain points that marketing professionals encounter on a regular basis and just some of the very good reasons why progressive companies are ditching legacy formats and moving towards interactive web-based content

While the most obvious benefit of using web content instead of PDF is the ability to measure and optimize, one shouldn’t overlook other perks like being able to insert video and other media. 

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of PDF vs web-based.

ABM content in PDF

Web-based ABM content

Static, passive experience

Interactive experience

Pinching and panning on mobile

Fully responsive

Optimized for lead generation

Optimized for engaging leads

No reader insights 

Detailed reader insights

No integration with CRM

Syncs in real time with your CRM

No version control

Always up to date

Generic, one-size fits all content

Targeted, segmented & personalized


There are many reasons why 86% of marketers report improved win rates with ABM. But while ABM technology is bounding ahead, ABM content formats have been left behind — and they need to be addressed as a priority. 

The sooner smart B2B marketers adopt PDF alternatives that allow them to create personalized content that’s measurable and interactive, the sooner they’ll see the results they want, and deserve. 

So much work goes into the creation of valuable and original ABM content. So, why waste your efforts by publishing content in legacy formats that deliver limited insights? 

Switching to a format that’s more engaging, interactive, measurable, and also easy to scale will plug the hole in your ABM strategy and help to deliver a better overall customer experience.


Want to see an example?

This eBook called Why Content Experiences was built with the Foleon content creation platform and shows both how and why interactive web-based ABM content is superior to PDF.

Sean Filidis

Sean is a B2B content strategist specialized in streamlining customer journeys, creating sales and marketing alignment, and producing personalized content experiences that resonate with modern buyers. LinkedIn profile

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