How do you define ABM?
Account Based Marketing (ABM) is an increasingly popular B2B strategy that focuses on aligning sales and marketing teams around specific, high-value accounts. It requires B2B marketers to change the way they think about their websites, content and digital advertising so they can attract, engage, convert and measure progress at the account level. Most of the marketing tech developed over the years has been based on consumer marketing, which is really volume-based—more leads, more traffic, more clicks.
ABM flips that on its head and measures success based on business metrics—close rate, annual contractvalue (ACV) and funnel velocity of high-value accounts—that Sales wants to sell to. Additionally, it is integrated across every stage of the marketing funnel, which solves for challenges that often occur across the entire customer journey.
Do you still need to educate clients about the importance of ABM?
While ABM adoption has continued to grow over the last few years, there’s still a need for education in the industry. Although more than 70 percent of B2B companies are focused on driving ABM programs today, plenty of B2B marketers aren’t familiar with the benefits of ABM or the steps required to kick off a successful program. That’s why we’ve made it a point to educate B2B companies about ABM on a global scale.
We first did this with our ABM Roadshow in 2015 when we visited nine cities across the U.S. and shared insight on the value of an ABM program. We took this roadshow one step further and kicked off the ABM Impact Tour in 2016 across the U.S. and U.K. We also had our annual Marketing Innovation Summit focus on ABM with sessions and workshops dedicated to the various aspects of an ABM program. This included an ABM certification course that helped give marketers knowledge on what’s needed to go from a high-level understanding of ABM to fully implementing it into an organization.
Today, our ABM certification program is focused on educating B2B marketers on how to use ABMstrategies to eliminate inefficiencies and dramatically improve the efficacy of digital marketing for B2B. This education is helping broaden the knowledge of ABM among marketers. In fact, in a recent SiriusDecisions survey, more than 60 percent of B2B marketers said that they have the skills needed to be successful with ABM, compared to 53 percent in 2015.
What are the biggest opportunities & challenges in implementing ABM?
Marketing automation providers did a great job helping companies realize that 70 percent of the B2B buying cycle is done anonymously before the sales team gets involved. For B2B marketers who want to be competitive, they need to get in front of their target audience with relevant, personalized content before the hand raise. This is now possible thanks to innovations in marketing technology—such as account identification and IP-based technologies—that enable companies to identify and target the accounts that matter most to the business. These technologies make it possible for companies to attract and interact with prospects earlier on in the buying cycle, which can have a significant impact on the success of their overall marketing campaigns. Without these new technologies, companies wouldn’t be able to scale their ABM strategies to reach 500 or even 5,000 target accounts, so it provides a huge opportunity for those interested in optimizing their campaign performance and boosting their bottom line.
While companies can now scale ABM far beyond what was possible five years ago, the implementation process can seem a bit daunting. However, there are a number of steps companies can take to ensure that it’s employed properly. This includes aligning sales and marketing teams around target accounts, personalizing content appropriately and measuring the right metrics.v
One perception people have of ABM that presents a challenge in implementing a strategy is in regards to personalizing content appropriately. Companies think they have to create all new content and a whole new web strategy, but that’s not the case. They often already have all the content they need; they’re just requiring you to navigate their website to get to it. Why not bring that content forward?
How does marketing technology/automation make ABM easier?
ABM as a concept isn’t new, it’s actually been around for about 15 years. But thanks to new marketing technology, B2B marketers have the ability to implement ABM at greater scale across the funnel. This means they can leverage existing marketing programs more effectively so content is tailored to target accounts to help convert prospects into customers.
With marketing automation specifically, B2B marketers can automate repetitive tasks to save both time and money. They can integrate marketing automation tools with their existing CRM system to streamline sales and marketing efforts and leverage data more effectively. It also complements marketing automation by ensuring that marketing campaigns and relevant materials are personalized for each account. Using data gathered by CRM systems, marketing automation tools make it possible for companies to plan, implement, measure and optimize campaigns across the funnel more efficiently and successfully.
What are the dangers of overlooking ABM?
Generating high-quality opportunities is the number one challenge B2B marketers face today, which is why taking an account-based approach is paramount to B2B marketing success. Rather than trying to reach as many people and acquire as many leads as possible, marketers should focus on the accounts that are most likely to transition from prospect to customer. This saves companies time and money since they don’t have to waste resources targeting individuals who are never going to buy. If B2B marketers continue using traditional marketing strategies that were initially built for B2C instead of taking a targeted, personalized approach, they will continue to face hurdles with their marketing campaigns.
–Chris Golec is founder and CEO of Demandbase