ABMonday is a blog series that aims to generate awareness and educate on Account Based Marketing best practices and related topics. We are kicking off the series with a topic that is currently on everyone's mind - the end of third-party cookies. In this blog, which is our third and last on the subject, we will explore what ABM is and its key benefits, common pitfalls that can prevent ABM success, and what our technology partners have in store as we approach the extinction of third-party cookies.
If you're a B2B marketer in 2022, you've most likely heard the buzz about ABM, or Account-Based Marketing. According to Salesforce's most recent State of Marketing report, ABM programs now account for over 15% of all B2B marketing budgets worldwide, and ABM has even been touted as the future of B2B marketing.
So what's all the hype about? And is ABM right for your organization?
Let's dive in.
What is ABM?
Account-based Marketing is a strategic approach to B2B marketing that targets pre-selected accounts rather than waiting for individual, inbound leads. ABM considers and communicates with unique prospect or customer accounts as markets of one. Its main objective is not simply reach the greatest number of prospects, but rather the right prospects for a specific market.
An alternative definition: A focused growth strategy in which Marketing and Sales collaborate to create personalized buying experiences for a mutually-identified set of high-value accounts.
Key Benefits of ABM
More marketers are embracing an account-based approach each year because the results are undeniable. Organizations with successful ABM programs have reported sizeable returns on investment. SiriusDecisions has reported that 91% of marketers that use ABM have achieved larger deal sizes, and that 30% of marketers claim an increase in engagement of over 100% with their C-level targets.
By implementing an ABM program, your organization may be able to:
- Streamline the sales cycle and accelerate pipeline
- Maximize the efficiency of your marketing budget and resources
- Increase deal sizes and expand business by leveraging existing account relationships
- Improve the relevance of your business among high-value accounts
- Deliver tailored, consistent customer experiences
- Measure and optimize your return on investment
- Fortify alignment between Marketing and Sales
If you'd like to learn more about ABM, you can explore our ABM Resources Page.
The transition from leads to accounts
Research conducted by Forrester shows that demand generation efforts are increasingly concentrating primarily on accounts, not on individual customers. In recent years, the traditional approach of assigning a specific value to a single person's activity, and based on that, generating a Marketing Qualified lead, has begun to fall out of favor among B2B marketers. This trend has only accelerated after the events of 2020.
The lead-based approach is not an ideal method for identifying ready-to-buy customers, because in B2B purchases, more than one person is typically involved in the buying decision. An account-based approach, on the other hand, concentrates sales and marketing resources on a clearly defined set of target accounts (companies) and tailors campaigns to resonate with the 10+ individuals on each account’s buying team. Analyzing the activity of the buying group as a whole provides a much more accurate picture of when a company is actually in-market for a purchase.
The timing of the rise of ABM is fortuitous, because as we mentioned in Blog 2 of this series, "What will happen
when the cookies crumble", the elimination of third-party cookies could have serious business implications for
B2B marketers. However, when the focus shifts from the lead level to the account level, third-party cookies, which can only provide on individuals, suddenly become much less important.
Account Selection: The foundation for ABM success
Every B2B marketer knows that even the most perfectly executed campaign is worthless if it's not reaching the right audience. So when it comes to ABM, choosing the right accounts to target is an absolutely critical part of the strategy. This fact may make marketers hesitant to switch approaches, especially because traditional account identification methods like IP-based targeting are not known to be completely accurate.
Fortunately, account identification technology has improved significantly in recent years. ABM enablement platforms like 6sense, Demandbase and Terminus are able to collect and analyze account data and monitor activities on both first- and third-party websites, across devices and channels. Since this intent data would otherwise remain anonymous, the tool provides powerful insights into the behavior of your site visitors and helps you understand what they care about the most, laying a strong foundation for a rock-solid ABM strategy.
In the end, ABM is all about building personal connections. Account-based strategies will only become even more effective as the data becomes more dependable. With the ability to tap into primary data sources, you can generate direct feedback on the relevancy of your content in real time based on your potential clients’ interactions.
The rise in ABM technology: Separating the good from the bad
The right technology can make or break the success of an ABM program, so it's important to choose wisely. As more and more companies shift to an account-based approach to marketing, it seems like the market has been flooded with solutions claiming to support ABM. But some offer much more functionality than others. If you're in the market for a one-stop-shop ABM tool, look for one that can help you:
- Leverage intent data
- Identify in-market accounts
- Consolidate data in unified way via a Customer Data Platform (CDP)
- Make AI work for you and leave the guesswork out
- Dynamically segment your target audience
- Engage buyers with social and display advertising
- Acquire data
- Orchestrate personalized, cross-channel experiences at scale
- Empower sales reps with meaningful account insights
- Measure results with comprehensive reporting and analytics
Common ABM pitfalls
With that being said, having the right technology in place will do a lot of the heavy lifting when putting together an ABM strategy, but this aspect alone is not enough. It's also essential to understand how to leverage the data you extract from your technology and how to use your tools to their fullest potential. In this context, you and your team will need to define the following key elements of any campaign: business objectives, target audience, key messages, tactics, creative content, budget, prospect experience.
Here are some common mistakes we've seen that can hinder the success of ABM programs:
- A narrow perspective on target accounts: Sometimes, when marketing departments ask Sales or input on accounts to target in ABM programs, they name accounts that would benefit them personally rather than ones that make sense for the organization as a whole.
- Lack of communication between Sales and Marketing: If you are a B2B marketer, it's likely that you've heard your sales teams complain about the quality of the leads you've generated for them. To achieve your desired ABM outcomes, ensure Sales understands they're dealing with in-market accounts showing real buying intent rather than the traditional MQLs they've probably grown skeptical of.
- Insufficient follow-up: It's important that the expectations for Sales teams are clearly communicated before a program launch and that they stay aligned with Marketing through every step of the process. Otherwise, they may not be able to help engaged accounts progress to the next step and keep them moving through the funnel.
- Missing contacts: Selecting the right accounts is a huge piece of the ABM puzzle, but if you are unable to reach the right people within those accounts, it's unlikely your program will succeed.
- Inability to leverage intent data: Keywords, site visits, and search topics - oh my! Even the best data is useless if you don't understand it or don't know how to use it.
- Inadequate personalization: Every company's needs are different, so the content you share with them cannot be one-size-fits-all. And here's a motto worth repeating: mere translation does not equal localization!
Our ABM Technology Partnerships
At LeadFabric, we are fortunate enough to partner with several Martech providers that offer solutions that can support a variety of aspects in putting together an ABM strategy.
Bombora is an AI-powered tool that collects, tracks, and interprets web users' online behavior across an expansive network of B2B websites, revealing key insights into buyer intent. Leveraging this data to reach prospects showing high intent at the right time can make the difference between hitting your goals and not.
Drift is a conversational marketing provider that uses chat bot and live chat functionalities combined with visitor identification tools to give website visitors a more engaging, personalized experience, which helps to increase conversion rates and accelerate pipeline by significantly reducing the time between first visit and deal close.
And as mentioned previously, 6sense is a rapidly-growing Account Engagement Platform that uses a combination of AI, big data, and machine learning to deliver data on anonymous buying behavior and identify in-market accounts. 6sense also supports ABM campaign orchestration and offers highly-targeted digital advertising capabilities through a both native DSP and LinkedIn integration. This end-to-end tool can help B2B organizations achieve predictable revenue growth, increase deal sizes, and generate more opportunities faster.
Get in touch if you need help navigating the convoluted waters of ABM technology and planning. We have the research, experience, and partnerships necessary to guide you through the process of creating an ABM program that suits your business' needs. To learn more about how LeadFabric can help your organization on its ABM journey, contact us here.
To learn more about getting started with ABM, check out our free eBook below: