The B2B marketing world has only been talking about account-based marketing (ABM) – and the benefits of ABM – for a few years, but the concept of targeting individual accounts as “markets of one” has been around for decades. If you’ve ever seen an all-employee email from a sales rep asking “Hey, who do you know at [Company X]?” you’ve witnessed a version of ABM tactics at work.
So, why the sudden surge in interest? A combination of changing market forces and technological advances. Getting through to B2B buyers is more challenging than ever before, and ABM offers marketers a powerful tactic for breaching the seemingly impenetrable walls around some organizations. Marketers also have an array of powerful technologies — including intent monitoring — to help them identify and prioritize targets, find the right people to reach out to, and create personalized marketing campaigns.
Studies show that savvy marketing teams are catching on. In SiriusDecisions’ latest State of Account-Based Marketing study, 93 percent B2B marketers responded that ABM is “very important” or “extremely important,” up from 87 percent in 2016. Greater percentages of marketing dollars are going towards ABM as well, with 89 percent of respondents stating that 18 percent or more of their marketing budgets are allocated to their ABM strategies.
(Source: SiriusDecisions, 2017 State of Account-Based Marketing Study Findings)
Not only is ABM working its way into mainstream B2B marketing practices — it’s becoming a strategy that marketers can’t afford to ignore. Let’s look at four reasons why.
Reason #1: Getting Past the Brick Wall
What’s been your go-to strategy for connecting with B2B buyers? Cold calling? Caller ID and do-not-call lists have made it all but obsolete. Email blasts? If you can get past the spam filter and steer clear of the “Promotions” folder, remember that business users read email with a finger poised over the “Delete” button. Social media? Good luck getting eyeballs on your content, even with promotional dollars behind it.
When B2B marketers call on prospects with traditional “shotgun” approaches, all too often they’re greeted by a brick wall. If buyers aren’t actively looking for what you’re selling, it’s all too easy for them to shut themselves off from your message.
With ABM, B2B sales and marketing can go “deep” instead of “wide,” focusing on the companies most likely to become customers and treating them as markets of one. By researching specific organizations (via Google, LinkedIn, press releases, etc.), teams can gain insights into their needs and deliver personalized communications that are far more likely to get a response. And when marketers combine traditional research techniques with intent monitoring, teams can refine their lists by identifying which businesses are currently in-market for their products and services.
Reason #2: Smaller Budgets, Bigger Pressures
If your marketing budget has shrunk in recent years, you’re not alone. According to a recent survey by Gartner, marketing budgets now claim an average of 11.3 percent of company revenue in 2017, down from 12.1 percent in the previous year.
At the same time, marketing and sales teams are under unprecedented pressure to drive revenues. Competition is increasing in almost every industry, and consumers’ appetites for more products, services, and features is growing exponentially.
ABM helps sales and marketing teams on both fronts by making better use of budgetary dollars. Instead of executing pricey mass campaigns with minimal return, brands can devote resources to the targets with the strongest potential for generating revenue. That means fewer resources wasted on pursuing dead leads and a greater chance of success in closing deals.
Reason #3: Alignment of Sales and Marketing (Finally!)
Lack of coordination between sales and marketing teams has been a problem for decades. It’s no secret that things go more smoothly when the two departments work together: research by SiriusDecisions indicates that alignment across marketing and sales can drive between 5 and 36 percent of an organization’s growth. So why aren’t more businesses tearing down the silos? Probably because they haven’t had a reason strong enough to outweigh their resistance to change … until now.
ABM only works when sales and marketing function together as one unit. Account-based marketing requires both strong data and campaign expertise (marketing) and the ability to build strong one-to-one relationships that lead to closed deals (sales). When the two teams work together seamlessly, then and only then can ABM deliver on its promise.
Reason #4: The Benefits of ABM – It Works
By now ABM as we know it has been around long enough that it’s starting to show measurable results. Take these outcomes from SiriusDecisions’ 2017 State of Account-Based Marketing Study Findings, for example:
While account-based marketing as we know it began as a niche practice among a chosen few organizations, its arrival on the main stage of B2B marketing is undeniable. Driven by changing marketing conditions, budgetary pressures, the promise of marketing-sales alignment, and evidence of proven results, most sales and marketing teams agree that ABM is an idea whose time has come. The only remaining question is, will you get your organization on board today … or will you give your competitors a head start?
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