Kay Kienast, True Influence CMO
B2B marketers are embracing the promise of Account-based Marketing (ABM) to win new business and maintain a healthy revenue pipeline. In fact, a MarTech Series survey showed that more than half of senior-level sales and marketing professionals say they believe ABM is the right revenue strategy for their organization.
But as with any revolution, the road to realizing ABM’s full potential is proving to be a little rocky for many practitioners. Among the same respondents who say they believe in ABM as a concept, only 25 percent say they’re confident in their organization’s ability to execute an ABM strategy at a level of 100 accounts or more.
Research: Marketers Lack Real-time Insights
Marketers say adopting ABM has created additional confusion in an already complex marketing technology landscape. They lack real-time insights and campaign performance data to connect with individuals who ultimately make purchase decisions within their target accounts.
The solution? Analysts point to integrated platforms that allow B2B marketers to manage the full spectrum of digital channels – from programmatic display advertising to content syndication – supported by deep campaign performance analytics and purchase intent monitoring insights at the account, buying group and contact level.
To win at ABM, you need a demand generation tool that lets you clearly see an account’s entire purchase journey; one that empowers you to quickly adapt to focus resources on tactics making the most impact.
Those Who Do ABM Well Want Even More
Let me be clear – there’s no question that ABM is the future of B2B marketing.
A recent paper from DemandGen Report notes that selling organizations with mature ABM programs plan to increase their ABM budgets by 40 percent, a powerful vote of confidence in the methodology. (Interestingly, 56 percent of respondents say Sales, not Marketing, is driving decisions around ABM technology. One benefit of ABM is that it forces Sales and Marketing to collaborate more closely to fill gaps that have always plagued traditional MQL and SQL pipelines, so while this finding isn’t really surprising, I do find it encouraging.)
Analysts such as Forrester have been calling for ABM to become “mainstream” in B2B revenue operations for well over a year now. MarketsandMarkets notably predicted roughly 12 percent compounded growth in the global ABM platform market through 2023 – not an overnight revolution, but continuous growth based on successful implementations and maturing technology.
Here at True Influence, we’ve been building ABM principles and processes into our data-driven demand generation tools for years. Recently we upgraded our True Influence ABM Marketing Cloud for B2B demand generation to more clearly elevate account- and buying group-level purchase intent, engagement and campaign response.
We’re all in. We believe our ABM Marketing Cloud speaks directly to many of the challenges ABM practitioners face.
ABM Success Means Overcoming Some Obstacles
As with any dramatic change in an industry, ABM is redefining how marketing and sales plan, execute and measure their success. This has created several bumps in the road. Here are a few key challenges, as cited by both ABM practitioners and industry analysts.
⇒ Platform avalanche
Not surprisingly, one of the key issues facing ABM practitioners is plain old systems overload. Sure, ABM sounds great in theory, but it’s another set of methods to learn and, in many organizations, another layer of technology and systems added to any already complex martech stack. There are only so many systems that your revenue ops teams can manage successfully, and custom integrations can be costly. In fact, the DemandGen Report I mentioned earlier cites the ongoing need for systems integrations as a major roadblock to a successful ABM practice.
⇒ Data Overload
Data is everything – it’s the foundation of our business here at True Influence. But too much raw data without clear, actionable insights can actually derail your integrated sales and marketing strategy. Many analysts say that Sales in particular doesn’t know what to do with all those uncorrelated facts and figures.
⇒ Identifying, uploading and managing accounts
ABM can be successful only if you are targeting the right accounts. There’s no more benefit in actively marketing to an account that’s not in-market than there is in bombarding a cold contact lead with emails. Yet many ABM practitioners still rely on “gut instincts” a.k.a. wishful thinking, when building account lists. And filling out those accounts with verified contacts often means manual prospecting and laborious spreadsheet processing.
⇒ Lack of personalization
Executing personalized campaigns within a broader ABM framework is another stumbling block. A large majority of ABM adopters (75 percent) in the MarTech Series survey are using ABM for key account targeting and prioritization, but only about 7 percent said they have automated content personalization within their ABM framework.
A majority (68 percent) say they are “personalizing” content only at the vertical market level, and many say they simply are not attempting personalization, or doing it manually. Either their ABM toolset lacks the needed personalization tools, or they lack insights into who within the account is showing purchase intent and what role they play within the buying group that ultimately makes the purchase decision.
That’s not why you invest in sales and marketing automation software.
⇒ Measurement stuck in “lead” mindset
Marketing teams in particular face enormous difficulty in moving beyond lead-centric qualification metrics and quotas. Old habits are hard to break, and in unaligned sales and marketing environments there’s little motivation to not just pump dead-end leads into the pipeline in order to meet an arbitrary quota. ABM demands both account-, buying group- and contact-level insights on how your marketing efforts lead to revenue, as well as tools to act on those insights.
Needed: A Demand Gen Platform with ABM Baked In
Clearly, B2B marketing and sales teams need better, more comprehensive ABM tools if they are to reap the real benefits of adopting an account-based approach.
It’s a tall order, but we’re well on our way with the latest release of our ABM Marketing Cloud. Across its seamless interface, we keep your team focused on which demand generation channels and programs are moving the needle with your target accounts and key buying group contacts.
With the ABM Marketing Cloud, you can:
✔ Micro-target in-market, high-value audiences
More than 15 segmentation filters finetune for purchase intent, buying group, demographic, firmographic and technographic criteria. These filters find target accounts that are actively looking to buy and offer a clear picture of your total active market size. Coupled with our extensive TripleCheck® verified database of B2B contacts, you can fine-tune audiences for one-on-one personalization and identify key buying group personas that may not already be on your radar.
✔ Optimize and manage campaigns in real time
Re-define audience segments, add display advertising and content syndication assets, enhance buying group models for campaigns mid-flight, or use powerful analytics to define future campaigns. Creating new ideal customer personas or adding firmographic filters to campaign criteria takes just seconds.
✔ Publish audience segments across multiple channels
With just a single click, move high-performing audiences into exactly the right program at exactly the right stage. An account that’s highly responsive to a digital campaign can immediately transition into acontent syndication program for further qualification, with voice outreach targeted for key decision makers. You are in complete control. And the ABM Marketing Cloud forecasts campaign performance at both high-funnel engagement and qualification levels.
✔ Complete integration with your marketing technology stack
Out-of-the-box integrations with industry-leading marketing automation platforms Eloqua, Marketo, HubSpot, and Salesforce ensure that ABM Marketing Cloud intelligence fuels every aspect of your revenue operations, every day. And our robust APIs support integration throughout your marketing operations.
✔ Full-funnel channel management
Monitor, analyze and orchestrate your account-based multi-channel strategies from a single, intuitive control center. Content syndication, demand generation, display, teleprospecting – it’s all here in an integrated view of your complete customer engagement strategy.
✔ Get the whole picture with advanced analytics and reporting
View performance by audience segment, decision stage and campaign asset. Compare industry and segment intent signals for your products and solutions and get unequaled visibility into account-level performance of your digital campaigns. This includes all levels. Customized, actionable campaign forecasts and advice are built directly into our ABM Marketing Cloud experience, helping you put intent intelligence into action.
Make ABM and Intent the Way You Do Marketing
ABM is making true believers of sales and marketing teams who embrace the methodology in every phase of their revenue operations. To do this, you need a omni-channel demand generation infrastructure that seamlessly combines purchase intent intelligence, buying group modeling, audience discovery and advanced campaign analytics. We think a Marketing Cloud is a perfect fit for marketers who are going all in on ABM.
You might also be interested in this ABM article, “Using Buying Group Intent to Prioritize Your ABM Targets.”