“The ABM gold rush is on,” claimed market research giant Forrester back in late 2016. And it’s still true, just look around at all the B2B marketers taking to the strategy like bees to honey. But how much do you know about Account Based Marketing (ABM) beyond the buzzwords? (pardon the pun)
What is account based marketing anyway?
The truth is, ABM still seems to mean different things to different people. In fact, 73% of B2B marketers surveyed by Forrester agreed with the statement: “ABM is a term that lacks specific meaning and is used inconsistently today.”
ABM is problematic in that it refers a broad marketing strategy rather than a single targeted activity. ABM campaigns can incorporate virtually any combination of personalised content, paid advertising, marketing automation, sales enablement, marketing analytics and more.
When you combine this complexity with huge market demand and a widespread lack of understanding, Forrester warns that B2B marketers are faced with a significant risk of “falling for the fool’s gold of unrealistic revenue windfalls and investment returns.”
What are the main obstacles getting in the way of ABM?
According to a recent survey from Ascend2, marketers face three key challenges in ABM:
- 39% struggle attributing marketing efforts to revenue
- 38% face issues in aligning sales and marketing initiatives
- 37% have problems securing executive buy-in and budget
Considering these issues, how successful are companies at achieving their priorities with an ABM strategy? Of those polled by Ascend2, 40% rate themselves very successful, and 55% as somewhat successful, or above average, with only 5% claiming to be somewhat or very unsuccessful.
While there’s a significant portion, then, who have plenty of confidence in their ABM strategy, a comfortable majority consider themselves as only ‘somewhat’ successful – leaving plenty of room for further education and improvement.
Getting back to basics
Forrester lays out four steps to ABM success, which we agree lays out the basic process:
- Select and target (set strategy, prioritise accounts and identify targets)
- Gather insights (identify issues, develop insights, set communication plan)
- Design engagement (create content assets)
- Orchestrate interaction (execute activity, capture interactions, track progress)
Seems to make sense, right? The key takeaway here is that preparation is everything. Activity shouldn't start until the final step in the process, following comprehensive research, planning and content development. ABM isn't something you can dabble in, or jump into feetfirst. Rather, it requires a considered and committed approach to really see the best results possible.
Make your account based marketing campaign a personal affair.
According to the research by Ascend2, 52% of executives polled say personalised content is an effective channel for ABM activity. In addition to this, 49% say email marketing is effective, and 45% perceive social media activity to be effective.
In contrast, targeted display ads are only seen as effective by 31%, search engines by 29% and mobile ads by 21%. Many consumer now show signs of 'ad blindness,' either consciously or subconsciously ignoring content.
So what can we learn from this? Essentially, the more targeted and personal the marketing, the better. Messaging created with an individual in mind seems more likely to be impactful.
Our old friend email marketing once again becomes one of the most effective mediums in an ABM strategy, as traditional communication methods continue to command respect.
Get a little help with your account based marketing campaign
As for pursuing ABM, Ascend2 report that only 16% of survey respondents rely purely on in-house resources. While 24% outsource wholly to a specialist, a huge 60% use a combination of these two approaches.
We understand that it can be difficult to keep up with this complex and fast-evolving marketing strategy. That's why we work with several clients to research, prepare and implement the perfect ABM campaign for their needs.
If you're looking to tackle a campaign yourself, we've also written a comprehensive guide which lays out the steps you need to take - it even includes helpful worksheets! Click below to download your copy.