A few years ago, the debate began about whether or not account-based marketing (ABM) was a legitimate strategy or passing trend. And, the debate continues even after account-based marketing has delivered specific results for B2B companies. As more companies are looking to target specific groups of people, ABM has now caught the attention of B2C companies as well , moving from buzzword to relevant strategy.
ABM is a “must-have” for marketing and sales teams. According to SiriusDecisions, 92% of B2B marketers consider ABM “extremely” or “very” important to their marketing efforts. Chris Golec, CEO of Demandbase, shared his thoughts on his company’s annual conference and what an ABM marketing strategy can achieve.
Meeting of the ABM Minds
In its fifth year, the annual ABM Innovation Summit was held this past April 11-12 in San Francisco. Additionally, the Virtual ABM Innovation Summit will air June 6, 2018, at 8:30 am PDT/11:30 am EST. What began as a 195-person conference at AT&T Park in San Francisco has become the largest Account-Based Marketing-focused conference. There were over 1,000 registrants from all over the world at this past conference.
The goal of the ABM Innovation Summit is to bring together B2B marketers and provide inspiring content. As Golec explained, “Our keynotes over the years have included a diverse range of backgrounds. This includes marketers, entrepreneurs, sports icons, authors, actors, and comedians. They share inspiring stories about overcoming challenges that transcend industries and professions.”
This most recent summit featured tennis legend Billie Jean King who shared an incredibly powerful message of equality and perseverance that had everyone in the crowd hanging on every word, literally. King was just the latest in the list of “non-industry” people to appear at the event. The very first Summit featured Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane, famously portrayed by Brad Pitt in the film Moneyball. Beane shared his story on innovating and transforming baseball using analytics.
The Evolution of ABM
There have been a number of noteworthy changes over the last three to 10 years related to ABM’s evolutionary development. Golec noted, “ABM has finally reached a point where it’s no longer just a buzzword. It’s a strategy that helps marketers identify and target the accounts they value most. Also, ABM plays an integral role in converting prospects and retaining customers to ultimately drive revenue. Five or 10 years ago, many companies were doing ABM in some shape or form. Because the technology wasn’t readily available, companies could only practice ABM with a small number of accounts.”
What’s helped fuel the evolution is ABM technologies have grown more sophisticated with artificial intelligence . This means that ABM technology can process data more effectively, provide marketers with more meaningful insights, and generate automated actions all at scale. That’s led some of the largest and fastest growing companies around the world and across a diverse set of industries to adopt ABM.
Despite the growth in ABM adoption, there are still myths and misconceptions that are prevalent. These are potentially preventing more companies from adopting the strategy. According to Golec:
One of the biggest misconceptions that persist today is the idea that a team doesn’t have the time or resources for an ABM strategy. Marketers sometimes think that ABM is an additional strategy they should consider. In reality, ABM is a different way of thinking about their current marketing efforts.”
For example, a senior executive can change the core KPIs their team targets so they tie back to revenue. They can start with key verticals like healthcare or finance or implement a pilot program. Taking small steps can prove to internal stakeholders that ABM works. And, eventually, this may lead to the development of a more comprehensive ABM strategy.
Golec added, “Companies that have been practicing ABM for two years or more have actually changed the way they measure and compensate marketing teams. They have gravitated to the same metrics that the sales team cares about: pipeline, revenue, close rates, deal size, sales cycle, and more. The potential business impact is incredible but requires organizational change and commitment by senior levels to reap all the benefits.”
A Holistic Perspective on the State of Marketing
There are many marketing tools to choose from today. With everything from declared data to AI taking hold in companies’ marketing strategies, marketers have the ability to create a marketing stack that meets their organization’s specific needs. While innovation helps the industry progress, marketers looking to adjust their technology stack may find it difficult to know which solution to use and where they should budget their marketing dollars. After all, the reality is that it’s highly unlikely that the thousands of marketing solutions available now will survive. Only one percent of these actually matter.
Golec says every solution requires some form of implementation, integration, and security, so in turn a lot of time and money can be wasted if the different layers don’t work together seamlessly. “That’s why we believe marketers should look for technology that has a common data model that empowers teams to follow and measure a lead throughout the funnel and lifecycle,” he said. “This will help maximize the effectiveness of marketing technologies. It will ensure you don’t miss out on important data your sales team needs. And, it will allow you to better track and measure the success of your campaigns.”
As a result, this could help deliver that all-important customer experience. Now, customers are confused by overlapping messages and the flood of companies into the marketing space all claiming to be better, faster, and cheaper. Golec emphasized that this is why ABM is so critical. It has an integral role to play in the development of an ecosystem that includes partners, agencies, and education services. ABM is not a buzzword. It’s a long-term investment strategy that is paying off today and will continue to do in the future.
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