B2B marketers are notorious for their hesitance to adopt digital marketing tactics. While their counterparts in B2C marketing have recognized the substantial benefits of real-time communication and individual targeting that accompany digital, B2B organizations seem to struggle with identifying the benefits digital poses for them. After all, B2B sales cycles are significantly longer than B2C’s and B2B marketers aim to speak to businesses, not individual consumers. In that light, sticking to traditional marketing tactics may seem the safer and more fruitful option.
Account-based marketing (ABM) is changing all of that. A strategy that involves targeting an individual organization, ABM allows B2B marketers to focus on each prospect as a single market. Driven by personalized messaging and targeted communications, ABM takes the most valuable aspects of digital marketing and tailors them to needs of B2B marketing.
By utilizing targeted lists and prospect-specific strategies, ABM can allow B2B companies to drive better quality leads, grow pipelines, and increase revenue. Additionally, through ABM tools, marketers can gain access to person-level contact data, allowing them to personalize content to not only an account but also to the individuals on the account that are responsible for decision-making.
Account-Based Marketing: Strategy or Tool? Inbound or Outbound?
Originating in 2004, the term ‘Account-Based Marketing’ was coined by ITSMA and it consists of the two components of data and advertising. ABM has been hitting its stride in the past few years, with momentum taking off in 2014. While there are some advanced tools out there that allow ABM to take on a more significant level of capabilities—such as granular segmentation—at its core, ABM is nothing more than a strategy. This means that it can either be implemented as a grassroots effort or employ serious technology to accomplish its end goal. That said, the advancement of technologies that enhance the strategic element of ABM have allowed it to take off in a significant way.
Interestingly, ABM lies somewhere between outbound and inbound marketing tactics, which may also account for its increasing popularity in the B2B space. After all, many B2B organizations have traditionally relied on and trusted outbound efforts to grow their businesses. By combining the technology to target messages with the subtlety of inbound marketing and the sharp strategies of outbound marketing, ABM is carrying B2B marketers into the future.
Through ABM, B2B marketers are “embracing the concept of working with–and thriving with–an ideal client,” according to Jeff Leo Herrmann, Chief Revenue Officer at Fathom. “The opportunity to select great client targets and then focus your marketing content, nurture strategy, and social selling process leads to a highly effective organization.”
B2B marketers truly ought to begin considering the process of adopting ABM if they haven’t already. After all, studies show that not only will the capabilities of ABM become sharper over the next few years, so too will B2B marketers begin increasing their usage of ABM, becoming sharper in their own marketing efforts.
Account-Based Marketing in 10 Years
With more than 70% of B2B companies hoping to adopt ABM programs (CMS Wire), a growth in the strategy and corresponding tools should be expected. In a separate study by Bizable and Terminus, 80% of B2B organizations utilizing ABM were “gaining noticeable results…and none plan on scaling back efforts”. Additionally, the inception of the ABM Leadership Alliance—which was founded by ABM tools such as Demandbase, Bizable, and Optimizely—indicates that those invested in ABM foresee significant growth as well. It also means that those 70% of B2B companies referenced above will have a solid network of ABM specialists and experienced peers to rely on, increasing both adoption and success.
There’s no better time to get in the ABM game than now.
Until this point, ABM has primarily been popular with enterprises and remained elusive to those with fewer resources. As the technology becomes more accessible, ABM adoption will work its way into mid-market and SMB spaces. For those who still lack the resources to take on ABM technologies, the associated strategies will still see heightened attention thanks to the ability to take a ‘Do-It-Yourself’ approach to ABM through paid social and social selling.
Along with the growth of ABM tools, we can easily expect that tools responsible for enhancing sales and marketing alignment will also increase in importance. Namely, sales intelligence and prospecting tools. By supplementing ABM data with the increased use of these tools, the targeting and messaging capabilities will be stronger than ever. Along these same lines, advancements in predictive analytics will play a complementary role to ABM’s capabilities.
Like any technology that involves advertising, the increased use of ad blocking certainly poses a threat to ABM. Many advertisers are finding ways to get around ad block, though. Additionally, if advertisers create focused, genuinely appealing advertisements, ad block should not make or break the success of ABM.
So, as long as ABM continues to deliver on its promise to provide the strongest ROI for B2B marketers, adoption, accessibility, and capabilities can only be expected to flourish.
Did you like this post? Let us know why (or why not) in the comments. In the meantime, check out our blog Why Programmatic Advertising is Gaining Momentum to discover the power of programmatic advertising for both B2B and B2C marketers.