ABM acceleration is due mostly to sellers and buyers rapidly shifting to digital-first business models. Plus, digital marketers continuing to adjust their strategies in an ever-changing world.
96% of marketing leaders state that COVID-19 has greatly affected how they’re marketing their products and targeting accounts
70% of marketers now have an active ABM program, compared to only 15% in 2020.
Despite its popularity, some experts say ABM isn’t always effective. They argue that it requires a significant investment in time and resources, and that it often fails to generate enough qualified leads. Others say that ABM works best when combined with other marketing strategies.
So, what’s true? Let’s take a look.
Why ABM Works For B2B
ABM is a marketing strategy that centers around targeting leads based on their accounts or contacts within an organization. This approach focuses on individual prospects instead of mass-market campaigns.
ABM allows B2B marketers to identify high-value prospects that are most likely to convert into paying customers. Plus, enables marketers to measure the effectiveness of their efforts.
Here are the three main reasons why ABM works so well:
1. Customer Data
Companies collect firmographic, behavioral, intent and other data. This enables them to single out key accounts they want to actively target based on criteria such as industry, location, company size, and the pain points that your product or service can potentially address.
2. Targeted Messages
Marketers choose the best method to communicate with individuals who work at the company that needs the product or service. Plus, they ensure these people have decision-making power or strong influence over final decisions.
Messages are tailored to individuals based on the specific needs of their accounts. This builds deeper, more meaningful connections and increases the odds of a successful conversion.
Related Podcast: Can ABM Strategies Improve Lead Generation?
PROs & CONs of Account-Based Marketing
ABM has the potential to change the future of your B2B marketing program. But like most marketing strategies, ABM has both pros and cons. We believe the pros outweigh the cons. But you should decide for yourself if ABM is right for your business.
PRO: Marketing & Sales Alignment
Alignment is key to an effective ABM strategy. Marketing and sales must work closely together throughout the entire sales funnel for account-based marketing to work.
It may take some time and adjustment to get key stakeholders on the same page. Especially if they’re used to working in separate siloes.
But if you want your marketing and sales teams to be tightly aligned, ABM may be the right strategy for your business.
Related Podcast: How To Bridge The Gap Between Sales & Marketing
PRO: Personalized Experiences
Generic, cookie-cutter messaging doesn’t work for ABM. That’s why customer data is so important.
With ABM, you lean hard on the data to personalize messages. When you understand the specific needs and pain points of each account, you can break through the digital noise and show how your product or service can help a specific company.
This personalization takes experiences to the next level, creating meaningful connections that are built on trust and destined to last.
PRO: Higher Return On Investment
Many marketers report that ABM is one of the most effective forms of marketing. In fact, ITSMA, a leading authority on account-based marketing, says that ABM yields higher returns per marketing dollar than other marketing investments.
Not only can you expect a higher ROI from account-based marketing, it’s also easier to track your return on investment because you’re targeting fewer accounts.
“Account-Based Marketing delivers the highest return on investment of any strategic B2B marketing approach. Period.” ITSMA
CON: Upfront Investment
ABM is unlike other marketing approaches. It requires a lot of upfront investment in terms of both time and money.
To get an ABM program off the ground, resources must be spent on activities such as research, developing a target account list and adoption of a strategy.
The upside to ABM? It takes a while to see results. But once it finally works, ABM typically produces a large return.
TIP: Track broader metrics—SQLs, meetings scheduled, bid invitations—to demonstrate progress while you work toward the big payoff.
CON: Talent Shortages
The challenge with a new ABM program is that it requires significant time from both the marketing and sales teams. This often includes people who are already at capacity. Or, who don’t have account-based marketing experience.
A hybrid approach is a great way to overcome resource challenges. Companies can work with an experienced partner that is knowledgeable in industry best practices and account-based marketing. Outsourcing ABM functions encourages growth without adding pressure to your existing team.
Related: ABM Services to support your program
CON: Targeting Is Too Limited
Instead of casting a wide net to find the most suitable leads, with ABM, marketers create a short list of key companies or accounts to target.
While this laser-focused marketing approach enables you to engage decision-makers with personalized campaigns and content, it may narrow your pool of prospects too much.
This is especially true for small to medium companies.
You may need to target a broader range of prospects to reach your marketing goals. If a hyper-targeted group of leads would benefit your organization, then account-based marketing may be answer you’re looking for.
Combining ABM With Other Lead Generation Strategies
Account-based marketing is a great way to sell directly to decision-makers at companies with high purchase intent. But it rarely reaches prospects beyond the intended target. That may limit the number of prospects in your sales pipeline.
When you combine ABM with a lead generation strategy to attract a larger audience, you can fill your pipeline with leads beyond your target accounts.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. But one way is to create a lookalike audience. You can scale ABM to create a wider audience that shares similar characteristics to your existing targets.
For marketing to contribute to sales growth, it’s important to have a holistic strategy. It should include not only account-based marketing. But also lead generation, lead nurturing and customer retention to drive B2B growth.
Related: B2B Lead Generation Services
Account-based marketing is a powerful way to generate leads and focus resources on qualified prospects. However, it takes a lot of effort to execute successfully.
To win at account-based marketing, your team must be aligned, think strategically about ABM (not simply use ABM tactics)—and find balance.
Change is never easy, but those that adopt ABM as part of a holistic marketing strategy set themselves up for success. They stand to drive growth and profitability the fastest during these changing times.
Sources: MRP and Demand Metric survey | Not Another State of Marketing Report 2021 from HubSpot
With 20+ years of marketing experience, Cheryl strives to clearly understand client goals and user needs. She then helps plan, develop and deliver relevant, high-value content that brings the two together.
Cheryl Boehm, Director of Copywriting