As more B2B marketers adopt account-based marketing, we’re seeing ABM reach a tipping point. ABM harnesses the best marketing tactics to create highly relevant B2B campaigns that impact the bottom line. Those who are leveraging it are seeing tangible results, and B2B marketers who haven’t started using ABM are planning to.
Forrester defines account-based marketing (ABM) as “a strategy through which marketing and sales jointly obsess over how to pursue, establish, and grow long-term, highly engaged revenue relationships with specific customer accounts.” Providing relevance and value to the right buyer at the right time through the right channel has long been the strategic pursuit of both marketing and sales. What’s changed are the tools these teams can now employ to drive and measure the business value generated for their organizations. As technologies mature, B2B marketers are better equipped to serve up exactly the kind of results their executives crave—significant improvements in pipeline, increases in average deal size and conversion rates, and boosts in successful cross-sell and upsell opportunities.
The case for ABM is clear, but where should marketers invest to fully optimize their efforts?
LiveRamp recently commissioned Forrester Consulting to survey 312 B2B marketers across six industries, and found that nearly 100% of businesses are committed to using ABM as a revenue-driving strategy today. Likewise, most marketers are reporting a high level of confidence across a wide range of ABM capabilities. However, while most respondents (79%) use an ABM platform to measure ABM results, less than half of those (46%) said these tools actually demonstrate a strong ROI.
In their study, Forrester evaluated different approaches to measuring account-based marketing programs: using the measurement capabilities included in an ABM platform or using a comprehensive B2B marketing measurement solution. These standalone measurement solutions are applications specialized to measure the business impact of B2B marketing campaigns and programs across multiple channels and dimensions, such as volume, velocity, value, efficiency, and effectiveness. In fact, according to the Forrester study, the strengths of these B2B measurement solutions map directly to a core weakness found in most ABM platforms.
Although ABM is only at the beginning of the maturity curve, it doesn’t take long for marketers to discover the need to upgrade their capabilities beyond the measurement functionality included in an all-in-one ABM platform. Once programs have run through a full sales cycle or two and have expanded to encompass a wide range of digital and analog channels, many marketers look for better ways to connect the dots from initial engagement to closed-won revenue. Survey respondents reported higher satisfaction levels when using cross-channel B2B marketing measurement vendors to:
1. Aggregate and connect contact data to targeted accounts. Data connectivity is critical to improving prioritization of target accounts, especially when trying to aggregate contact data and track engagement. However, most marketers are unaware of the numerous back-end technologies and processes that may duplicate these tasks and charge for the same results multiple times. Forrester interviewed an EVP of digital advertising at a digital marketing agency who said, “I 100% agree that there is a market education problem. I have a client who was looking at ABM measurement solutions and they didn’t realize they were already paying for data matching. It’s often not transparent.”
2. Track and optimize campaigns across multiple channels. Not all ABM activities fall under digital advertising. In fact, B2B marketers engage their audiences across multiple online and offline channels, including addressable TV, field marketing, targeted search, and even direct mail, whose increased novelty may prove a valuable way to break through the clutter. Bridging both sides of this divide is a requirement for comprehensive omnichannel ABM programs. Many ABM platforms can only measure limited digital inventory or channels, providing narrow visibility into a holistic campaign. Respondents said the key strength of a dedicated measurement solution is the improved ability to track engagement and optimize across online and offline channels so they can manage frequency of engagement and more precisely determine attribution.
3. Manage and monitor data governance and privacy. Maintaining the privacy of contact data is very critical to B2B organizations. In a world where the lines between B2B and B2C marketing are increasingly blurred, applying strict governance policies over the use of contact data—i.e. across multiple silos within an enterprise—is a must. People expect brands of all kinds to respect people’s privacy preferences and actively work to build trust.
Measurement and optimization are more critical than ever, especially when facing a volatile economic situation. Every dollar counts in a crisis, but this new research shows that nearly a third of marketing professionals are still planning to increase their investments in B2B marketing measurement solutions in the next calendar year. This is especially compelling in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is causing many firms to cut spending and prioritize investments in digital channels. Decision-makers clearly expect these investments to yield strong business benefits, and the pressure to deliver is higher than ever.
Plan now for an account-centric future. B2B marketers can accelerate out of this recession with ABM programs that deliver strong business ROI by considering a comprehensive and cross-channel B2B measurement solution can help fill capability gaps and more clearly prove the value of your ABM marketing efforts.
This article was originally published in MarketingProfs.