Account based marketing (ABM) is a hot topic. It seems that the world has just discovered the idea of targeting specific customers instead of hoping they’ll find you online with inbound marketing tactics. ABM isn’t really new, it’s just that up until now, it has only been feasible for large companies that can dedicate sales resources to manage, nurture and grow business with their largest accounts.
What is new is the technology that makes it possible for smaller companies to implement ABM. The ABM automation platforms offer advanced data collection to simplify the process of finding key stakeholders in target accounts and designing advertising and email campaigns to reach each decision-maker with appropriate content.
Is ABM For Real?
According to Flip My Funnel, an ABM information site, ABM is experiencing rapid adoption. The organization released its 2017 State of Account Based Marketing Survey which found that 81 percent of 250 companies surveyed have implemented ABM in some form. This compares to 49 percent in the 2016 report. The survey found that 82 percent of these companies are planning to increase their investment in ABM
Of the companies using ABM, 45 percent named “revenue generation” as the primary goal. A somewhat distant second goal was pipeline acceleration (22 percent), followed by lead generation (17 percent).
Still Young and Scattered
While companies are implementing ABM, most consider themselves beginners at it. In 2017, 46 percent identified themselves as beginners (down from 49 percent in 2016). Just 13 percent consider themselves advanced practitioners. And they are using a hodgepodge of tools to reach out to account targets. Some 80 percent use email, 71 percent use the good ‘ole telephone, another 71 percent use social media, and 65 percent use the inbound marketing staple–blogs.
When asked what group “owns” ABM in their organization, 58 percent said “Demand Generation/Field Marketing.” Demand generation represents a newer role in marketing that has emerged with the growth of online search and online purchasing. A distant second 18 percent named “Sales” as the owner and just 16 percent named “Marketing Communications,” marketing a distinct shift in roles in marketing departments.
Flipping the Funnel
As the name “Flip My Funnel,” indicates, ABM reverses the traditional sales funnel. Instead of starting with a wide net at the top of the funnel, ABM aims at specific targets first, and then builds on a few contacts to increase influence in the target organization. The surge in ABM reflects the increasing desire and expectations by buyers that communications be personalized and relevant to their specific needs and problems. Personalization in ABM means not just understanding a buyer persona and customizing content accordingly, but understanding an organization’s entire decision-making process and customizing communication for each individual involved.