More Evidence That 2016 Is Shaping Up as The Year of ABM

April 18, 2016 Mark Emmons

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Not that anyone required further confirmation that Account-Based Marketing has become the “it” business strategy of the moment, a new survey reinforces the sentiment that the ABM trend is gaining traction.

The 2016 #FlipMyFunnel Account-Based Marketing Benchmark Survey Report found that 49 percent of B2B marketers currently have an ABM program in place. And 64 percent of those who don’t have a plan said they intend to implement one in the next year.

“It’s clearly the direction that people want to go,” said Sangram Vajre, the co-founder and chief marketing officer of targeted advertising firm Terminus.

“The question is not only is ABM good, but are the results of ABM good? Now is the time to show results.”

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But dig a little deeper into the survey results from more than 200 marketers, Vajre added, and there are signs that ABM remains a cutting-edge concept and perhaps is not fully understood in the wider marketplace. For example, only 30 percent of respondents said they’ve been using ABM techniques for longer than a year.

“It’s still an early-adopter’s market,” Vajre said. “I don’t think it’s crossed over to the mainstream yet. More people are just starting to think about it. And I think that’s going to be the story of 2016. The question is not only is ABM good, but are the results of ABM good? Now is the time to show results.”

Other key takeaways of the survey with marketers include:

  • 71 percent indicated they plan to add ABM tools this year
  • 47 percent said pipeline acceleration and revenue generation are their ABM goals
  • 49 percent have been running ABM programs for six months or less

Vajre created #FlipMyFunnel to promote ABM, which aligns sales and marketing efforts around quality accounts rather than a quantity of leads. Flipping the traditional funnel upside down is Vajre’s method of visualizing how the sales process should start by identifying your best-fit customers.

LeanData was one of several ABM-oriented companies that helped conduct the survey. Adam New-Waterson, LeanData’s chief marketing officer, said what jumped out at him was the question where marketers were asked about their ABM goals. Twenty-five percent of respondents said revenue generation, 22 percent indicated pipeline acceleration and another 15 percent added customer retention and product adoption.

“It’s great that more than six in 10 marketers are focused on the strategies that really move the needle for a B2B business,” New-Waterson said. “And almost 50 percent are focused on generating high revenues for their companies. This is encouraging for me to see marketing pivot beyond just lead generation or name creation to the metrics that really influence the business and result in long-term success.”

One of the survey’s primary goals was to gauge the appetite marketers have for adding new solutions. That seven out of 10 want to add technology products was promising since a growing number of ABM-related tools are coming onto the market, Vajre said. But that also runs a danger of becoming a case of “be careful of what you ask for,” he added.

“There’s a difference between adding tools and getting results,” Vajre said. “It can be bad because we’re being overwhelmed by so many tools, so many technologies. And we all know that technology doesn’t necessarily solve problems. Strategy is what does that.”

The key, he added, is figuring out the right tools that help your business. But that challenge is growing because so many companies have begun billing their products as ABM solutions. Vajre said that has left many people uncertain about just what the heck Account-Based Marketing is anyway. That’s why he was surprised that nearly 50 percent of the marketers surveyed believe they are doing ABM now.

“That tells me ABM hasn’t been very well-defined yet,” he said. “Nobody has really put it in a box. I think many marketers are saying more optimistically that they’re doing ABM, when in reality they’re only doing one or two things that truly are ABM. Now, they’re looking to do more things to truly leverage ABM in their business.”

And that’s a start, he added.

“But we want to start seeing those results, too,” Vajre said.

Image courtesy of Steve Jane

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