Account-based marketing has reached a major tipping point. B2B marketers are attaining tangible results, and those who haven’t started using it yet are planning to.
And why not? The concept harnesses the best marketing tactics for creating highly relevant campaigns that have a positive impact on the bottom line.
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. Those maturing technologies allow B2B marketers 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.
Now that the case for ABM is clear, the only question left is, Where should marketers invest to fully optimize their efforts?
A recent Forrester Consulting study commissioned by LiveRamp surveyed 312 B2B marketers across six industries and found that nearly all marketers said their businesses are committed to using ABM as a revenue-driving strategy today. Likewise, most marketers reported a high level of confidence across a wide range of ABM capabilities.
However, although most respondents (79%) said they use an ABM platform to measure ABM results, less than half of those (46%) said those tools actually demonstrate a strong ROI.
In the study, Forrester evaluated the approaches used to measure account-based marketing programs—the measurement capabilities included in an ABM platform, or a comprehensive B2B marketing measurement solution. Those standalone measurement solutions are specialized applications that measure the business impact of B2B marketing campaigns and programs across multiple channels and dimensions, such as volume, velocity, value, efficiency, and effectiveness.
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In fact, according to the Forrester study, the strengths of the B2B measurement solutions map directly to a core weakness found in most ABM platforms.
Although ABM is only at the beginning of its maturity curve, it doesn’t take long for marketers to discover the need to upgrade their capabilities beyond the measurement functionality included in all-in-one ABM platforms. Once programs have run through a full sales cycle or two and they have been 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 for the following purposes:
- 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.
For example, 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 that was looking at ABM measurement solutions, and they didn’t realize they were already paying for data matching. It’s often not transparent.”
- 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, which may be a valuable way to break through the clutter because of its novelty.
Bridging both sides of this digital/nondigital divide is a requirement for comprehensive omnichannel ABM programs. Many ABM platforms can measure only limited digital inventory or channels, providing limited visibility into a holistic campaign.
Forrester survey respondents said the key strengths of dedicated measurement solutions are the improved ability to track engagement and optimize across online and offline channels so they can manage frequency of engagement as well as more precisely determine attribution.
- Manage and monitor data governance and privacy. Maintaining the privacy of contact data is highly 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—for example, across multiple silos within an enterprise—is a must. People expect brands of all kinds to respect people’s privacy preferences and to actively work to build trust.
Measurement and optimization are more critical than ever, especially when facing a volatile economic environment. Every dollar counts in a crisis, but nearly one-third of marketing professionals are still planning to increase their investments in B2B marketing measurement solutions in the next calendar year, this new research found.
That finding 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 those investments in digital 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.