This is a guest post from Jared Dodson, ABM Leader and Marketing Strategist at Lenati. In addition to being a key influencer in the ABM space, Jared has significant experience in helping organizations plan, pilot, and scale their Account-Based Marketing programs.
By now, most B2B organizations have been exposed to countless articles on Account Based Marketing (ABM). Studies show that more organizations are going to be piloting ABM this year than in any previous year. Given all this investment into this approach, is ABM working? Oddly, there is little information on whether the concepts of ABM are working in practice. Furthermore, the most popular study that ABM influences quote was conducted back in 2010 based on a sample size of 50.
Recently Lenati, an ABM consultancy, set out to better understand whether ABM lives up to the hype by asking real-world ABM practitioners about how ABM performed on a key bottom-line metric: ROI.
Below are some of the key findings from this study. There is also a link to the Full Report, also found at the bottom of the blog.
Spoiler Alert: ABM is working…and better than in the past
4 out of 5 ABM marketers believe that the ROI of ABM is higher than that of other marketing initiatives. Further, only 3% of B2B marketers found the ROI to be lower, with only 1% indicating that they experienced a much lower ROI after implanting ABM. On the other side, 44% of ABM practitioners said their ABM investment returns were much higher than were returns with previous marketing approaches.
Larger companies most frequently indicate a higher ROI from ABM, but smaller companies are participating in the success as well.
Larger companies consistently noted a higher ROI than did smaller ones. In fact, 100% of practitioners from companies with 5,001-10,000 employees found ABM to have a higher ROI compared to other marketing tactics. This is to be expected given that larger B2B companies are more likely to sell larger, more complex solutions. However, a majority of ABM practitioners in smaller companies also reported higher ROI when deploying an account-based strategy. This indicates that there are many other scenarios in which an ABM approach makes sense and that the approach is not strictly limited to organizations of a specific profile.
The ABM approach is becoming more broadly adopted across industries.
It’s likely no surprise that the Technology Industry and Sales/Marketing Services Industry are benefiting greatly from ABM. Yet, what is interesting is seeing success in a few new industries that wouldn’t have appeared in a study like this a few years ago. Manufacturing, Healthcare, Education, and Financial Services are all industries that are starting to apply this approach, and with success.
There is agreement on the benefits of ABM at all levels of organizations.
It would be reasonable to expect that practitioners would rate the value of something like ABM differently than leadership would given how much closer practitioners are to the work itself. What is compelling about the results, however, is that individuals are experiencing benefits from ABM regardless of whether they are analyzing the strategy’s results, putting the campaigns into market, or leading the organization.
The benefits of ABM go far beyond marketing ROI, and some participants noted that ROI is not even the primary benefit.
According to one practitioner, “What I found most valuable about the ABM program is the knowledge we gain about the account, so we can design a more tailored approach to serve the account better,” (Christine Law, Red Hat). The participant added that this is true now more than ever, with “Especially this time and age that positive customer experience is key, which in turn drives loyalty.”
Another benefit noted by one of the participants is accessing new accounts: “ABM is huge when you want to prospect into a large enterprise company or be able to expand your product or service into that company,” (Kris Mitchell, Sr. Account Executive). This participant argues that the reason for this is inherent in the way ABM works as, “a focused approach rather than a spray and prey.”
Implications of Findings
ABM is growing in importance, familiarity, and adoption. This is happening for a variety of reasons (as outlined above) but the most significant one is that it works. Given the variety of applications for both small businesses and large corporations, all marketing leaders should consider whether a more targeted, account or industry based approach would enable better customer interactions and drive bottom line business outcomes.
Despite the ROI promise of ABM, organizations should exercise caution before deploying an ABM program. It’s not the always the right approach, and it only works when done right. ABM is not a tactic, it is an entire marketing approach, and that reality is what trips some organizations up. It requires a new strategy, new processes, new technology, and new skillsets.
Download a copy of the Lenati 2018 Account-Based Marketing Research Report complete with all the stats, charts, and breakdown of what ABM Practitioners find most challenging with planning, piloting, implementing, and scaling ABM.