A few years ago, the noted behavioral economist and best-selling author Dan Ariely described big data in a rather memorable way. He said, “Big data is like teenage sex: everyone talks about it, nobody really knows how to do it, everyone thinks everyone else is doing it, so everyone claims they are doing it.”
With a few minor tweaks, Ariely’s description of big data can be applied to account-based marketing:
- ABM has been one of the hottest topics in the B2B marketing and sales world for the past couple of years. Virtually all B2B marketers are aware of ABM, and the odds are that most are thinking, if not actually talking, about it.
- Most B2B companies are just beginning to learn how to do ABM. In the 2016 State of Account Based Marketing Study by SiriusDecisions, 42% of survey respondents said they had been using ABM for less than six months.
- A large and growing number of B2B marketers claim they are doing (or planning to do) ABM. In a survey last fall by Demand Metric, 71% of respondents said they are using ABM, testing ABM, or interested in adopting ABM.
The allure of account-based marketing is easy to understand. According to research by ITSMA
, most B2B marketers believe that ABM produces a higher ROI that any other approach to marketing. Users of ABM claim that it provides several important benefits. In the Demand Metric survey mentioned earlier, a majority of ABM users said that it produces increased engagement with target accounts (83%), better sales/marketing alignment (69%), better qualified prospects (66%), more pipeline opportunities (55%), and increased conversion rates (55%).
There’s a great deal of hype surrounding account-based marketing, and much of it is justified. However, the hype also tends to obscure or minimize some of the real-world challenges associated with doing ABM well. Successful account-based marketing requires a sound strategy, sufficient financial resources, the right mix of human skills, appropriate technology tools, a high level of cross-functional teamwork, and a long-term commitment.
Beginning in January, I’ll be devoting several posts here to the challenging – and often under-appreciated – issues that can make or break an ABM program. In these posts, I’ll discuss how to select and prioritize ABM target accounts, how to identify what resources you’ll need to build and sustain a successful ABM effort, how to develop the insights regarding target accounts that are required for effective ABM, and how to create the level of customized/personalized content that’s needed for ABM success.
These discussions aren’t designed to dissuade anyone from adopting ABM. On the contrary, my goal is to provide insights that will help companies become ABM success stories.
Illustration courtesy of Rob Lee via Flickr CC.