Account-based marketing was one of the most significant trends in B2B marketing in 2018. It has been the primary focus of numerous conferences and webinars, and the subject of dozens of articles and blog posts. ABM was also addressed in several research studies during 2018, and with less than two months remaining in the year, I think it’s appropriate to look at where ABM stands, as revealed by the 2018 research findings.
With a few exceptions, the research findings show that ABM has been adopted by a majority of B2B companies. For example:
- In the 2018 ABM Benchmark Survey by Demand Gen Report, 85% of respondents said they are using ABM.
- In the ABM Outlook Survey 2018 by Engagio, 69% of respondents reported having an ABM program in place.
- In the State of Pipeline Marketing 2018 survey by Bizible (and others), 70% of the respondents said they are using ABM.
- But in The 6th Annual B2B Marketing Data Report by Dun & Bradstreet, only 38% of survey respondents said that ABM is part of their go-to-market strategy.
- In the 2018 ABM Benchmark Study by ITSMA and the ABM Leadership Alliance, 84% of survey respondents said they have been using ABM for two years or less. Fifty-four percent said less than one year.
- Fifty-two percent of survey respondents reported using ABM for one year or less. (Demand Gen Report ABM Benchmark Survey)
- Forty-five percent of survey respondents said they had “just started” their ABM program. (Engagio ABM Outlook Survey)
- Forty-five percent of survey respondents said the ROI from their ABM program is more than double the ROI from other marketing efforts. (ITSMA ABM Benchmark Study)
- In the Account-Based Marketing ROI Research Report by Lenati, 44% of survey respondents described the ROI from ABM (compared to other marketing initiatives) as “much higher,” and another 37% said the ROI from ABM is “somewhat higher.”
- Fifty-five percent of survey respondents said they use a mix of both ABM and traditional demand generation. (Engagio ABM Outlook Survey)
- Sixty-four percent of survey respondents said that between 25% and 75% of their total marketing is ABM. (Bizible State of Pipeline Marketing survey)
- Survey respondents reported that approximately 28% of their total marketing budget is or will be devoted to ABM. (Mean) (ITSMA ABM Benchmark Study)
- Survey respondents said that 29% of their total marketing budget would be dedicated to ABM in 2018. (Average) (Engagio ABM Outlook Survey)
How Will ABM Evolve in 2019?
Earlier this year, Gartner argued that the term “content marketing” will soon become obsolete. I believe something similar may happen with account-based marketing, although the process isn’t likely to be completed next year.
More specifically, I think the lines between one-to-few/one-to-many ABM and “traditional” demand generation will continue to blur, and that these forms of ABM will become just “the way marketing is done” by many B2B companies. The exception – if there is one – will be companies that focus on very broad markets (such as, for example, SMBs or a combination of SMBs and consumers).
I would also suggest that one-to-one ABM will be assimilated into the larger practice of strategic account management, and that ABM marketers will function as members of account management teams that also include representatives from sales, business development, and customer success/customer service.