ABM has been the most over-used acronym in B2B marketing over the past year. Vendors in this space have been busy racing to publish content on the subject in an effort to control the general perception. With this proliferation of biased content, marketing leaders are challenged with understanding if ABM is a strategy they should be considering.

In an effort to set the record straight, Lenati set out to address the realities of ABM from the CMO perspective.

What is ABM and why should I care?

Simply put, ABM is the hyper-efficient way to invest your marketing resources. ABM flips the traditional pipeline funnel by finding accounts likely to buy first and then marketing only to those specific targets.

The reality is that most marketing is wasteful in the sense that a significant portion of marketing spend inevitably reaches people outside the intended target. In fact, a whopping 96% of B2B marketers admit this to be true.

In today’s business environment, CMOs are being asked to continually drive more impact with less budget. Therefore, the traditional “spray and pray” approach no longer works.

Where does an ABM strategy make sense?

Contrary to what vendors may indicate, ABM is not marketing’s “silver bullet”. In fact, ABM doesn’t make sense in many scenarios. To truly realize the return on investment (ROI) benefits of account-based marketing, you need a common denominator to build scale. Companies that are wisely investing in ABM have one or more of the following scenarios:

  • Large key accounts make up a significant portion of their revenue
  • Groups of accounts with similar pain points
  • Selling complex service solutions to enterprise customers

What kind of ROI are companies experiencing?

In a recent survey conducted by Lenati, 80% of companies using ABM reported seeing higher ROI than with other marketing tactics. Additionally, a Demand Metric study reported that one year after implementing ABM, 60% of users saw an increase in revenue of at least 10%; 19% reported an increase 30% or greater.

Done right, the ROI is real. But there is a caveat: ABM requires you to think differently about how you measure. Account-based marketing is largely about building relationships with key accounts; therefore, the best measures of success relate to account performance rather than traditional funnel metrics.

How are companies shifting to an ABM approach?

CMOs continue to shift budget to ABM programs. ITSMA (Information Technology Services Marketing Association) reported 17% of the average marketing budget was allocated to ABM in 2016. A majority of the budget shift is simply about refocusing what you’re currently doing to be relevant and targeted to a specific set of accounts. Companies are also shifting away from brand marketing and starting to incorporate ABM-specific tactics, such as targeted direct mail and digital ads.

What are the common challenges to launching ABM?

The challenge of launching ABM largely depends on a company’s appetite for collaboration. Active partnerships with sales leadership is the number one factor for success. Beyond that, there needs to be a willingness to organize business cadence around accounts and an agreement on what success looks like. Companies that do this right invest time

It is true that ABM is gaining rapid adoption among B2B marketers. Many are finding that although the ROI can be significant, so can the challenge.

See Lenati’s ABM Guide for Large Enterprises to go deeper.