There’s no denying it: Marketing is still changing. But while the pandemic certainly altered how marketers engage with their audiences, the evolution of the practice was already well underway with the slow death of the cookie, ongoing calls for greater transparency in advertising, the rush to personalization, and the myriad of other trends affecting the future of marketing.
In the B2B world, specifically, marketers are facing even more of a challenge given just how much compounded complexity the buying marketplace has experienced in recent years. To boot, B2B buying now is largely a self-guided process and the majority of buyers would prefer not to interact with a vendor at all (even though they recognize that they have to).
With such a fragmented journey, marketers are facing a collective conundrum in how to effectively reach those buying committees now. The audience is too disparate, the landscape too complex, the decision-makers too numerous.
But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel: In a world where self-directed fact-finding is leading the charge, ABM strategies are shining as incredibly reliable approaches for marketing teams looking to drive business results. So much so that about one-third of marketers who’ve never used ABM told HubSpot they’re planning to invest in it for the first time this year.
As both an ABM practitioner and the demand gen leader for ABM platform RollWorks, I’m excited by the long-overdue influx of marketers looking to incorporate ABM into their strategies this year. Here's how I think their investment is going to further shape our ever-evolving industry.
1. Marketers will continue to lean into stage-specific approaches to drive conversion.
Rather than measuring leads through traditional stages defined by someone else, we’re already seeing marketing transition to measuring accounts as they move through custom-defined buying stages. Being able to visualize all accounts progressing from unaware to post-sale gives marketers the power to make trend-based decisions and take the next-best action that directly impacts the ultimate KPI: revenue (rather than staring at results thinking “too little, too late.”).
2. Marketers will continue to deepen the effectiveness of inbound.
While incredibly effective at capturing demand using a wide-reaching approach, inbound alone doesn’t help create it. Whereas ABM— largely an outbound strategy that complements your inbound and traditional lead-based models—creates demand by concentrating marketing and sales resources on engaging specific high-value target accounts through the funnel. It doesn’t take a massive overhaul of strategy to get started. We’re seeing marketing teams amplify the effectiveness of their 1:many channels like email, display, content syndication, and more, simply by targeting the right accounts (versus everyone in their TAM).
Over the last year, marketers have continued to embrace a world where inbound and ABM complement one another to drive the most ROI, and I expect we’ll continue to see an increase in how partnerships like our integration with HubSpot are helping teams of all sizes and growth stages achieve better results, faster.
3. Marketers will finally achieve alignment with sales.
In 2020, Demand Gen Report’s ABM Benchmark Survey found that sales and marketing alignment was respondents’ second-biggest ABM-related challenge. Fast forward two years, and I recently saw in Forrester that 35% of B2B marketing leaders “will prioritize improving marketing alignment and collaboration with other departments over the next two years.”
At the end of the day, ABM is key to sales acceleration with its ability to automate faster sales cycles, go more upstream, and really be able to focus on the higher quality opportunities that are going to ultimately drive the most revenue growth. Given such a concerted focus across the marketing function to invest in ABM, I think this is the year we’ll finally see businesses, of all sizes, go-to-market with a unified, aligned marketing and sales strategy.
I truly believe ABM is one of the most effective ways to drive demand—we know from our own research that 74% of marketing and sales professionals consider ABM a critical part of their mix. And as ABM continues to converge with inbound, marketing automation, and other demand gen strategies, there are going to be infinite opportunities this year for marketers to bring some much-needed innovation back to marketing.
But it’s important to keep in mind there is no one-size-fits-all approach to success. However you implement ABM into your own organization depends a lot on the size and scale of your team, the sophistication of your marketing function, and so much more.
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About the AuthorMore Content by Jodi Cerretani, Sr. Director of Demand Gen