Research account-based marketing, and you’ll end up with marketing firms pushing their products down your throat.
But if you take the time to dig a little deeper, you will discover that it is one of the most powerful B2B marketing tools that we have at our disposal.
It has been around for a long time, but it hasn’t always been known as account-based marketing.
And lots of the techniques and methodology that make up account-based marketing are instinctual and businesses are implementing them without ever having heard of ABM.
In this article, I will talk about the top account-based marketing trends in 2018.
You can learn and apply ABM trends to your own marketing strategy to stand out and lead the pack.
What is account-based marketing?
I don’t want to spend a lot of time on this because this article is about account-based marketing trends, but it is a subject which is riddled with misconceptions and a quick run through never hurt anyone.
The 5 steps to account-based marketing aren’t that different to an inbound marketing strategy.
Pretty standard marketing model, but the main difference is the use of the word ‘account’. In traditional B2B, companies cast a wide web, and they put out content that targets anyone who needs their services.
An account is really just a word for a specific client, company, or revenue stream. It isn’t the most elegant definition, but if I was honest, I would just say an account means a person with money, and account-based marketing is targeting the people most likely to make you money.
Trend #1: Programmatic Account-Based Marketing Trend
In 2017 B2B marketers will leverage third party, data collecting, programmatic technology to drastically increase the reach and scope of their ABM programs.
What does that actually mean?
The more information a company has the more personalized and specific their ABM strategy can be. Within an industry, there are different businesses, and they, in turn, can have different structures, and two businesses with the same structure might have different cultures.
Scientia est potentia (Knowledge is power)
Remember that account-based marketing isn’t just about the organization but the accounts. The broad marketing term is taken to mean stakeholders, and a programmatic account-based marketing strategy can include executives and midline decision makers, or you could even target floor staff and the receptionist if there was value in it.
The difference between targeting an organization and the defined HR manager account for something like payroll software is astronomical.
Trend #2: Aligning Sales and Marketing Teams
This is the bane of a business’s existence. Covered in every university-level marketing class, the inability of the marketing and sales team to communicate, agree on metrics, and report on their achievements, seems to be the unsolvable problem.
In fact, Forrester data shows that only 8% of B2B companies have tight marketing and sales alignment.
Organizations with tightly-aligned sales and marketing had 36% higher customer retention rates and achieved 38% higher sales win rates – MarketingProfs
What does this have to do with account-based marketing?
In ABM marketers take a more prominent role in identifying accounts and identifying targets for these accounts. The marketing approach is very similar to the sales approach. There is a select list of people that efforts are being directed at, and they either convert or they don’t.
Trend #3: Massive Increase in Account-Based Marketing Tools and Software
“The catalyst for the rapid ascension of ABM to the top of the B2B marketing food chain has been the wild proliferation of technology tools that enable the varying requisite ABM capabilities.” Claims Scratch Marketing and Media
They then went on to point out that “In its annual State of Account-Based Marketing report, SiriusDecisions revealed that more than 70 percent of B2B companies are now focused on driving ABM programs. This is compared to only 20 percent in 2015.
This tremendous growth put account-based marketing on the map, but we now have a competitive industry that demands constant advancement, innovation, and improvement of the tools and service which make it up.
Emerging platforms like Lead Genius throw new tools and functionality into the mix while the established platforms like LinkedIn and Marketo refine their products to stay relevant.
Competition in any marketplace drives value.
Trend #4: Small Businesses and Startups Are Looking into Account-Based Marketing
Maybe it is a mentality change. In the past, startups probably didn’t think that they could go after a targeted account. There are exceptions but traditionally smaller businesses have preferred to toss out a wide net and trying to snag whatever business bites
ABM tools were historically marketed at larger enterprises, but the rapid expansion of tools and functionality, and I guess people’s assumptions about what a startup can and can’t do have paved the way for small business and startups to adopt these tools en masse.
“For small businesses and startups, you want to get the most out of your marketing and ABM offers a much higher ROI over traditional “spray and pray” marketing and sales methods,” says Jesse Frye
Just look at Terminus, a small company themselves, and half of their case studies are for startups and small businesses.
Trend #5: Predictive Analytics are The Account-Based Marketing Deal Breaker
When marketing to specific accounts being able to predict which account is most likely to convert is kind of a big deal. Account-based marketing uses predictive analytics for target list creation and leads scoring. Basically, this means finding companies with similar attributes to the current customer, but there are algorithms, databases, and programmatic processes used to make the prediction which drives account-based marketing.
These analytics are used to find your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) and that is really the foundation of all other account-based marketing efforts. As the predictive analytics improve, ABM will identify more relevant companies and marketers will notice better ROIs and conversion rates.