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4 ways businesses are raising their ABM game

Lois Dixon
by Lois Dixon - November 23, 2018

itsmaA Sherpa is a guide. Someone who leads the way, sets a path and navigates less experienced travellers across difficult terrain. Our name is important to us and is the inspiration behind everything we do. Therefore, we are proud to be leading the way in the constantly evolving world of channel marketing. As one of the first agencies to apply account based marketing methods in the channel, we have used our extensive channel marketing experience, combined it with our ABM expertise and formulated a guide to succeeding in Partner ABM.

However, how is ABM being adopted and applied by other businesses? ITSMA and ABM Leadership Alliance recently carried out a web based survey of 207 marketeers at 190 unique B2B technology and business services companies – including Sherpa – to produce the 2018 Account-Based Marketing Benchmarking Study: Raising the Game with B2B Marketing. It’s a hefty read full of useful information, but we know you’re all busy, so we have done the leg work for you by reading through the report in its entirety (all 43 pages) and have put together the takeaways… 

It’s more than just industry hype!

ABM keeps gaining momentum and ABM continues to deliver results, with 77% of businesses achieving at least 10% greater ROI when applying ABM than when using traditional marketing methods. In fact, the study shows that ABM programs are consistently generating substantially higher returns; with 45% of ABM leaders generating more than double the ROI of other marketing efforts. However, the benefits of ABM far exceed just direct revenue, with businesses reporting greater customer success, increased advocates, and innovation resulting from their ABM activities. This in turn has a knock-on effect on the framework of the businesses running the campaign. ABM in its very nature forces companies to be more customer centric, aligns sales and marketing teams and creates a culture where bespoke content, sophisticated processes and enhanced targeting becomes the norm. This in turn impacts and influences marketing strategies outside of ABM, leading to more sophisticated sector marketing and demand generation campaigns.

It’s still early days…

 Although ABM is dominating the conversation in marketing, half of the companies performing ABM are only in their first year of rolling out this strategy and only one in six companies have more than three years’ experience. As Account Based Marketing is still relatively ‘undeveloped’ there are common challenges experienced across businesses, synonymous with employing new strategies. The most common of these are difficulties with measuring results, personalising engagement, funding program development, and operationalising an efficient approach to customisation at scale. The survey also identified that there is still a long way to go with regards to Martech in ABM. This is something we at Sherpa feel quite passionately about. We believe there is no right or wrong combination of tools when it comes to your Martech stack, but it is important to have a stack in the first place! Fewer than half of the respondents are currently leveraging intent, website personalisation, lead to account matching, or predictive analytics, among other ABM-oriented tools. I mentioned this in my last blog, but one of the benefits of having agency involvement when it comes to running ABM programmes is the access to a variety of tried and tested tools and platforms, that individual businesses may not have the budget to employ themselves. We are aware that many businesses are finding their Martech stack to be a stumbling block in their ABM programmes, so please do get in touch if you would like to discuss your options and we would happily discuss our own experience and provide some clarity on the options available.

ABM is extremely agile.

As with the tools you use, the approach you choose is also flexible and dependent on your company and target audience. Companies are utilising all three types of ABM – one to one, one to few, one to many – to target both existing and net new accounts. Each approach allows a balance of offline and online tactics and over half of companies tend to just focus on one type of ABM rather than blending approaches. This is indicative of how new ABM is to many marketing plans. However, 46% of companies are using blended ABM programmes, which usually start with a segmented, and often intent-led target account set and the accounts self-select what level of account based marketing they are relevant to, based on how much they've engaged and with what. ABM is extremely agile and we have found through our own experience that accounts will almost ‘self-select’ and syphon in to the most suitable tactic.

Next steps emphasise program strategy and sophistication

ABM leaders are looking at eight specific initiatives to raise their game:

  1. Increasing impact within each of the three types of ABM
  2. Moving to a blended strategy with more than one type of ABM
  3. Balancing coverage of new and existing accounts
  4. Getting the metrics right
  5. Investing in your teams
  6. Mastering storytelling
  7. Leveraging technology
  8. Orchestrating across the organisation

For more information or to discuss how Sherpa can transform your marketing through ABM campaigns, please get in touch: 

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