The Marketing Strategist:

ABM Growing Up Fast: 2017 Benchmark Report

September 20, 2017

  • Account-based marketing, Featured Article

ITSMA’s new benchmark study of account-based marketing, Driving Growth with Three Types of ABM, conducted in partnership with the ABM Leadership Alliance, adds a wealth of data and insight to help companies move from initial experimentation to a more robust program with strategic impact on the business.

2017 ABM Report

First, for those still unsure of whether ABM is a real growth strategy or just another B2B marketing fad, the report provides powerful evidence of its tremendous potential. In fact, as the study shows, a full 87% of marketers implementing ABM say that it provides higher ROI than any other type of marketing. Similarly, strong majorities say that ABM drives improvement in the “Three R’s” of strategic marketing: Reputation, Relationships, and Revenue.

More generally, the report provides an essential review of the current state of play with ABM in 2017, with coverage on such issues as budgets and staffing, account selection, collaboration with sales, tools and technology, campaign tactics, programmatic challenges, and business benefits.

The report also digs into the three distinct types of ABM that have emerged in recent years: One-to-One, One-to-Few, and One-to-Many. Most companies are currently engaged in just one of these types, but a growing number are experimenting with two of them, and many more plan to move to a blended strategy over the next few years.

Key findings from the report include:

Business Benefits

  • B2B marketers are finding great success with all three types of ABM: 87% of companies say ABM delivers higher ROI than other types of marketing
  • ABM is a long-term game; business results improve with experience
  • The benefits of ABM extend across all of marketing, and beyond: ABM influences all of marketing and is playing an important role in making companies more client centric

Budgets and Investment

  • Companies implementing ABM are spending an average of 26% of the total marketing budget on the approach, and 72% of companies are planning to increase ABM spending
  • The average ABM spending increase for 2017 was 23.5%
  • Companies implementing One-to-One ABM have the most diverse sources of funding, often receiving support from corporate marketing, field marketing, and sales

Campaign Tactics

  • ABM-ers work closely with Sales in all three types of ABM to develop “plays” and integrated campaigns
  • Companies focused on One-to-One and One-to-Few are most likely to invest in account-specific thought leadership, but practitioners of all three types are balancing digital engagement with live events, briefings, and roadshows; offline continues to play an essential role
  • Top challenges include developing assets that can be mass customized at scale, and personalizing and tailoring marketing for key contacts at each account

Tools and Technology

  • We’re still early in the adoption of ABM-focused systems and technology; most ABM-ers rely primarily on core marketing systems including CRM, marketing automation, and digital advertising
  • Roughly one third of organizations have adopted more specialized tools to support their programs, such as lead to account matching, website personalization, and predictive analytics, but these types of tools top the list for planned investment over the next 12-18 months
  • The push to scale ABM programs is driving a great deal of investment: ABM-ers look to new tools and technologies most often to help cover more accounts, automate processes, and improve online customer engagement

Overall, the report points to a highly effective marketing discipline that is growing up fast. Many companies are still just testing the waters, and there remains a lot of confusion and even disagreement about what exactly is and isn’t “real” ABM. But a great many companies are spending serious money, seeing substantial results, and moving as fast as possible to scale their programs and move to a blended approach to drive even greater business impact.

Download the report today and let us know what you think.

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