There’s no denying that account-based marketing (ABM) is having “a moment” in B2B. It’s a moment I hope lasts a long time, because we see how well ABM performs for our clients who make this part of their marketing strategy.
A major opportunity on the road to ABM success is the use of technology. According to our recently released 2016 State of Account-Based Marketing Study, 58 percent of B2B companies say they’re planning to invest in ABM technologies or services this year. Marketers need to get the most from the investments they’re making in ABM right now to deliver business impact and prove the case for expanding ABM. The key to success with these investments is not just understanding which new software to buy, but also how to deploy technology to align with sales and meet account goals.
Based on our study, here are some of the top ABM technology categories B2B companies said they plan to invest in. This does not represent all categories that support account-based marketing, just those that were named most often by our survey respondents.
Sixty-eight percent of companies are planning to add tools from this category. Advertising technology includes all of the technologies that facilitate reaching a targeted audience digitally, including paid search advertising platforms and demand side platforms for display, social, video, and mobile ad serving. Typical ABM use cases for ad tech include:
- Reach-to-expand engagement with defined audiences
- Retargeting to get visitors to return to a site
- Web conversion optimization to engage and qualify individuals once they reach a site
Thirty-five percent of companies are looking to invest in tools from this category within the year. Marketing automation provides support for pre- and post-sale contact engagement at scale. In addition to supporting outbound emails and other traditional tactics, many marketing automation platforms (MAPs) incorporate functionality for linking online activity and contact profile. Some vendors are adding account scoring capabilities and other functionality to support ABM execution and sales alignment.
Thirty-one percent of companies are planning to invest in tools from this category. Capabilities include lead management, account management, contact management, opportunity management, and reporting, plus a home for add-on applications across a range of categories. ABM efforts rely heavily on a central sales automation platform (commonly CRM software) for information about accounts, contacts and opportunities. This category is supplemented in many companies by a sales asset management platform that allows sales and marketing to define and serve insights, content, and other resources for account-specific needs.
Analytics and Insights
Thirty-one percent of companies will add web analytics tools to their stack, and 25 percent are planning to add predictive analytics tools. Use cases for ABM are generally concentrated around financial and performance analysis for target accounts and buying centers (e.g. opportunity identification, growth in accounts, overall account engagement, online engagement, relationship health). They also include predictive analytics (intent analysis, predictive lead scoring, churn detection) to define where ABM and sales should focus their efforts. More and more marketing and sales teams are adopting analytical tools to keep an eye on account activity and important metrics.
Progressive Profiling/Dynamic Display/CMS
Thirty-one percent of companies will add tools for progressive profiling/dynamic display/content management this year. These solutions allow online visitors to be identified based on their browsing behavior, location, and data from third-party repositories. Companies can combine behavioral data with existing account data to prime the organization for deployment of other ABM tactics. When linked to a content management system (CMS) with dynamic capabilities or a behavioral targeting platform, IP lookup data can help you deliver personalized content offers that increase the likelihood of engagement.
Customer Intelligence Management
Solutions in this category help B2B companies collect, analyze, and respond to customer feedback. The data collected from traditional and social touchpoints helps marketers develop a better understanding customer sentiment. With ongoing access to insights about customer relationship status, you can improve your segmentation, messaging, engagement, and growth plans. Twenty percent of companies are planning to add tools from this category. Some of these tools overlap or are included within traditional business intelligence software.
Social Media Management
Another twenty percent of companies plan to add social media management tools to their stack. These tools deliver content and monitor social media activity, so they are key components of the account-based marketing technology stack. Social media management tools can be deployed at wither the account-to-account and person-to-person levels. Some business intelligence platforms also integrate social media activity into their reporting.
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As you can see, account-based marketing isn’t a narrow set of personalized advertising tools, as many first thought. Fully realized ABM relies not only on an end-to-end “stack” of technology for identifying, targeting, and tracking accounts, but on a set of processes that keep sales and marketing aligned. To make the right investments, each organization will need to decide which aspects of ABM they’re ready to implement and what tools are required.
Megan Heuer is the vice president of research at SiriusDecisions. She is a sales and marketing thought leader with more than 20 years of industry and professional services experience. Follow Megan on Twitter or Linkedin.
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