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    ABM: From Cacophony To Euphony

    A few years ago, we began to hear a curious cacophony around ABM. ABM stands for “account-based marketing,” a marketing concept that’s been around for decades. Now, it is being used in reams of promotional copy distributed by marketing consultancies, data service providers, and software automation vendors alike.

    Marketing-led prophesies can sometimes be self-fulfilling. So now, B2B marketers everywhere are busy researching, launching, and conducting ABM initiatives — ostensibly to engage prospects at target accounts with personalized messaging, content, and offers. And as a growing number of product vendors, service providers, and event organizers enter this gold rush, B2B marketers are in danger of falling for the “fool’s gold” of unrealistic revenue windfalls and investment returns.

    ‘Tis time to take stock and sieve this topic more effectively. The musicians among us would prefer to hear more harmony than discord. But the truth is that ABM means different things to different people; a recent survey of 120 B2B marketers on their strategies and tactics shows:

    “73% agreed that ABM is a term that lacks specific meaning and is used inconsistently today.”

    The same survey showed that four out of five found ABM effectiveness falls short of their expectations.  So much for years of marketing spend by all those vendors!  

    My research, in comparison, can be somewhat boring: I talk about the age of the customer and the need for customer obsession, and, of course, I tell my B2B marketing clients that customer obsession should be account-based if that aligns with their business strategy. This summer, I did some extensive research into the experience of B2B marketers with their ABM projects, and their ABM vendors, for my latest Vendor Selection Matrix report.  

    The Cacophony Continues!  ABM continues to be the most-used promotional acronym by marketing software vendors with well over 90 software vendors claiming to provide ABM-specific functionality. And there are probably several dozen more with no ABM claims but also being used by B2B companies to market to specific accounts with target-market segmentation and content personalization. The software market is estimated at around $750 million in 2019 with a current annual growth rate of some 12%.

    ABM is just B2B marketing done properly.  I was presenting a webinar on this topic yesterday together with Jon Miller of Engagio and we both agreed that the current mire of confusingly-positioned vendors will converge to a couple of dozen platform providers supporting all, or most, of the ABM-related processes such as account and contacts selection; analytics and insights, content personalization, customer engagement orchestration, and performance assessment. Many survey respondents reported deploying two, three or even four ABM vendors, with integration an issue. 30% plan to migrate to a more suitable system, unusually large compared to other vendor selection matrix surveys.

    And the Top 20 ABM Vendors are…..  The top five vendors rated by the users are (all listed alphabetically) 6sense, Engagio, InsideView, Jabmo, and MRP. The vendors Demandbase, Kwanzoo, Madison Logic, Marketo, and Zoominfo complete the top ten. In positions 11 thru 20 are vendors Agent3, D&B Datavision, Lattice Engine, LinkedIn, Radius, RollWorks, TechTarget, Terminus, Triblio, and True Influence. Here is the report in its public version

    Always keeping you informed! Peter

  • ABM,  Marketing Lead Management,  News,  Sales Enablement Management,  Uncategorized,  Vendor Selection

    Report on ABM Coming

    I’ve been researching the topic of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and find that 57% of businesses plan to invest in ABM software in the next 1-3 years. Business marketers in every industry must add ABM functionality to their marketing tech stack because their buyers only want communications relevant to their current business issues.   

    The ABM process is actually a long-established marketing/sales methodology in business services companies, where success depends so much on personal empathy and the relationship. So, they research the interests and needs of their target audiences and provide that “market intelligence” to their sellers or account managers. 

    The advent of digital marketing, tooled by technology advances in website and data analytics, now allows all B2B businesses to do ABM by leveraging collected behavioral and profile data on companies (accounts) or even individual buying decision-makers. ABM software enables marketers to channel personalized content to potential buyers. But first and foremost, ABM is a strategy and is applicable to all marketing channels.

    ABM is currently the most-used promotional acronym by marketing software vendors with well over 90 software vendors claiming to provide ABM-specific functionality. There are probably several dozen more with no ABM claims but also being used by B2B companies to market to specific accounts with target-market segmentation and content personalization. Still, I estimate the software market at around $750 million in 2019 with a current annual growth rate of some 12%.

    The term ABM is actually a misnomer, it should be Account Based Marketing and Selling (ABMS). The ABM process will only succeed if marketing collaborates with its sales counterparts to select the target accounts; share the important contact data; coordinate content distribution and distribute intent alerts. My survey found the second most important driver for ABM investment to be “enable sales to better understand their customers”.  Some interview respondents pointed out that they have always done ABS but this is now supported better by their ABM project. 

    My prediction is that the current mire of confusingly-positioned vendors will converge to a couple of dozen platform providers supporting all, or most, of the ABM-related processes such as account and contacts selection; analytics and insights, content personalization, customer engagement orchestration, and performance assessment. Many survey respondents reported deploying two, three or even four ABM vendors, with integration an issue. 30% plan to migrate to a more suitable system, unusually large compared to other vendor selection matrix surveys. 

    As usual, I will publish a Vendor Selection Matrix showing the ratings for the 20 most cited ABM vendors across our survey of 1500 practitioners. That will be on October 8th.  The top ten vendors rated by the respondents are (all listed alphabetically): 6sense, Demandbase, Engagio, Kwanzoo, InsideView, Jabmo, Madison Logic, Adobe (Marketo), MRP, and Zoominfo.  In positions 11 thru 20 are vendors Agent3, D&B Datavision, Lattice Engine, LinkedIn, Radius, RollWorks, TechTarget, Terminus, Triblio, and True Influence