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
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
My latest Vendor Selection Matrix reports focus on the management of digital assets. The software market for automating this process has been energized by an explosion in the volumes of digital assets, particularly rich media assets such as photos and video, driven by digital marketing and eCommerce. In some industries such as apparel and retail, this explosion can even include the management of new, dynamic assets created by customers during their buying behavior.
The Digital Asset Management (DAM) process is the storage and management of digital files, in particular digital media files like graphics, videos, sound and text components needed for digital content production. DAM systems can catalog and retrieve the digital assets for various types of users working in marketing, product management, sales, service, design, and manufacturing departments of an organization.
I found some 40 active vendors offering DAM solutions, including open-source providers and vendors active only in their local markets. In 2018, the total global annual software license, maintenance and SaaS revenues for DAM totaled around $ 2.5 billion, growing annually at around 20%. Although
DAMis a mature technology, there is highdemand for new DAM projects as more businesses need a management system for the expensive rich media content they now create for digital marketing programs and eCommerce projects.
I also found a new market driver: companies who enable prospects/customers to configure their products using digital technology on websites, kiosks or other point-of-sale platforms also need to manage those dynamic assets – to support a sales order or just to provide feedback to product designers. This trend, where DAM expands from static digital files to include variants and instances created in the customer-facing delivery phases, which also need to be stored, logged, tagged and retrieved, is most apparent in the apparel and retail industries but I expect it to impact other industries as well in the next years. I would call this “outside-in” DAM as opposed to the traditional “inside-out” DAM projects.
EUROPEAN VENDORS DOMINATE DAM
Of particular interest to me, living here in Europe, was that the list of leading global suppliers included several European vendors who have significant worldwide presence. European businesses tend to be much more process-oriented than North American firms. As the demands of digital marketing and rich media increase the need to install more rigorous business process around digital assets (compliance, security, privacy), vendors who have developed products for the needs of European companies are able to take advantage of their functional leadership in international markets as well.
The top five vendors rated by the users are (listed alphabetically) Adobe, Bynder, censhare, Nuxeo, and Sitecore. The vendors CELUM, Cloudinary, Cognizant (yes, a service provider was named by the respondents), OpenText, and Widen complete the top ten. In positions 11 thru 20 are vendors Aprimo, Canto, Cumulus, Digizuite, Extensis, Media Valet, MediaBeacon, Northplains, Picturepark, and Wedia.
An abridged version of the report can be viewed here.
DAM VENDORS IN GERMANY
I also did a separate survey of 750 DAM practitioners in Germany and discovered that the top 15 vendors as selected by those respondents included just six non-German companies which is far fewer than usual. The top five vendors in Germany are (listed alphabetically) Adobe, Bynder, censhare, Eyebase (CMB), and Sitecore. The vendors Cavok (Peak-14), Canto, CELUM, Contentserv, and Nuxeo complete the top ten. In positions 11 thru 15 are vendors Aprimo, Coremedia, Eikona-Media, OpenText, plus open source vendors.
That report is available here. We have adopted a new format with this report and written it in both English and German – hope you like that.
Always keeping you informed! Peter
I was invited to speak at the 7thLead Management Summit, a two-day conference with about German 300 B2B marketers, held in Würzburg.
Although I wasn’t on till Day 2, I attended both days and really enjoyed the first keynote from Christian Schmitz, Professor for Sales Management at the Ruhr-University in Bochum. Bochum has three Profs on the Sales & Marketing chair and awards 15 master’s degrees in Sales Management annually (470 applications last year!). Their work is sponsored by over a dozen companies so its research and teaching
iscertainly not theoretical.
Of course, one reason I enjoyed Christian was because he started his “Digital Disruption in B2B Sales” talk with several citations from my work at Forrester. As well as naming the “Death of the Salesman” report (my recent blog), he showed other stats and predictions that I had published on the topic – it made my own introduction the next day so much easier.
We had a series of presentations by marketing practitioners. Some firms are already quite sophisticated in their lead management system while others are still in the experimental stage. Last October, 39% of 1500 firms I interviewed on Marketing Lead Management said they were planning their first automation project while 33% did have software in place but want to replace it – the German numbers were even higher for first-time projects.
But the most common phrase I registered, from speakers and from attendees I talked to was:
“I work at a company that is a worldwide leader in our market, but you probably have never heard of us.”
These are some of the 500-or-so“hidden champions”, the secret sauce of the German economy’s export success – mid-sized niche manufacturers located all over the German countryside. All these firms now face dramatic marketing challenges as the internet and digital disruption makes their world so much smaller. A great reason for marketing vendors to invest more time/resources in this audience (my talk listed the German GTM efforts
of leadingmarketing lead management software vendors – not a great commitment). Hubspot, Salesforce, Oracle-Eloqua, Marketo andAct-On do have some German sites. The most important local vendor is SC-Networks with Evonik followed by hundreds of E-Mail marketing platforms.
I also noted this quite telling and important statement made by a speaker as they discussed the necessary investments in a lead management project (doing effective customer research to record the buyer journey, creating content, installing and setting up software). She said:
“A print campaign would have been much more expensive and new-logo acquisition through sales people is the most expensive of all options.”
Now that is an interesting way to consider marketing automation ROI.
Always keeping you informed! Peter