Account-based marketing (ABM) has been the topic of webinars, new martech, blogs, conferences and countless B2B conversations over the last year. For this reason, we included ABM in the research for the 2016 State of Pipeline Marketing Report.
According to the responses of over 350 marketers who took the survey, 67% are doing some form of account-based marketing. We’ve segmented the data to pivot responses by those whose marketing consists of 50% or more ABM, and those who have not implemented an ABM strategy.
Below, review the results account-based marketers are seeing in sales and marketing alignment and ROI, as well as their top priorities and how predictive analytics fit into an ABM tech stack.
Sales and Marketing Alignment
Account-based marketing is not solely a marketing function. For the strategy to work well, sales and marketing teams must work together through the entire funnel. A result of this, supported by SOPM data, is strong sales and marketing alignment.
We asked respondents to rate their sales and marketing relationship on a sliding scale from “1- misaligned” to “5-tightly aligned.”
Respondents who aren’t doing any form of ABM reported a 1 or a 2 almost 2.5x as much as those who are doing 50% or more.
While those doing 50% or more ABM rated their relationship as a 4 or 5, 1.6x as much as those doing no ABM.
The data makes clear what we’ve long suspected, an account-based marketing strategy is a great way to get your sales and marketing teams to align and work together toward common goals. And when teams are aligned, they are likely to report a higher ROI.
In fact, 46% of marketers who took the survey and listed alignment as a 4 or 5, reported ROI greater than 2x, while only 13% of respondents with 1 or 2 alignment could say the same.
Average Marketing ROI for Account-Based Marketers
On the topic of marketing ROI, how do account-based marketers fare? We asked marketers doing 50% or more ABM the current average return on investment that they were seeing from their marketing efforts.
While an ROI of more than 2x is only separated by a few percentage points between marketers who aren’t doing ABM and marketers doing 50% or more ABM, the bigger story is in the marketers who are seeing an ROI of less than 1x.
First, although quite a few marketers doing no form of ABM are seeing more than 2x ROI, there’s almost the same amount seeing less than 1x ROI. The case isn’t very strong when there’s near equal amounts on both ends of the spectrum.
However, only 3% of marketers doing 50% or more ABM are seeing an ROI of less than 1x. The remaining percentages are spread from 1.1x to over 2x. That means that marketers who use account-based tactics in at least half of their marketing efforts, almost always see positive ROI.
Unlike traditional demand generation that waits for leads to come to you, account-based marketing names the ideal leads and targets them with personalized content. It’s an outbound strategy instead of an inbound strategy.
ABM means that time and money is spent only on pursuing specific, ideal accounts, so it makes sense that they are more likely to engage, close and deliver positive ROI.
Top Marketing Priority for Account-Based Marketers
With all the channels, strategies and tracking capabilities available to marketers today, the conversion optimization possibilities are endless. So, which do marketers prioritize? And specifically, which do account-based marketers prioritize?
In the SOPM survey, we asked marketers to choose their top marketing priority from options like Generating More Leads or Converting Leads to Revenue, and others like Implementing/Improving Attribution, Sales and Marketing Alignment, or Reducing the Cost of Customer Acquisition.
The graph above segments the data by the top two answers and then combines all other answers into one bar labeled “other.” What stands out is that 55% of marketers not doing any form of ABM, list generating leads as their top marketing priority, with just over 30% listing converting leads to revenue at the top. This leaves around 11% spread across all other answers.
On the other hand, marketers doing 50% or more ABM list converting leads to revenue as their top priority at 37% of respondents. What’s interesting is that generating more leads and “other” come in just over and just under the 30% mark respectively.
With this even spread across responses, it seems account-based marketers are still figuring out what marketing functions to prioritize. This could be due to the relative “newness” of implementing an ABM strategy. As more marketers dig into ABM, and more tech evolves to tracking and reporting ABM, I’d expect the gap between converting leads to revenue and all others, to widen.
One marketing technology option that’s already available to account-based marketers is predictive analytics.
Predictive analytics is great for ABM because it helps marketing and sales teams know where an account is in the buying journey and how likely they are to purchase your product. For example, predictive account engagement scoring wraps up engagement, based on a number of factors like number of touchpoints and engaged personas, into a single score. This score tells marketers if the account needs more nurturing and tells salespeople when the account is ready to buy.
Based on the SOPM survey, over half of marketers doing 50% or more ABM are currently using predictive, or are considering implementing it in the near future. The takeaway here is that if you’re doing ABM and have yet to research the benefits of predictive analytics for your organization, you may be a step behind other account-based marketers.
Additionally, it seems the use of predictive within a demand gen strategy (not doing any ABM) is also on the rise with about 26% considering implementing it in the near future.
There has been a lot of buzz around account-based marketing in 2016, but based on the State of Pipeline Marketing Report it’s all for good reason. Marketers who have embraced an ABM strategy see greater ROI for their marketing efforts and better sales and marketing alignment than those who have yet to implement a strategy.
All of the data for this post was made possible by the annual State of Pipeline Marketing report. If you’d like to download the full report, click the link below.