Account-based marketing is a concept that has been thrown around for quite some time now, but over the last year or two, it has really been gaining traction. Earlier this year, it was mentioned here at Fresh Business Thinking as part of an article on marketing automation trends.
The question that begs an answer is whether account-based marketing (ABM, for short) is yet another one of those buzzwords that has the shelf-life of an average smartphone, or is it something that will become the integral part of marketing future.
Account-Based Marketing Basics
As the name would suggest, account-based marketing is a type of marketing that is used in the B2B arena, where the company that does it targets specific companies and decision-makers within those companies.
For example, let's imagine that you are a software company that develops software used by banks. With traditional B2B marketing, you would try to appeal to as many banks as possible, hoping that the people who make decisions in those banks will all come to an agreement that your software is the right choice for them.
With account-based marketing, you decide on a single bank (or a very limited number of them) and you try to appeal to the decision-makers within it with very focused marketing strategies.
The Appeal of ABM
It is no wonder people in certain circles are very much excited about the potential of ABM and are probably already looking into ways in which they can use this type of marketing. The numbers speak for themselves.
For example, 80% of marketers say that ABM outperforms other marketing strategies when ROI is measured. Even more marketers say that ABM has greatly benefitted their existing relationships with clients. Using ABM for more than a year results in at least 10% higher revenues for more than 60% of the companies that use it.
This has resulted in staggering percentages of B2B marketers saying they will start investing in ABM or increase their already existing investments in this type of marketing.
If you are interested in more ABM statistics like these, make sure to check out this great article on the Triblio blog.
In short, ABM gets things done.
The Shortcomings of ABM
Unfortunately, like everything else, account-based marketing comes with its own list of shortcomings that might just dissuade marketers from using it.
For one, it is an approach that only works in the B2B marketing arena. This immediately makes even considering it a moot point for companies that sell directly to consumers. Moreover, due to its highly-targeted nature, it is impractical for B2B companies that rely on volume and a large number of individual clients for one reason or another.
Furthermore, account-based marketing is not exactly the most affordable proposition. Due to the fact that a certain campaign will target only a few (at times only one) people, it will require a lot of work across the board for just a few potential leads. Just as an example, when creating content marketing buyer personas for ABM, you will need an individual one for every potential decision-maker within a targeted organization. This is something that will happen throughout the process.
Think of it as hand-made marketing. It doesn't come cheap.
Finally, account-based marketing requires time. This is something you will hear from everyone who is in any way associated with the ABM industry. ABM cannot be rushed and the results will not be apparent within days. When Northrop Grumman used ABM to land a $2 billion deal with the state of Virginia, this did not happen overnight. It was a long campaign during which many in the company's C-suite probably wondered if they had wasted money.
As it turned out (much) later, they hadn't.
To say that account-based marketing is little more than a pipe-dream would be naïve and short-sighted. That being said, one also needs to be aware of its shortcomings and limitations.
As is often the case, it is a mixed bag.
By James D. Burbank, BizzMarkBlog