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Account-based marketing began a strong resurgence in popularity a few years ago, but apparently not all are sold on it as yet. In its recently-released ABM Outlook Survey 2018 [download-page], Engagio found that getting buy-in was the biggest challenge for ABM anticipated this year by the more than 1,000 companies it surveyed.

Slightly more than one-fifth (20.7%) of respondents to the survey (which was conducted at the beginning of the year) anticipated that getting buy-in would be their greatest ABM challenge this year. That outweighed the share of respondents who cited other potential challenges including measuring the impact of ABM and attribution (12.8%) and orchestrating account interactions and running plays (12.6%).

The results are interesting in light of a separate ABM survey released early this year by Ascend2. That research also revealed that getting buy-in and budgets was one of the top challenges for ABM efforts, though it was cited by slightly fewer respondents than attributing marketing efforts to revenue and aligning sales and marketing initiatives.

In tandem, though, these results show that companies are still facing an uphill battle in securing both executive buy-in and budgets for their efforts.

It’s worth noting that these results could well be a reflection of the maturity (or lack thereof) of the respondent sample. Fewer than one-quarter of respondents described their company’s maturity with ABM as “advanced” or “well underway.” Presumably, those companies would have an easier time getting buy-in than those who have just started or are thinking about it.

It may also be that getting buy-in is a challenge because measuring the impact of ABM is difficult, and also because intended budgets are expected to grow. Companies using ABM this year plan to allocate 29% of their budgets to these efforts, up from 20% last year.

Meanwhile, if there’s one thing working in favor of ABM efforts, it’s the metrics that are being used. Even though it’s difficult for many to measure the impact of ABM, the top metric being tracked by respondents is revenue generated. That’s important, as recent research has shown that few B2B marketers (in this case tech marketers) are measuring their revenue influence, despite believing that revenue metrics are among the most important metrics to business leaders.

It probably shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, then, that respondents to Engagio’s survey indicated that content about measuring the impact of ABM and attribution is what they would most like to see published by analysts or vendors…

Still, the inability to measure ROI isn’t perceived to be the biggest risk to ABM failing at companies. (It certainly hasn’t held back broader industry spending on social media, for example.) Instead, from a list of potential risks, the largest share (25.5%) of respondents said that lack of executional ability could cause ABM efforts to fail. The next-biggest risk was lack of alignment with sales (19.5% share), with lack of executive buy-in surprisingly lower (11.7% share of respondents).

The full report is available for download here.

About the Data: Engagio describes its methodology as follows:

“In January 2018, Engagio conducted a comprehensive survey of more than 1,260 companies to assess trends in B2B marketing. 37% of responses were from small companies (100 employees or less), 44% of responses were mid-market companies (between 250-2,500 employees), and 19% of responses were from enterprise companies (2,500 and up employees). Results from that survey are used throughout this book; when percentages are used it’s against a fluctuating total number of respondents in that range.”

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