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B2B marketers continue to largely prioritize traditional demand generation over account-based marketing (ABM) efforts, although the trend seems to be towards greater integration of the two, according to a Demand Gen Report (DGR) study [download page]. This year 38% of respondents reported having integrated their demand gen and ABM processes to streamline marketing efforts, up from 29% in a similar report last year.

The uptick appears to come at the expense of those who had previously prioritized traditional demand generation over their ABM efforts. Such marketers constituted 45% of the sample this year, down from 52% last year.

The percentage of respondents who prioritize their ABM efforts over their traditional demand generation efforts, meanwhile, stood relatively pat at 15%.

The DGR analysts posit that traditional demand gen is largely prioritized because ABM efforts are still immature. Indeed, half (52%) of respondents reported that their ABM strategy has been in place for a year or less.

Another reason could be that ABM efforts aren’t necessarily blowing away expectations. In fact, respondents were slightly more likely to say that ABM efforts are underperforming (27%) than exceeding (23%) organizational expectations, although it’s true that for half they are meeting expectations. Previous research from Bizible also finds that ABM effectiveness is not a given, as far more marketers surveyed for that study found it to be “somewhat effective” (66%) than “effective” (27%).

Returning to the DGR research, the breakdown of results concerning effectiveness is similar to last year’s report, though it seems as though a small percentage who last year said ABM was meeting expectations now say that their efforts are exceeding expectations.

Among the ABM initiatives positively impacting businesses are better sales and marketing alignment (56%) and efficient use of marketing resources (48%), per the report.

Proving ROI Emerging As A Greater Challenge

A recent report revealed that some B2B marketers are struggling to get buy-in for their ABM efforts, and that challenges in proving ROI could be one reason.

This latest research from DGR identifies ROI proof as a growing area of concern. Four in 10 respondents said that proving ROI/attribution was one of their biggest ABM-related challenges, pushing it just ahead of sales and marketing alignment (39%) as the top challenge.

Last year, DGR’s study had ROI proof third on the list of challenges, behind alignment and personalization at scale towards target accounts.

No wonder then that the most critical ABM success factors include sales and marketing alignment and measuring success.

In terms of personalizing content, respondents reported being most likely to target leverage targeted content tailored to specific industries (64%), while a majority also use templated versions of generic content with some customization (56%) and half targeted content tailored to specific roles (51%). Slightly fewer (45%) are personalizing or customizing content for each account.

Other Survey Highlights

  • A majority (54%) of respondents are offering targeted executive event invitations as part of their ABM initiatives, and more than 4 in 10 offer interactive content tailored by industry/role (44%) and video content (44%).
  • The vast majority of respondents currently use CRM (90%) to support their ABM strategy, with other popular technologies in use including marketing automation platforms (78%) and measurement and reporting tools (71%).
  • Among content types, articles and blogs are considered important to ABM strategies by the largest share (89%) of respondents, followed by case studies (86%), white papers (81%) and research (81%). A growing number – at 71% this year – consider video content to be very or somewhat important.
  • The most common ABM metric is contribution to pipeline revenue (61%), ahead of win rate (52%) and net-new accounts engaged (51%).

About the Data: The report describes its methodology as follows:

“The 2018 ABM Benchmark Survey polled more than 300 marketers about their account-based marketing strategies. Almost half (47%) serve the high-tech industry — 40% of which were from companies with an annual revenue of under $25 million. The majority of respondents (35%) hold director positions at their companies, followed by 30% at manager level.”

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