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Two-thirds of account-based marketers report that their ABM accounts have achieved greater customer success with their solutions than other accounts, and two-thirds likewise say that their ABM accounts are more likely to provide positive references and advocacy than other accounts. That’s according to the recent 2018 ABM Benchmark Study [pdf] from ITSMA and ABM Leadership Alliance.

Given the report’s sponsors and authors, it’s probably not too surprising that respondents would have an enthusiastic outlook on their account-based marketing efforts. In fact, almost half (45%) said that they’re achieving at least twice the ROI from ABM than from traditional marketing. (See here for general B2B ROI estimates.) Notably, a recent study revealed that B2B marketers are increasingly integrating ABM and traditional demand generation, although that research found traditional demand generation to still be prioritized.

Despite this latest report’s spirited take on ABM, respondents still face numerous challenges. Chief among those is getting the data and reports needed to track results (a battle cited in other pieces of ABM research), followed closely by personalizing and tailoring marketing to key contacts at each account. Getting adequate budgets and developing campaign assets that are mass customizable to allow scale also are key hindrances, per the study.

Other results from the survey give reason for optimism, however. When asked to rate ABM marketers’ proficiency in various competencies, respondents gave one of the highest ratings (3.7 on a 5-point scale) to campaign planning and execution. That’s a heartening result given other survey findings indicating that the biggest risk to ABM efforts is lack of executional ability.

Likewise, it’s also encouraging that respondents to this latest survey said that sales and marketing collaboration and integration is one of their most highly-rated competencies. Sales and marketing alignment is considered to be the top success factor for ABM efforts, so maturity in this area is a key point. The ITSMA research suggests that collaboration is highest between marketing and sales teams when executing integrated sales and marketing campaigns (3.8 on a 5-point scale), as well as knowing what is driving the account, mapping and profiling stakeholders, and planning integrated sales and marketing campaigns (each at 3.7). However, there’s less collaboration between functions when developing targeted value propositions (3.4) and measuring success (3.5).

Technical issues also prove to be daunting. ABM marketers were given a below-average 2.9 score for their proficiency with data and analytics for ABM, the only competency for which they were closer to lack of proficiency than mastery. They also achieved only a middling 3.0 score for their proficiency with marketing technology for ABM accounts and programs.

Nonetheless, ABM marketers plan to forge ahead with their tech use. Notably, although fewer than half (41%) currently engage in website personalization, another 29% plan to add this to their toolkit in the next 12-18 months. Predictive analytics could also get a boost, as one-third plan to add this tool on top of the third currently using it.

Other marketing technology platforms that should see a sizable hike in usage relative to current levels include business intelligence/ABM data aggregators (to measure and track results by account) and orchestration for intelligence account plans across teams and channels.

The full report is available to view here [pdf].

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of 207 marketers at 190 B2B technology and business services companies. The survey was conducted in July-August 2018 among ITSMA member companies and ABM Leadership Alliance contacts.

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