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If the 2019 ABM Benchmark Survey Report [download page] from Demand Gen Report is any indication, the majority of B2B organizations (75%) have been using account-based marketing (ABM) in some form for at least 6 months, including half for at least a year. The response so far seems enthusiastic, with about 7 in 10 B2B marketers (69%) reporting that their ABM initiatives have met or exceeded their expectations.

Messaging and content play a critical role in ABM initiatives, especially in the awareness and consideration stages – and tailored content is particularly crucial. Per the report, 7 in 10 marketing executives surveyed are using targeted content tailored to specific industries as part of their ABM outreach. Another 62% are leveraging targeted content personalized to specific roles, while 52% are using content that is targeted based on account challenges or needs.

Some 47% of respondents say they are using messaging and content which is customized for each account. Considering that two-fifths (41%) of B2B marketing leaders take issue with content that is not relevant to their company, the practice of personalizing content around each account and their pain-points is something that could be beneficial beyond ABM initiatives.

Other respondents have not gone as far as others when it comes to customized targeted content. Some 42% say they use templated versions of generic content with some customization.

Beyond the use of the standard content formats such as case studies (86%), articles and blogs (79%) and white papers (76%), ABM marketers are using other content and experiences  to engage target accounts, including targeted executive event invitations (64%), sales meeting invitations (54%), interactive content tailored by role or industry (46%) and video content (40%).

Sales and Marketing Alignment Remains the Biggest ABM Challenge

Despite the large number of B2B businesses that have adopted some form of ABM, lack of executive support for ABM initiatives has increased in the past year. Some 13% of respondents identified a lack of executive support as one of the challenges they encounter with ABM, with this up from 7% in 2018. However as crucial as executive buy-in is, it’s far from being the biggest challenge for marketers.

While marketers and sales departments struggle to become less siloed, alignment between the departments is not only suggested, but a main ingredient to ABM success. Nonetheless, 46% of respondents say that aligning sales and marketing is one of their biggest ABM-related challenges.

Last year’s benchmark report saw proving ROI as a bigger challenge with ABM than sales and marketing alignment. This year, proving ROI was identified as one of the biggest ABM-related challenges for 43% of respondents. Other challenges include personalization at scale towards target accounts (35%), identifying accounts that are in-market and ready to purchase (31%) and developing content for specific accounts or personas.

Other Survey Highlights

  • Nearly half (46%) of the marketing executives surveyed say they have a strong handle on their ideal customer profile but have room to improve coverage, while 35% say they are still trying to define and strengthen their grasp of ideal customer profiles.
  • Although the majority of respondents say they have used an agency or consulting partner in some capacity to support their ABM efforts, more than one-third (35%) have not used an agency, nor do they intend to use one for their ABM efforts.
  • Four in 5 of marketers rely on sales-team selected accounts to target. However, they are also using other types of data to identify targets such as firmographic data (78%), predictive (61%) and technographic (60%).

The full report can be downloaded here.

About the Data: Report findings are based on a survey of more than 100 B2B marketing executives from C-level (11%), VP-level 18%), Director (31%) and Managerial-level (31%) roles.

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