Companies are continuing to invest in ABM with on average more than one-quarter (27%) of marketing budgets being dedicated to the tactic, according to a study [download page] of B2B marketers from ITSMA and ABM Leadership Alliance.
This budget share is no wonder, considering ABM’s perceived ROI, per the survey of 168 marketers drawn from ITSMA member companies and ABM Leadership Alliance contacts. About 3 in 4 (76%) shared that their ROI from ABM was significantly (26%) or somewhat (50%) higher than from traditional marketing initiatives. Only around one-quarter said that it was about the same (12%) or lower (12%).
Not only that, but ABM initiatives are clearly having a positive impact on the businesses surveyed. This is particularly true in terms of business relationships (i.e. account engagement, relationship strength and breadth and depth of relationships), which 7 in 10 (71%) respondents said had seen measurable improvement due to ABM initiatives. Importantly, for a majority improvement is also being registered in revenues (55%) – comprising revenue per account, pipeline growth, deal size and portfolio generation.
As the report details, since its inception in the early 2000s with a focus on one-to-one marketing for existing accounts, ABM has evolved into a tactic with multiple approaches. According to the study, these approaches continue to be defined as one-to-one, one-to-few, and one-to-many. The majority (64%) of respondents indicated that their company uses a single type of ABM, among whom the joint most popular tactics are one-to-few (24%) and one-to-many (24%) ABM.
A further quarter (24%) focus on two types of ABM, while just 12% focus on all three types of ABM.
Changes and Challenges to ABM
A study of ABM in 2020 would be incomplete without an assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the report indicates that while the majority (54%) of companies’ ABM objectives have not gone through changes as a result of the crisis, a significant portion (42%) have changed their objectives.
For those respondents who say their business objectives for ABM have changed as a result of the pandemic, certain priorities have become much more important, including growing business with existing accounts, supporting specific major opportunities or deals (37%), and selling to new accounts (33%).
Aside from pressures due to the pandemic, marketers are facing general challenges when it comes to ABM, too. The top challenge for respondents showed up as tracking and measuring ABM results, tallying with research from 2020 which found that B2B marketers wanted to use deeper ABM metrics in the following year.
Other top challenges include developing campaign assets that are mass customizable to allow scale, justifying program costs/providing ROI, and educating sales on the process and value of ABM.
Read the full report here.
About the Data: Results are based on an online survey of 420 B2B marketers representing technology and business services companies.