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Blog post By Paula Chiocchi on 2020-08-12

Account-based marketing (ABM) has been on the rise for the past few years. By now it’s clear that programs and success around ABM -- the practice of treating prospective customer accounts as individual “markets of one” – can vary greatly. That’s because ABM has its challenges. It takes strong sales and marketing alignment, and there are increased difficulties in maintaining and scaling the program, but the reward can be great. A SiriusDecisions report found that 89% of organizations surveyed indicated that ABM-targeted accounts achieved a higher ROI compared to those without ABM support.


A new market research study from Demandbase takes a look at what separates successful, high-performing ABM from the rest. Here are three of my top takeaways and what they mean for digital marketers in today’s world.


  1. ABM budgets are (still) on the rise.

The study examined responses from 900 marketers and found that budgets dedicated to ABM increased by 40% this year, from 20% in 2019 to 28% in 2020. It’s notable that the study was concluded in March and April this year, as many companies were seeing a financial impact from the pandemic and tightening their overall budget. ABM may prove even more valuable in our current economy as it enables teams to focus their limited resources on the accounts that have the most potential for high ROI. And now more than ever, buyers need clear, straightforward information on why your solution is relevant and valuable to them – information that is best conveyed in a targeted ABM approach.


The study noted that ABM is becoming more prevalent as B2B teams seek “internal alignment, greater efficiency from marketing investment, and scalable revenue creation.” As more companies achieve strong results, it’s likely we’ll continue to see an increase in investment and budget allocation for ABM.


  1. Data quality is a top issue for ABM.

Quality data is foundational for ABM, in knowing who to target and actually being able to reach them. In the study, 43% of respondents said improving data quality is the top priority. In fact, 53% of companies with mature, full programs say that data quality issues are holding back or limiting their ABM success.


It’s no secret that quality data is a challenge for many aspects of digital marketing, that’s why at OMI we’re so committed to empowering digital marketers with data that’s validated and guaranteed. But it’s interesting to see it pointed out so plainly that poor data quality is actually hindering ABM. And that it’s not a new problem. Data topped the list of challenges in 2019 and 2018, as well.


While ABM started out as a strategy for targeting larger, enterprise accounts, it’s now moving “down market” for use in targeting SMBs, whose contacts can be even more challenging to locate. This makes accurate and reliable data even more important for successful ABM.


  1. ABM requires a paradigm shift for measuring metrics. 

When it comes to measuring success, revenue is the end goal, but 57% of companies haven’t yet started to measure the ROI of ABM, while 12% admit they don’t know how to. ABM operates differently than traditional marketing, therefore the metrics need to reflect those differences. With long sales cycles, lead-based metrics make it difficult to fully understand how ABM programs are performing and see the potential of future revenue. To quantify ABM success, marketers need to look at the big picture with account-specific measurements, instead of only lead-based metrics. Because as the study pointed out, “We can’t manage what we can’t measure.” For companies with full programs in place, measurement is the top priority this year.


The study highlighted many best practices, identifying seven distinct habits of high performers. Unsurprisingly, the businesses with successful ABM invest more of their budget in the program, they’re scaling their programs with quality data, and they measure account metrics over leads.


Many marketers recognize the hurdles ahead of them and are taking steps to clear them – improving data quality was one of the top three priorities for respondents in 2020. To learn more about how quality data can close the loop on identifying prospects for your digital marketing and facilitate ABM efforts, please reach out to me.


Outward Media’s proven data cleansing services and targeted, accurate B2B data can enable you to achieve better digital marketing ROI and, ultimately, convert more prospects into customers. Take a look at our case studies to find out more.

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