- The past year has taught us that we must be prepared for the unexpected. Because of this, adopting an account-based go-to-market strategy (GTM) has never been more important.
- The 2020 ABM benchmark study once again confirmed the impact of ABM on business results. Organizations saw measurable improvements in relationships (71%), revenue (55%), and reputation / brand (34%).
- Businesses need to see results quickly. Because of this, the top investments planned for 2021 include ABM platforms, mapping and reporting, intent, direct mail, content syndication, third-party data and events.
- The secret to account-based success in 2021 depends on five things: marketing and sales alignment; the mixture of one-to-one, one-to-few or one-to-many strategies; Focus on the three Rs – revenue, relationships and reputation; the ability to be agile; and prioritize research at the account level.
Whether you call it Account Based Marketing (ABM), Account Based Experience (ABX), or something else, those of us who understand the value of an account-based go-to-market strategy believe that every year should be the year of the account.
Some have taken this powerful strategy more slowly, but 2020 has forced everyone, including those who are lagging behind, to rethink their methods. The result is that 2021 will be the year all B2B marketers take an account-based approach.
One reason for this is that 30% of marketers saw negative changes to their budgets in 2020 (according to the latest research study by the ABM Leadership Alliance).
So marketers had to figure out how to do more with less. Given that 75% of marketers surveyed said they had a higher ROI with ABM than other types of marketing, going into accounts became a natural choice.
There are no signs of slowing down as survey respondents said an average of 27% of their marketing budget for 2021 is dedicated to ABM.
Whether you’ve believed in an account for years or are part of the group that is just seeing the light, you are in good company. Here’s why this year is the Year of the Account and how to make the most of it.
The year of improved results and ROI
2020 has shown us how quickly extreme damage and loss can occur. Once we have learned a lesson, we need to be prepared for whatever comes next. Because of this, adopting an account-based go-to-market strategy (GTM) has never been more important (or urgent) than it is now.
No longer do marketers have the luxury of pulling their heels when considering taking the plunge held back by the fear and discomfort of change. Businesses need results now. which means marketers have to deliver them … now.
The good news is that this is possible and accessible.
In fact, the 2020 ABM Benchmark Study confirmed the impact of account-based marketing on business outcomes, with companies seeing measurable improvements in the following areas: relationships (71%), revenue (55%), and reputation / brand (34%).
When you are under pressure to perform like never before, you need to double your accounts like never before.
The other piece of the puzzle that will make 2021 the Year of the Account is technology.
The study found that most companies are early adopting specialized tools to support their programs, but intend to use them to mature in 2021. Major investments planned for the year include ABM platforms, attribution and reporting, intent, direct mail and content syndication, third party data and events.
If you look back on the evolution of Marketing Automation (MA) tools like Marketo (which I co-founded in 2006), it reflects the evolution of ABM platforms.
Although account-based strategies have been growing in importance for many years, ABM platforms were a nice to have technology investment until recently.
Now, in 2021, they are making a name for themselves as a “must have”, just as Marketing Automation did years ago. There is no doubt that this is the time for ABM platforms as technology has finally come together to deliver everything customers need, in the right way, at the right time.
Secrets to Account-Based Success
The ABM Leadership Alliance study revealed many insights into how companies can get the most out of their account-based strategy in 2021. Here are the highlights so you can identify which areas of your own organization need the most attention.
1) Work synergistically with sales
Sales and marketing alignment has been a hot topic for a while and for good reason. The better the two departments are coordinated, the more successful the revenue engine – and this also applies to account-based programs.
The research found that the most effective programs were run by marketers who worked most closely with sales. Coincidence? Not at all.
2) Mix up your strategy
Most organizations just starting out start with a single style, be it one-on-one, one-to-few, or one-to-many.
However, the results of the study show that the most successful programs employ more than one of these strategies, with 20% of the highest-yielding programs using all three.
This year, 48% of marketers are planning on taking a mixed approach with at least two styles. This means marketers have deepened their understanding and are moving forward more effectively.
3) Refocus on the right metrics
We all know that measurement is gold for marketers, but that doesn’t mean they are always measuring the right things. Some metrics are incredibly insightful, while others can be more distracting (and damaging).
With account-based approaches, focus on measuring the three “Rs”: sales, relationships, and reputation. This is what 73% of top performing companies measure, so you can trust it to work and focus your attention on what matters most.
4) Prepare to move quickly
Agility has always been important in the rapidly changing field of marketing. New technologies and approaches appear every day. But 2020 required a new level of agility, born out of necessity.
It’s not surprising that over the past year, the most effective account-based programs have outpaced the rest, changing their industry focuses and account clusters, and introducing new tactics like smaller, account-focused interactive virtual meetings and events.
Now that we’ve learned that uncertainty is a certainty, it’s wise to prepare for change in 2021 – and be ready to make it happen quickly.
5) Prioritize research at the account level
The best account-based results of 2020 came from companies that invested heavily in direct customer insights, intent, engagement, forecasting and data management.
We expected this to be the case, as a deeper understanding of the data and its role is required to be successful with it.
By 2021, all account-based go-to-market companies should follow suit and focus more on research and insight at the account level.
Account-based strategies have grown in prevalence and impact for years, but 2020 was the turning point for strategy and ABM software. It is time for B2B marketers to take this approach once and for all and see the benefits of this strategic investment. In other words, it’s time for the year of the account.
As Demandbase’s Chief Marketing and Product Officer, Jon Miller was responsible for delivering Demandbase’s product vision to excite customers and fulfill his mission to transform the way B2B companies go to market. Jon has a long history of starting and running some of the best-known marketing technology companies. Most recently, he was co-founder and CEO of Engagio, the leading account-based orchestration platform. Previously, he was the co-founder and chief marketing officer of Marketo (acquired by Adobe).