Making sense of the B2B marketing space is hard. New vendors, new technologies, and new services are constantly popping up. The one thing that we do know is the adoption of account-based marketing (ABM) continues to rise.
But what we don’t know are the answers to questions like where should ABM budget come from, who should be the owner of ABM, what metrics should we be tracking, and how many ABM accounts should we be targeting?
Though there are no definitive answers, we can gain valuable insights by looking at what the most successful ABM companies are doing. That’s why we’re excited to release 2019 ABM Market Research Report.
Engagio teamed up with Salesforce Pardot to engage 500 business leaders in an in-depth, original research study. The resulting report distills the stats you need to know to understand the current state of ABM in 2019, and where your peers are succeeding or falling short. We’ve identified the top challenges related to ABM, what companies are investing in, and where those budget dollars are going.
Before we get into the findings, it’s important to define what account-based marketing is. There are a ton of ways to look at ABM, but here’s how we define it:
Account-based marketing is a go-to-market (GTM) strategy that coordinates personalized marketing and sales efforts to land and expand target accounts.
So, let’s be clear – ABM is not a tactic or a campaign, it’s a GTM strategy. It’s not just something marketing does, it requires cross-functional collaboration. It’s not just focused on net-new accounts, it also focuses on bookings from existing customers. That’s what we’re talking about when we say “account-based marketing.”
Now to the exciting stuff! Here are some of the most notable findings from the 2019 ABM Market Research Report.
New This Year: What Drives Strong ABM ROI?
This research uncovered the tactics and behaviors of those organizations who report seeing a positive return on their investment in ABM initiatives:
- 72% have good alignment between sales and marketing
- 62% are sophisticated in their use of content, web personalization, and ads
- 50% have become more sophisticated with their measurement of ABM
- 58% are sophisticated with ABM plays
What percent of your budget is dedicated to ABM?
When we ran our 2018 survey, companies reported an average of 21% of their marketing budget going toward ABM initiative. Overall, the average percentage of marketing budget dedicated to ABM in 2019 is set to increase to 29%.
ABM means different things at different price points, and this reflects that. But, over time, as we see more organizations viewing ABM not as a stand-alone function, but part of the overall GTM, my prediction is that this number will increase.
Now, let’s dig one level deeper into this stat. We asked where all that budget is going? Our survey respondents indicated that content is still king, as half of B2B marketers plan to invest more in content for ABM this year, followed closely by an increased investment in Sales and Marketing Alignment (47%) and Target Account Selection (46%).
Where are you in your ABM journey?
Though organizations are varied in their state of adoption, 93% of those surveyed are either using ABM today or planning to soon. The majority of organizations surveyed are either doing a pilot program with ABM (26%) or have fully rolled out an ABM program in the last six months (26%).
What percent of your marketing team is involved in ABM?
As marketing teams get more specialized, so do their roles and responsibilities. However, ABM is too important to leave it up to a few people. On average, organizations surveyed report 40% of their marketing team to be involved in the company’s ABM initiative.
Note: ABM doesn’t require a wholesale change to your marketing team. The truth is, you can get started with ABM right away and increase your team’s involvement over time.
Who owns ABM?
Naturally, the next question is who should own ABM? Like any project, without a clear owner, ABM is doomed to fail. In our survey, 28% of respondents indicated the CMO or VP of Marketing currently owns the ABM initiative at their organization.
At 24% of companies, the Head of Demand Generation is tasked with ownership of ABM. This makes sense, as the ultimate goal of this initiative is to drive revenue and demand within key accounts. We also found that more organizations are starting to have a full time, dedicated person focused on ABM.
This is one finding that I’m going to be keeping my eye on as I think it will shift, and we’ll begin to see the ownership of ABM not be dominantly owned by marketing. Why? Let’s go back to our definition – it’s a cross-functional strategy.
A quick LinkedIn search finds over 2,000 open job positions across the U.S. related to ABM, and this number only continues to climb.
One result that surprised a few people is that demand gen owns ABM, and if that surprises you, I have a few thoughts as to why that might be in this video.
What ROI are you getting from ABM?
When asked to report the ROI of their ABM efforts, the majority of respondents (53%) reveal they haven’t started to measure it. Only 5% say they are “awesome” regarding their measurement of ABM.
The most common challenge in 2019, however, is poor data quality with 19% of respondents reporting this to be their #1 challenge for executing ABM. This piece is critical because if you can’t measure and prove ABM, then you’re not going to budget, headcount, resources, etc. for your ABM initiatives in the future. It’s so critical that we’ve written an entire 158-page ebook on ABM measurement.
What were your biggest challenges to ABM success last year?
I love this question because it will help set you up for success in the future.
Good news: While last year the #1 risk of failure for ABM was lack of ability to execute (25% of respondents), this year that risk was reported by only 12% of respondents as their top barrier to success. As training skills and industry education improves, execution should be a reasonable hurdle to overcome.
Much More In The Full Report
Download the entire research study which answers more pressing ABM questions, including:
- Whether companies expect existing or net-new customers to drive most revenue/bookings in 2019
- What ABM metrics are currently being tracked
- Tools (including specific vendors) essential to an ABM strategy
- Average number of target accounts across tiers 1, 2, and 3
- Where marketers go to learn about ABM