The use of account-based marketing (ABM) programs continues to expand. In a survey [download page] by Demandbase of more than 600 respondents from companies of various sizes, 6 in 10 (61%) say they have a full ABM program in place or are currently running a pilot program.
Here’s a look at what the survey found regarding ABM priorities and the tools marketers think are essential for a successful program.
1. ABM Budgets Increase in 2020
As proof of how businesses are prioritizing ABM, businesses with a full ABM program in place are investing nearly two-fifths (39%) of their total marketing budgets in ABM initiatives in 2020, up from 33% in 2019.
The survey found that this was a budget proportion 77% higher than companies running early-stage ABM programs. But, even these less mature companies are upping their investment in ABM, with these companies allocating 22% of their total marketing budgets to ABM this year, up from 12% in 2019.
2. Increased Budgets Should Ease Key Challenges
The increased investment in ABM should be welcome news to marketers, as lack of budget ranked as one of the top 3 challenges for all respondents. Indeed, alongside data quality issues (39%), lack of budget (39%) ranked at the top of the list of the biggest challenges marketers were encountering in executing an ABM program.
This finding is echoed by a recent report [download page] from Ascend2, which found that the lack of budget and resources allocated to ABM initiatives was the most widely-cited ABM challenge.
When looking at companies with full ABM programs in place (309 respondents), lack of budget was ranked second among the challenges, with one-third (33%) of these respondents choosing that option. Instead, data quality issues were considered one of the biggest challenges for more than half (53%) of these companies. This, too, can be tied to budget, with previous research finding one of the constraints to investing in data quality is cost.
3. Where Is the Increased Investment Going?
Despite the emphasis put on digital, especially in targeting prospects for ABM, nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents seeing strong ROI from ABM cite direct mail as an area they plan to invest more in. In fact, the report found that companies seeing strong ROI from ABM were twice as likely than those seeing low ROI (31%) to be planning on investing more in direct mail.
Notably, recent data from PFL shows that marketers engaging in multichannel campaigns were more likely to experience good or very good ROI when they incorporated direct mail.
Content (55%), target account selection (53%), ABM ads (50%), contact data quality (48%) and account insights (48%) are other areas where companies with strong ROI from ABM plan to increase their investment. The picture looks a bit different when looking at the responses from all respondents, however. In this case, content (50%) was the top area for increased investment, followed by sales and marketing alignment (46%) and target account selection (43%).
4. Top Priorities
ABM execution is a top priority for almost half of respondents this year, followed by improving data quality (43%), aligning sales and marketing (43%) and measuring the ROI of ABM programs (42%). However, the priorities fall differently for companies with full ABM programs in place. For these companies, measuring ROI is the top-ranked priority (52%), followed by ABM execution (50%). And, even though data quality was at the top of the list of challenges for these companies, slightly fewer (46%) say it’s one of their top priorities this year.
5. Essential ABM Tools
Finally, there are some tools that marketers find essential to their ABM programs. The top tool cited by respondents with a mature ABM program is a CRM, with an overwhelming majority (81%) saying they use Salesforce as their CRM tool.
Those with full ABM programs also ranked marketing automation (#2), LinkedIn (#3), DiscoverOrg/Zoominfo/Datanze (#4) and Demandbase (#5) as the top tools they can not live without.
The full report can be found here.
About the Data: The DemandBase findings are based on a survey of 604 respondents (75% of whom were marketers) across 12 industries and a variety of sizes.