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Key Takeaways That Marketers Should Know From “The State of Multi-Channel ABM” Event

By Betsy Utley-Marin

10

August

As the convergence of demand and ABM continues, marketers must connect the dots between channels. Addressing complex buying committees across these channels through personalized content leads to more engagement and a better experience for buyers. 

To help marketers better understand this concept, we brought on guest speaker Robert Peterson, VP & Principal Analyst, Forrester, to share the latest research on the state of data-driven multi-channel ABM and how these findings will impact future B2B marketing strategies. 

Throughout the research findings presentation, Vin Turk, COO and Co-Founder, Madison Logic, and Rachel Teare, Senior Director, Global Marketing Readiness & Enablement, Citrix Systems, discussed the research and shared their own ABM successes and challenges. 

We’ve rounded up the most important takeaways for marketers as they think through their multi-channel ABM strategies for the future: 

1. Sales and Marketing Alignment Matters 

It’s time to break down the silos and work with the sales team throughout the entire buyer’s journey. Marketers and sales should work together to: identify and prioritize accounts, develop content strategies, and define what qualified accounts look like. 

Sales teams have the “inside scoop” into what qualified accounts want from your solution as they consider purchasing, so why not use them earlier in the journey to inform your targeting and multi-channel ABM campaign strategy? Through sales feedback, marketers will have help in identifying target accounts, activating content that speaks to each buying committee member and converting accounts into strong opportunities. 

2. The Death of MQLs 

B2B companies are hard-wired to care about leads, but some predict the death of the marketing qualified lead (MQL). By definition, a lead is a singular person. Forrester’s 2021 B2B Buying Survey confirmed that it’s not a single person that makes a purchase decision, it’s a group of stakeholders within the buying committee.  

So, it’s time for sales and marketing leaders to leave MQLs behind and focus on an opportunity-based metric instead. This method accounts for the multiple members of the buying group and aligns marketing and sales to integrate their demand management and deal conversion. 

3. Convergence of Demand and ABM Marketing 

B2B marketing is no longer a “pray and spray” approach. B2B ABM is understanding and prioritizing target accounts through data and tools. Now, Forrester states that traditional Demand Marketers are using the same tools and tactics as ABM, causing a convergence between the two. 

A 2020 Forrester survey presented during the webinar found that this idea is still in a state of transition with only 54% of marketers envisioning this convergence. However, in an update shared reflecting findings for the first quarter of 2022, 54% to 82% of marketers now want to converge demand and ABM. In time, we predict that ABM will lose its unique acronym for B2B marketing and be a natural part of any marketing team’s strategy. This applies to companies of all sizes.  

4. Three Ways to Classify ABM Data 

Data is a central part of ABM for targeting accounts and delivering the next-best content. Forrester finds that when marketers think through data in 3 types, they understand the different jobs data must do for their ABM approach:  

  • Profile data: This is the most basic level of data that most, if not all, ABM marketers have. It defines the target market, basic account/contact information, a customer’s business goals, and budget. This data is slow-changing and explicit to a customer profile.  
  • Activity data: This is the activity or action that happens within accounts or in the market. Examples include intent signals, engagement data, and activity surrounding product consumption. It also includes internal shifts within the account, like leadership changes and software changes.  
  • Derived data: Derived data is information inferred from the other data classes. Using derived data, ABM marketers use predictive analytics, build out their ideal customer profiles, and identify whitespace opportunities that their company’s solution can fill.  

By classifying these three data types and using them to fuel their ABM approach, marketers and sales teams understand what’s happening with their target accounts. This helps them prepare meaningful engagement and content plans that resonate with each member of the buying committee. Data management is an ongoing challenge, but  Robert Peterson at Forrester believes that putting data into these three buckets will help marketers understand their target accounts. 

5. More Interactions, please! 

An ABM campaign delivers the right content to the right contacts at the right time. However, marketers must understand that the number of meaningful buying interactions before making a purchase decision has increased from 17 to 27 in 2021, according to Forrester’s 2021 B2B Buying Study 

This 63% increase in one year indicates a need to deliver content across multiple channels to reach buying committee members across all stages of the purchase journey. This creates more complexity in B2B buying and more interactions that marketers must watch to orchestrate multi-channel ABM the right way. 

6. Three Key ABM Program Objectives 

While the main goal of an ABM program is to deliver qualified accounts to a sales team, each ABM program needs to meet three key objectives. This will help orchestrate a multi-channel approach:  

  • Activate: This is where you identify the total addressable market and the net-new customers or existing customers that may enter your buyer’s journey. Then you identify what type of opportunity these accounts present. If they’re new, you want to acquire them. If they’re existing customers, your goal could be to retain, cross-sell, or expand/upsell. Focus your content on moving these accounts to the next objective.  
  • Validate: This is where you narrow your focus to discover if these accounts are engaging with your content. Then, based on engagement and intent data, if you should prioritize these accounts and qualify them for sales.  
  • Accelerate: Now we’re in the pipeline and marketers must convert these qualified accounts into won customers for pipeline and revenue growth. Marketers need to release content and messaging that overcome any “last mile” objection and ensure that each buying committee member is an advocate for their solution. 

In addition to these takeaways, Citrix Systems’ Rachel Teare also highlighted some best practices ABM marketers should follow: 

  • Use data extensively. Data is the backbone of a successful ABM program, and it takes multiple sources of data to build a complete picture. Forrester finds that B2B organizations are investing in data. 47% of marketers surveyed said they plan to increase their budget on data providers in 2021.  
  • Marketing must be joined at the hip with Sales on the agreed-upon strategy and success metrics of any ABM program. Pick one or two from your sales team that is willing to work with you to figure out what your ABM program will look like. Once you see success, these sales team members will become evangelists for marketing and sales alignment.  
  • Use determined KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to know what is working and what is not. A standardized KPI will remove any questions about the success of your multi-channel ABM campaign.  
  • Look at conversion and velocity with an understanding that performance can vary according to variables such as channel audience, type of campaign, and type of engagement. 

Hungry for more? You can find the full On-Demand Webinar: The State of the Multi-Channel ABM here! 

Betsy Utley-Marin

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