Evolution of Account-Based Marketing

By now, if you’ve done your homework, you probably have already heard the term “account-based marketing” floating around B2B conferences and articles for several years now. However, now more than ever, account-based marketing or ABM is strongly making its mark on the B2B industry and for all the right reasons. However, just like any other buzzword (big data, intent data, CRM) there is always a backstory and like any other business process, there is a developmental curve, which can take anywhere from months to years to come fully to fruition. This is very important to understand in order to see how ABM has become what it is today and shed further light on where ABM is headed due to being a transformative concept.

To start, account-based marketing is not a new concept at all. In fact, it has always been present in sales in one sense or another since the 1990s. However, it was never referenced the way it is today. Instead, sales referenced key accounts, and ABM was usually used to refer to Account Management and marketing involvement in supporting those efforts.

A strong collaboration between sales and marketing is the backbone to any successful business for more reasons than I have time to cover in this blog post, but I’ll leave you with these stats. In B2B organizations, when sales and marketing teams are in sync, companies become 67 percent better at closing deals[1] and generate 208 percent more revenue from their marketing efforts.[2] The reason this alignment becomes so important is because the sales process became a more holistic process as opposed to the singular process of going after the individual. With this change and the addition of new technologies, such as CRM products from Salesforce and other vendors, the focus of sales and marketing moved further up the funnel and the focus moved away from the end goal of closing a deal.

In 2003/2004, account-based marketing started to be mentioned throughout B2B circles, with ITSMA being one of the earliest thought leaders talking about it (http://www.itsma.com/abm/). Over time, usage and practice grew, combining several sales and marketing techniques and creating a theory revolving around the collective decision-making process and not the previous assumption that there is one person who makes all product decisions. With solid marketing automation programs in place, it became possible to focus on other parts of the funnel with strong lead generation, lead scoring and lead qualification processes that are powered by Intent, allowing marketers to know when their target accounts are in market. This is how account-based marketing has grown from something so small to what it is today.

In short, ABM has revolutionized the sales and marketing process by creating a whole funnel approach from the first touch, or awareness stage, all the way to when the lead is fully nurtured, showing clear intent to buy. In fact, ABM is making quite a mark. Research conducted by ITSMA in January 2015 discovered that there was great growth in ABM investments and 41 percent of B2B marketers worldwide said they would increase spending on ABM.[3] This discussion about account-based marketing will be continued in my next post, where we will talk about ABM in its current state and why 92 percent of B2B marketers worldwide have said that ABM is “extremely” or “very” important to their overall marketing efforts.[4]

In the meantime, please feel free to reach out if you would like to continue this discussion or please visit https://www.madisonlogic.com/account-based-marketing/ if you have any other questions that you may want answered.

[1] Marketo, http://typeacommunications.com/50-statistics-b2b-sales-marketing-misalignment/

[2] MarketingProfs, http://typeacommunications.com/50-statistics-b2b-sales-marketing-misalignment/

[3] eMarketer, How High is B2B Account-Based Marketing Adoption, June 9, 2015

[4] eMarketer, How High is B2B Account-Based Marketing Adoption, June 9, 2015

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