From being subjected to scrutiny at the great buzzword debate a few years back to being identified as a valuable strategy in recent times, Account-based Marketing (ABM) has come a long way. It has emerged as a strategic tool that enables business organizations to design personalized outreach programs across the marketing and sales funnel.
Research firm Gartner called ABM a go-to market strategy and asserted, “…Coordinated and targeted approaches that deliver ongoing, personalized outreach to specific accounts can drive more wins, shorter sales cycles and larger deals. It’s therefore no surprise to learn that account-based marketing (ABM) has been the fastest-growing go-to-market topic.”
Over the years, the core concepts of marketing have not changed. But the infusion of technology in marketing has dramatically transformed the speed, relevance and reach of brand activities. Advances in marketing technology has enabled marketers to employ and execute account-based marketing at scale, intelligently and automatically. In years gone by, tech-driven ABM helped businesses to usher in a new era of personalized customer journeys. As we get ready to bring in the new year, we decided to take a look at how ABM technology will evolve in 2020 and how it will address the challenges, expectations and goals laid out by marketers and leaders.
Sales And Marketing Alignment
The biggest challenge that marketers face in the earlier stages of ABM deployment is achieving sales and marketing alignment. The inherent nature of ABM is that it is a collaborative process between sales and marketing and both the functions are held equally accountable for the outcomes. For an effective implementation of ABM, this relationship needs to evolve in 2020, enabled by technology.
At present, ABM programs still rely on a considerable amount of human interaction between sales and marketing teams, which makes it a time-consuming process. Experts believe that this relationship can be strengthened by setting clear expectations and effectively communicating the value of ABM to the sales team. The chief marker of an effective ABM program is where the sales and marketing teams work hand-in-hand to create an automated end-to-end process, right from account selection, gathering insight, value proposition development, campaign design, implementation, and measurement.
Increased Investment In Insight
The 2019 ABM Benchmark Study revealed that enterprises’ list for planned technology investments for 2020 is dominated by insight-related tools. The coming year would witness increased investment in tools for account insight & engagement, analytics, and business intelligence, compared to 2019.
This trend would address one of the biggest pain-points of ABM technology. While the quality of data and insights have evolved over the years, there is a significant scope for improvement. Marketers point out that there is an immediate need for investment in technology for insight, before moving to the targeting and orchestration stage of deployment. The manual process needs to be replaced by intent-based and data-based targeting tactics powered by artificial intelligence. This would not only increase the impact and value of ABM strategies but also save time and resources.
Targeted Advertising And Web Personalization With ABM
Enterprises have been leveraging targeted advertising and web personalization, both IP-based and intent-based, for ABM.
As account-based advertising and web personalization follows a proactive approach compared to traditional targeting techniques, it allows marketers to expand their reach and target the right personas of key accounts. Therefore, ABM emerges as a winner because its core principle is personalization, which is a driving force for increasing engagement, revenue and growth.
Platforms have started commissioning extensive quantitative and qualitative research to map out research-based customer archetypes, and content categories to go beyond envisioned reach. But the biggest goal would be to reduce the tension between ABM and scale and deliver a ‘one-to-one exchange’ experience to every customer dropping by at the website and/or engaging with an advertisement.
Holistic Version of ABM Platform Will Emerge
In 2020, the ABM technology would evolve from being a simple automation tool to an advanced, sophisticated and personalized tool. AMB platforms are now focusing on partnering with other technologies and strengthening their cores – not just via third-party integration but also by building their own capabilities. It is going to be a year of category consolidation.
Enterprises will leverage the agile nature of ABM tools by building more capable and holistic platforms that can narrow down psychographic segmentation of target consumers. Take Resulticks, for instance. The platform’s Marketing Automation tool is not only limited to email but various other channels such as SMS marketing, social media marketing, QR code marketing, digital assistants and push notifications.
AI-powered Omnichannel Orchestration
Machine learning and artificial intelligence will play a huge role in orchestration of campaigns in the coming years. The technology will rapidly evolve, courtesy AI-powered personalization in B2B marketing.
Engagement that required that required manual effort will switch into the hyper-automation mode with the help of advanced technologies, including artificial intelligence and machine learning. Marketers believe that AI would assist ABM platforms in gathering data, providing actionable insights, auto-mapping a customer’s entire journey, creating accurate personas and promoting real-time interactions. In 2020, AI would enable ABM technology platforms to produce quantifiable results by consistently refining customer data and personalizing insights.
Automated User Journeys
When it comes to user journey, the funnel has already been flipped with ABM. However, enterprises are focusing on automating user journeys even further with the help of AI and machine learning, as mentioned above.
Marketers hope that the 2020 version of ABM technology would eradicate the need for guesswork and replace it with intelligence, insights, predictive analytics, and relevant data. This personalized customer-focussed process would ensure that the ABM program truly understands its target market and their needs in order to deliver a seamless customer experience.
The emphasis is going to be on building self-navigated user journeys as opposed to the traditional, multi-touch point journeys. Take, Path Factory, for instance. The technology platform maps out AI-driven content journeys based on real content consumption data. Each stage of the customer journey is fuelled with intelligent insights. Marketers get access to micro-personalised recommendations that enables them to create account-specific content experiences in real-time.
Intelligent Reporting Dashboards
As traditional methods of reporting are not as effective for ABM, the ongoing evolution of this technology calls for a radical shift in measurement and reporting in 2020. An effective ABM reporting dashboard has a simple layout that highlights key metrics, displays data with context and automates data feeds.
It is highly imperative that the evolved tool has built-in capabilities to link all the sources of information like social media platforms, email platforms, and websites. In addition, the technology should be able to capture insights from all the sources and make accurate & actionable insights available in real-time to all business roles, be it marketing campaign head, manager, client, sales head, and C-suite.
Considering the dynamic nature of ABM Technology, there will be other trends and developments that will pick up steam in 2020. The list we have curated provides a look at some ABM tech-trends to consider and watch in the year ahead.