ABM tech is on fire, but don’t get burned
It’s an understatement to say that the martech landscape is crowded. In fact, the most recent martech LUMAscape acknowledges over 8,000 solutions and a few thousand may classify themselves as ABM technology players. Why so much hype on ABM? Thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic accelerating a migration to a digital-first approach, many Sales and Marketing teams turned to “flipping the funnel” and focusing on their target accounts as the path to higher conversions rates and closed sales. But it has its limitations in both its scope and its technology.
Scott Vaughan, recently wrote that ABM shouldn’t be a replacement for your demand strategy, and I would argue that your tech shouldn’t follow suit either. In today’s digital landscape where everything is interconnected, you should take a closer look at how your technologies can come together to maximize your efforts. This means broadening your horizons beyond ABM into something more sophisticated and harmonious – Precision Demand Marketing.
Precision Demand Marketing is about bringing together your demand strategies into a coordinated motion. This means being able to:
- Target and identify the right buyers, accounts, and buying committees
- Activate cross-channel demand campaigns to scale and orchestrate personalized experiences
- Connect to an integrated ecosystem to amplify reach and boost lead conversion
- Measure performance with visibility across all demand channels
- Govern incoming and outgoing data from all demand sources for 100% marketability that’s compliant.
Target – Where and when to find your buyers
Most ABM tech companies have targeting capabilities, where they have either developed a user interface or acquired technology to expose any firmographic data points (domain, industry, company size, etc.) for sales and marketing teams to create their ideal target list. The problem is that this utopia of creating that perfect ABM strategy doesn’t exist if the data provided from these platforms isn’t marketable or the accounts aren’t ready to engage. It’s important to score both individual and account-level engagement data, so when the next campaign is ready to launch, marketers have the right targets in place. Some ABM platforms can help you reach your accounts at the right time, but because the data is aggregated at the account level, providing persona-based messaging can be difficult.
Activate – Unify your demand campaigns
ABM has been the B2B buzzword for a few years now and, traditionally, has been associated with single-channel display advertising efforts. Today, a number of platforms are great at enabling marketers to build campaigns based on a singular channel, whether it’s content syndication or events. However, if you’re looking to execute in multiple demand channels at the same time, most of the ABM platforms fall short. “Speed to Market” is crucial to get your message in front of your prospects in different environments, so jumping between platforms hinders that efficiency. True cross-channel activation should be about sequencing your demand strategy effectively by understanding how they consume content and how one channel influences another. This allows for the flexibility to quickly react to buyer’s needs, invest where needed, and orchestrate connected buying experiences with less waste.
Connect – Link your data where it matters
Many technologies, even outside of Martech, are able to connect your systems together. Data can be retrieved from essentially any platform (social, webinar, or forms) and send it to MAPs, CRMs and, more recently, CDPs (Customer Data Platforms). It’s important to connect across your Martech ecosystem, including your data, technology, and consulting providers to streamline your demand efforts and allow you to execute more effectively. Most ABM platforms have several connectors to and from various MAPs and/or CRMs, but if the data sent through is siloed and unstructured, having automation in place can cause numerous headaches.
Measure – Defend your spend
Analytics are vital to what adjustments are needed both during and post-execution with your strategy. It’s crucial as a successful B2B marketer to not only measure KPIs per channel but represent how the performance across multiple or all channels are in symphony. However, this is where most ABM platforms fall short. Many ABM platforms today report only on the channels they are activating and cannot report on the entire multichannel impact. They lack the ability to, in one environment, combine multi-channel TOFU (Top of Funnel) metrics to the KPIs aligned to the buyer’s journey, applied against bothindividuals and accounts.
Govern – 100% marketability with compliance
Governing and being compliant with your promotional methods and data make up the most important pillar in Precision Demand Marketing. Data governance is at the core of being able to effectively target, activate, connect, and measure. One wrong outreach or data exposure to someone not privy to such information can decimate your organization. Most ABM platforms who are data controllers understand the importance of data security and will receive SOC2 compliance to showcase to customers. However, data security and data marketability, meaning the cleanliness of customer data, don’t always go hand-in-hand, so leveraging a technology that does both is hard to come by.
To be sure, most ABM technologies accomplish one, maybe two, of these pillars well, but they fall short on the whole. In order to execute on a Precision Demand strategy, it’s imperative to bring these components together. But before you start burning budget on your tech stack, keep the following points in mind:
- Know what platforms compliment your existing solutions or can replace a number of solutions altogether.
- Prioritize your platforms wisely. For instance, it doesn’t make sense to implement an ABM web personalization tool before identifying your target accounts.
- Last but not least, it is crucial that your data is as marketable as possible before bringing in new technology! Bad data becomes more noticeable as you start to personalize experiences and the work put into getting your data right in your MAP and CRM will prevent countless headaches downstream as you add more ABM solutions.
The past year has shown us how technology can help us adapt to a new world, including in B2B marketing. Market shifts will continue to happen, and our strategies will need to evolve alongside the changing environment. ABM will continue to play an important and complementary role in our omni-channel demand strategy, but just be sure to not let it consume it.
Keep Calm and Tech on!