In ABM By The Numbers, ABM In Action, Featured

With the pandemic forcing people to socially distance, many B2B organizations are relying on ABM plays to engage their audiences in our “new normal.” ABM has become common practice to fuel revenue generation and account retention.

Terminus recently released its 2020 State of ABM Report, which chronicles the rapid adoption of ABM and highlights the shift from lead to revenue generation. The report revealed that many companies have entered the world of account-based marketing with pilot programs, aiming to improve their lead generation and revenue strategies. Simultaneously, it explores how marketers with mature ABM programs retain their accounts and grow their revenue in 2020.

Justin Keller, VP of Marketing at Terminus, explained that 2020 was a turning point for ABM, as it went from an option for reaching target accounts to an absolute necessity. Both new and veteran ABM practitioners have an opportunity to stay afloat and expand their account outreach, and the report revealed that a majority of marketers have done just that in 2020.

According to the report, 51% of marketers utilizing ABM were in the early or pilot stages of their programs, while 49% reported having proven ABM programs or strategies in place or fully integrated into their overall marketing strategies. As a result, 73% of overall marketing revenue and 79% of opportunities stem from their ABM programs.

“When you take into account that there are so many new kids on the block that are practicing ABM, and you conflate that with the revenue performance in a later stage, 78% of their opportunities are coming from their accounting strategy,” said Keller. “In a year, maybe a little more than that, that huge influx of early-stage programs is going to turn into a revenue monster. ABM is going to become the dominant source of the revenue.”

Pilot Programs Found To Be Crucial For ABM To Thrive

With the necessary shift to digital, many marketers are entering the ABM world for the first time in search of new ways to engage buyers and generate pipeline.

One of the biggest takeaways from the report is the influx of pilot ABM programs, with 79% of new ABM practitioners attempting these pilot programs to meet year-end quotas for 2020. Keller explained that ABM has “so many landmines to step in,” and attempting a pilot program is the best way to not only enter the account-based market, but also find the best ways to thrive in it.

“I think that it is crucial that companies start with a pilot,” said Keller. “Start small, figure out what does work, what doesn’t work and then continue to improvise, understanding that you’re not going to get it right on your first time. It might take up to a year before you get really good at it. But once you do, the results show that it is going to be transformative for your business.”

Keller explained that marketers with pilot ABM programs are starting small with a single account, finding success and adopting more accounts into their ABM programs to expand, while making adjustments to overcome challenges. By the end of 2020, 83% of revenue will stem from pilot ABM programs.

Mature ABM Programs Must Be Resilient

Arguably the biggest takeaway from the report was the sheer number of marketers actively using ABM as their main source of revenue generation and account engagement, with 78% dedicating their budgets to ABM plays.

The report highlighted how “mature ABM” programs have become the main source of revenue for companies forced to work remotely, with 82% using their established programs for outbound marketing efforts on their limited budgets. These companies became more efficient with their marketing spend, focusing on the accounts they know will buy.

Despite many companies experiencing budget cuts, those with mature ABM programs were able to negate the typical demand generation schema for more refined ABM targeting. As a result, companies with mature ABM programs were more resilient during the pandemic, leaning on their ABM strategies without putting stress on their budgets.

“[Old-school demand generation] is unpredictable,” Keller explained. “It’s not scalable. It’s inefficient. With a good account strategy, you start to think about things like cost per opportunity, and how much it would cost to open a deal with target accounts.”

“They’re resilient because they’re lean, and they create better experiences for their customers,” Keller continued. “If you’re spending your money on just the accounts that matter, you’re trimming a lot of the waste away.”

Practitioners Shift To Customer-Focused ABM

The report also highlighted the shift from marketers using ABM as a source for finding new accounts to using ABM strategies to better market to their current accounts.

Keller explained that traditional ABM was heavily focused on driving leads for revenue, but 2020 forced marketers to build their brand by looking at what they already had available. The report cites that marketers with mature ABM programs and strategies are heavily focusing on catering to their current account list, creating experiences that generate brand recognition, reputation and ultimately revenue.

Sixty percent of respondents cited customer retention as one of their major goals in 2020, with many mature ABM programs focusing on keeping their current accounts happy in order to continually generate revenue. Furthermore, lead generation has become an even less reliable KPI in 2020, with only 30% using ABM as a lead source.

“I think my favorite thing about ABM, and it’s starting to bear out across the market, is it’s not just about [driving leads] anymore,” Keller stated. “It’s about creating really great experiences for people. And the more personalized you get, the better those experiences are. And I think if you are focused on growing your brand in a very noisy marketplace, that’s the only way you can win.”

Eighty percent of respondents have dedicated their ABM programs to addressing account needs, providing them with intimate knowledge of the account, their pain points, goals and financial information. With this knowledge, marketers were not only able to improve their ABM programs, but also overcome the communication, marketing and engagement challenges the pandemic presented.

“ABM is figuring out who you’re going to target,” said Keller. “It’s figuring out how to work with your sales team to generate opportunities. But if you’re focusing on your customers, those problems are already solved. It short circuits a lot of the challenges that an acquisition-oriented program would have. They’ll start to see success sooner, and they’ll get a lot more internal buy-in.”

By adopting a customer marketing approach to ABM, marketers are generating revenue on their restricted budgets by keeping their accounts happy and continually buying-in, allowing organizations to meet and exceed their revenue quotas.

In light of the 2020 pandemic and work-from-home policies, ABM has had one of its best years as a marketing strategy ever.

Marketers are adopting account-based strategies in order to better market to their target accounts, generating new business and revenue from a completely virtual setting. There has even been a large growth of newcomers to ABM, with 76% of pilot and early-stage programs contributing to their marketing efforts this year.

If marketers continue to grow their ABM programs and strategies, ABM will become a major avenue for revenue growth and generation in 2021.

“I don’t think it’s too bold to say that this is kind of like the watershed moment for ABM,” said Keller. “It took a global pandemic to force that change to happen. But now that it’s happened, if these people stick with it, and they get really good at it, it’s going to kind of change the way sales and marketing works probably forever.”

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