• Account-based marketing (ABM) is extremely or very important to the 2016 marketing efforts of 87 percent of B2B companies
  • In addition to investing in ABM technologies and tools, marketers are planning to invest in ABM services
  • Insights and content creation are key areas for which ABM marketers are turning to service providers

B2B organizations are embracing account-based marketing (ABM) at a rapid rate. According to our recently released 2016 State of Account-Based Marketing Study, 87 percent of B2B companies say that ABM is extremely or very important to their overall marketing efforts in 2016.

Furthermore, they’re not just paying it lip service – they’re voting with their wallets. To that end, 58 percent of respondents stated that they would invest  in ABM technologies or services in 2016, 52 percent stated that their overall ABM investment would be “greater than last year,” and an additional 21 percent stated that their overall ABM investment would be “significantly greater than last year” (an increase of more than 30 percent). 

In her recent blog post, my colleague Megan Heuer discussed some of the key investments B2B organizations are making in tool and technology categories (e.g. advertising technology, marketing automation, analytics). In this blog post, I’ll review a few services ABM practitioners are planning to invest in:

  • Custom third-party account/contact information sources. More than 36 percent of respondents are planning to use service providers to help gather custom account and contact information. Identifying key organizational or buying center imperatives, awareness and interest in solution categories, active buying cycles, and senior decisionmakers who are part of the purchase decision and what those individuals care about/are talking about can help ABM marketers pinpoint who to engage and tailor their messaging for. Marketers must work closely with sales to assess what information is already in sales account plans and what currently exists in sales force automation (SFA) and marketing automation platforms, as well as identify gaps of significant importance for custom profiling requirements.
  • Third-party content development services. In our study, 69 percent of respondents said they are responsible for creating content for ABM needs (in addition to activities like gathering account/contact data, working with sales to define account goals and plans, executing plans and measuring program success). As a result, more than 36 percent of marketers doing ABM are turning to agencies or other third parties to help develop content for ABM. Marketers should first direct content support requests internally, but when getting outside help is necessary, make sure a process exists to adhere to master and product brand guidelines, and conduct a review to ensure compliance.
  • Predictive analytics services. Nearly 29 percent of respondents said they plan to invest in predictive analytics service providers in the coming year for help identifying such characteristics as propensity to buy. An additional 26 percent stated that they’re planning to invest in predictive analytics tools as well, showing that regardless of the approach (tool or service), this is an emerging area for B2B marketers, including those doing ABM. The most common use cases we see marketers evaluating for ABM efforts are for identifying the right prospects, prioritizing the right accounts, determining the best cross-sell and upsell areas, and identifying customers at risk of defection. Marketers must articulate a clear strategy for their ABM program (e.g. acquisition, growth, retention) and work with service (or tool) providers to see how their predictive solutions can be applied for their specific situation.  
  • Non-custom third-party account/contact information sources. More than 24 percent of respondents (up from 17 percent last year) stated that they plan to invest in service providers to help gather non-custom account and contact information. Having reports that identify basic firmagraphic, demographic and account data (e.g. number of employees; revenues; contact names, email addresses and/or phone numbers), as well as intermediate data attributes (e.g. current technology install base, senior decisionmakers and professional groups they belong to), can help supplement marketing databases and SFA systems. Marketers must ensure that service providers have coverage depth and accuracy, and should ask for small samples from each to compare to their current database.

Want to learn more about ABM and the technologies that power it? Join us in Austin in November at SiriusDecisions 2016 Technology Exchange, where we’ll have new content to help with strategy and execution and a great group of sponsors showcasing how their tools and services have helped their clients bring ABM to life.