Business-to-business (B2B) marketing presents unique challenges, including long purchase cycles and the need for cross-functional linking. Various marketing strategies have been developed and expanded over the years in an attempt to address these particular difficulties. As new approaches become commonplace, technology platforms are emerging to help organize and execute strategic efforts.
Let’s look at some of the trends affecting marketing technology (Martech) and some of the emerging technologies that are driving ABM marketing and buyer groups.
Strategic trends affecting B2B marketing technology
Think and organize at the account level
The terminology may have changed over the years, but Account Based Marketing (ABM) and Account Based Experience (ABX) both involve the same key concept:
Identify, prioritize, and engage with your high-value accounts. The concept is by no means new, but the way ABM is applied has changed and expanded into an account-based experience. ABX is a strategy that requires alignment across functions to successfully cover sales and marketing efforts including data management, journey coordination, analytics, account planning, personalization, and more.
Content, incentives, and customer success. Aligning these key aspects of your business with your ABM strategy will ensure a personalized and consistent customer experience and ultimately drive conversions.
Evolution of account-based methods: Buyer Group
We’ve been hearing the same grueling story for decades; sales and marketing talk to each other and work toward different purposes (even sometimes unintentionally duplicated efforts). Marketing often cites qualified leads as a key performance metric, while sales are more concerned with revenue and may be less concerned with the number of leads generated. Why does this disconnection persist? Marketing can generate leads, but often the sales department thinks the lead isn’t worth pursuing due to a lack of actionable opportunity data.
Sales teams often know that there are many buyers involved in the account buying decision and that blindly pursuing an individual leader can be futile. Because of this deviation, a strategy has emerged to ensure marketing efforts focus on buying groups that are ready to convert within one account. Forrester reported that by 2021, 63% of B2B purchases are made by a group of four or more buyers.
This may not be new to B2B marketers, and many have long seen the value of this approach. However, a previous lack of process and technology capabilities prevented the focus from shifting to account-buying groups. Fortunately, marketing technology has evolved to meet this need.
Emerging technologies are driving account-based marketing and buyer-group marketing
The B2B martech landscape is largely dominated by market share by marketing automation platforms that offer a wide range of capabilities designed to support multiple marketing strategies. Marketers often decide when and how to switch to an ABM strategy. That said, many incumbent tech giants, including Salesforce and Adobe, have made strides in positioning themselves as platforms capable of meeting ABM’s needs.
For example, earlier this year, Salesforce renamed its B2B marketing automation platform (Pardot) to Cloud Account Interactive Marketing. By leveraging Salesforce Einstein, marketers can use artificial intelligence to identify buyers within an account and prioritize targeted accounts. Similarly, Adobe’s Marketo Engage enables key ABM features such as trend modeling, AI-powered account listings, and account-based personalization.
In recent years, Software as a Service (SaaS) platforms has emerged that focus on running ABM. Gartner
identified Demandbase, 6sense and Terminus as leaders in ABM technology. These platforms provide a one-stop solution for ABM strategy and cover a wide range of capabilities.
The primary goals of these platforms are to identify valuable accounts, enrich account insights to support sales efforts, provide a personalized and consistent customer experience, and such as providing account-based performance insights.
Key capabilities of ABM technology
The ABM platform offers features like data unification, segmentation, predictive analytics, cross-channel journey orchestration, measurement and reporting, all with an account-centric approach. These specialized technologies go a step further and enable the identification and targeting of an account’s buyer group.
ABM platforms often complement existing technology investments by forging integration partnerships with CRM platforms like Salesforce Sales Cloud to enrich CRM data and improve the project model at the same time. Predict ABM by entering sales activity data.
ABM Vendor Evaluation Criteria
Look for providers who provide the following capabilities to assist marketing efforts when researching ABM platforms:
Intelligence based on accounts: Utilizes confidential firmographic, behavioural, and intent data to enhance the account database. For the B2B technology vertical, having access to technologically proprietary data will be crucial.
Account identity: After anonymous internet activity identifies accounts (and buyers). To identify visitors, proprietary IP and cookie data are frequently used.
Analytics for accounts: Automates the process of identifying and prioritizing high-value accounts that closely match the ideal customer profile. To achieve this goal, propensity and fit analytics powered by AI are used.
Buyer committees: Determines account-targeted persons based on their propensity to be purchasing stakeholders. Data on intent is frequently used to estimate this probability.
As a final point, it is important to remember that ABM and ABX are not just a collection of features that can be conveniently combined into one platform. These tactics represent a broader mindset, a company-wide strategy that ought to permeate every element of your CX technology stack.