Why More CMOs Are Scaling ABM Investments in 2021

7 Jan 21

Marketing leaders will be doubling down on ABM in 2021. Understanding how to evaluate and where to scale their investments, from identification of the right accounts to execution and optimization, will be critical to hitting their number in 2021.

CMOs are shifting their investment mix to meet the needs of an increasingly digital buying environment. One of the primary ways they’re doing this is by doubling down on Account Based Marketing, targeting and delivering customized programs to the accounts with the highest potential value. ABM isn’t a technology, it’s just good marketing, but its buzz-wordy status among the 8,000 Mar-Tech vendors on the market has created a lot of noise around how best to scale and optimize ABM investments.

The SBI Growth Index is a powerful tool to help align your marketing strategy to your corporate strategy and find areas of improvement in your investment mix. Once you’ve discovered the level of lift you need in ABM, incremental investments should map to one or more of 5 areas:

  1. Identify the accounts in your market and the contacts you should be speaking to.
  2. Prioritize the accounts you should be investing in today.
  3. Plan and develop content specific to an account, cluster, or segment.
  4. Execute programs in relevant channels
  5. Measure success and optimize

Identify the Accounts in Your Market

Keep your data strategy execution-oriented. It may be nice to have millions of records in your CRM with thousands of data points from a metrics perspective (“Hey, look how many companies our ops team imported!”), however, if a sales rep or marketer can’t quickly and easily use them to interact with the right person at the right account, what good are they?

Get crisp on the problem you’re trying to solve by first defining what an account is. This sounds simple but varies from company to company and, often, department to department. At a high level, an account should represent a distinct buying center within an organization that takes into consideration the corporate structure, geographic constraints, and purchasing process. Using General Electric as an example, purchasing decisions could happen at the Global Level, within a subsidiary (e.g., GE Digital), within a business unit, or within an office location, depending on your product.

Prioritize the Accounts That Will Yield the Highest Return on Marketing Investment

Focus on ROMI. Align the right amount of resources to an account based on 1.) Potential Account Value, and 2.) Propensity to Buy.

Potential value, or potential spend, should be calculated in a way that aligns with your pricing model. A simple example of this would be for a company selling Sales Enablement software where the spend potential would be the Cost per License X the Number of Sellers at an account.

There are a wealth of vendors in the market offering scoring solutions with some combination of firmographic, intent, technographic, psychographic, and predictive capabilities. While this ensures there are plenty of options, it also makes it easy to get lost in the features and lose track of the outcome: predicting where you’re able to win.

Backtest your scoring solution against historical data to determine the lift you would get for an incremental investment in either data or technology. Based on your existing data and knowledge of the business, a homegrown scoring model can be as performant as more advanced (and expensive) solutions.

Plan, Develop Content, and Execute

Using potential spend and propensity to buy, segment your account base and define which accounts meet the ROI criteria for receiving highly customized (1:1) messaging, targeted (1:Few) messaging, or generic (1:Many) messaging.

Ideally, a centralized, dedicated ABM team owns targeting, planning, and content creation with execution support from channel owners, field marketing, and sales.

Measure Success and Optimize

The goal of ABM is to drive revenue growth. However, there are 5 categories to measure your ABM impact and capabilities:

  1. Coverage: Identifying if you have enough accounts and contacts to hit the goals of your ABM campaigns.
  2. Reach: The number of accounts and contacts that are interacting with your programs.
  3. Engagement: Of the Accounts reached, how many are showing consistent and increased interaction with your content.
  4. Influence: How are ABM activities improving sales outcomes from demand generated from other channels.
  5. Conversion: How effective are your ABM campaigns at moving a target account to a won customer.

Deciding Where to Invest

Leverage a Gap/Gulf assessment on your current ability to Identify, Prioritize, Develop Content, Execute, and Measure and then map future investments to the areas that will create the most lift. Using a fact-based framework for planning investments enables you to ensure that you’re aligning incremental spend to the areas that will drive the most growth rather than the “hot new tool” on the market.

2021 is going to be an exciting year for CMOs. Existing trends in buyer preferences have been accelerated in recent months, and marketing leaders have the opportunity to be at the forefront of transforming the organization to meet the needs of modern buyers. Mapping those transformation initiatives to clear investment frameworks is the surest way to get the budget necessary to set the organization up for success in the coming year.

To assess your organization’s capabilities to hit 2021 Revenue Goals and where to invest, spend a few minutes using the SBI Growth Index to see how your marketing strategy ranks.


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