For many senior Marketers, the rise of account-based marketing feels like the natural culmination of the important lessons learned from years of experience in the industry.

Whilst ABM may be the poster child of modern marketing, the big question on ours – and everyone else’s minds – is ‘how does it align with current marketing technologies?’

We presented this question – and more – as the only consulting partner at Marketo’s Marketing Nation Engage. An event at which we recently hosted 3 roundtables on the topic of account-based marketing and marketing technology.

Alongside several Marketo partners and other industry-leading Marketers, we discussed our ABM learnings, observations and best practices, and what this could mean for businesses in 2019 and beyond.

Account-Based Marketing Observations:

ABM is just targeted, focused marketing.

Account-based marketing should be called account-based everything – because it is just that.

According to ITSMA, the growing interest and demand for ABM has led companies to develop and implement 3 distinct types:

Strategic ABM: This is the original ABM approach reserved for key strategic accounts and executed on a one-to-one basis. Whilst it is the ‘godfather’ of ABM strategies, very few companies at the event could say they were actively engaging in this approach.

ABM Lite: Defined as a one-to-few approach, this is the most common format of ABM you’ll see today and the one that many roundtable attendees were aligned to. Their actual numbers varied from just 2 accounts to 250.

Programmatic ABM: The ‘new kid on the block’ or just another way of saying ‘targeted, focused marketing’? Whilst it’s the latter, it’s still a highly resource efficient way of leveraging technology to tailor marketing campaigns for specific audiences.

It takes creativity and content first, not technology.

With the clear-cut personalisation and exact messaging needed to be successful, Marketer’s often make the mistake of jumping straight into the technology required to deliver account-based marketing.

Yet according to Marketo, content is the most vital element of any successful ABM campaign, and is comprised of 3 critical elements: personalisation, relevancy and timeliness.

What roundtable attendees found was that ABM takes creative thinking and content, first – and technology second. Beyond business intelligence and technology, it takes a level of creativity to build content that addresses an individual account’s exact challenges.

Sales Intel is key to driving credibility and alignment.

Whilst ABM won’t end the tension between sales and marketing, it will bring them closer by replacing the traditional sales funnel with highly targeted sales intelligence. Therefore it’s no surprise that companies with an ABM strategy in place see 36% higher customer retention rates and 38% higher sales win rates.

In discussion with roundtable attendees, it became clear that measuring intent, fairer routing and sharing intelligence were all key to success. Yet the hardest part of introducing ABM is getting Sales bought into the idea when they want to own the relationship and conversation. Finding an evangelist of Marketing within the Sales team can boost credibility and the chances of success when the rest of the team see the value and insight ABM can bring.

ABM: As much about existing accounts as it is new.

Beyond prospecting for new business, ABM falls naturally into customer marketing realms where it can be used to grow relationships within an existing client base.

In fact, many roundtable attendees found that ABM works best when selling into existing accounts and not net new ones.

It is no surprise then that nearly 85% of Marketers said ABM provided significant benefits to retain and expand existing client relationships. Or that research carried out by ITSMA found that 84% of accounts within a strategic ABM program are existing customers.

 ABM through Marketing Automation is on the rise.

Whilst Marketers may think that ABM and Marketing Automation are opposite ends of the same spectrum – ABM being about one-to-one relationships and automation about driving lead numbers - they are, in fact, knitted together through personalisation, insight and operational process.

Whilst the number of businesses employing both is still relatively low – around 10 -20% - roundtable attendees agreed that it is likely to double in the next 12 months. As the adoption of marketing automation continues to grow, Marketer’s will be looking at how they can use it as a tool to drive their wider account-based marketing plans in a budget – and resource – friendly way.

We even discussed how CleverTouch is piloting its own ABM programme internally in 2019.

As the power of the buyer grows and marketplaces become overcrowded, ABM provides an elegant strategic solution that takes personalisation and personalised selling to the next level. As a discipline, it helps forge stronger relationships between sales and marketing and – done well – is the perfect combination of creativity, technology and intelligent engagement.