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Account-Based Marketing 4 Years After It Goes Mainstream

By Flora Felisberto

It's almost hard to believe that DemandBase hosted its 6th Annual ABM Innovation Summit last week. Although Account-Based Marketing (ABM) has been around since 2003 when ITSMA introduced the concept and coined the term, it wasn’t until 2015 -- after the launch of platforms such as Engagio and Terminus -- that things truly took off. The fact that DemandBase has been at this since well before then, shows us just how much of a leader they are in this space.

This year's summit gave us a glimpse of not only how far ABM has come, but what the future of B2B marketing will look like. Below are the three main takeaways from this year’s event.

1. ABM has reached an inflection point

2018 was a big year for ABM, with Forrester Research essentially validating the space and publishing its first ABM platform wave.

The Forrester Wave on ABM Platforms

2. Intent (powered by AI) is the Shiny New Object

In the early days of account-based advertising, ABM platforms integrated with your CRM, allowing you to build segments based on your named accounts and voila – you could start reaching your target accounts immediately. But identifying best-fit-accounts is only part of the story. Leaders in the space are leveraging artificial intelligence to combine fit, intent and account engagement data to more accurately identify and reach prospects.

According to DemandBase, by the time a prospect fills out a form on your website, they’ve already completed 70% of their research – most of which are conducted outside of your website. In short, if you’re waiting for your prospects to raise their hand, you’re already too late.

Intent data gives us the ability to pinpoint accounts that are showing interest in a specific topic (including visiting your competitor’s site) allowing you to reach key decision makers as early as possible in the buyer’s journey. While DemandBase has a proprietary intent product (Real-Time Intent), similar vendors such as Terminus have partnered with Bombora to provide the same functionality.

Intent and the Buyer's Journey

Source: DemandBase

3. Advanced Analytics

Tracking the right metrics and demonstrating ROI is one of the main challenges of ABM. Since one of the main goals is to help sales improve account penetration and increase velocity of existing opportunities, full funnel metrics may not be linear or clean. Lack of visibility into account activity and milestones is a huge challenge.

There’s been notable progress in the areas of advanced analytics and multi-touch attribution within ABM. In late 2017, Engagio launched its Dash Account Based Attribution product and in January 2018, Terminus announced the acquisition of advanced analytics platform BrightFunnel. DemandBase has been making progress of its own in this realm announcing the launch of Cross-Campaign Analytics during this year's summit. This new functionality will give users the ability to measure the performance of campaigns executed both inside and outside of DemandBase, including paid search, email, direct site buys, etc.

DemandBase Campaign Analytics

Source: DemandBase

The DemandBase ABM Summit provided two amazing days of learning! We got practical advice on how to execute, measure and truly make the most out of our ABM program. Any B2B marketer who’s serious about their ABM strategy should consider attending the summit at least once. I also highly recommend staying the extra day to get ABM-certified. It's an exciting time for B2B marketers and I can’t wait to see continued innovation in this space.

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