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Five Account-Based Marketing Myths to Forget in 2017

Plenty of buzz, plenty of misconceptions

December 29, 2016 | B2B

For B2Bs, account-based marketing (ABM) was the buzzword of 2016 and the trend is expected to continue into next year. Here are five ABM myths for B2Bs to forget in 2017.

Myth No. 1. There is only one type of ABM

ABM doesn’t always look the same. In fact, according to the Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA), there are three main types of account-based marketing being implemented today:

  • Strategic ABM functions in a one-to-one model in which one marketer handles a single account in a customized manner, based on research and personalized content for various decision-makers along their unique journey within each individual account.
  • ABM Lite is a one-to-few model where one marketer owns a small group of accounts that share similar attributes and challenges. Here, campaigns are still custom to some degree, but not 100% personalized.
  • The newest form of ABM is Programmatic, or ABM at scale. Here, the process is automated to hundreds or even thousands accounts, allowing marketers to cover more ground on the account list with fewer personnel resources.

Myth No. 2. Everyone is doing ABM

From a percentages point of view, despite massive buzz in the B2B space, multiple surveys indicated that adoption for ABM hasn’t reach its tipping point yet. Some 47% of US B2B marketers currently have an ABM strategy in place, according to August 2016 Demand Gen Report research. And a May 2016 study from Kapost found that only a third of US B2B marketers invested in ABM in 2016. Further, most companies doing ABM haven’t been at it for that long. That same Demand Gen Report survey found that among US B2B marketers who have an ABM strategy up and running, nearly 60% had only been doing it for less than a year. In fact, only one quarter have actually been implementing ABM for two-plus years. Still, more will join the ABM ranks in 2017, 32% of respondents in that same Demand Gen Report study said that while they’re not currently doing ABM, their company has plans to launch a strategy within the next 18 months.

Myth No. 3. ABM is only for prospecting

Most B2Bs consider ABM to be an upper funnel strategy. April 2016 research from ABM marketing event and community group #FlipMyFunnel found that revenue generations, pipeline acceleration and lead generation were the major ABM objectives. But, there are applications beyond prospecting. For example, professional translation services company Lionbridge has an ABM team focused solely on cross-sell and up-sell opportunities.

Myth No. 4. ABM is a new thing

Despite all of the buzz, some B2B marketers don’t think ABM is a new thing. In fact, ITSMA coined the term over a decade ago. And many B2B marketers are quick to point out that account-based approaches have always been a strategy for the savviest digital marketers. However, the advent of marketing technology and automation have led some tech vendors to “rebrand” ABM as something new.

Myth No. 5. Automation and ABM go hand-in-hand

Some B2B experts maintain that ABM only works as a one-to-one scenario and therefore it can’t be automated. They argue that core to ABM is the ability to understand the relationship with the account and then determine, through in-depth background research, how to tailor the message. The big caveat is that the content and strategy needs to be different for each accounts and it isn’t as simple as changing the name on the email or sticking a different logo on the graphic. ABM is about a singular, unified approach to a customer and some believe this cannot be accomplished through automation at scale.

—Jillian Ryan

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