Account-Based Marketing and Predictive – Hot or Not?
I constantly hear about Account-Based Marketing and Predictive being the hottest two things on the B2B marketing block. One visual that appears in 99% of analyst and webinar presentations is a Google trends graph of ABM and predictive search interest over time:
Support for the industry hype doesn’t stop there.
Forrester says “ABM reaches ‘gold-rush’ status,” while other ABM eBooks claim, “Everyone’s talking about Account-Based Marketing (ABM). It’s quickly become one of the hottest and most noteworthy trends in B2B marketing.” SiriusDecisions found 92 percent recognize ABM’s value, and they put it on the list of B2B marketing must-haves. And 80 percent of client inquiries at top B2B analyst firm TOPO revolve around ABM topics.
Forrester’s TechRadar reports that predictive analytics is topping the charts in terms of business value as it aligns directly with the expectations that come with modern marketing – accountability for revenue, ABM, and stable marketing automation (MAT) & CRM. Gartner’s Hype Cycle also puts predictive at the “height of expectations”, indicating that this rising category will mainstream in just 2 to 5 years.
What is even more miraculous is that buyers of predictive use account-based marketing as their primary application. The two are undoubtedly intertwined, acting as catalysts to each other’s buzz.
But a closer look at WHERE it’s ‘hot’ paints a different picture
What the analysts and thought leaders don’t show is the Google Trends map of where those searches are occurring.
Predictive and ABM are almost exclusively attracting interest in California, and a little bit from New York. Sure, trends tend to trickle in from the coasts. However, with two categories proclaimed as this “hot” and with such widespread mention in publications, you would expect far greater market coverage.
Let’s explore a couple of reasons why coverage is limited despite seemingly major velocity behind predictive and ABM.
5 Reasons Why ABM & Predictive Adoption Has Been So Concentrated
1. Predictive: Models are not marketing strategy
Marketers can learn a great deal about what makes a great customer, who to target next, and how to engage prospects by applying the insights produced from algorithmic models. While powerful, a mistake by some early adopters was assuming that the models were silver bullets.
“Acting thoughtfully on the insights and intelligence derived from predictive methods helps deliver delightful experiences that win and retain customers.” says Forrester analyst Allison Snow in a recent report.
When a team implements a marketing automation solution, at least one person within the organization should expect to spend 40 percent of their time in the tool. Predictive is less intensive, but the value still comes through further analyzing the data with segmentation and insights. Even predictive lead scores, which are automatically applied after an initial setup, require reviews, tailoring, and sales enablement.
2. Predictive: Adapt to looking forward, not backward
Tomasz Tunguz, a leading VC backing many B2B sales and marketing technologies, shows the simple shift from classic software workflows, which takes a top-down approach, to modern software which moves to “bottoms up sales”. New SaaS solutions like predictive are not only displacing incumbent systems of record in a radically different way, but also displacing the way people work.
Marketing organizations require time for transformation, especially for enterprise where attitudes, technologies, and legacy reporting will undergo such a drastic change. It takes a true ‘Champion’ to evangelize a new approach like predictive and to mobilize an organization toward change.
3. Account-Based Marketing: It’s a strategy, not a technology
Predictive covers certain parts of ABM, such as selection, insights, and campaigns. However, ABM is not defined by these areas alone and needs multiple solutions to manage it effectively. Take time to page through Engagio’s 124-page guide to get an idea of how extensive account-based marketing really is. Or, use the ABM Leadership Alliance framework to navigate the layers involved in executing a fully integrated ABM strategy.
Don’t be discouraged by the complexity. The key is getting started by starting small. Get your list, run a coordinated campaign across sales and marketing touch points, and watch for an uptick in engagement. Then, begin adding additional layers as needed. The transformation may take several quarters or longer!
4. Account-Based Marketing: Requires a well-built stack
Many B2B marketers struggle to understand how multiple solutions work together to enable an ABM strategy. In fact, Raab lists 40 technologies in a 142-page guide to ABM vendors, so it’s no wonder it’s hard to figure out the exact combination of solutions that would work for your business. Vendors have banded together with alliances and consortiums in an effort to clarify what an ABM stack looks like and how to assemble it.
For those of you that have installed new technologies, you know that implementing new solutions is no small undertaking. Marketers looking to upstart ABM may be discouraged by the work involved in revamping their stack. Keep in mind that your current technologies can be used for ABM and that no organization has the perfect ABM stack quite yet. “Only a small number of practitioners have integrated all the technologies required for a comprehensive ABM solution, and no single vendor offers all the capabilities today.” says Forrester.
5. Account-Based Marketing: Takes workflow sophistication
Even once you buy and implement solutions in your stack, operationalizing coordinated ABM campaigns can be a complex process. Below is an example of what a fully integrated ABM-centric webinar looks like at Radius:
People, process, and technology all must be refined to orchestrate a sophisticated ABM campaign. But again, not all these pieces must be in place to get started.
So, what’s the answer?
Predictive and ABM really comes down to bandwidth, bandwidth, bandwidth.
Even when marketers obtain a larger budget, the technologies and new business models are outpacing what they can truly adopt. This market might just suffer from being too hot for consumption.
“The key for the predictive market is to move away from the horizontal promise of predictive technology and emphasize use cases. The end users (marketing and sales) need to understand how they use it, where they use it in their stack, and what they get. It’s actually more important than the “how”. Use cases should be the foundation for product design, product marketing, marketing, sales, etc.”
– Craig Rosenberg, Chief Analyst at TOPO
For the time being, early adopters and forward-thinking marketers should exercise an iterative adoption strategy and plan for long-term, scalable use cases that can be tested and improved regularly. As the old adage goes – it’s a marathon, not a sprint.
Learn how to build the right ABM tech stack for your needs by downloading the Account-Based Marketing Technology Stack Blueprint. This eBook provides best in class advice from industry-leading technology partners who enable an ever-growing list of B2B marketers to deploy successful ABM strategies every day.