A few years ago, Engagio published our ABM Market Map, which was the first comprehensive listing of all the categories and vendors in ABM. Now, I’m pleased to unveil the all new ABM Market Map, updated with everything we’ve learned in the last few years!
Now, don’t be overwhelmed. Sure, there are a lot of technologies that support ABM, just as there are many technologies that support demand generation. But you don’t need to buy technology from each category to do Account Based Marketing! You can dip your toe in the water with relatively modest investment in new technology, and then add more solutions to help scale over time.
Let’s break this down by walking through each section.
FOUNDATION: The core essentials
These are the core essential technologies to support ABM. You must have a marketing automation platform and a CRM platform. With few exceptions, you can’t do ABM without them.
The other required technology is some way to unify your account data with lead-to-account (L2A) matching. Combined with CRM and marketing automation, this creates a single view of your accounts to act as the foundation for all your ABM efforts.
None of these are optional (hence the name “foundation”).
DATA AND INSIGHTS: Select target accounts, fill contact whitespace, identify insights
Technologies in this category can help you select your target accounts and fill in the whitespace with the right contacts at those accounts. Combining basic firmographic (e.g. industry and size) data with your first party engagement data (e.g. are these accounts already engaging with you) is the basic requirement for selecting your target accounts. Once you have identified those accounts, you also need the right people within those accounts. Typically, investing in data to support these actions is required for ABM.
Beyond the basics, there are cool optional technologies to help make the process even better. For example, intent data uses the content people are reading on third party sites to identify which accounts might be actively researching particular solutions.
Some vendors use predictive models to help you identify the best accounts for your business. The old version of the Market Map had Predictive as its own category, but in the last few years the predictive vendors have re-positioned themselves into other categories – often into the emerging category that I’m calling “Data Platforms.” These are customer data platforms (CDPs) focused on the B2B space. They are not required for ABM, but can be a cool technology for B2B organizations.
INTERACTIONS: Specific channels to create 1:1 account-based interactions
This category is all about the different channels you can use to create engagement with target accounts. The core channels include ABM advertising, content syndication, sales and SDR outreach, web and content personalization, direct mail, and events.
A few key points. First, there’s no required channel for ABM; you may skip any of these and still have an effective ABM strategy. Second, technology is not specifically required for most of these channels; for example, you can hold events and send direct mail without specific investments. Third, and perhaps most important, advertising is not synonymous with doing ABM. The reality is that ads are just one easy thing, and having an ABM ads platform doesn’t mean you’re executing an effective ABM strategy.
ORCHESTRATION: Manage multi-channel account-based plays across multiple personas and departments
This is my favorite category. Again, ABM is not about any one channel – it’s about coordinating interactions across multiple channels, and it’s doing so in harmony with each other, at scale. The fastest path to success is when teams collaborate and are aligned on strategy.
Why is this so powerful? At Engagio, we’ve achieved meeting rates of 20% to as high as 85% using orchestrated plays. How? By leveraging the benefits of automation to scale our efforts and the power of personalization to add a human touch. That’s marketing orchestration.
While Orchestration is optional, the most advanced ABM companies are using it to execute and scale effective ABM.
(Account planning is an adjacent technology category; this piece isn’t required, but it can be very helpful.)
MEASUREMENT: Track engagement, score and prioritize accounts, and measure the impact of your ABM programs
Engagement measurement is a required category, since the cornerstone of marketing is the ability to measure and demonstrate results – and the metrics for your account-based efforts are different than traditional lead-based marketing. There’s a shift from quantity to quality.
Engagement measurement must go beyond web traffic – web traffic is important, but it’s only one piece of the picture. Getting insight into the type of engagement is key, from content downloads to email clicks to meetings and more. It’s all part of building the relationship and closing deals, thus it’s important to measure.
Another piece that we’ve seen is essential is putting your engagement insights in front of your Sales team. What good is measurement if you can’t act on the insights?
Lastly, account journeys and multi-touch attribution to prove value and ROI are increasingly an important piece of a complete ABM stack. They key is to focus on account-specific attribution and metrics, not lead-based analytics.
What About ABM Platforms?
A key question is: Will these disparate categories coalesce into an “ABM Platform” category? And if so, which pieces are core to the platform and which are adjacent?
The analysts certainly believe ABM Platforms are an emerging category. Forrester writes that:
“B2B marketers choosing an ABM platform can avoid the operational and technical drag that comes from purchasing and integrating several individual products and start generating results from their ABM programs more quickly.”
Also, TOPO writes that:
“Account-Based platforms will be the single-most important category in the stack in 2018 and beyond. These solutions will bring together planning, orchestration management and measurement into a single solution.”
Having a platform certainly makes sense. The fewer vendors a company can work with the better, and it’s certainly less expensive than buying multiple piece-parts and cobbling them together.
Based on my experience building marketing automation platforms, I believe that the essential components of an ABM Platform are:
(a) Account Foundation to provide a single view of the accounts
(b) Orchestration to manage and automate multi-channel programs, and
(c) Measurement to track and prove what works and what doesn’t
Just as in marketing automation, I do NOT believe data is a required part of the platform, nor is any specific channel. I think the marketecture of the ABM platform will look something like this (which is why, not surprisingly, you see Engagio playing in those categories).
Strategy Before Technology
One final note: ABM is a strategy. It’s a fundamental way of managing your go-to-market business to drive better quality pipeline and revenue at the accounts you care about the most. ABM is not a campaign and it’s most certainly not a single technology.
This implies you must define your ABM strategy before you start thinking about what technologies you need and what vendors have to offer.
“Define your ABM strategy first, then choose a platform.”
–Steven Casey, Forrester
At a minimum, answer these questions before investing on ABM technology:
- Why is ABM the right strategy for your business?
- Is there executive alignment and organizational buy-in on ABM as your go-to-market strategy?
- What criteria makes a good target account? How will you decide on your target account list?
- What does success with ABM look like? How will you measure your progress?
- What are the roles and responsibilities of the players on your ABM team?
If you’re still answering these questions and would like more guidance, here are some of the top resources that can help lead you down the right path:
- Engagio’s Clear and Complete Guide to ABM
- The TOPO Account Based Funnel
- Driving Hyper-Growth with Three Types of ABM by ITSMA and ABM Leadership Alliance
The ABM market will continue to evolve, and we’ll be keeping a close eye on it. Select your ABM vendors wisely, but remember, you must start with defining your strategy.
If you want a more in-depth analysis of the new ABM market map, join Engagio and DemandGen for The Future of ABM webinar, session #2: Evolving your MarTech Stack for Account Based Marketing on Tues, July 31 at 10am PT.