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Categories: Marketing, News & Events,

There are lots of interesting takeaways from Marketo’s recently-published The State of Account-Based Marketing report. Based on a survey by Marketo of more than 2,700 B2B companies, the study — which is co-sponsored by Leadspace — offers a useful look into how B2B companies are practically approaching ABM. Overall, it effectively illustrates how ABM has long moved on from the days of “hype”, and is rapidly becoming an industry standard. (We told you so…!)

For example, well over half of Marketo customers are already implementing account-based strategies in their businesses, while many more are seriously considering doing so in the future. Asked whether they will be implementing ABM as “a key component of your go-to-market strategy in the next 12 months”, over 90% of Marketo customers, together with over 80% of non-Marketo customers, responded either “yes” or “maybe”. And the definitive “Yes” answers alone comprised a majority (in the case of Marketo customers) or a significant plurality (among non-Marketo customers) of those polled.

But beyond the evidence that B2B companies are rapidly adopting ABM — which admittedly isn’t really news if you’ve been following the B2B marketing space at all recently — there are a number of arguably more significant takeaways from this report.

1) A surprising number of B2B companies aren’t even familiar with ABM as a concept

While it’s hardly surprising that not everyone is familiar with the concept of account-based marketing, it’s notable that the numbers are quite as high as they are.

More than a quarter (27%) of Marketo customers said they weren’t familiar with ABM. And in case you’re writing that off to small, early-stage companies who just haven’t got the hang of B2B marketing yet, consider the proportion among marketers from Enterprise companies who aren’t Marketo customers: a full 41% said they aren’t familiar with ABM.

Even if we assume that among Marketo customers most marketers who aren’t familiar with ABM are from smaller businesses (the precise company size breakdown in the study for Marketo customers isn’t clear), that’s still an awful lot of Enterprise companies overall who missed the memo on ABM.

But according to Heinz Marketing President Matt Heinz, just because many marketers haven’t heard of “ABM” or “account-based marketing” as buzzwords, it doesn’t mean they aren’t still implementing it in practice.

“I expect there are many marketers migrating to revenue-responsible, integrated programs with their sales teams,” says Heinz. “They don’t need to call it ABM to be doing it well and doing it right.

“We’ve seen this in sales enablement as well.  There are many companies doing the functions of what we call sales enablement, but they don’t call it sales enablement internally.  Sometimes we get too wrapped up in our own language in the B2B ‘echo chamber’.”

(Guilty as charged… )

2) ABM is being rapidly adopted — but it’s slow progress

Most surveys conducted about ABM adoption so far have focused on overall adoption rates more generally. But another interesting stat in this report concerns what’s happening after adoption, as well as immediately beforehand.

Specifically, the study highlights three categories of companies: Those who have “Decided to implement but haven’t done anything yet”; the “Early Stage” adopters; “Mid Stage” adopters; and finally “Advanced” ABM adopters (see the report itself for how these classifications are made.)

Interestingly, the biggest group by a long way are the Early Stage adopters, accounting for 45% of respondents. That’s more than double those who described their businesses’ ABM lifecycle as “Mid Stage”, and more than four times the number of “Advanced” ABM lifecycles. It’s also a lot more than those still considering ABM implementation.

The picture presented is of a B2B marketing industry that’s dipping its toes in the ABM pool en masse, but hasn’t fully taken the plunge and committed fully.

Subsequent insights suggest that this slow progress is about more than just the relatively short amount of time ABM has been around as a concept. In fact, of the various challenges businesses are grappling with on the way to ABM adoption, significantly more are coming unstuck with more basic things like understanding ABM, developing the right content and content strategies, and driving sales and marketing alignment — as opposed to operational challenges further down the road which directly relate to executing ABM campaigns (reporting and analytics, selecting target accounts, or navigating the ABM martech ecosystem).

And, intriguingly, once again the most common challenges to businesses’ ABM adoption was at the conceptual level, namely “Understanding the basics and benefits of ABM”.

3) ABM adoption is already impressive — but we’re only just getting warmed up

Despite the challenges, the many, widely-publicized ABM success stories are clearly having an impact — even on those businesses who by their own admission aren’t yet familiar with ABM as a distinct concept. Clearly, the results are speaking for themselves.

As noted at the start of this article, less than 10% of Marketo customers said they wouldn’t be implementing ABM as a central part of their go-to-market strategy in the next year. Among companies who aren’t using Marketo those numbers were only slightly higher: 19% for SMBs and 15% for Enterprises.

These stats in particular should serve as a wake-up call for businesses who haven’t yet implemented ABM (whether by name or not). As account-based strategies quickly become part of the B2B marketing furniture — bringing with them many advantages in terms of effectiveness and efficiency — those who fail to adopt now will likely find themselves scrambling to play catch up in a few years’ time.

For more on The State of Account Based Marketing today, download your free copy of the report below:

The State of Account-Based Marketing

Picture credit: iStock

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