There are four significant trends making account-based marketing (ABM) a major focus for B2B marketers:
- Rising customer expectations are the most disruptive trend in business today. Customers no longer make categorical distinctions between their personal and professional brand relationships. They expect all companies to provide highly valuable personalized experiences all the time. Companies that differentiate their customer relationships on the basis of account-specific insights and responsiveness raise customer expectations and create competitive advantage. Expectations are set very early in the buyer's journey long before they interact with Sales, so marketing plays a crucial role in demonstrating value add from the very first touch.
- Customer acquisition costs have changed dramatically. Saturation is a problem for many technology product categories, especially second platform solutions in the enterprise arena. As segments near or reach saturation, new customer acquisition costs soar and it becomes imperative to more efficiently find new customers, get the most out of existing customer relationships, and defend them from competitors. The scale efficiencies of marketing vs. sales are critical to accomplishing these objectives cost-effectively.
- Subscription revenue models dramatically extend the time it takes to recoup cost of sales. Ideally, revenue and profit increase over time, but that is dependent on retention and expansion of the relationship which require constant care and nurturing. As a result, marketing must play a central role in optimizing the ongoing customer relationship.
- Technology has enabled an increasing number of account based marketing program components to be scaled beyond a small group of select customers. Online communities, micro sites, personalized content, crowd sourced product features, and other digital elements are easier to offer at scale. As a result, they enable companies to gain additional margin and raise expectations in segments beyond their largest customers. These are the tools the digital marketer must leverage for delivering value to the account.
Despite its name Account Based Marketing is not an exclusively marketing function, far from it. At its most mature it is part of a larger program that coordinates all customer facing resources (from marketing, sales, finance, fulfillment, product development, service, support and partner organizations.) Prior to getting there, it can take a number of different forms depending on resource commitment from content curation, to verticalization, to sales enablement. Regardless of the stage of your ABM activities, the ultimate goal remains the same: to deliver a highly differentiated, deeply customized, supremely successful experience for every account. When executed well, ABM is a vital tool for increasing customer lifetime value and raising the bar for competitors.
Contact me to request more information on IDC's Account Based Marketing Maturity Model - gmurray(at)idc(dot)com.