2023 is yet another year of uncertainty and conflicting predictions, bringing new pressures to the CMO office, where marketers are expected to deliver more revenue to the business with less budget and resources. But as Sebastian Jespersen recently mentioned in his latest article, 'Dear CMO – are you ready to do more with less', 2023 could be the year that the modern CMO leads a marketing transformation focused more on results with less confusion and distraction.
Faced with increasing pressures, several of our marketing clients are rethinking how to invest their efforts and budgets into building a growth marketing engine that is acutely aligned with the business strategy while incorporating account-based marketing disciplines to bridge the historical gap between marketing and sales.
According to Gartner, there has been an annual year-to-year increase of investment in the account-based marketing department. 84% of marketers are seeing a higher ROI from account-based marketing efforts than any other marketing programs (ITSMA 2022). The bottom line is that ABM has become a cornerstone for a CMO's marketing transformation. The problem is that misconceptions about ABM are getting in the way of its full potential and potentially undermining its success.
How do you start building a proper account-based marketing setup within the marketing organization?
Be relevant to your target audience and your buying committee. This core marketing principle has been hailed as the key to a successful ABM strategy for years (or ABX - Account-based experiences – as it's now often called.) But it is also a bit simplistic — the truth is there are a few misconceptions:
#1 misconception: Technology Powered.
With new technologies emerging almost daily, marketers can leverage endless data enrichment capabilities. But many marketers have fallen into the trap of bundling ABM as a tactic strictly related to a technology when it is, in fact, very far from that. More to come in the next section.
#2 misconception: Campaign or program.
Account-based marketing is often thought of as a campaign that takes place at a certain moment in time or during a specific touchpoint in the buyer or customer journey. But before you come to any campaign tactics or programs, you need to define your account-based marketing strategy. This means translating your enterprise strategy into an integrated marketing strategy and organizing your teams around an ABM operating model.
To bridge the gap between marketing and sales, we need to rethink the roles of marketing vs. sales throughout the buying cycle. The siloed approach to the buying cycle, where marketing cultivates leads and sales closes the deal separately, doesn't work anymore. In a world where 76% of the buying journey is now digital, the only way forward is to create an integrated approach to accelerate the buyer journey by empowering marketing to take on responsibility for as much of the funnel as possible while sales focus on closing matured and cultivated leads.
Get your TAM overview:
Understand your TAM (Total Addressable Market) and align your marketing segmentation with your sales team's go-to-market segmentation (industries, company size, digital maturity etc.) and understand the coverage as well as the opportunity of each segment.
For each market segment, map the relevant offerings based on their needs and profiles. For existing customers, think of the account progression and what would make sense for them to buy based on your current business relationship.
Define the digital opportunity:
Identify where digital can make the greatest business impact. Depending on your TAM segmentation, strategic accounts may need more white glove management, while smaller accounts that are higher in volume can be put on autopilot. In these situations, ABM can be leveraged to scale services and offerings to those smaller segments.
The buying committee:
Move away from thinking about an individual buyer's decision journey to understanding the account's (or company's) decision journey that covers the buying committee's needs and nuances.
Bridging the end-to-end journey:
Connect your early-journey content (thought leadership) with your mid-journey content (product marketing). Once you bridge your content strategy and map your content across the different phases of the buying journey, create your campaign strategy and paid programs to mirror that. This enables you to invest in the touchpoints that drive the most impact.
Define measurable goals:
Don't think about typical marketing metrics such as visits, impressions etc. Think about broader goals that can impact the business, such as reducing lead time to conversion, reducing cost per MQL etc. Once you have those goals, break them down into measurable KPIs at each phase of the buying journey.
Report & optimize:
Develop a growth marketing operating model that enables you to constantly optimize account-based marketing tactics and programs based on data while reporting actionable insights to your sales and account teams. By not drowning in data and being laser-focused on the metrics mapped to the buying journey, you can create efficiencies in qualification and empower your sales organization with actional and meaningful insights.
While this year might be daunting to many marketers, it also presents a powerful opportunity to think and act smarter by demonstrating the power of the marketing organization, innovating on how marketing delivers value to the business and shifting from a reactive mindset into a proactive one.
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