Forrester analyzed ABM Platforms and the key takeaways have been summarized below.
Basically, account-based marketing (ABM) software realigns marketing and sales departments away from spray and pray lead generation strategies by identifying quality target accounts prior to implementing a tailored marketing strategy. What this means is that determining if a “lead” is an MQL is irrelevant as everyone targeted is an MQL.
The Value of ABM Platforms
- ABM Platforms automate and reduce the lengthy process of identifying prospects and dedicating the right resources to nurture the most promising contacts within the ideal accounts.
- ABM Platforms enable users to generate highly qualified leads, craft personalized buying journeys, increase customer lifetime value, and build further opportunity for in-pipeline accounts.
- ABM Platforms allow users to combine prospect data with real-time customer experience technologies to facilitate an account-based marketing strategy.
- ABM Platforms can be used to acquire new accounts, nurture existing and promising accounts, and expand and grow enterprise accounts.
- Some ABM Platforms can integrate with third-party sales and marketing applications, such as marketing automation platforms and customer relationship management, or CRM software, to better target and prioritize communications with key accounts.
Best In Class ABM Platforms
Some of the benefits of ABM Platforms for B2B marketers and sales teams includes:
Account-Level Personalization – Instead of trying to engage a broad prospect audience in a certain market, you can present content and offers that reflect the unique attributes of your target accounts.
Account-Level Analytics – ABM software gives you the ability, through closed-loop reporting, to trace your efforts to specific financial outcomes. In the era when marketers face increasing pressure to impact revenue, account-level analytics are a requirement.
Sales & Marketing Alignment – With the power to identify, track, target, and engage specific accounts, marketing will be much better equipped to support the efforts of the sales team. Sales teams will gain a medium for communicating objectives and a more useful body of contact and account intelligence for each opportunity they pursue.
Improved Prospecting – As you research and develop processes to identify target accounts, you’ll build a deeper understanding of your ideal customer profile(s). Some ABM tools can do the data mining and account-identification steps for you, which means you can bring in new business faster and with greater accuracy.
ABM Platforms – ABM Account Intelligence
In general, account-based marketing substitutes a traditional wide-top funnel (cast a wide net and filter to something relevant) with a narrower and more laser focused marketing funnel. Traditionally, accounts need to be qualified before they become MQLs and this requires data appendage and scoring algorithms.
Account intelligence products
- connect existing leads in a marketing database to their account and provide qualifying data about that company
- connect marketers to prospective accounts based on their ideal account persona
- implement a lead scoring engine to better qualify leads and optimize a marketer’s target account list.
Account intelligence for account intelligence can be automated to add layer of relevant information. For example, ABM Platforms can use:
Firmographic Data – such as industry, location, IT infrastructure, or investment history.
IP Address Data – pegging IP addresses to known companies and company departments.
Buying Signals – also known as intent data or predictive marketing, detailed further below.
Trends for ABM Platforms
ABM — as a strategy and as a set of enabling technologies — has grown beyond its awkward adolescence but still has a long way to go before reaching full maturity. It is clear that ABM platforms accelerate time-to-results and that breadth of capabilities and analytics quality are the biggest differentiators In the market.
In a recent Forrester survey of B2B marketers, more than a third said they are still experimenting with ABM or plan to roll out their first ABM programs in 2018.1 At the same time, the positive results that the vendors in covered are delivering have accelerated adoption and overall market development.
The following elements characterize the market for ABM platforms:
A wide variety of solutions and approaches
- Most of the ABM vendors analyzed have strong core competencies in one or two key areas, such as insights, engagement, or orchestration and have built out, plan to build out, or have acquired complementary capabilities over time.
- A few are starting to tick all the boxes — though capabilities can vary significantly in each area.
Numerous entrants from adjacent markets
- Nimble vendors always chase the next big thing — and for good reason in the case of ABM.
- Madison Logic has a long track record of success in content syndication.
- Predictive marketing analytics leaders 6sense, Lattice, and Radius recently added ABM focused functionality such as programmatic advertising or orchestration to complement their existing account selection and insights capabilities.
- And display advertising leader AdRoll recently rolled out RollWorks, a new B2B- and ABM-focused offering.
Lots of mergers-and-acquisitions activity
- Case in point: During the production of this report, 6sense announced that it was acquiring ZenIQ, and Radius announced that it was acquiring Leadspace.
- Forrester expects similar announcements to continue, as vendors within and outside the ABM market seek to expand their capabilities and/or capture a share of this market.
ABM Platforms Coalesce Around A Common Set Of Capabilities And Usage
Forrester believes three characteristics define today’s ABM platforms. They all
Support multiple steps in the ABM process:
- Account selection
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.
Have strong native capabilities – the functionality each vendor provides as part of its solution
Are used by marketers to complement their marketing automation platforms
- As of today, ABM platforms and marketing automation platforms are still complementary solutions.
- The two groups of vendors may compete for budget in some areas of overlapping functionality — such as the orchestration of marketing and sales motions.
- But Forrester believes that they do not yet compete on a full-solution basis.
ABM Evaluation Criteria Explained
ABM Account selection
- Does the platform: use lookalike modeling, behavioral data, and/or other data to evaluate/present target accounts; update in real time; and rank by propensity?
- Do rules or AI power that functionality?
- Does the platform provide visibility into the signals used to present and rank target accounts?
ABM Contact selection
- Does the platform: perform lead-to-account matching; use t/lookalike modeling and/or behavioral data to discover, evaluate, and/or present contacts within target accounts; and rank contacts by propensity to engage? If yes, does a rule engine or AI power that functionality?
- Does the platform: provide demographic, demographic, social, and/or technographic data; ingest and augment data from first- and third-party sources; provide real-time alerts; expose corporate parent/child relationships; provide identity resolution; and provide GDPR-compliant privacy measures?
- Does the platform: personalize by account and/or contact in multiple channels; use rules or AI; personalize by account sales stage, contact behavior, and/or contact role; and launch personalized engagement based on insights?
- Do rules or AI power that?
ABM Programmatic Advertising
- Does the platform deliver: digital advertising using IP addresses, cookies, or a combination of both; dynamic creative; and advertising that can reach the same contact across multiple devices? Does the platform perform real-time bidding at the contact level? Does the platform ensure brand safety?
ABM Engagement Orchestration
- Does the platform design, launch, and manage marketing and sales motions customized for a target account and/or contact across multiple channels?
- Does the platform: use rules and/or AI; provide marketing and sales with visibility into engagement; and enable sellers to create engagement?
ABM Performance Assessment
- Does the platform: assess engagement by buying team and/or account; assess the impact of marketing and sales across multiple channels; provide multitouch attribution; assess the performance of ABM on pipeline, revenue, and customer growth; and recommend improvements?
ABM PlatformsProduct Road Map
- How strong is the company’s ability to dene strategy time frames, milestones, and benchmarks?
- Does it have a near-term plan to execute on: product enhancements; innovation; commercial model enhancements; and partner expansion?
- Does it have the resources and capabilities to deliver on its road map?
ABM Product Vision
- Does the product vision align with buyers’ need to win, serve, and retain customers?
- Does it support clients’ business outcomes? Does the vision enable customer centricity and customer experience?
- How well does it align with customer trends and customers’ future needs? Is the company addressing competitive threats?
ABM Market Approach
- Is the company executing a successful go-to-market approach?
- Can the company show evidence of a successful approach to customers today in terms of: revenue growth, marketing messages, vertical market strategy, geographic strategy, account momentum/growth, and commercial model?