Why Account Based Marketing, Why Now!

Author: Rahul Khosla | Categories: Demand Generation, B2B Online Excellence, Digital Marketing, Customer Engagement

Evolution of the customer, emergence of new technology, access to data and ineffectiveness of current processes have led to radical changes in B2B marketing. Old ways of marketing are not working anymore.

Why is B2B marketing broken?

  • Results are poor: According to Forrester Research, only 0.75% of leads close to revenue. Marketers shouldn’t even bother running ROI calculations on those numbers! There needs to be a better way to deliver results.
  • One-size-fits-all marketing doesn't work: Consider your own experience with websites. Do you get frustrated when you can't find something you want? Do you wonder why the brand isn't delivering a relevant experience to you? Your customers feel the same way. They want relevant information that can improve and simplify the experience for them. However, most organizations have a one size fits all approach to marketing.
  • The funnel is becoming irrelevant: B2B marketers took the sales funnel and turned it into something marketing owned. On its own the funnel doesn’t give a good representation of how companies win business. I often see this trend in my firm - it is very difficult to track metrics and acceleration across the funnel when prospects are coming in mid funnel, highly informed, and ready to buy. 
  • Focus on quantity rather than quality: The focus on generating a high volume of leads has taken the focus away from what’s important – quality. Ultimately, high-quality leads will drive more sales.
  • Sales and marketing aren’t aligned: Marketing focuses on leads, while sales focus is on accounts. Since success to both means different things, they aren’t aligned.

When did it all go so wrong?

The focus has shifted away from the customer. Marketers are trying to do more - more content, targeting more channels to ultimately get more MQLs. Focus is not on the customer, or winning new accounts, but on simply generating leads.

There needs to be a better way, and Account Based Marketing (ABM) provides a better way to market.

So, what is Account Based Marketing (ABM)?

ABM is not just technology or strategy. It is an approach that combines strategy, process and technology to identify, target and engage accounts that are an ideal fit their organizations.
 “Account-Based Marketing is used by B2B marketers to identify and target the accounts they value the most. ABM solutions typically include account-based data and technology to help companies attract, engage, convert and then measure progress against customers and prospects.” - Demand Base

The following illustration provides an approach to how ABM works: 

Account Based Marketing
Source: Skura

Does it really work?

Still early days, but ABM looks promising:

  • A quick search in Google Trends for 'Account Based Marketing' shows a significant positive trend:


Account Based Marketing


  • 92% B2B companies indicate ABM is ‘extremely’ or ‘very’ important to their overall marketing efforts (Source: Sirius Decisions)
  • 96% of B2B marketers leveraging ABM report a positive impact on marketing success (Source: Demand Metric)

Why does ABM have promise?

1. Marketers begin to focus squarely on their customers: With ABM, marketers start by identifying their ideal customers. When marketers focus on the customer, the focus is on the needs of customers rather than products and features. The first step in ABM is identifying the right set of accounts and generally, a large set of ideal accounts to target. Thereafter,  personas and buyer journeys provide deep insight into buyer behavior.


Account Based Marketing
Source: Sirius Decisions

2. Sales and marketing's relationship is evolving: We see an evolution of sales and marketing - their goals are getting aligned around getting valid accounts for the organization. The ownership of the funnel is becoming equal again.

3. ABM enables one-to-one marketing: Now, innovation in data technology enables you to identify audiences that are a good fit for you and allows you to engage with them wherever they are. You can engage prospects and customers with targeted display media, track cross-channel behavior, identify businesses of anonymous users on your website in real-time and create rich customer data repositories with first and third party data. You can orchestrate experiences that are targeted and relevant – right message to the right audience at the right time!

Account Based Marketing success demands a focus on cohesive strategy, process and technology. I'm very passionate about ABM, simply because it is a better way to market.

As a co-founder of B2B tech startup and a CEO of a digital agency, I’m bringing these practices to my own organizations. ABM tactics and technology are evolving quickly and we’re learning by making mistakes along the way.

In a series of posts and ebooks, I’ll share my learnings on how ABM works, the tech platforms to consider in an evolving eco-system and processes an organization must deploy to be successful.

Stay tuned.