For the most part, marketers have bought into account-based marketing and see the value of the investment. In fact, 91 percent of marketers say that they see higher average deal sizes with Account-Based Marketing (ABM). Now, marketers need to focus on staying ahead of the curve.
ABM aligns marketing and sales efforts to deepen engagements at key target accounts. It focuses marketing and sales on messages and tactics that address the specific needs of decision-making teams within each account. This targeted approach moves accounts more seamlessly through the sales funnel. Artificial intelligence (AI) improves upon each of these facets of ABM, and the future of ABM will rely on AI to provide better, ongoing visibility into accounts, drive real-time personalization, speed up impact and continually improve the efficiency of budget allocation.
Making Invisible Demand Visible
In some ways, the term “demand generation” is a miscue, implying that marketers need to create demand where none exists. Part of what makes insight-driven ABM such a viable strategy is the reality that demand already exists, but marketers have a hard time sorting through and making sense of the data to see it.
AI and predictive analytics serve as invaluable tools to help marketers visualize demand. Through natural language understanding, it’s possible to make invisible demand visible by processing massive amounts of data to develop a much more complete understanding of target accounts. AI helps us ingest and make meaning of much larger data sets than was previously possible.
Personalization vs. Customization
Most marketers agree that personalization improves outcomes and engagement for ABM campaigns, but what exactly qualifies as personalization? Adding “%%firstname%%” to an email subject line does not really suffice. As B2C experiences become more and more personalized and increasingly cater to users’ proclivities, B2B buyers expect and demand the same type of customized experience.
With AI, marketers can go beyond simple, hard-coded customization to achieve real personalization rooted in the demonstrated behaviors and preferences of target accounts. AI eliminates much of the guesswork and human error from marketing, providing a better understanding of what clients and prospects need and want. Having the tools that can implement insight-driven personalization now becomes the key.
AI changes the ABM approach from a top-down marketing relationship to bottom-up. Meaning that instead of deploying a set of predetermined tactics based on assumptions and lookalike modeling, marketers can listen to the needs of accounts, segment them into different levels of interest and then respond across all channels. Thus, creating a truly personalized buyer journey, not just customized content.
Any ABM campaign inevitably begins with a “cold start,” as marketers lean on their experience and intuition to make assumptions about what will resonate with the target audience.However, as AI and predictive analytics continue to improve, that cold start becomes shorter and shorter, as the machine learns to better understand the target account with fewer signals.
Additionally, AI gives marketers the opportunity to optimize both the message and the tactic used to reach current and prospective clients. The machine recognizes patterns and then triggers the right message through the right channel. Based on where accounts are in the sales funnel and how accounts that have shown a similar pattern responded to multi-channel tactics in the past, the machine might activate an email instead of a display ad, for example.
The most innovative change to ABM that AI will drive is the ability of the machine to continuously improve marketing strategy. Both positive and negative engagement signals to marketing tactics are natively fed back into the system, sparking adjustments that quickly and powerfully make marketing smarter.
ABM undoubtedly creates value for marketers as it is, but AI, coupled with predictive analytics,offers new possibilities for B2B marketers to transform not only their account-based marketing, but also how sales and marketing work together to engage the customer.