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Terminus CMO discusses slowing ABM budget increases and measurement challenges

The number of companies reporting year-over-year increases in budget for account-based marketing activities has fallen nearly 20 per cent, and 41 per cent say measuring and reporting results is a challenge, according to research from Terminus released this week.

Conducted in partnership FlipMyFunnel and Heinz Marketing, the third-annual Terminus State Of Account-Based Marketing report is  based on a survey of more than 200 sales and marketing professionals.

Among other findings, the data showed that while nearly half, or 45 per cent of firms have only been running ABM programs for less than a year, 15 per cent are now in the three-plus years range. Thirty per cent also said they would describe their ABM programs as “broadly implemented, focused on optimization and iteration.”

According to Terminus CMO Derek Slayton, the measurement issues may stem from the inability of many martech tools to adequately track things like account progression. That means marketers may still be falling back on things like marketing qualified leads (MQLs) to determine their success, which doesn’t make as much sense when you’re pursuing ABM.

“We have champions that feel they’re moving the needle but don’t have the rest of the organization at the same place,” Slayton told B2B News Network. “Make sure when you’re starting out that you spend some time being clear on how you’re going to measure your KPIs but also make sure the rest of the organization understands that.”

On the other hand, only 60 per cent said they expected to see more money invested in ABM next year, down from 82 per cent the last time the survey was conducted. Slayton suggested this may be in part due to the need to better integrate or bring together disparate tool sets.

“(Marketers) have a lot of stuff they’ve purchased that they aren’t getting value from,” he said. “I think the simplification of the tech stack will speed up account based marketing over the long term.”

Perhaps most encouraging, more than  84 per cent of respondents with an advanced ABM program report that target account selection is a joint effort conducted by both sales and marketing.

Besides reporting and measurement, nearly as many survey respondents said finding the right ABM content to align with their program goals was a problem, followed by building out account and contact data.

“ABM has been kind of a project as opposed to a practice for most marketing organizations,” Slayton said. “Most of the people who were early adopters were either field or demand marketers and didn’t have content in their purview or in their expertise set. They had to whip it together, which is painful.”

As the report’s authors noted, these are very different issues compared to the last time the survey was conducted, when the biggest challenges cited included “length of time for results” by 17 per cent and “how to start” by 12 per cent.

One of the report’s recommendations is that marketers look beyond annual revenue or industry verticals to come up with their target account list, though Slayton admitted the evolution of technology to pick up on intent and engagement may play a role here, too.

“It’s really hard for marketers to absorb more intelligent data sources and use them in concert with each other,” he said. “Marketers fall back on firmographic or technographic segmentation because most of their data supports them doing that. In many cases behavioural data doesn’t marry with their existing data at an account level — at least not yet.” 

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Shane Schick
Shane Schickhttp://shaneschick.com
Shane Schick is the Editor-in-Chief of B2B News Network. He is the former Editor-in-Chief of Marketing magazine and has also been Vice-President, Content & Community (Editor-in-Chief), at IT World Canada, a technology columnist with the Globe and Mail and was the founding editor of ITBusiness.ca. Shane has been recognized for journalistic excellence by the Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance and the Canadian Online Publishing Awards.