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How To Maximize Your ABM Investment With Better Data

What has account-based marketing done for me lately?

B2B marketers aren’t asking this question too often, partially because many are new to adopting ABM and are waiting patiently for the results to appear. But this may change in 2017 as marketers face additional pressure to justify their initiatives in terms of pipeline, ROI, and ultimately revenue.

Unfortunately, there have been some concerning answers to the question of whether ABM is producing results. In particular, SiriusDecisions published research last year showing that only 22% of ABM marketers consider themselves tightly aligned with Sales. This was down from 34% in 2015.

Given that one of the top benefits ascribed to ABM is sales and marketing alignment, these survey results are troubling. Is ABM really powerless to address the historic gap between these two key go-to-market functions?

The truth is that ABM is a process that can align sales and marketing only when given the right inputs. And one of the key inputs to successful ABM is quality sales and marketing data.

The Data Problem That Is Holding Back ABM

Although quality data is key for ABM, recent research shows that only 70-75% of CRM and marketing automation data is accurate, and more than 80% of companies without effective demand gen blame data quality for marketing and sales flops.

This translates into two problems for ABM practitioners seeking to use the process to align sales and marketing:

  1. When sales and marketing are relying on out-of-date, inaccurate, or incomplete data, there is no objective basis for agreeing on target accounts. Sales will still follow their gut and marketing will have to go along or run the risk of spending program dollars on accounts that sales is not focused on.
  2. Even if sales and marketing can agree on a common set of target accounts, bad data can make it impossible to engage those businesses effectively. Either there is missing information that is needed for personalized messaging or — even worse — there is incorrect firmographic or contact data that leads to botched campaigns.

In either of these cases, poor data quality can prevent the realization of benefits from an ABM process.

Transcending Data Difficulties to Succeed with ABM

B2B marketers can overcome their data challenges and maximize the potential of an ABM strategy by following a few best practices.

First, it’s important to leverage a robust external dataset to clean and enrich your existing CRM and marketing automation data prior to implementing an ABM pilot program. You should tap into an external dataset that is refreshed regularly and contains data from a variety of different sources. Static list purchases are likely to go stale quickly, and relying solely on a single data collection method (phone survey, web scraping, etc.) means there will likely be gaps in the type of information available and the integrity of the data.

In addition, ABM marketers should obtain granular information that is useful for deciding what accounts to target and how to engage with them. There are three types of data that are very important for defining and engaging with target accounts:

  • Product Technologies — Your business may sell products or services that integrate directly with certain hardware or software. It is critical to know which companies use these technologies when performing target account selection.
  • Intent — Understanding which companies are actively researching your solution can help you identify new additions for your target account list and find out when to engage existing target accounts with sales or marketing outreach.
  • News & Events — Use current events about accounts (hiring patterns, revenue growth, mergers/acquisitions) to personalize messaging and outreach so you’re speaking to the right challenges or opportunities facing each target account.

Finally, it’s critical that any data source is easily actionable across a variety of channels. That means you need to be able to use data to drive campaigns through CRM for field and telesales initiatives, through marketing automation for email programs, and through social and search platforms for online advertising that will broaden your reach and keep your message in front of target accounts all of the time.

Bridging the Gap from Data to Revenue with ABM

Once your data challenges are addressed, ABM can be an incredibly powerful process for aligning sales and marketing to drive revenue at your organization.

Whether you are still just thinking about ABM or have implemented a solution and want to understand how ABM is tightly integrated with marketing automation, download Marketing Automation Fundamentals: Account-Based Marketing.


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