I recently participated in a B2B marketing tweet chat. Inevitably, one of the questions focused on 2016 B2B marketing predictions. And almost as inevitably as the question itself, many participants responded with something like “ABM will explode this year.”
One tweet actually went so far as to state that ABM will become synonymous with B2B marketing in 2016. Further, just last week, a Bizable blog post titled “Is Account-Based Marketing the Death of Inbound?” exhorted a similar stance: “The ultimate goal for B2B marketing should be 100% account based.”
I’m skeptical of this. I’m not saying I disagree – I just don’t know yet.
“All In” on ABM?
First off, it’s important you all know where I’m coming from on this topic. I work at a MarTech company that provides ABM tools (among other features), and I fully believe in all the benefits of account-based marketing. (I’ve written about it to an irritating degree.) So clearly, I should be supporting any statement that promotes widespread use of ABM methods.
On the other hand, one of my core duties at Integrate (and one of Integrate’s cultural pillars) is to steer customers, prospects and marketers alike in the direction that’s best for them – not just best for Integrate. We want our customers to be successful, and I have a hard time believing that most B2B marketers will maximize their results using ABM methods alone.
My stance: the marketing community should debate the possible effects of going “100% ABM” before blindly jumping headlong into the hottest marketing trend since inbound marketing (which we all know isn’t alone sustainable either).
I hope to start that conversation here. The main reason for my skepticism is…
The Possibility of ABM Tunnel-Vision
Think about how you go about executing an ABM program. Developing a list of accounts or look-alike accounts is one of the early, fundamental steps. This list is based on accounts and personas that you’ve already closed, which inform your target characteristics.
It’s usually the case that a great majority of your current accounts share characteristics that just a few years ago you weren’t aware that you should be targeting. This happens because industries evolve, economies ebb and flow, organizational goals and requirements change – a litany of reasons exists for why target account parameters are in constant flux.
This means that your ABM targeting tactics must also evolve. It’s simply lazy to assume that the firmographic details that constitute your ideal customer today will be the same two years from now. If you neglect efforts that attract and engage untargeted accounts/personas, your ABM strategy can’t evolve.
In other words, you only learn from the data that enters your funnel. Keeping some of your demand marketing efforts open allows you to continuously inform and refine your ABM program based on ever-changing industry dynamics, which in turn opens doors to new, unforeseen opportunities.
This is my reaction when I hear that “All B2B marketing should be account-based.” I’m not saying my current skepticism is right – I just think it’s worth a conversation.