2017 predictions: Why artificial intelligence will blow account-based marketing out of the water
Account-based marketing (ABM) has become a staple in B2B marketing today, and columnist Peter Isaacson believes that artificial intelligence (AI) will take it even further, making hyper-personalization at scale possible.
We are approaching the end of another year, and with that comes time for reflection on how far we’ve come in the last 12 months and speculation about what’s ahead.
If we look back on the last year in the world of sales and marketing, there’s one trend in particular that’s sparked notable enthusiasm from B2B marketers: the emergence of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) as a category.
In 2016, we saw explosive growth in ABM acceleration and adoption, with more than 70 percent of B2B companies focused on driving ABM programs, according to a recent study by SiriusDecisions. This growth has definitely impacted how marketers structure their tech stacks today. ABM has gone from a “nice to have” marketing tactic to a key solution that marketing departments are actively working to execute within their organizations.
And this isn’t all hearsay: There’s evidence to back up the fact that ABM is not only growing in use among B2B marketers but producing impactful results as well. Recently released research from the ABM Leadership Alliance on the state of the ABM market found that ABM marketing now outperforms traditional marketing methods.
Additionally, the research found that B2B marketers experienced a 171 percent lift in their average annual contact value (ACV) when using ABM strategies like selecting target accounts, defining budgets and outlining team structures.
While multiple technology advancements contributed to ABM’s rise in awareness and use by B2B marketers in 2016, one area of technology in particular that I expect to propel the ABM category even further next year is Artificial Intelligence (AI).
ABM has allowed marketers to get away from only tracking click-through rates (CTRs), marketing qualified leads (MQLs) and website clicks and instead focus on how much marketing contributes in pipeline and bookings. Knowing the benefits that ABM brings to the table, continued advances in data quality will only make ABM stronger and more explosive in 2017.
Instead of relying on look-alike modeling using firmographics or a business directory, AI will allow B2B marketers to tap into more data and understand the entire business network of a company from customers, partners, suppliers and more. This 360-degree view will allow marketers to better predict potential buyers, personalize campaigns and close more deals, further extending the value of marketing in the C-suite.
Next year, AI will bring hyper-personalized ABM to scale
One key benefit for B2B marketers who adopt account-based marketing solutions is that it allows more time to focus on both their customers and prospects. Data from the ABM Leadership Alliance report found that ABM programs allow marketers to put a greater emphasis on existing customers in the inception period (60 percent relationship focus) and grow relationships with prospects over time (71 percent relationship focus in year 1). The data show that ABM allows more time for personalized messaging and interactions, which we know more and more customers are demanding.
Taking those personalized marketing conversations to the next level is where AI comes into play. The most valuable use for AI in marketing is to enable one-on-one personalized conversations with customers, knowing their pain points, goals and ambitions. This type of personalized communication eliminates the worthless spam that often plagues marketing today.
While we know these personalized conversations between account managers and customers are already happening through the use of ABM, in the next year, artificial intelligence will allow these conversations to grow beyond a select group of people. Each of a company’s 10 million website visitors can expect to have a unique conversation with a brand based on their specific needs. From dynamic ad copy, to 1-to-1 emails and customized website experiences, AI will make hyper-personalization at scale possible.
AI will bring complementary ABM technology to the market
Another way we can expect to see AI push ABM to the next level in 2017 is through the creation of entirely new B2B marketing technologies that will complement and support ABM solutions.
As AI continues to advance, we can expect to see the recommendation engines used by companies like Netflix and Amazon develop specifically for the B2B market. This will start to pave the way for a B2B business concierge — a completely automated and customized buyer’s journey throughout the funnel that is driven by AI.
With supporting AI-driven technology like the B2B business concierge, in 2017, marketers will be armed with even stronger ABM solutions to move the needle and drive revenue like never before.
It’s clear that ABM has already emerged as a high-priority B2B marketing category and has serious potential to shape the future of B2B marketing. As we move into 2017, I look forward to witnessing AI-driven changes like these come into play, making ABM more powerful and its results more impactful than we ever thought possible.