Account-based marketing propelled forward by the pandemic
As B2B buyers changed the way they engaged with companies, marketers and vendors are using ABM to adapt.
We hear a lot about how dramatically the pandemic has affected consumer purchasing behavior, but the business-to-business side of buying is less frequently discussed. That doesn’t mean the pace of developments is any slower, however.
While researching the all-new updated MarTech intelligence Report on account-based marketing (ABM) solutions, which just launched, we learned about how B2B buyers are engaging with companies in the current environment, and how marketing technology providers are helping those companies turn prospects into customers.
While ABM has been used by B2B marketers for well over a decade, rapid advances in the sophistication and accessibility of relevant data – and in technologies that enable ABM – are fueling more widespread adoption of this approach. Another driving force, which I mentioned at the start, are fundamental changes in the B2B buying cycle — shifts that the COVID pandemic accelerated as events and in-person meetings went virtual.
For some time, B2B buyers have conducted a lot of research online before talking to a salesperson, and the vast amount of information available has given the buyer an upper hand. The lockdowns, cancelled events and work-from-home trends that have characterized the pandemic period have contributed to this phenomenon.
Digital engagement, Salesforce notes in its “State of the Connected Customer” report, “has hit a tipping point this year, with an estimated 60% of interactions taking place online, compared to 42% last year.” The company expects this trend to become part of the “new normal” post-pandemic. Its survey showed that 80% of business buyers expect to conduct more business online after the pandemic as compared to before.
At the same time, the number of influencers involved in B2B purchase decisions has increased, leading to a longer and more complex buying cycle. The median B2B buying group involves six to 10 decision makers, according to Gartner, and 77% of buyers surveyed say purchases “have become very complex and difficult.”
For more on what we learned, as well as profiles of individual vendors of ABM solutions, download Account-Based Marketing Tools: A Marketer’s Guide.
Snapshot: Account-based marketing
B2B marketers have used account-based marketing, or ABM, for years. But shifts in technology and disruptions from the COVID-19 pandemic have accelerated its widespread adoption among marketers.
B2B buyers perform heavy amounts of research before contacting a salesperson, which gives them an upper hand in transactions. This tendency, too, has increased as a result of the pandemic. Salesforce’s “State of the Connected Customer” report found that an estimated 60% of business interactions now take place online, as opposed to 42% in 2019. What’s more, their survey showed that 80% of B2B buyers expect to conduct more business online in the future than ever before.
The amount of B2B purchasers has increased, though many report difficulties in the buying process. As a result, more B2B brands are adopting ABM models to address these issues.
The results of these adoptions are promising. In a Forrester/SiriusDecisions survey of marketers, the majority of respondents said account engagement, win rate, average deal size, and ROI increased after implementing an ABM strategy. Because of this ABM vendors are reaping the benefits as B2B marketers invest in these technologies and apply them to their channels. Learn more here.