Demand Gen Report has been covering the rapid growth of account-based marketing and key players — from practitioners to solution providers — in the space from the start. Year over year, our benchmark research shows more marketers already practicing or planning to practice ABM in some way. Our 2019 research revealed that half of the respondents (50%) have had their initiatives in place for more than a year, while 25% have been practicing ABM between six and twelve months. Only 6% of respondents said they are not doing ABM yet.
Demandbase has been one of the top ABM platforms legitimizing and validating ABM as a category for quite some time. And every year, the company’s ABM Innovation Summit brings together hundreds of marketers to San Francisco to learn about the latest trends and products in ABM. This 2020 Summit was scheduled for March 17 and 18, but the current nature of the global Covid-19 pandemic led Demandbase to make the difficult decision to cancel this year’s Summit.
Instead of a live event, the team delivered a keynote address online, where CMO Peter Isaacson, CEO Gabe Rogol, VP of Product Marketing Phil Hollrah and VP of Product Seth Myers, came together on camera to share insights around the theme of the event, “ABM Next,” as well as the latest product launches from Demandbase.
“The theme for this year's events is ABM Next,” said Isaacson. “And ABM Next, quite honestly, could be the theme for each of the seven conferences that we've put on over the years. Because we are always looking at what's next in account-based marketing, what some of the new trends are, what's coming up around the corner, what's going to happen this year and even next year and share that with the attendees at the conference. This year is no different for that.”
“If you look back, the first wave or phase of ABM was really an evangelical phase,” said Rogol. “This was when the first technologies were being introduced and really the awareness of the importance of the attention where B2B marketers changed from focusing primarily on leads and individuals to accounts to align with sales. Then, in about late 2015, there was a moment where the actual term ABM crystallized because, in phase one, there was some debate. It became ABM and with that, a whole host of new innovations came out. There were point solutions and artificial Intelligence became important, early adopters were doing their first forays into full-scale implementations. There was a lot of buzz.”
With those first two phases came a lot of excitement. However, there wasn’t real consistency or best practices around it, according to Rogol. Now we’re in the third wave of ABM, where marketers see that ABM is table stakes for their organizations.
“We've come so far, but there is not a clear definition yet as to what the core technologies that make ABM successful are. And what the best practices that make ABM successful are. That's really what ABM Next is all about. And that's really what Demandbase’s mission is all about.”
3 Core Concepts That Define ABM
To get a clearer picture of the definition of ABM, Rogol highlighted three elements identifying the core of ABM, which the Demandbase team highlighted during the keynote.
The three core concepts that make up definitional ABM include:
- The ABM technology — the core platform that ABM practitioners should be implementing;
- The concept of account-based audiences; and
- Control and access of data.
“With an effective strategy in place, or with a need to have an advanced strategy, there really isn't a clear articulation of how you're going to be successful, both in terms of the technology and the practices in place to be successful,” said Rogol in an interview with Demand Gen Report following the keynote presentation. “We focused on that in the keynote … on identifying what the core technology should look like. And that is really made up of three layers of a platform.”
The three layers include:
- The data layer. “This is a combination of your first-party data, and proprietary and third-party data that comes together and provides a unified view of your accounts,” said Rogol.
- The decision level of the platform. “This is about using that data to segment and orchestrate successful campaigns, and maybe most importantly, to measure in meaningful B2B waves.”
- The delivery or action layer. “This is where you have the technology that actually takes those audiences and does things to impact revenue like advertising, personalization and engagement on your site, enabling sales and pushing into the other third-party systems that you're using to achieve your marketing goals.”
Demandbase also introduced the concept of account-based audiences. This requires uniting audience behaviors across your CRM, your website and marketing automation, and “should be marketed to in similar ways to drive through the customer journey,” said Rogol. Audiences should also be accessible across the organization, from marketing to customer-facing teams to data and engineering teams. Finally, it should be pushed through all marketing and sales channels.
To help customers have greater control and access to data, Demandbase launched a variety of new tools to streamline processes, including site analytics, self-serve targeting and data stream. The goal of the new solutions is to provide a holistic, ABM-focused understanding of customers and prospects.
“A couple of years ago at Demandbase, we introduced ABM analytics tools to help our customers really understand what's going on with their ABM programs and how things are moving across the funnel,” said Hollrah. “Another thing that we've heard from our customers is they really want the ability to also understand web engagement. And for the first time, we're bringing in site analytics into our platform.”