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Hot Trend for B2B Marketers: Account-Based Marketing

Article by Noah Elkin, Gartner Research Analyst

Every salesperson wants good leads, and increasingly, B2B marketers are expected to not only provide those good leads but also help close deals. In fact, according to our CMO Spend Survey, 2015-2016: Digital Marketing Comes of Age (Gartner for Marketing Leaders subscription required), converting leads to sales ranked second to innovation as the top area where senior management’s expectations of marketing responsibility increased over 2015.

With a lot riding on marketing’s shoulders, where do you begin? A good place to start is your existing customer base. We’ve all heard the axiom that your current customers are your best customers, but there’s solid data behind it. Growing account revenue by renewing customers is typically more cost-effective (between five and 12 times less expensive, according to Gartner research) than trying to increase revenue by adding new customers.

B2B marketers stand a better chance prospecting among existing accounts than they do testing the waters on the open market. It’s typically a lower-risk and often higher-reward activity, although still far from easy money. To the contrary, marketers have their work cut out for them. The keys to success lie in knowing more about both prospects and customers and using that knowledge to more effectively target cross-sell and upsell opportunities.

That is why “account-based marketing” is emerging as a hot trend. Account-based marketing builds on a foundation of robust data collection and analysis, the use of predictive analytics to identify expansion opportunities from within an existing customer base, and the creation of segments and relevant content based on life cycle journeys. It marries these elements with automation that enables marketers to deliver advertising and personalised Web experiences targeted for specific accounts.

Like multichannel marketing, account-based marketing combines a number of established practices and technologies into a new discipline requiring both vision and orchestration, creating a new whole that is more than the sum of its parts. Think of it as “lead management-plus.”

The use of automation means B2B marketers can employ account-based marketing techniques at scale without incurring a significant drain on resources. That’s potentially the truly differentiating factor here. It’s part of why we can expect to see more marketers implementing account-based marketing in the coming year. Likewise, expect to see more vendors scrambling to roll out solutions that meet the market need, either by building the key component parts in-house or developing partnerships that bring on board relevant capabilities.

Article by Noah Elkin, Gartner Research Analyst

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