Know your customer: ABM players ripe for mergers, acquisitions

One of the latest methodologies boosted by MarTech advancements is account-based marketing (ABM), which uses data-gathering tools to target key B2B accounts and people through highly personalized campaigns.

Rather than being organized by industry, product, solution or channel, ABM strategies are customized to each client through software-as-a-service systems combined with predictive analytics.

Numbers indicate why the methodology is getting more popular. One report shows 71 percent of U.S. B2B organizations are already using ABM or are interested in doing so. In another, 80 percent of U.S. users point to ABM as outperforming their other marketing investments, while 85 percent of U.S. users in a third study believe it helps retain and expand client relationships.

That said, many feel the discipline is tricky to implement because it involves multiple elements, including data management, analysis and engagement. Instead of offering overall ABM services, many MarTech providers are now focusing on bottlenecks in the marketing-to-sales pipeline and applying different technologies to improve functionality at different stages. Still, analysts expect such services to be subject to standardization and consolidation as demand ramps up even further.

Some market predictions by industry analyst Keith Dawson on 451research.com:

  • Dawson calls the current market “diverse and heavily funded,” noting that many MarTech vendors in ABM are accordingly prime targets for mergers and acquisitions. “The largest players in the space, those with broad platforms, have the option of cherry-picking from their partner ecosystems to add specific capabilities to their portfolios,” he states. “Or they can select from the wider second rung of companies to add a broader B2B or ABM suite.”
  • To be effective, ABM marketers must gain capacity to connect account-based marketing tools to systems that manage campaigns, orchestration and the reporting layer.
  • Machine learning and data analysis are allowing for increasingly accurate account scoring, combining first-party account databases and third-party resources to hone in on prospective customers.
  • Broad platform providers such as Adobe, Salesforce and Oracle remain essential to ABM processes, though they’ve been relatively slow to build out ABM functionality. Some larger players are leveraging labs and incubators for marketing automation purposes.
  • Activity in marketing software consolidation remains “robust,” though valuations have dropped from earlier this decade. The $1.8 billion purchase of Marketo and $1.1 billion purchase of Sitecore by private equity firms were two of the biggest deals over the last two years. IBM is building its own marketing cloud after buying Coremetrics, Silverpop and others. More modest deals have included Marketo’s purchase of Insightera and ToutApp and Demandbase’s purchase of WhoToo and Spiderbook. “Most ABM vendors … are still in the early stages of producing revenue and most will be challenged to mature as they fight in a heavily funded and lightly understood segment of marketing,” Dawson writes.
  • Dawson identifies potential acquisition targets of the future as Demandbase, Bombora, Integrate, Lattice Engines, 6sense, Madison Logic, Domo, Mintigo, Full Circle Insights, Infer, Engagio, Evergage, Infusionsoft, Act-On and Aprimo — all for different reasons and capabilities.

Far from being just another buzzword, ABM will greatly boost efficiency when it comes to zoning in on future B2B audiences, predicts Kevin Bobowski.

“People are saying ‘No, it’s too complicated, or it’s all hype,'” notes the CMO of Act-On Software on DMnews.com. “But businesses have actually been doing ABM for a long time. It just hasn’t always been called that, and the tools have too often been manual — email chains, spreadsheets, unrecorded conversations at events. The reason ABM is coming back into everybody’s focus is that the technology has caught up.”

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