Which is better: account-based or demand-based marketing? This discussion has come up frequently over the past few years as marketers have recently turned to account-based marketing (ABM) over demand generation.
But, what if the answer is… both? TrustRadius’ VP of Marketing, Allyson Havener, and Digital Pi’s VP of Marketing, Jeff Coveney, had the opportunity to discuss this idea at the “Reach New Heights with ZoomInfo: Combine Your Demand Gen and ABM without Tech Stack Bloat” webinar.
ABM is a component of demand generation
Research shows us that ABM is the latest focus for marketers. According to HubSpot, 70% of marketers report using ABM, up 15% from 2020. The results are positive, as 76% of B2B marketers agree that ABM delivers a higher ROI than other marketing activities.
However, ABM has its limits, particularly for organizations that are targeting small to mid-sized businesses. For these ideal customer profiles (ICPs), more top-of-funnel activities are required rather than the mid- to bottom-funnel approach of ABM. In addition, treating all leads as “account-based” can cause more harm than good in some cases, as it assumes that all leads are middle-of-funnel, and stands in the way of tailored messaging for each stage of the buyer’s journey.
“Demand gen, in my mind, is kind of like this umbrella term, and ABM is a piece of that. They have to work together,” says Allyson.
In essence, “demand generation” is an all-encompassing term that includes both demand-based and account-based marketing strategies. In this way, the two concepts are not directly opposing each other but instead, are tactics for a bigger-picture strategy. However, when thinking of these two approaches in tandem they aren’t a 50-50 approach, but rather a balance depending on your ICPs and other business needs.
How to build a demand Generation ABM strategy
We’ve built up the misconception that demand generation and ABM are in conflict, as demand generation efforts often have the reputation of becoming money pits, while ABM is seen as the “smarter, more cost-efficient choice.” But as mentioned, ABM ultimately fits into a bigger picture of a general demand generation strategy. Because of this, it’s possible to use top-of-funnel efforts traditionally associated with demand generation and ABM without leaning too heavily on one and losing the value of the other.
According to Allyson and Jeff, the best way to combine the two into a tailored strategy is to make sure that everyone is on the same page about the organization’s approach.
According to Jeff, “the biggest thing around what you need to do to get your demand generation moving is aligning sales, marketing, and management. Because … any technology can be there—you can build a great rocket ship, you can have all the strategy—but when the rubber meets the road, people need to be able to actually execute on those things.”
A few ways to do this include:
- Creating direction for an ABM demand generation plan with marketing and sales leaders, then trickling it down to everyone else
- Considering BDRs when creating the strategy, which ultimately serves as a connection point between marketing and sales, meaning their day-to-day jobs need to be seen as part of the strategy, rather than an afterthought
- Creating an incentive program that aligns directly with the strategy, for instance, if ABM is the higher focus, salespeople need to be more highly rewarded for these wins than with net new leads, and incentives can be both monetary and celebratory (i.e. recognition in a company newsletter, etc.)
The B2B demand generation maturity model
As companies think through what their specific strategy should be, it’s also important to realize that a demand generation strategy is not just a quick switch for sales/marketing to “flip on.” Instead, it’s a maturity process that takes time to develop.
But, as Jeff mentioned, “you don’t have to be great in every area. It’s all about moving forward.”
Companies often skew toward mastering some of these categories and needing work in others. So, this type of maturity model can be used as an assessment, pointing out where a company can improve and which iterative steps to take in the coming months. Often, using a third-party evaluation or implementing semi-annual benchmarks—all based on this type of maturity model—can help. It becomes a criterion to run decisions by, especially when considering new technology purchases or hires.
The role of intent data in a demand generation strategy
When creating a strategy that combines ABM and traditional demand generation efforts, it’s important to find tactics that can double for both of these approaches and drive growth in both areas. Intent data fits the bill, as it can help with both top-of-funnel and mid- to bottom-funnel efforts.
First-party intent data aims for more middle-of-funnel by collecting leads when people submit forms or interact intentionally on your website. Whereas second-party downstream intent data, which is available from research and review sites like TrustRadius, has the ability to identify potential in-market buyers researching your product or your competitors’.
TrustRadius provides this type of second-party downstream intent data by giving vendors the opportunity to see audience interactions on their review pages. It also shows buyers comparing products to others within the same category.
Regardless of which tactics your team decides to execute, it’s important to build specific campaigns tailored to each stage of the funnel and align that to the type of intent data you are activating. In the case of intent data, different campaigns should be based on the different signals you’re getting.
“When you think about your strategy and types of intent data sources, really think about the type of intent data and then run campaigns based on the type. You can’t just put it all into a black box and be like, ‘okay, great, all intent,’ and run campaigns. You’re just not going to be successful. And I think that’s really what goes into an ABM strategy—where you can’t just create this target account and just go after everything in the same way. Intent signals can really help you look at where an account is in their buyer’s journey and then send them direct messaging that helps them make a purchase.”
How TrustRadius helps
As both Allyson and Jeff mentioned throughout the webinar, sales/marketing alignment, benchmarking steps toward demand generation program maturity, and tailored messaging are the foundational keys to success. Focusing on these factors is important when it comes to building out a successful demand generation strategy and using ABM tactics to their fullest potential.
TrustRadius enables teams to build great sales and marketing alignment by providing deep insights into buyer behavior as they research and evaluate your product against your competitors’. With our second-party downstream intent data, your team can better understand how the buyer’s journey works for your particular brand and then use that information to power your demand generation strategy. In addition, second-party downstream intent data is a tactic to add to your tool box of demand generation strategies, as it puts both in-market audiences directly into the hands of your sales and marketing departments.
We’ve also seen vendors have success using direct quotes and other social proof from customer reviews onTrustRadius. Activating the customer voice is a powerful sales and marketing tool. Social proof from TrustRadius plays well into a demand generation strategy by targeting messaging specific to any stage of the buyer’s journey. You can turn a review platform into your best-performing marketing channel.
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