ABM Snapshot: Budgets Were Rising As Pandemic Took Hold

Account-based marketing (ABM) drives ROI for B2B brands, and firms are spending more on it. But they might do even better if they improved their data quality and execution, judging by the 2020 ABM Market Research by DemandBase. 

Of the companies polled, 43% list ABM execution as a top ABM priority for 2020. And 43% apiece cite improving data quality and aligning sales and marketing. 

They’re certainly spending money on it--ABM programs are getting 40% more investment than they did last year.  

But keep in mind that this study was conducted just as the pandemic took hold. And even then, 79% say their pipeline had moderately or significantly decreased because of it. 

Still, the findings are relevant because ABM is likely to become more critical given COVID-19.  

“ABM programs have been shown to result in significant improvements in pipeline growth,” states Christy Ferguson, vice president and analyst, on Gartner’s technology and service provider product marketer team, according to the report. 



Ferguson continues, “If economic uncertainty continues, these programs should remain a core element of a B2B marketing strategy.”  

According to the study, ABM now takes up 39% of the average B2B marketing budget for businesses with a full ABM program, versus 22% for less mature companies. 

Who’s got a full ABM program? Overall, 48% of firms with 1,000+ employees have one, compared with 6% of companies with 50 people or less.

By industry, 36.5% of computer software firms have a full ABM program, 26% of information technology and services providers, and 19.4% of marketing and advertising companies. 

Whatever the corporate mix, budget money is not going into email, although email will doubtless benefit from some of the investment. It could be that the respondents already have strong email programs in place. 

Of firms with strong ROI, 61.6% are investing in direct mail, compared with 31.4% of low/unsure ROI companies. 

In addition, 54.5% are putting money into content and 52.3% into target account selection.  

As for ROI, here’s how return stacks up across all companies:

  • 25% or less—19% 
  • 26-50%--10.4% 
  • 51-75%--71% 
  • 76—100%--5.7% 
  • 101-200%--6.6%
  • 200%--6.2%

Whatever the ROI, there are barriers to achieving it. For less mature firms, the challenges include:

  • Lack of budget—42.72%
  • Lack of ability to execute—38.51% 
  • Lack of tools/tech—33.01% 
  • Data quality issues—31.72%
  • Lack of headcount—31.72% 
  • Not being able to measure ROI—24.27%
  • Lack of alignment with sales—23.95% 
  • Lack of executive buy-in—21.04%
  • Account selection—20.06% 

Here are the challenges confronting more mature companies:

  • Data quality issues—53.29%
  • Lack of budget—32.93% 
  • Lack of alignment with sales—31.14% 
  • Not being able to measure ROI—28.74%
  • Lack of tools/tech—28.14% 
  • Lack of headcount—28.14% 
  • Lack of ability to execute—26.95% 
  • Account selection—25.15%
  • Lack of executive buy-in—10.78% 

What do firms measure? Firms with strong ROI look at:

  • Pipeline created
  • Revenue generated
  • Meetings set 
  • Target account pipeline 
  • Marketing qualified leads 

In contrast, weaker firms examine: 

  • Revenue created
  • Marketing qualified leads
  • Pipeline created
  • Account engagement
  • Meetings set 

Now for some controversy: Here are the tools most used by companies seeing the highest ROI: 

  • Marketo 
  • HubSpot 
  • Pardot 
  • Eloqua 
  • Act-On

Marketo is the leader, chosen by 50%.  

DemandBase surveyed almost 900 employees at B2B companies, 75% of whom work in marketing. Businesses of all sizes contributed. The study was conducted in collaboration with Uberflip,, Drift, and Bombora.

Next story loading loading..