How does the state of account-based marketing (ABM) differ between the US and UK? What notable similarities and significant nuances exist across the Atlantic?
B2B marketers need to firstly understand the current state of ABM in their region, in order to develop the most suitable account-based marketing strategy that will attract and engage high-value accounts.
Our first party research reveals key insights to help do just that. Conducted among 200 senior B2B marketing professionals in our Insights for Professionals (IFP) community, with a 50% US/UK split, we can reliably unveil the next frontier of B2B marketing…
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While ABM is no new phenomenon, the art of choosing the most effective and cost-efficient account-based marketing approach that successfully draws in key accounts can depend hugely on the types of business and location – as we will now explore.
How do maturity levels differ between the US and UK?
It’s clear that senior B2B marketers in both the US (49%) and UK (48%) consider their account-based marketing strategy to be well established, with just under half feeling this way. Just over a fifth (22%) of US marketers are currently in the early stages or scaling up their account-based strategies, compared to almost a third (30%) of UK. It’s therefore no surprise that just 21% of UK marketing teams feel their strategy is fully synchronized compared to 30% in the US.
Maturity of ABM strategy:
This indicates that the US account-based marketer is somewhat more established in their use and understanding of ABM than their UK counterpart – though they are not too far behind. This could be a significant learning opportunity for UK marketing professionals to learn from those across the globe, to better attract and engage their ideal customer profile (ICP).
When it comes to the their perception of the return of investment (ROI) of senior marketers’ ABM efforts compared to other marketing and sales activities, 41% of US marketers say ABM has significantly higher ROI than other activities – compared to just a third (33%) in the UK. Again, this mirrors the marketing ROI maturity levels above. Though both regions do recognize higher ROI overall – with over two-thirds (67%) in the US and just shy of this (64%) in the UK.
Account-based marketing budget
The vast majority (41%) of US marketers’ say 25-50% of their overall marketing budget is allocated to ABM. This is strikingly similar in the UK (40%). However, over a third (34%) of US marketing teams allocate between 50% and 100% while just under a fifth (19%) of UK teams do the same. This suggests that far more of the overall marketing budget is dedicated to the account-based marketing approach in the US than in the UK – which again reflects maturity levels and ROI from such marketing efforts. This reveals a lot about the current state of account-based marketing across the globe.
Looking at ABM spending plans over the next 12 months, there’s one clear message across both countries – ABM investment is here to stay!
The majority of both US (55%) and UK (61%) senior B2B marketers plan to spend more on account-based marketing efforts, with 41% of US and a third of UK survey respondents keeping spend the same. Just 4% and 6% respectively plan to spend less or nothing at all, which speaks volumes for this strategic approach and the way brands leverage account-based marketing not only now but for the future of B2B marketing.
ABM spend in the US over the next 12 months:
ABM spend in the UK over the next 12 months:
Based on our findings so far, it’s no surprise that the majority (40%) of B2B marketing leaders in the US have a dedicated, stack-integrated account-based marketing platform while the majority in the UK (51%) have a bolt on/unintegrated solution. This indicates a greater focus and establishment on ABM technology in the US, no doubt thanks to the greater budget allocation towards this B2B marketing strategy.
When it comes to the most prominent pain points around technology selection for ABM, over half (58%) of US marketers cite IT department constraints as their greatest challenge, followed by lack of knowledge about available options (50%) and lengthy contracts (44%). In the UK, the top obstacle is budget constraints (51%) followed closely by IT department constraints (49%) and lack of understanding of how the technology fits into the ABM strategy (44%).
IT department constraints feature across both regions, indicating greater alignment between marketing and IT is significantly needed to ensure marketing investments are reaching their maximum potential in attracting and engaging those key accounts.
Lack of knowledge and understanding also features across both countries, suggesting further education into account-based marketing tools and B2B marketing platforms could go a long way in better informing marketing departments of the benefits to advanced technology solutions.
Unsurprisingly, budget constraints are cited as the number one pitfall for UK marketing professionals, confirming our findings that B2B organizations in the US are more advanced in their account-based marketing frameworks and embedment than their UK counterparts.
Biggest challenges around ABM technology selection:
Significant similarities exist when it comes to the biggest challenges faced in identifying and engaging the entire buying committee within targeted accounts. The majority (56%) of both US and UK B2B marketers find the inability to personalize content marketing to address the specific needs and pain points of each individual within the buying committee their top obstacle. Personalized content is invaluable for account-based marketing campaigns, where high-value accounts expect nothing less.
This is followed by lack of visibility over which buying committee members have been engaged by sales teams’ efforts in the US (51%) and lack of budget to support ABM programs that engage the entire buying committee in the UK (54%). Once again, adequate budget appears a top problem area for UK marketing activities which indicates a case to be put forward in favor of marketing investments being reviewed.
Half (50%) of US marketers identify increased efficiency and productivity as the key area of their ABM programs that would benefit from implementing technology – significantly above all other survey results. Yet just under double that of UK respondents (26%) feel the same, suggesting ABM is seen as far greater a contributor to efficiency and productivity in the US than in the UK – possibly because US marketers are already seeing such benefits thanks to their more advanced ABM approaches and budgets.
Key areas of ABM programs that would benefit from implementing technology:
Improved targeting and better collaboration between marketing and sales teams features in the top 3 for both regions, indicating that across the globe these are considered significant ABM benefits when trying to drive sales acceleration with high-value accounts.
Account-based marketing tactics
The channel most crucial to their ABM strategy according US marketers is programmatic display advertising (4.26/5 on a rating scale of importance, with 1 being least important and 5 being most). This is followed by content syndication (4.17) and sales outreach (email, phone) (4.14).
The top 3 channels are exactly the same for UK marketers (4.16, 4.13 and 4.09 respectively). This reveals that programmatic display ads, content syndication and sales outreach are deemed crucial to ABM success across the globe and should therefore be integrated within marketing operations.
When it comes to personalization tactics, the top 3 deployed by US marketers are content tailored to industry (53%), content tailored to buying stage (46%) and content tailored to specific account (45%). Tailoring in this way provides the most relevant and valuable content, driving customer engagement with more personalized experiences.
In the UK, content tailored around action-based intent data comes out top with almost half (47%) of respondents utilizing this within their personalized messaging. Content tailored to specific account (44%) follows – and is used to a similar degree across both regions – followed by content tailored to job role (43%).
Few significant variations can be seen across continents – the only ones being content tailored to industry being deployed far more in the US (53%) than the UK (39%) and content tailored to buying stage again utilized more widely in the US (46%) than UK (35%).
Looking at the most common steps used to ensure their ABM strategy includes relevant and engaging content for their high-value target accounts, over half (52%) of B2B marketers in the US use a data management platform to integrate and analyze customer data, 51% leverage account-based advertising to reach target accounts while half (50%) build target account lists (TALs) based on firmographic and technographic data compared to just 35% of their UK counterparts.
As this was a ‘select all that apply’ question, it’s clear that US marketers are taking more steps than can be seen in the UK to drive engagement with target accounts – a clear indication of the current state of account-based marketing across the regions. The top response in the UK, personalizing marketing messages based on individual-level data insights (46%) shows that delivering personalized experiences is high on their ABM agenda.
Steps being taken to ensure ABM strategy includes relevant and engaging content for target accounts:
Measurement for success
With 1 being ‘least confident’ and 10 ‘most confident’, a considerable 59% of US marketers rate their confidence in the ability to measure the overall success of their ABM programs as 9 or above. This is compared to 50% of UK marketing professionals, indicating a slightly higher top level of confidence in the US – no doubt thanks to their greater levels of account-based marketing adoption and maturity.
15% of US respondents rate their confidence levels at 6 or 7 compared to 12% in the UK, with the lowest confidence score recorded of 2 selected by 2% of UK marketers and none in the US. Very interesting to see, however, is that 30% of UK responses gave a rating of 8 compared to 21% of US. This indicates a potentially growing confidence in the UK, while the US are already seeing greater scores of 9 and 10 – with the UK evidently not too far behind.
When considering their confidence levels in tracking success in terms of relationships, 60% of US senior marketers rate this as 9 or 10, compared to just under half (48%) in the UK. This infers somewhat better account-based marketing tools are established by US B2B companies, no doubt driving stronger relationships with customers as a result.
In terms of tracking success when it comes to revenue, a confidence level of 9 or 10 was selected by 60% of US marketing professionals and 55% of UK – not too great a variation here, potentially thanks to revenue growth being quantitative and therefore more easy to measure than relationships, for instance.
Ready to deliver your account-based marketing plan?
The state of account-based marketing evidently differs to some degree between US and UK senior B2B marketers. Our account-based marketing survey has revealed greater ABM maturity levels in the US, along with higher budgets and more sophisticated ABM technology. Budget challenges are far more prominent in the UK, while the inability to personalize content marketing is a key pain point across both regions.
Deploying programmatic display ads, content syndication and sales outreach are the top 3 tactics according to both US and UK marketers, while confidence levels in the measurement of success are somewhat higher in the US, with the UK growing in confidence.
Take a look at our full account-based marketing report for an even deeper dive into unique first party insights around the current state of account-based marketing…