State Of ABM 2021: COVID-19 Impact On Enterprise Marketers

September 06, 2021 | Blog, Resources

Changing account profiles & engagement channels force marketers to revamp account-based marketing strategies.

Covid-19 left an indelible mark on personal and professional lives. For marketing practitioners, it changed the speed and trajectory of their marketing efforts tremendously as it grew more difficult to target accounts. According to new research from MRP Prelytix, enterprise and small organizations’ (SMBs) efforts were vastly altered, with 72.5% indicating that Covid-19 impacted their ABM strategies.

After surveying 411 marketing leaders between April and May of 2021, the research found that 43.8% of respondents in total said Covid-19 dramatically disrupted the way they market and sell products and services, while 51.7% said it somewhat disrupted their efforts. That disruption was fueled by the digital transformation the B2B industry was undergoing, as traditional roles, behaviors and priorities shifted and opened up new opportunities for ABM.

“What the research really validated on was the fact that there was a shift,” said Jennifer Golden, Director of Corporate Marketing at MRP. “However, we didn’t expect it to be as much of a shift as far as increased investment in ABM going forward for the year. When we look back, we knew people had to shift in everything they were doing. And one of the big things was speed: The speed of current marketing initiatives.

In addition, profiles have changed within organizations. Marketers are not targeting the same personas that they were before Covid-19. There was also an increase in digital channels, which we assumed but the survey definitely validated.” Both enterprise and SMBs revealed they faced similar disruptions during Covid, but the difference in numbers was pretty drastic when it came to the shift in personas and channels. In general, the research showed that enterprises fared better than their SMB counterparts, but that doesn’t mean SMBs didn’t see success themselves.

Thirty-nine percent of total respondents stated their account profiles have changed. This includes identifying decision-makers, changes in buying processes and media performance. The second most drastic change was the shift in channels used to reach targets, with 37.5% indicating the challenge. When comparing enterprise and SMBs:

  • 42.9% of enterprise marketers said account profiles changed;

  • 35.1% of SMB marketers highlighted the change in account profiles;

  • 29.8% of enterprise marketers said the channels they use to reach targets are changing; and

  • 24.6% of SMBs said channels were changing.

“There are different, and more, people involved within the buyer group,” said Golden. “It’s not just one person or a group of people meeting in a boardroom anymore; you have a lot more and many different personas coming together. In the past, for major buying decisions, people would gather, get a presentation or a demo, put their questions out all at once. Now you have these buyer groups that are coming in through different digital channels, with different views on what they’re looking for — but for the same purchase of a product or service. Now you’re looking at interest in an account, but you need to engage with these different personas and provide them with what they need. It starts with the needs of that account, rather than what the company can deliver.”

“Enterprise organizations showed to better adapt to the way they pivoted their ABM efforts due to these shifts, as 80% stated they plan to increase their investment in ABM this year, compared to 66.9% of SMBs.”

“There’s a trend to become more precise and understand better,” said Mark Ogne, Founder and CEO of the ABM Consortium. “Larger companies changed more during Covid-19. I think everybody in general doubled down in digital, but enterprise organizations were more solid in trying to become adapted. So, they improved their profiling; they became more focused and tighter, but they also changed their marketing mix more, or were more likely to change their marketing mix.”

With enterprise companies adapting more easily to the changes brought about by the pandemic, the research highlights the need for SMBs to renew their focus on keeping up with the changing ABM landscape. While larger corporations have the obvious advantage of investors and deeper pockets, SMBs likely have the same platforms and solutions, albeit at a smaller scale. As such, they should streamline their focus to improve and analyze global data, refine predictive models and ensure internal departments remain in close collaboration.

As the long-lasting impacts of Covid-19 will continue changing the ABM landscape, it’s imperative that marketing teams understand these changes and strive to meet buyers where they are. The research shows that the most successful companies will rethink their account profiles, increase their overall investment into ABM strategies and work to provide an omnichannel experience for prospects and clients alike.

 

This article was originally published in Volume 06, Issue 01, August 2021 of ABM In Action.

Read Next…

The State Of ABM Maturity

This research report is designed as a fact-based roadmap to help B2B marketers around the globe achieve ABM success.The State Of ABM Maturity & The Roadmap To Revenue ImpactThis research report is designed as a fact-based roadmap to help B2B marketers around the...