Since the earliest days of Forrester’s coverage of account-based marketing (ABM) in 2016, we made sure to emphasize that while ABM is a strategy and not a technology, it’s also a strategy that has been revitalized and made more scalable by a range of new technology solutions.
And while we noted in a New Wave™ in 2018 that the emerging market of ABM platforms (ABMPs) were complementary to marketing automation platforms (MAPs) — we knew it didn’t make sense to operate two separate account- and lead-centric engagement solutions forever. That’s one of the reasons why Bob Peterson, Matt Senatore, and I felt confident predicting just a year later in a presentation at the 2019 Forrester SiriusDecisions Summit that the term “ABM” would disappear in five years.
And now we have data confirming that ABM and demand gen — both as practices and as a set of enabling technologies — are beginning to converge.
It’s still early, but more than half of the marketers participating in the Forrester SiriusDecisions 2020 Global ABM Survey said their “desired future state” was to have demand and ABM practices that were at least “broadly aligned” — sharing people, processes, and tools — with nearly a quarter aspiring to programs that were “fully aligned” in a single initiative.
The data is a little more nuanced on the technology side, as more than a quarter of MAP users participating in Forrester’s Q3 2020 Global B2B Marketing Tech Tide™ Survey said they see no need to add an ABM platform, but nearly half of all ABM platform users said they are open to consolidating on that solution (and ditching their MAP) within three years.
So none of this will be happening overnight. Nearly half of all marketers using both a MAP and an ABMP said they had no plans to change that arrangement. Even leading ABMP vendors admit they are unlikely to displace the MAP at large enterprises with established demand-gen practices in the near term, if ever.
But with MAP vendors beefing up their ABM capabilities and ABMP vendors adding more engagement channels — including native email — B2B marketers who make technology investment decisions will need to watch these trends closely.
Forrester clients can read more about this topic in a new report I just coauthored with Lori Wizdo — “Marketing Automation And ABM Technologies Are Converging — Will You Need To Pick A Side?” — to understand why this technology convergence is now possible, where marketers are placing their bets today, and what their peers are saying they want to see from their existing suppliers to make it happen.
I’ll also be presenting on this topic with Bob Peterson again at the upcoming Forrester B2B Summit in May, providing an update on that session we delivered in 2019 on the future of ABM. Hope you can join us!