All marketing should be about growth. And in 2024, marketing needs to gear up to become the “architect of growth.”
With this pivotal goal in mind, what should the 2024 CMO’s vision encompass? Should they tread cautiously or boldly from a planning perspective? How can they effectively lead their teams, streamline processes, and leverage technology to fulfill this vision?
So far, 2023 has been a year of optimizations, driven by tight budgets and challenging economic conditions. Despite these constraints, noteworthy developments emerged, including the rise of the opportunity object, the redundancy of lead- and account-based scoring, the imperative for customer-centric growth strategies, and the widespread adoption of AI in marketing.
These factors have collectively propelled a seismic shift in B2B marketing to the forefront: the Convergence of ABM and Demand Generation.
Convergence: A new trend on the horizon of B2B marketing
B2B marketing teams have operated in isolated functions and programs for far too long. Whether it’s growth marketing, demand generation (DG), account-based marketing (ABM), customer marketing, or any other function, they’ve all worked in silos. With B2B marketing now laser-focused on buyer-centric journeys, organizations can’t afford this disconnected approach any longer.
ABM and DG, two prominent marketing strategies, are at odds. DG employs a wide-net approach to generate leads, while ABM specialists excel at targeting entire accounts. This clash not only leads to inefficient resource allocation but also creates a muddled and chaotic organizational revenue program. Although switching to an ABM-exclusive program might seem like a solution, it falls short because it lacks the emphasis on buyer groups.
Achieving marketing success in 2024 hinges on the integration of ABM and DG into a unified strategy. Convergence must be underpinned by precise segmentation and compelling messaging. Marketers should be equipped to trace real buying-committee journeys, not just individual leads or accounts, in order to tailor their go-to-market approaches. This marks the evolution of ABM and Demand Generation into a seamless convergence.
What will enable the successful implementation of Convergence
The Convergence of ABM and DG can seem like an end-state. It is not!
The need for a customer-obsessed growth strategy will eventually infuse the idea of convergence across the entire customer lifecycle. To orchestrate the convergence concept and gain stronger pipeline momentum, marketers must develop strategies and tactics to deliver greater value to the customer.
Convergence will inevitably be looked at as an approach that will help break down the silos between ABM and demand. But that’s not all. According to Forrester, marketers must facilitate convergence to become the catalyst of growth by reimagining their approaches and focussing on the following four cornerstones.
Focus on all opportunity types and buying motions
“According to Forrester’s B2B Benchmark Metrics Data, B2B channel marketers report an average of 77% of their organization’s revenue is from existing customers.”
As a part of the 2024 marketing priorities, marketers need to adopt a customer-centric approach. By successfully integrating marketing silos, marketers must broaden their spectrum of opportunity types and buying motions to scale revenue. A strategic new-age marketing plan should include acquisition, retention, cross-sell and upsell opportunities across the same account.
Adopting a buying-group-centric marketing
“…an historic measure of success for demand marketing is the end-to-end conversion ratio of a leads-based waterfall, and Forrester’s B2B Benchmark Metrics Data shows this is less than 1%”
Leads are incomplete. And accounts are way too big. In 2024, marketers adapting to convergence will shift to the buying-group lens. As Forrester writes, “the ‘just right’ approach for B2B marketing is to focus on opportunities and the buying groups associated with them.” The ‘just right’ perspective in scoring and prioritization models will play a critical role in the evolution of customer-obsessed growth strategies. More than ever, marketers need to understand the role of each buying group member to serve them tailored, engaging experiences.
Development of new skills and capabilities
Existing skillsets must be expanded to support convergence the convergence of ABM and Demand Generation. Today, B2B buyers demand state-of-the-art experience across touchpoints and channels. Keeping up with this expectation to generate audience engagement means upskilling.
Additionally, marketers need to double-down on data and insights to guide marketing strategies. And technology must be smartly leveraged to empower personalized and scalable interactions across the buying group.
Evolving beyond sourcing as the ultimate success metric
Marketers have always been told about how sourcing is marketing’s ultimate goal. This mindset will just not stick with convergence playing out. First interaction in a buying cycle does not align with buying-group focussed motions. Today, marketers need to shed the cocoon of sourcing metrics to support growth strategies.
“Forrester’s 2021 Global Marketing Survey found that by 2025, only one of seven B2B organizations will count sourcing among marketing’s primary performance indicators.”
In addition, we need KPIs that will empower marketers in a way that ABM and demand metrics haven’t. Metrics that are more inclusive, and support the complexity of pursuing buying groups with an average of 7-8 members across channels. With potentially each of these members needing to complete different buying jobs across the sales cycle.
Convergence of ABM and Demand Generation starts with customer obsession
To truly adopt this convergence, B2B marketers will have to place customer-centricity at the core of their strategies and tactics. Marketers need to use comprehensive data and insights to adapt their programs to incorporate different buying motions and opportunity types. Only then will marketers be able to realize the full potential of marketing across the customer lifecycle. This is the end state of convergence – Lifecycle Revenue Marketing.