ABM Report: State of Account Based Marketing in APAC

Shahin Hoda 16  mins read February 1st, 2023 (Updated: February 23rd, 2024)

Introduction 

Account-Based Marketing (ABM) means many things to many people, the simplest way to describe it is a B2B marketing approach that aligns sales and marketing teams to work together on the same target accounts.

ABM Report Singapore State of Account Based Marketing in APAC xGrowth

ABM has an extraordinarily strong value proposition for B2B companies. According to the latest ABM report and study by ITSMA, 72% of marketers agree that Account-Based Marketing has delivered a better return on investment than traditional marketing efforts. 66% of executives have observed an improvement in the alignment between their sales and marketing efforts. ABM leaders, or companies ahead of the curve, have reported a significant 84% increase in their sales pipeline.

When it comes to ABM programs, the underlying concepts are universal; however, several geographical, cultural, and buying journey-related factors influence their execution and, consequently, their success.

The ABM execution approach one might follow for the US and UK will differ from the one followed in APAC. The approach will need to be different even across distinct parts of APAC. This means ABM in Singapore will vary from ABM in Australia or India. 

APAC is a difficult market, primarily because every country in it has different culture, language, technology and level of ABM competency. This can even be true within the same countries. 

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    When we look at some of the top regions in APAC, one country that is on an accelerated path to account-based marketing adoption is Singapore. Despite all the content about this explosive strategy, we wanted to create first-hand research and insights that marketers in Singapore and APAC can use to understand trends and best practices.    

    So how exactly is ABM being applied across APAC? What is working, what is not, and how can it be done better?

    xGrowth's State of Account-Based Marketing in APAC report is the first in-depth study to provide these answers to marketing professionals across the region.

    We surveyed more than fifty senior APAC marketing practitioners to uncover ABM usage, motivations, benefits and pain points across the APAC region. Then, together with a panel of ABM experts, we have provided actionable insight, optimisation techniques and solutions to the critical issues identified in the survey.

    The State of Account-Based Marketing in APAC report is an invaluable guide for B2B marketers seeking to harness the power of ABM, no matter where they are on the journey.

     

    DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT TODAY
     

    What is ABM Reporting? 

    As the name suggests, ABM reporting is the methodical evaluation of the effectiveness of your Account-Based Marketing (ABM) initiatives. Its end objectives are to gauge the success of your ABM campaigns, use the results to continuously improve and ensure key stakeholders within the organisation have visibility into your team’s efforts. 

    As a B2B marketer, you would do well to stay away from traditional demand generation metrics while tracking the efficacy of ABM and instead focus on relationship, reputation and revenue-based trackers.

    The other key things to keep in mind for ABM reporting are having a centralised, consolidated view of the numbers across your organisation (see sample template attached) and setting an internal expectation that ABM’s results often take 6-9 months to truly materialise. 

    What is ABM Reporting?

    The 6sense dashboard provides information on aggregate account activity level.
    Source: 6sense

    How is ABM Performing Across APAC? 

    This edition of the State of Account-Based Marketing (ABM) in the APAC region was produced by xGrowth in collaboration with Shift Research Group, an independent research firm.

    The report has quantitative and qualitative insights from 50 key marketing decision-makers in the Asia Pacific region, representing companies such as Drift, Demandbase, Autodesk, Thoughtworks and more.

    Our survey shows ABM is achieving solid results across the Asia Pacific region. Marketing decision-makers overwhelmingly rate their ABM experience as successful. We asked longer-term practitioners to rate their ABM deployment on a sliding scale from 0 to 100. It received an average ranking of 68.

    Here is an executive summary of the report.

    • 59% of ABM practitioners surveyed plan to increase their account-based marketing-related investments in the coming year.
    • 14% are thinking about ABM, but a majority, i.e. 86%, have either fully adopted or started adopting this powerful approach in 2023.
    • The one-to-one ABM tier is popular in APAC, with 50% of marketing and sales teams leveraging it.
    • 8% of respondents have dabbled in all three tiers of account-based marketing.
    • Australia, New Zealand and Singapore are the top three geographies where marketing teams direct their ABM programs.
    • The top three sectors that the targeted accounts belong to are financial services, healthcare and construction
    • 60% of long-term ABM practitioners use direct mail to engage their target audience.
    • Popular channels included email marketing, paid ads and outreach by sales teams.
    • Bringing marketing and sales teams on the same page was the top motivation for companies to leverage ABM for targeted accounts.
    • For long-term ABM practitioners, attribution, ABM metrics, and ABM reporting are the top challenges.

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    The success rate reflects future investment intentions. Key decision makers across APAC are ramping up their ABM budgets and intensifying deployment. Almost 60% of longer-term ABM practitioners are going to increase their investment in the coming year. On the other hand, not one respondent said they were planning to decrease their ABM spending.

    Account-Based Marketing in Action

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    The success of ABM is clearly resonating across the region. ABM is gaining momentum and attracting new practitioners.

    The survey shows a solid base of longer-term ABM practitioners but an even higher proportion of more recent adopters who have just started on their journey.

    While some are still yet to launch, the survey indicates ABM is now on everyone's radar.

    How Has ABM Evolved in the Last Few Years?

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    The survey shows ABM's reach across APAC is growing through promotional channels, such as conferences, as well as media articles and advertising.

    However, ABM is also growing organically. Practitioners with previous ABM experience are spreading the word and advocating its use when they advance into new roles and organisations.

    How is ABM Getting Implemented? 

    Respondents in APAC favour more personalised ABM approaches. 50% of surveyed participants said they leveraged the one-to-one ABM tier.

    Types of Account-Based Marketing

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    1. Strategic ABM tier: one-to-one
    2. Scale ABM tier: one-to-few
    3. Programmatic ABM tier: one-to-many

    Unlike the US and UK, where ABM is more established, APAC is a more fragmented market. As we can see, practitioners are leaning towards both one-to-one and one-to-few campaigns compared to one-to-many campaigns.

    From a Singapore perspective, apart from the preference for strategic ABM, sales and marketing teams also want to control their technology spending. Most marketing campaigns are managed manually, without the intervention of a sophisticated ABM platform. The multiple-channel strategy is still followed to target the right key stakeholders, but all of it is done using traditional systems. Even things like tracking ABM metrics and ABM reporting don't involve dedicated platforms as compared to the US and UK.

    Programmatic ABM is better suited to more homogeneous markets such as the US and UK, where single strategies can be applied across a larger volume of aligned target accounts. In a region as diverse as APAC, a more strategic approach is currently gaining greater traction. That is where the highly targeted potential of ABM is being leveraged.

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    Tailoring ABM to different regional markets and industries

    Target Regions in APAC for Account-Based Marketing

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    Australia is a vastly different market to India or Japan, for example, as is Singapore compared to India. Campaigns need to be customised accordingly.

    Traversing Diverse Markets

    A lot of what our company was doing in North America with ABM wasn’t necessarily applicable to our market in APAC. I leveraged the existing tools and data we had in North America, but we really had to look at localising the approach for our region. It is definitely time consuming, but I think it’s worthwhile, because components like the messaging that we had set up for target accounts in America were not necessarily applicable to APAC without a few tweaks.

    For example, as a marketing tech company, we found the maturity and awareness of marketing and sales tech in North America is a lot more advanced than many APAC countries. This has meant we have had to redirect our efforts further up the funnel around messaging and focus more on the education of what conversational sales and marketing adds to a company’s operations and the outcomes it brings.

    I think even things like language, if you’re in Australia and you’re being hit with these ads in US English with a Z instead of S, or the customer stories are about brands that aren’t prevalent in the region, you know, straight away, that it isn’t local. When we set up playbooks (engaging and real-time chat flows and experiences) on our website, if it’s a visitor from Australia, they’ll be greeted with a g’day and a koala - something localised and personalised.

    We have expanded into India, and to support this we created a playbook through Drift, which starts a conversation with a question about who will win the Indian Premier League (cricket), because that’s what’s relatable and current, and that has had really good engagement.

    Ronan Bray - Head of Marketing (APAC) at Drift

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    From a tactical level for example, China is a completely different ball game. We cannot use emails in China, because everything is on WeChat. For someone like me in India, where the closest thing we have is WhatsApp; it doesn’t even begin to explain the kinds of possibilities with WeChat.

    You also can’t use a volume metric in India and China. Let’s say you have a webinar, the amount of people that you can reach is far greater than that of Singapore or Australia. You can’t just say I had 100 people attend my webinar. You need to say which type of people. They have to be qualified. And those qualifying metrics must be thoughtfully chosen. Because even if you have 500 people in the webinar, if none of them are decision makers, then your webinar wasn’t very successful.

    Lubaina Rangwala - Global Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Lead at Thoughtworks

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    There is a distinct difference in the maturity of the market, as well as the fragmentation between APAC and more developed markets. Often the global ABM model doesn’t work.In regards to building account profiles, and using data enrichment tools like ZoomInfo for example, often they don’t have full coverage in the less developed markets. So you may need to look at engaging a local third party tele-marketing agency to support the data validation.

    Ljubica Radoicic - Director APAC, Marketing and Customer Success (CX) at Autodesk

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    Target Industries for ABM Campaigns

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    At an industry level, ABM is being applied across a broad and diverse range of business types throughout APAC. The financial sector is currently attracting the major focus of ABM activities. The sector contains high-value target accounts and a tech-savvy, data-rich target market, which is likely to have lent itself to earlier-stage ABM deployment across APAC.

    The next level down is fairly evenly spread across a diverse set of industries, which indicates ABM is gaining traction across other major sectors.

    Most Used Account-Based Marketing Channels

    Digging a little deeper and looking at what channels are being used across APAC, it is useful to split the respondents into longer-term and more recent practitioners.

    There is a fairly even spread across channels for longer-term practitioners, which is encouraging because ABM's results are maximised with a multi-channel approach.

    Practitioners who have been using it over a longer period seem to have realised this and as such, have spent the time and investment integrating a wide variety of channels to optimise their ABM campaigns.

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    What-channels-are-you-using-with-ABM-newer-practioners-1024x520

    Newer ABM practitioners do not have the same spread of channels yet. In this case, marketing emails and social media ads are the most prominent. Both are effective channels, as well as being cost-effective, user-friendly and familiar.

    As newer practitioners become more experienced, we are likely to see increasing numbers expand their channel usage as they seek to maximise their ABM results.

    Technologies Used for ABM-Specific Campaigns

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    Five years ago, what was defined as an ABM platform was pretty fragmented. People had to buy different technologies to cobble together a complete ABM stack. What’s happened in the last few years, driven by moves like Demandbase and Engagio coming together, is the emergence of a clearer definition of what an ABM platform means. It’s only in the last 18 months that this has really crystallised. What that means is the prerequisite for technology is starting to move from being a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have’. You think back to the early days of marketing automation. There was email, landing pages etc., but it was only when it coalesced around platforms such as Marketo, Eloqua, and HubSpot that the conversation stopped becoming ‘should I buy one’ and started to become ‘which one should I buy?’ And I think we’re sort of at that same level of evolution now for ABM platforms. Increasingly people are realising they need a modern tech stack. What does that mean for APAC? It probably means you don’t have to go through the build-your-own phase. So in APAC you can move up the tech maturity curve faster.

    Jon Miller - Chief Marketing Officer at Demandbase

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    Longer-term practitioners, who have had the time to settle in and define their strategy, are more likely to have ramped up ABM technology.

    Intent data technology is a favourite among more established practitioners. These platforms identify prospects who are most interested in your products or services, as well as those of the competition.

    Intent data technology's capabilities and deployment are likely to increase further as gaps in the availability, quality, and usability of data improve in less developed sections of the APAC market.

    Platforms that leverage intent data, such as Bombora and Demandbase, provide critical signals for marketers seeking to tailor and time their campaigns for key, high-value target accounts.

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    Marketers love technology, but it’s important not just to jump into the new technology and get consumed. That can put blinders on, and totally limit strategy, as to only what the technology can offer.

    Ljubica Radoicic - Director APAC, Marketing and Customer Success (CX) at Autodesk

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    Technology can really upgrade your ABM, but it is important that the ABM strategy drives the technology – not the other way around.

    Newer ABM adopters seem to recognise this. The majority are taking a low-tech approach initially as they develop and refine their strategy.

    This is interesting, as we have often seen the opposite approach taken across more established regions, such as the US.

    Why is Account-Based Marketing Important in 2024?

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    Having buy-in from leaders from marketing and sales is critical. Without that it’s either a marketing effort or a sales effort and results will be limited. To sustain top level management buy-in, it helps to have regular focused catch ups, with both the marketing and sales teams separately, as well as combined. This ensures you understand their separate and shared goals.

    Lubaina Rangwala - Global Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Lead at Thoughtworks

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    At Demandbase we practice what we call ABM standups. There are recurring meetings bringing together key sales and marketing representatives for an in depth discussion about a particular account. It involves assessing where it is currently sitting. How we penetrate it, and then close it.

    Jon Miller - Chief Marketing Officer at Demandbase

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    There are clear motivating factors and goals driving ABM use amongst practitioners across APAC.

    While their order of importance differs between more recent and longer-term practitioners, the top four motivations across both are the same: bringing sales and marketing into better alignment, tying marketing efforts to revenue, increasing the average contract size and achieving a higher close rate.

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    Early on in our ABM rollout we saw the benefits in regards to average contract size and the number of closed deals. I think the key to that success has been the process we have gone through to actually identify our ideal customer persona, and what makes a good target account and Drift customer.

    Ronan Bray - Head of Marketing (APAC) at Drift

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    It’s important to take a tactical and focused approach. Ask yourself, where are the deals in the pipeline? Where are they stuck? Are there any common pain points or challenges around these particular accounts? How can we better engage these accounts? This can be through tailored events like lunch and learns, dedicated roundtables, or bringing in established reference customers to tell their story and address any concerns a prospective customer might have.

    Ljubica Radoicic - Director APAC, Marketing and Customer Success (CX) at Autodesk

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    People in India are more comfortable with face-to-face conversations, which has been the general way of doing business. When it was not possible during the pandemic, it was interesting to see how people adapted to different mediums. The personalised and targeted nature of ABM meant it provided a valuable marketing tool in place of in-person conversations. While people still prefer to meet face-to-face when they can, I’ve definitely seen a changing trend since COVID-19.

    Lubaina Rangwala - Global Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Lead at Thoughtworks

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    Practicing a bespoke custom one-to-one style of ABM, where you’ve created focused sales tools that support that pursuit, sees the greatest benefit in terms of sales cycle reduction.

    Jon Miller - Chief Marketing Officer at Demandbase

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    Like any journey, differing motivations and goals can take on different priorities and alternate through distinct phases of the process.

    Tying marketing efforts to revenue is the top motivator driving ABM use for longer-term practitioners. While bringing sales and marketing into better alignment is the top motivating factor for more recent practitioners.

    This likely reflects the natural flow in the ABM implementation and deployment process, which focuses on bringing sales and marketing into alignment in the early phases. But shifts towards return on investment once ABM has been deployed and integrated.

    The Challenges in Account-Based Marketing

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    Previously we would use one-to-one ABM for all our focus accounts, which was around 50 accounts globally. But we realised that kind of an effort is too time consuming from a marketer’s perspective. Now the method is to scale the major ABM effort to a narrower list of accounts that are of higher value.

    Lubaina Rangwala - Global Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Lead at Thoughtworks

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    Technology constraints, as well as time and complications, are also major pain points for longer-term practitioners, but we can also see some specific later-stage issues come through in the data.

    Measuring results, and therefore any associated problems doing so, arise further along the ABM deployment process.

    Dealing with costs and budgets is also a considerable factor among longer-term practitioners.

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    It’s always good to have some kind of reference point, if you’re starting on the journey. There’s a wealth of information to educate yourself. A lot are free resources, including Growth Colony, which has great online content and podcasts. It’s also great to find people in your network, who have been on the journey, and are willing to share. Finding an informal mentor can be really helpful.

    Ljubica Radoicic - Director APAC, Marketing and Customer Success (CX) at Autodesk

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    Ask the question: are the accounts that I care about spending more time with me? I think time is a really good proxy for engagement, because somebody is going to spend time with you before they spend money with you. That can literally be as simple as web traffic.

    Jon Miller - Chief Marketing Officer at Demandbase

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    Like all worthwhile journeys, ABM can bring up challenges and pain points along the way. We can see these differences more significantly across longer-term and newer practitioners when compared to motivations.

    Practitioner experience, deployment phase and strategy sophistication tend to shape the nature of the pain points and challenges faced.

    Naturally, early-stage practitioners are still at the beginning of their journey, so for many, it is too early to tell where their major pain points are. Time and complications, tech issues, as well as lack of support and experience are problems that have impacted many in the preliminary stages.

    Benefits of Account-Based Marketing 

    We started this article by highlighting the benefits of ABM. If you are a B2B company still evaluating this approach, here are some data points that will help you make your decision faster.

    An enterprise company with a meaningful ABM campaign can be a driving force to achieve

    • 90% engagement with the selected target accounts
    • 84% growth in the sales pipeline
    • 77% growth in revenue
    • 66% higher sales and marketing teams' alignment
    • 72% higher ROI compared to other marketing channels.

    The above numbers are based on the benchmarking survey conducted by ITSMA in December 2022, with 179 industry leaders and participants.

    Important Account-Based Marketing Metrics 

    As noted in the above section, identifying the right ABM metrics and ABM reporting is one of the top challenges for marketers in the APAC region.

    Here are some metrics that can be used to gauge the success of ABM programs

    Relationship Metrics

    The metrics include:

    • The number of new executives contacted
    • The number of target account stakeholders engaged via account-based marketing campaigns
    • The frequency of meetings with current customers
    • The number of calls booked with key decision-makers from target accounts.

    These metrics help to gauge the efficacy of an ABM strategy and assess the strength of relationships with target accounts.

    Reputation Metrics

    Reputation metrics measure how target accounts perceive an organisation and its brand. They can include metrics such as level of customer advocacy, NPS (Net Promoter Score), and other customer satisfaction scores.

    Revenue Metrics

    Revenue metrics are used to measure the financial performance of a business related to revenue. Examples of revenue metrics for ABM include Deal size (Revenue Growth), Share of Wallet, and Sales Velocity. These metrics track the growth of the average deal amount, the percentage of a client's budget allocated to an organisation's services and the acceleration of revenue from marketing and sales efforts.

    How to Report Your ABM Campaigns?

    To effectively measure and report on your ABM programs, it is essential to shift your measurement mindset and focus on the unique metrics that matter for ABM. These metrics have been discussed in the previous section.

    A good ABM reporting strategy involves the following:

    • Data that is relevant and helps make actionable decisions.
    • Critical ABM metrics important for evaluating effectiveness.
    • A comparison to other marketing and sales initiatives to add context and identify gaps.
    • Streamlining data processing and storing critical metrics in a central location via automation.
    • A single scorecard that's broken down by segments that shows funnel progression and expansion.
    • The single scorecard provides visibility into the evolution of the metrics over a 30-60-90 day period as target accounts move through the marketing funnel.
    • And lastly, it is important to track results channel-by-channel, showing all the channels and vendors used for account-based programs during the reporting period.

    Remember, in ABM; it is important to focus on value over volume, accounts over people, and revenue growth.

    Conclusion

    As the State of Account-Based Marketing in APAC report reveals, it is clear ABM usage across APAC is growing and evolving, a trend set to accelerate throughout the decade.

    While the APAC market differs significantly from the more established ABM domains of the US and UK, so too do the opportunities.

    As data availability and technological capacity across the APAC region build and homogenise, ABM's tools will grow in effectiveness and indispensability for practitioners in this increasingly competitive market.

    However, despite growing alignment from a technological standpoint, APAC remains a diverse market from a cultural, linguistic and geographical perspective, lending itself to ABM's highly targeted and personalised potential.

    The key for ABM and APAC going forward is ensuring this potential can be effectively unlocked and optimised for the large and divergent range of B2B marketing practitioners across the region. Greater education and industry awareness will be key.

    xGrowth, along with the broader ABM community, is committed to the cause and believes reports such as this one will provide a valuable resource and benchmarking tool into the future.

    xGrowth is a B2B tech marketing agency that helps build a predictable pipeline of high-quality prospects through Account-Based Marketing (ABM).


    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can APAC be a Global Leader in ABM?
    Yes, it is possible for the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region to become a global leader in account-based marketing (ABM). APAC has a large and diverse market with a growing economy and a strong technological infrastructure, which are favourable conditions for the development and implementation of ABM strategies. Additionally, many APAC companies have been quick to adopt digital marketing and sales technologies, which can be leveraged for successful ABM
    What are the top APAC Countries Adopting ABM?
    The top APAC countries adopting ABM are Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, China, and India.
    What can APAC Marketers Learn from EMEA and North America?

    Based on the State of ABM in APAC, the following are the things that APAC marketers can learn from their counterparts in North Amercia and EMEA

    • Practitioners have a lack of experience in how to roll out an ABM strategy. Get certified on ABM.
    • Meet regularly with your leadership for continued buy-in.
    • Reporting on success
    • Look for one complete solution that gives you one view of sales and marketing
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    xGrowth brings a very structured approach to ABM. It’s been amazing working with you.

    michele clarke
    Michele Clarke
    Head of Marketing, APAC Secure Code Warrior
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    When I think ABM, I think xGrowth. xGrowth were 100% committed, the whole team was just like our business partner. I would say you are not a business vendor; you are our business partner.
    reena misra
    Reena Misra
    ANZ Marketing Leader
    OutSystems