Who’s better at ABM: North America or EMEA?

Last week I attended the Forrester B2B Marketing Summit in Austin, Texas. Lots of interesting discussions and some great best practice stories from thought leaders in this field.

At a networking lunch someone (picking up on my British accent) asked if I thought there were any differences in how ABM is approached in EMEA versus North America (NAM). A really interesting question when you consider how many of Agent3’s customers work with us right around the globe, using different strategies and approaches in each market to deliver impact.

It’s fair to say that I have had similar conversations over the years where those I’m talking to are of the belief that ABM programs in NAM must be more impressive because of access to much bigger budgets, or that it’s more mature as a discipline in NAM because the trend towards ABM took off in that market first. On both counts our experience suggests that this is not necessarily the case with huge differences in budget availability and maturity seen in both markets, not to mention the fact that having a big budget does not automatically mean bigger results!

I’m under no illusion that what follows could be filed under the category ‘broad generalizations’, but here are three observations on the differences between ABM in EMEA and NAM:

Scale

In terms of both the volume and size of accounts available to target, the NAM market obviously wins hands down in terms of the opportunity in a single language market. EMEA in totality has lots of accounts which would be worthy of targeting but with different language variations and cultural expectations it quickly becomes fragmented, requiring more resources, people and budget to execute!

I think in simple terms the size of the prize in NAM lends itself more towards account-centric marketing at scale and outside of supporting deals it’s relatively rare to see 1:1 ABM programmes in the truest sense. In EMEA, though, it’s much more common to see 1:1 or 1:few programmes being run to a smaller set of high value accounts.

Technology

One big trend I’ve observed which, in part, is probably driven by the previous point about scale is the use of technology to underpin programs. For many marketers in NAM, ABM = Martech. Well known platforms such as Demandbase, Terminus, 6sense all seem to play a much bigger role in the orchestration and execution of account-centric approaches in NAM.

In EMEA, there is still a great deal of interest in how technology can be integrated into approaches to support teams with being more efficient and creating brilliant digital experiences, but there seems to be a bigger focus on more manual, bespoke, one-off executions.

HQ vs Field

A large majority of Agent3’s customers come from the world of enterprise technology. Although our approach is just as applicable in other industries, it seems that this sector has been the most open to adopting an account-centric strategy and, accordingly, our customer base is reflective. For many technology organizations, the corporate headquarters is in NAM, which often means that teams based there have full access to all the support functions associated with enterprise marketing – Mops, Demand, Analytics etc. This often means that campaigns have a more multi-channel, multi-touch approach, simply because it’s easier to bring together the stakeholders who can make it reality.

In EMEA, it’s much more likely to be field teams who are tasked with bringing account-centric programs to life and very often they lack the breadth of support from other specialist marketing functions making it more likely that a more linear, simple program is executed on.

Does it matter if there are these differences?
For me, the best ABM is done when the team involved has taken into account the insight which they can gather on an account or set of accounts, built positioning that will resonate very directly and feeds the creative strategy for content and engagement assets. This content is then activated through the most appropriate channels for the audience they’re trying to reach and in pursuit of the objectives which have been agreed with sales teams.

My view is that, in general, the best EMEA and NAM teams are working with that mindset and so in that respect the regional differences in execution don’t necessarily have a negative impact.

But I do think that EMEA teams would be well served to explore how they can utilize technology much more to help them scale programs. At the same time, NAM teams should be evaluating whether they are really getting the most out of the tech stacks which they’ve implemented in regard to executing ABM programs that deliver impact.

Agent3’s Applied specialist team supports organizations as they look to get the most out of their Revtech and Martech investments. If you’re interested in how you could better utilize technology in your account-centric marketing approaches, please do get in touch.

As previously stated, the nature of a post like this requires me to make big generalizations and it certainly isn’t the case that the differences between the two markets can be neatly boxed off in the way i’ve described, but i’d love to hear your views, especially if you’ve been lucky enough to work in ABM in different parts of the world.

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