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Written By: Russ Artzt

#ArtztOnData: 5 Predictions for Account-Based Marketing (ABM) for 2021
2020 has been a year of disruption. Few would argue that point. At the same time, even as unpredictable and often tragic events have unfolded, it’s clear that new opportunities were emerging in parallel. 2020 was certainly a year of growth and heightened interest in online customer experiences, e-Commerce and all manners of digital connections with business prospects. Companies that embraced ABM witnessed the benefits of organizing sales and marketing efforts around accounts, versus individual prospects, skyrocket this year, and we can expect that growth to continue well into 2021. With that in mind, here are five ABM predictions for 2021.

#1—Buying Group Metrics Will Become More Important than Ever

By its nature, ABM puts the focus on the account as an organization, rather than on specific people. In 2021, it’s likely that ABM solutions will introduce more sophisticated tools for identifying buying groups and measuring their behaviors. For buying group metrics to be effective, the ABM solution must be able to measure group-level engagement and qualification. Done right, the process should lead to higher rates of conversion.

#2—ABM Success will Depend More on Accurate Interpretation of Buying Signals

ABM, like B2B marketing as a whole, relies on interpreting signals from buyers. For example, when a prospect clicks on a link in an email, that’s a signal of interest. Looking at 2021, signal interpretation is on track to become more advanced and nuanced. For example, the new generation of ABM solutions will be able to detect and analyze anonymous signals like web page visits and assign them to relevant buying individuals and groups within target accounts.

#3—Artificial Intelligence will Play a Greater Role in ABM Execution

Interpreting signals and detecting buying groups will require more use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in ABM going into 2021. AI will also provide ABM solutions with the ability to predict buying activity more accurately and understand buyer intent at the group and target account levels. With AI-based analysis in ABM, marketers can guide buyers to next-best actions.

#4—ABM Systems Will Increase Their Atomization of Content

The process of content atomization, which means converting content elements like titles and images into separate, tagged components for management and analysis, will increase in ABM in 2021. For example, if members of a buyer group view a specific image, that could signal buying intent for a particular product. Such atomization stands in contrast with high-level ABM techniques that gather coarse-grained signals like URL clicks at the organization level and so forth. New forms of hyper-personalization and optimized responses are correlated ABM activities that will also likely see growth in 2021.

#5—ABM will Drive Further Buyer Enablement

ABM in 2021 will do more than just help marketing and sales teams identify buyers at the group and account levels. The newly improved ABM solutions of 2021 are on track to enable buyers to do more to make deals happen on their ends. Indeed, buyers are expressing an interest in having vendors support an open, connected form of engagement. They expect guidance on how to go through the buying process.

The Role of Data Quality in ABM’s Continuing Evolution

These five predictions overlap. There will be synergy between AI, increased signal detection, better enablement and so forth. All elements of improving ABM in 2021 are likely to work together synergistically. What they all have in common, however, is data. ABM has always depended on accurate, high-quality data. The upgrades to ABM coming in 2021 will need even more data quality—including factors like deduplication and normalization. Making ABM work better also takes better alignment between ABM data sets and internal routing of data within the sales and marketing organizations. Data orchestration solutions can help realize the potential of such data-driven aspects of ABM’s evolution.