ABM has been the hottest topic in B2B sales and marketing for the last two years. As a result, the B2B market is shifting furiously to account based. At the beginning of 2018, only 18% of the market was mature (2 years+ in account based). Over the course of 2018, the number of organizations actually executing account based has increased significantly, and that number will continue to grow in 2019.
ABM isn’t just a trend, it is the foundation of an effective go-to-market strategy. In other words, account based will become just B2B marketing. Companies will increasingly migrate existing demand generation activity towards a broad, large list, account-based approach. This is a way to improve targeting and leverage the account-based execution technology and skill set developed through more targeted programs.
We believe there are a number of key themes for 2019, which include:
- 2019 will be the year account based goes mainstream (adoption, category clarity). The market has spent years trying to understand account based or even get the programs launched, but now the market has a greater understanding of what it is and what it takes. It’s not controversial or a question anymore, it’s part of what B2B organizations do.
- Account-based platforms will be used to manage the account-based process. As predicted, we’ve seen an influx of offerings. In 2019, we expect to see additional market entrants and, more importantly, increased adoption of account-based platforms as a critical part of the go-to-market.
- Customer marketing emerges as the next big marketing movement and in particular, a significant part of account based. As SaaS organizations grow, customer marketers at these organizations have access to rich product usage, satisfaction and engagement data. This will fuel customer marketing and customer experience as the next area of focus and impact for today’s growth marketing organizations. In 2019, we expect to see a significant increase in demand for VP or director-level customer marketers.
- Intent data will continue its rapid adoption rate and will have a convincing impact on account-based programs. Intent will become a standard way to select accounts for organizations adapting demand generation to an account-based approach, or for companies selecting from large target account lists.
- Targeted advertising will continue its role as the gateway to account-based strategy. Advertising will continue to be one of the first account-based tactics adopted by marketers — driving a continued wave of new entrants and increased competition from broader advertising solutions (e.g. company targeting will be supported directly in a demand-side platform).
The big message that we learned from early adopters is that account-based works, particularly in strategic metrics such as average contract value and close rates. 2019 will be a fun year to watch as we move from change management to account-based execution.