It wouldn’t be the start of a new year without prediction articles, would it? And I couldn’t resist joining in the fun. While none of us could have accurately predicted how 2020 would shape up, I have some strong indications about what’s coming around the corner in 202 — at least for Account-Based Marketing (ABM) and B2B go-to-market. Here are five of my predictions.
ABM platforms will become the norm.
Remember the time when marketing automation (MA) was brand-new? Marketers everywhere were cautiously curious about its power, and excited to see if it could work within their own organizations. Fast-forward to today and MA platforms are table-stakes for modern marketing.
ABM as a strategy has been on the rise for many years, but until now an ABM platform was a “nice to have” technology investment . That’s going to change in 2021, and we’ll see ABM platforms become a “must have”, just like marketing automation. In other words, it won’t be a question of if you need an ABM platform, but rather which one is the right fit for you.
I know what it’s like to create a new MarTech category and what it feels like for it to take off, like it did with marketing automation after I co-founded Marketo. I now feel like this is the time for ABM, as software has finally come together to deliver everything customers need in the right way at the right time.
The buyer journey will become less and less linear.
Sales is doing more email and outreach at the top of the funnel, which used to be where marketing lived. Marketing is doing more things like advertising to the buying committee to support the bottom of the funnel, which is where sales used to live. And buyers are bouncing around the buying journey like toddlers in a jumpy house.
All this is breaking down the traditional linear “baton” handoff between marketing and sales. In 2021, I expect that sales and marketing will take a more orchestrated approach to the buyer’s journey, which will look a lot more like a soccer team passing the ball back and forth.
Further CDP functionality.
Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) have been gaining traction recently, and for good reason. We all want to have insight into our customers from a 365 degree view, across all systems, and CDPs give us this opportunity. In the next year, I predict that we’ll see more and more embedded CDP functionality built into MarTech applications.
This shift will happen as CDP moves from being just an integration tool toward a powerful combination of integration and activation. We’ll see more and more CDP functionality embedded into applications, as opposed to being just a purely standalone category — which is a good thing since it simplifies the tech stack and user experience.
More digital, fewer problems.
If 2020 succeeded in one thing, it was digital acceleration. Companies had to jump six years ahead in their digital transformation in a matter of six months. Everything in-person was taken off the table and digital became the only way forward. As 2021 arrives, we’ll continue to see the massive shift toward digital spending and digital marketing. For one, it will take time before events and field marketing can safely come back.
And more fundamentally, marketers have realized that the digital strategies they’ve used this year have worked.
Marketing & revenue will continue to merge to focus on the account experience.
In recent times, we’ve seen a strong emphasis on alignment between sales and marketing, and it’s been a giant step in the right direction. We’ll continue to see this in 2021, especially in terms of a deepening synergy between ABM platforms and revenue acceleration platforms. And, we’ll likely see more usage of ABM platforms by salespeople, too.
ABM isn’t just about marketing; it’s about sales and marketing working really closely together to create the right account experience. This is the number one way that businesses will maximize their success, come what may.
These are my top predictions for the coming year. I’m hopeful that 2021 will be a great one for organizations everywhere, and am looking forward to continued growth for all of us. Cheers.