What Account-Based Marketing Will Mean for B-to-B in 2020

Four predictions for the year to come

It’s safe to say that 2020 will bring increased competition for b-to-b companies across geographies and market sectors. Adding to this already intense market is an increase in the number and diversity of roles involved in buying decisions, along with added pressure for b-to-b marketers to adhere to best practices in customer experience, media buying and measurement.

Fortunately, more tools tailored to the needs of b-to-b marketers are becoming readily available, none more so than those that support the efforts of account-based marketing (ABM). Here are four predictions for how b-to-b marketers will use new ABM strategies and transform b-to-b marketing practices in the year to come:

1. ABM will be powered by a robust data strategy

While traditional ABM means that sales and marketing work together to generate a target list, savvy b-to-b marketers will evolve the sophistication of ABM in 2020.

First, they will increase the value generated by first-party data and look for the best ways to reach as many of their known contacts as possible across multiple touchpoints.

They will also begin to widen their marketable universe by using more third-party data, such as technographic data, to augment account lists and expand their reach beyond institutional knowledge. Then, by adding intent data into the mix, b-to-b marketers will be able to accurately pinpoint when particular accounts, even those accounts previously unknown to the sales organization, are signaling that they are in a buying phase.

Once they’ve identified who’s currently in-market, they can personalize messaging to those accounts at the perfect time. Marketers will also become more discerning about intent data and savvier to which data is high quality and, most importantly, which sources are privacy-compliant.

2. ABM measurement will start to close the loop

The complexity of the buying process and the lack of transparency in reporting makes it difficult for b-to-b marketers to understand what’s moving the needle. But this is all changing—marketers finally have access to end-to-end b-to-b-centric measurement solutions that can demonstrate the impact of campaigns on the account and individual level, whether known or anonymous.

These new reporting tools can measure cross-channel marketing at the account-level, making it easier for marketers to connect the dots along the b-to-b buyer’s journey. This enables marketers to clearly establish benchmarks as well as see the value digital ABM campaigns are delivering for their sales teams. With this level of clarity around how activities are tied to revenue, b-to-b marketers can apply learnings to strengthen the impact of media and channel optimization.

3. ABM will break into TV

ABM has always made a strong showing in digital where traffic from impressions could be tied back to accounts. But did you know ABM is now ready for its TV close-up?

Much is written about the availability of consumer-based addressable TV. But what is less known is that b-to-b marketing is entering a stage where ABM can be executed just as well in a TV buy as a digital buy.

B-to-b marketers who have ventured into TV have had to cast a wide net with buys from a brand perspective, but many companies are now using advanced TV targeting capabilities to reach their ABM targets and drive interest or conversions. The implications of adding TV to an ABM media plan combined with improvements in measurement means that b-to-b marketers now have the ability to take an omnichannel approach that can be optimized on an account level.

4. ABM will go global

B-to-b marketers will extend the learnings from their domestic wins into additional markets and increase the number and quality of ABM campaigns run globally.  So, whether b-to-b marketers are looking for business in Baltimore, Birmingham or Brazil, ABM will help them effectively drive, measure and close opportunities across markets and regions.

While many are anxiously waiting to see what will play out in 2020, savvy b-to-b marketers have already embraced the future of ABM and are certainly predicted to dramatically outperform those who have not.


Pieter is the COO of LiveRamp B2B, which was founded in 2018 with the acquisition of Pacific Data Partners, a global data marketplace that he co-founded. At LiveRamp, Pieter is responsible for the development of comprehensive digital data solutions for use in marketing, sales, and analytics for b-to-b enterprises.