Marketers entered 2021 with a somewhat positive outlook, albeit with significant and continued uncertainty. But what does that mean for account-based marketing?

We’ve learned from past recessions and disruptions that the companies who win during a time of transition will earn a sustained edge in the future. And marketing leaders can gain that advantage by deploying a distinct account-based marketing strategy that is unique to the challenges (and the opportunities) that 2021 has brought.

Read on for the four major ABM pitfalls to avoid this year so that you can maximize your 2021 results.

#1. Companies: Does your target account list accurately reflect current market potential?

In 2020, “the year of the existing customer,” many ABM programs focused exclusively on account expansion. While this will remain fertile ground in 2021, economic growth may merit increased focus on net new accounts.

Given the broad acceleration of digital transformation, you may find this new business in accounts, clusters, and verticals beyond your traditional targets. For example, the healthcare industry—long a technology laggard—vastly advanced its digital transformation goals in 2020, consuming a variety of new technologies and engaging with a host of new partners

#2 Contacts: Do your persona definitions and decision-maker lists reflect recent changes in buying roles?

As noted in Emissary’s recent research, tech buyer responsibilities have changed dramatically as the pandemic inextricably merged technology with core business operations. As a result, these execs have new pressures, new needs, and new decision-making partners. 

This additional complexity in buyers is multiplied by the increasing numbers of buyers involved in decisions. Although some sellers noticed smaller buying committees in 2020 as organizations focused on quick decisions with short-term impact, a return to full-blown cross-functional buying committees is expected in 2021.

#3: Communication: Is your messaging flexible enough to bridge between “fix it” needs and longer-term transformational strategies?

With accounts and contacts reclarified, the next step is refining how and what you communicate. In Emissary’s Summer 2020 research, tech buyers were clear: Discussion of “in-year returns” resonated, but talk of “long-term roadmaps” did not.

2021 is expected to be a bridge year. Spending control is still important, but growth is creeping back into the equation. And executives clearly see technology as a key growth driver. This bodes well for solution providers who can be fluent in both costs and value.

#4. Conversion: Are you extending ABM support far enough along the entire customer journey? 

An enduring challenge for ABM leaders is defining the end game. Is the goal to convert prospects into leads? Leads into opportunities? Or opportunities into closed deals? Where does marketing stop and sales begin?

The promise of ABM in 2021 lies in influencing the entire customer journey—from prospect all the way to deal closure, renewal, and growth. To do so, marketers will need to be tightly integrated with sales, service, and customer success, providing all parties with messaging, content, and tools. This gives customers a consistent and cumulative experience as they develop their relationship with your organization.

For the specific action items needed to avoid each of these four ABM pitfalls, download the full white paper below.