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STAMFORD, Conn, December 2, 2020

Gartner Identifies Four Ways Account-Based Marketing Can Improve B2B Personalization Execution at Scale

Gartner Analysts Explore the Steps B2B Marketers Can Take to Focus Personalization Efforts on the Highest-Impact Opportunities at the Virtual Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo, December 1-3

To overcome the complexities of personalization, B2B marketing leaders must leverage account-based marketing (ABM) to improve their ability to execute personalization at scale, according to Gartner, Inc.

Gartner defines ABM as a go-to-market strategy in which a supplier targets a set of named contacts and accounts, representing significantly higher expansion or growth opportunities, to receive tailored marketing and sales support. 

During the Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo, taking place virtually in the Americas December 1-3,  Gartner analysts said today that 79% of marketers believe the best way to engage B2B buyers is to deliver personally relevant communications. This level of personalization requires more from marketers - more customer insights, more content and more resources. However, this is a luxury many B2B marketers can’t afford right now, with 44% of B2B marketers expecting moderate to significant decreases in their budgets due to COVID-19. 

“The concept of personalization holds tremendous promise for B2B marketers, especially in today’s environment where delivering hyper relevant content is of utmost importance,” said Rick LaFond, senior principal in the Gartner Marketing practice. “An effective execution of an ABM strategy can help lead to better spend efficiency, and allows marketers to focus personalization efforts on the highest-impact, highest-return opportunities.” 

“One of the main reasons ABM has become so widely adopted by B2B brands is that it is specifically designed to help address the need for customer relevance,” Mr. LaFond added. “If leveraged correctly, ABM can bring focus to personalization efforts by ensuring that those efforts are targeted toward the right customers using the right kind of engagement.” 

B2B marketing leaders looking to better scale their personalization efforts should consider the following four steps:

Establish Target Accounts

Instead of personalizing for the brand’s total addressable market, B2B marketers should focus personalization on a discrete set of high-priority accounts or segments. One of the first steps of ABM is to select accounts to include in the program, using an Ideal Customer Profile. This helps to identify the specific characteristics of the ideal target customer. 

It’s important that B2B marketers involve sales in the selection of target accounts, to leverage their rich customer insights and earn buy-in for the program. Another key component that must be considered in establishing target accounts is data - to help uncover which account characteristics are most heavily correlated with positive commercial outcomes. 

Identify Objectives of Target Accounts

B2B marketers must think about account understanding across three categories: 1) from an organizational level - what are the top business objectives or priorities of these customers; 2) from an individual level - what are the needs and behaviors of the key stakeholders within those target accounts who have influence over the buying decision; 3) from a customer journey level - what tasks do customers have to complete in order to make a purchase. 

It’s critical that B2B marketers combine these qualitative insights with specific data points to better enable execution. “We’re starting to see more and more B2B brands using customer engagement or behavioral data to anticipate a customer’s journey needs,” said Mr. LaFond. “This is often referred to as intent data.” 

Tailor Personalized Experiences

The type of personalized experiences that are created will be unique to each organization, but B2B marketers must make sure these experiences are driven by the needs of target accounts and commercial objectives. 

Gartner research shows that personalization that demonstrates to the customer that the brand not only knows them, but can also help them increases the likelihood the customer will make a high-quality purchase by 9%. Marketers can show customers they can help them in many forms, from helping them achieve their objectives, to helping them do their job more effectively, to helping them advance through the buying journey

Scale Successful Executions  

While technology is the most efficient way to execute personalization efforts, B2B marketers can also leverage more qualitative tactics to help scale personalization across target accounts. For example, creating a tiered approach to demand generation where each tier receives a different form of personalization - from highly-customized, to slightly modified. 

“To achieve scale, B2B marketers must always maintain a test-and-learn posture when it comes to personalization, to amplify successful executions, while moving on for those executions that didn’t achieve desired results,” concluded Mr. LaFond. 


About the Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo

Gartner analysts are providing additional insights during Gartner Marketing Symposium/Xpo, taking place virtually, December 1-3, 2020. The conference provides marketing leaders actionable advice about the trends, tools and emerging technologies they need to deliver business results. Gartner analysts address the biggest opportunities, challenges and priorities marketers face today, including data and analytics, customer experience, content marketing, customer insight, marketing technology (martech) and multichannel marketing. Follow news and updates for the event on Twitter at #GartnerMKTG.


About Gartner for Marketers

Gartner for Marketers provides the objective, expert advice, and proven tools that CMOs and other marketing leaders need to seize the right opportunities with clarity and confidence, and to stay ahead of the trends that matter. With in-depth research and analysis, Gartner for Marketers helps you focus on the opportunities with the greatest potential to deliver results. More information on Gartner for Marketers is available online at Follow news and updates from the Gartner Marketing practice on Twitter and LinkedIn using #GartnerMKTG.


About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) delivers actionable, objective insight to executives and their teams. Our expert guidance and tools enable faster, smarter decisions and stronger performance on an organization’s mission critical priorities. To learn more, visit