The Top 5 Account-Based Marketing Trends for 2021

Adam Smartschan

Partner & Chief Strategy Officer

If you’re using modern outreach technology to soften up your targets, you’re using account-based marketing. It’s about targeting the person or company your sales team will talk to and making sure they have a positive opinion about you.

ABM used to be simple. It was called sales. You’d knock on a door, make your pitch and hopefully land a deal.

Not so simple anymore – particularly during the pandemic.

That said, ABM isn’t impossible. Here are five 2021 account-based marketing trends to keep your eye on.

2021 Account-Based Marketing Trends
  • Real personal outreach
  • Video
  • Direct mail
  • Personalized web presence
  • Semi-personalized advertising

But first … we’ve got to talk about mass cold emails.

This is more of an anti-trend, but still worth mentioning. Mass cold emails – with few exceptions – are dead. 

Across the board, open rates are down for these. Why?

Because both buyers and spam filters are getting smarter and smarter. So many companies took their lead gen to email as the pandemic shut trade shows that everyone locked down their inboxes – technologically and mentally.

By this point, mass cold email is basically a lost cause. Any time spent there could be better spent investing elsewhere. So if you want to build a smart ABM strategy in 2021, actually provide value with what you do.

You can still send emails and reach out cold! But there’s no point in spamming anymore.

So, what will work? Here (finally) are our 2021 account-based marketing trends.

2021 ABM Trend #1: Real Personal Outreach

This isn’t impossible. Even at scale, actually research and reaching out to a company isn’t all that hard. You can find just about anything about a company – from what they do to who’s on their team to how much they’ve raised – in seconds.

You don’t have to grab some expensive third-party list, sloppily throw it into an email template and send it out to 15,000 people. You can do a one-off, two-off, even a 20-off piece of outreach without taxing your time all that much.

How can you help them in their specific situation? Why should they talk to you? Answer. The. Questions.

(And actually write at least some of the email yourself.)

Personalized – not “personalized” – outreach is the way to go for account-based marketing in 2021. Again, remember: Provide value.

2021 ABM Trend #2: Low-Cost Video

We’re seeing this more and more. A salesperson or a marketing person will record a video for a potential client – a lot more engaging and personal than a purely text-based email. This can be delivered via email or even cooler, via video mailers.

The best part? You don’t need to break the bank.

You can record a decent video yourself with nothing more than the phone in your pocket and a decent way to capture audio. It doesn’t take more than five minutes of your time to make a 5-minute video that discusses what you know about their company and what you can do for them.

(And it’ll impress the heck out of a lot of your prospects.)

Remember that part about personalized? Yeah, that. Click that record button.

2021 ABM Trend #3: Direct Mail

The top account-based marketing trend of 2016 is … wait.

It’s 2021.


As surprising as it may seem, physical mail, direct mail, is the account-based marketing trend for 2021 that’s making a resurgence.

(Yes, even with WFH. Some folks are back in the office, and useful stuff does get forwarded.)

The bigger picture is, there just isn’t that much direct mail going on these days.

Yes, direct mail takes some time and money. But it does get opened. (More than email, at least.) A small gift can be effective. There’s no better feeling than seeing a package delivered just for you

USPS will actually work with you to make some really cool stuff, too. It’s easy to say “nobody is in the office, don’t bother.” Some are. And many others will get it, anyway.

It’s an arrow in the quiver. And given the effectiveness of cool direct mail, it would be silly not to deploy it.

2021 ABM Trend #4: A Personalized Web Presence

You can personalize your website or a landing page programmatically.

But that’s hard.

Instead, it’s simple to spin up a landing page for each of your targets. (In, say, Unbounce.) Put the target’s name and logo on it. If you recorded that personal video, put it there, too. Show them you’re actually trying to build something with them. 

Once you have a template, this doesn’t take a lot of time or effort. And it’s going to be an effective account-based marketing trend for 2021 to get targets engaged.

2021 ABM Trend #5: Semi-Personalized Advertising

You don’t want to get creepy with your retargeting.

It’s one thing to show ads to folks who lightly engaged with you. But if all they see is your logos mashed together, things get werid.

It’s one thing to make an impression. It’s another to weirdly follow someone around the web.

The takeaway here? No stalking your targets.

Retargeting can work. But you don’t need overwhelming force to get folks to remember you. Once people have engaged with your personal email or your direct mail piece, it’s all about keeping your company name in front of them. Too much pseudo-personal too often, you’ll lose them.

You can keep in front of your targets for literal pennies. And 3-4 impressions per day from this retargeting is steady, normal … and most importantly, not weird.

With luck, you’ll be the one folks remember when they’re ready to buy. And they’ll be willing to have a productive conversation with you on the phone.

The real KPI with semi-personalized advertising is when they reach out to you on the phone. Be on the lookout for that call. If you did all this right, they’re not going to outright say “here’s my credit card, just bill me.” But it’ll be a warmer, more personalized experience. And they’ll have you in mind if they ever need your services. 

Plus, it’ll make the sales team hit their numbers. 

Which is never a bad thing.

Adam Smartschan

Adam Smartschan heads Altitude's strategic marketing and branding efforts. An award-winning writer and editor by trade in a former life, he now specializes in data analytics, search engine optimization, digital advertising strategy, conversion rate optimization and technical integrations. He holds numerous industry certifications and is a frequent speaker on topics around B2B marketing strategy and SEO.