Navigating the Evolution of ABM in B2B Marketing: Insights from the Global ABM Conference 2023 

Helena Phillips ABM Programs, B2B Creative, B2B Events, B2B Marketing

It’s been two weeks since I joined 500+ fellow marketing leaders at B2B Marketing’s Global Account-Based Marketing (ABM) Conference, and it’s taken me this long to write up my key takeaways as there was so much rich knowledge, so many valuable insights, and such engaging expert speakers – my brain is still buzzing at everything I took from the day (and my notebook is officially complete!)  

From unpacking the opportunities and challenges that AI presents to reviewing some of the most successful ABM campaigns across the industry this year, the conference was both a whirlwind of innovation while simultaneously providing a comforting reassurance that the way we currently approach ABM for our own clients at Velo is in line with the most up to date B2B best practice.  

So, what stood out to me as the main highlights for the future of ABM in B2B marketing? 

1. The silent ‘S’ in ABM – don’t forget to work with Sales

This theme came up repeatedly throughout the day. Despite ‘marketing’ being literally in the name, this approach cannot be successfully implemented without including sales at the start. KPIs should be set in alignment with the sales team. Sales data should inform account selection and strategies. Sales teams’ intel on customers should form the basis for the messaging and approach.  

Our planning phase always includes discovery and validation sessions with our clients’ sales teams. I liked how Jon Miller (CMO of DemandBase, previously co-founded Marketo) put it – the collaboration between Marketing and Sales should be less a relay race (handover of baton – lead – from marketing to sales) and more like a football game (working together as a team to pass the ball back and forth towards the goal).  

2. Make it all about the customer

Linked to the above, we can only execute impactful ABM campaigns when we understand and centralise the customer’s needs, challenges, and pain points. Too often, the customer analysis step can be skipped, or the sales team end up being treated as the customer. 

As we speak, I’m in the middle of three client project phases, digging deep into the pain points of the customer to inform how – or if! – we position the solutions in a way that resonates. This should always be the starting point – as was reinforced in Verizon’s approach of research-driven storytelling, showcasing the impact of aligning content and creative with the customer’s brand and messaging. 

3. Strength in creativity should match strength in strategy 

In a different style of session, judges of the B2B Marketing Awards shared their inside insights into how they judged the ‘Best Use of ABM’ shortlist. It was great to see strong strategic thinking and content strategy across the board, with some interesting applications of offline and experiential elements coming back in. What I heard loud and clear, though, was the room for stronger creative – for more emotion and humour. This is something we as an agency strive towards, and definitely something I’ll be pushing harder to weave in wherever we can! 

4. AI won’t take marketers’ jobs – the people who know how to use it will

Jaspreet Bindra’s enlightening keynote on Generative AI (GenAI) showcased the profound impact AI is set to have on ABM. GenAI, trained on language and unique human phenomena, is not here to replace us but to enhance our capabilities. Embracing GenAI as an analytical and creative assistant is the next frontier in ABM. 

However, as we step into this AI-driven future, ethical considerations are as critical as the technological advancements. Issues like plagiarism, bias, fake news, and environmental impact must be at the forefront of our minds, aligning seamlessly with our commitment to ethical AI, as reflected in Velo’s AI policy

In conclusion, the key themes from this year’s Global ABM Conference underscored that having meaningful conversations with customers and partnering from the outset with sales are imperative to successful ABM. And, while AI won’t take our jobs, how we use it will define our success. The evolving ABM landscape demands a strategic, ethical, and creative approach where technology and humanity intersect to drive unprecedented success. 

As we absorb these key takeaways, let’s propel our ABM strategy forward, embracing change and leveraging the power of AI to craft compelling narratives that resonate with our target audience. The next 12 months promise exciting developments, and with these insights, we are well-equipped to navigate the evolving ABM terrain. Here’s to the future of ABM – a fusion of innovation, collaboration, and strategic storytelling. 

To explore more on how we approach ABM/ABX campaigns, click here to visit our dedicated ABM/ABX Programs page. 


Helena Phillips

Helena Phillips

Head of Marketing

Holding senior roles at B2B marketing agencies for most of her career, HP leads Velo’s content and digital projects.  Has nearly a decade of experience in B2B financial services marketing particularly insurance.