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Contact-to-Account Relationships in SAP Marketing Cloud (Part 1/5)

15 min read

Part 1: Introduction

Are you using SAP Marketing Cloud in a B2B scenario and your customer contacts are assigned to multiple accounts in the sales system? 

Then the following article series could help to understand the business scenarios and processes behind a B2B-oriented setup in SAP Marketing Cloud – how to build multiple relationships between contacts and accounts and how to implement following best practices in a standardized data model of a business partner over the whole system landscape.

The SAP Marketing Cloud Contact-to-Account Relationships solution provides business relationship capabilities to enable you to address contacts acting in a specific capacity for a specific account. It leverages the many-to-many relationship data model between accounts and contacts and simplifies the data integration and lead creation process.

After reading through this article, the article series will be continued with the following parts:

Table of Contents


Are you actually operating or plan to work in the Business-to-business (B2B) area in your marketing and sales organization? Then you have probably heard about the term "Account based Marketing" (ABM) when it comes to Marketing and Sales related business.

The single term ABM describes a subset of "Lead- and Account-Based Marketing" – a primary business scenario of the "SAP Marketing Cloud" solution specifying the B2B-oriented setup and -processes of your IT-landscape.

ABM is a key driver when it comes to sustainable success, putting the contact person in focus, across different relationships with the account. This is mainly targeting the customer accounts-relation but is also applicable for processing marketing work in the direction of partners or within the own organization.

In this article we won't cover the B2B methodology for Lead- and Account-Based Marketing, here we will focus on the setup and integration of "Contact-to-Account-Relationships" - a capability to build multiple relationships.

Please note that from a theoretical point of view, the definition of both terms "Account-Based Marketing" and "Lead Management" can be understood in a broader way. This article will create the transition to features and functions in the context of SAPs customers experience (CX) Marketing.

SAP Help Portal Disclaimer

This article extends the existing documentation by providing some examples and use-cases, but it does not replace the corresponding section of the official SAP Help Portal for SAP Marketing Cloud regarding Contact-to-Account Relationships.

In the area of Contact-to-Account Relationships, the official SAP Help Portal Documentation focuses on the integration of SAP Sales Cloud and Marketing Cloud. With the help of open APIs you are able to integrate with other source systems like SAP CRM. The technical prerequisites and configurations will be described in Part two.

This article series is divided into two main sections. Part one will cover the business and functional view, while the other part will focus on the technical configuration and integration. The migration of an already existing SAP Marketing Cloud setup without Contact-to-Account Relationships won't be described here.


Using Contact-to-Account Relationships the first time the SOA-based integration for Business Partner and Business Partner Relationship data is mandatory. For already existing integrations a migration concept is available here

For Non-SAP data sources, you can set up the Contact-to-Account Relationships with available APIs (Version 4).

More information you can find in FAQ blogposts.

Contact-to-Account Relationships – Process view

Let's get prepared! 

Taking a closer look at the high-level picture of the overall process within the SAP Marketing Cloud, the new functionality supports us to segment and finally target our Interaction Contacts based on available relationship information (projection records).

Such a relationship can exist between a contact person and an account. In the following section, we will focus on the process description, a more detailed description of the data model will be described at a later stage.

The starting point of our End-To-End marketing scenario, based on Contact-To-Account Relationships, is to ensure the availability of the relationship data within the system.

Replicated Business Partner data of "Peter Smith" is extracted from the CRM system into the Interaction Contact of SAP Marketing Cloud. The relationship information is represented in a best record for each of the contact persons relationship - also described as projection. This projection is always directed from a contact person point of view to an account.

By making this data available in our system, the marketing execution team is able to make use of specific projection records, to target an Interaction Contact in the context of an explicit relation.

This projection record contains relation-driven data to be used for further business scenarios like segmentation and campaign execution. Via this way you can leverage the personalized attributes of the projection.

With this feature your marketing organization is able to address the same human being (contact person) in a different context or function.

End-To-End Process of Campaign Execution based on Contact-To-Account-Relationships:

In the process graphic shown above, the following steps are visualized:

  • Step 1: In your Interaction Contact database, multiple accounts can be associated with contact persons, in different capacities or work relationships.
  • Step 2: In the segmentation, a goal of your work could be, to identify all contact persons with the relationship "works for". In addition, classical segmentation attributes of the account should be used.
    Thanks to the pre-delivered and new segmentation profile "All Contact Relationships" (defined for Contact-to-Account Relationship scenarios), the campaign execution is based on contact's relationship best records, not on the origin best records!
  • Step 3: Finally we create a target group consisting of the contact persons we want to address. The target group contains the relationship's best record (projection) for each of its members.
    This best record can also be displayed on the "Contact Relationships" tab of the target group or directly at each of the contact profiles.
  • Step 4: The resulting relationship-based target group can then be used for a personalized user experience in a last step, addressing the contacts in their specific capacity with the relevant email address and IDs. With the use of the personalization settings "All Contact Relationships" in an email content, you can assign personalized attributes related to the relationship of the message recipient.

As you can see, the process of targeting and execution is quite the same as we know it from the "classical segmentation" in SAP Marketing Cloud.

At this point, we communicated an end-to-end process leading in a campaign execution based on Contact-To-Account-Relationships. The key message was to understand how the system is processing data within the new relationship model.

Next, we want to show how this looks like from a functional point of view and how the model is technically defined in the system.

Contact-to-Account Relationships in SAP Marketing Cloud

For a better understanding, we need to take a closer look at the data model and the main entities of the marketing solution.

Beside "Products" and "Interactions" the "Interaction Contact" (IC) is the main entity to define a Contact Person (IC Type 01) or either an Account (IC Type 02) in the system.

Enhancing the IC with the new relationship model gives us the opportunity to build a relationship between a Contact Person and one or more Accounts (1:n-relation).

In earlier versions of SAP Marketing Cloud it was not possible to create multiple relationships of different categories to the same account. In addition, from an account view it was only possible to create multiple relationships to different contacts (1:n), unfortunately, the contact could not have multiple relationships to different accounts (only 1:1).

With the new functionality, multiple Contact-to-Account Relationships are supported (n:m).

But before we explain the new model, let's take a quick look at the terminology.

Talking about a "relationship" means a one-directional contact-to-account relationship, which describes the connection or association between a contact and an account.

All the contact data such as email address, address, function, that a contact has in the context of a specific relationship, will be mentioned as "Contact relationship data".

An "additional relationship ID" describes an ID, such as email address or mobile number, that has been imported in the context of a specific contact-account-relationship.

Similar to the contact's best record, which represents the most valuable contact master data stored in one single record per contact (from different origins), the "relationship best record" is the best data of a specific relationship to an account. This is stored technically as a "projection".

A "Relationship Best Record" describes the technical view of the automatically generated best record representing a contact in relation to an account. The projection must always be assigned to a specific marketing area. 

A projection contains the following key fields:

  • Relationship Category
  • Related Interaction Contact keys
  • Marketing Area

and additionally the following standard fields:

  • Contact Relationship Data
  • Additional Relationship IDs
  • Contact Origin Data
  • Additional Contact IDs

If the "relationship category", the related "IC key" and the "marketing area" are the same, based on the priority of the configured origin in the application "Manage your solution", the system creates only one projection per key field as the contact's relationship best record.

For example, if the CRM is configured with a higher priority than ERP, the best record takes all available data from the data source CRM.

If the source system (with the higher priority) doesn't provide information, like the phone number, then the ID is taken from the second prioritized origin (ERP).

As mentioned earlier in this article, the business partner will be replicated via integration. In the SAP Marketing Cloud the contact data is extracted from the replicated Business Partner into the Interaction Contact, so that all previous functionalities are retained.

In SAP Marketing Cloud the Contact-to-Account Relationships are visualized and available for different business scenarios, like contact profile, segmentation or campaign execution.


The following graphic will help to visualize our data model, as you can see the contact person, Peter Smith has multiple relations with two accounts. For each relation and each relationship category, a new projection record will be created in the system.

The graphic and attached table show, that Peter Smith has one "is president" relation to the account University of Chicago (University C) this is visualized in line 2 (projection record). To the account NW Health Care Corp (Health Corp), Peter Smith has two different relations, one "works for"-relation and the "is member of work council"-relation. Both relations are separated into two lines of the projection table.

In the following, you can see Peter Smith in the SAP Marketing Cloud solution in the different business scenarios.

Relationship Categories

For simplification, only the Contact Person Relationship will be visualized in the following screenshots. You can find a complete list of the relationship categories available in the SAP Help Documentation.

Contact Profile

In the Contact Profile via the app "Contacts", the marketing expert accesses the contact Peter Smith. The marketing expert can then analyze personal data, interactions, and scores. 

On the Relationship Best Records tab, all relations and the corresponding account and communication data to this contact person are displayed. In addition by clicking the button "Relationship Graph", the marketing expert gets a visualization of the projections and is able to navigate to further details of the accounts.

Account Factsheet

In the app "Spotlighting Accounts" the marketing expert can find the responsible contact persons to this account, as usual in the tab "Contacts". 

Account Factsheet of NW Health Care Corp.

Segmentation & Target Group

The standard functionality for the segmentation objects, for example in "Contacts" or "Accounts", contains only data sources with joins on the database table "CUAND_CE_IC_REL". This is the main reason for the limited relationship model in SAP Marketing Cloud by using the segmentation profiles "All Contacts" or "All Accounts".

With the new Contact-to-Account Relationships the new segmentation object "Contact Relationships" is available, which doesn't represent the table "CUAND_CE_IC_REL" for relations, but the projections – "CUAND_CE_IC_PROJ". 

This segmentation enables the marketing expert to segment on relationship data for contacts and accounts – in this case, based on the contact's relationship best record and not on the origin best record. 

The main target of the segmentation is creating a target group for the following campaign execution.

Technically speaking, the members of such a target group are projections and not the contact root, as in other target groups. This enables you to segment on the relationship best records.

This could mean that a person receives multiple emails with the same campaign, in order to prevent this you could use secondary distinction entities.

If you are using different marketing areas for the Contact-to-Account-Relationships, it is recommended to create different segmentation profiles with a filter on marketing area level based on the segmentation object "Contact Relationships".


Marketing Area for Campaign Execution

As prerequisite to use the Contact-to-Account Relationships in Campaigns, the usage and definition of Marketing Areas for Campaign Execution (Customizing) must be active. 

In the app "Campaigns", the marketing expert is able to use contact relationships in campaigns to personalize campaigns and execute campaigns based on the information from the relationship best record.

Following campaign actions are supported for relationship-based target groups:

  • Send Email

  • Send Text Message

  • A/B Testing

  • Create Appointment

  • Create Phone Call

  • Create Lead

  • Create Call Qualification

For Email Campaigns it is possible to personalize also the email content based on the Contact-to-Account Relationship for each member of the target group. For this the marketing expert is able to select a segmentation profile based on the segmentation object "Contact Relationships" in the personalization settings of an email content. After this, the marketer gets additional personalization attributes based on the available data.

Known Limitations

Currently (with the 2105 release) we have the following limitations.

Following scenarios are not supported with Contact-to-Account Relationships yet:

  • Creation of Contact-to-Account Relationships in the graphical user interface or via csv upload
  • Assignment of a custom business object to segmentation object "Contact Relationships"
  • Using the known standard segmentation profiles "All Contacts" or "All Accounts", the projections are not considered
  • Trigger-based campaigns do not support the use of contact relationship filters or content
  • Lead Nurture Streams
  • Campaigns for file-export
  • Mobile and digital channels

The Contact-to-Account functionality will be updated and optimized with the following releases to improved the B2B-scenarios.

Stay tuned!


This article introduced you the new functionalities for a B2B-oriented setup and scenario for Contact-to-Account Relationships. Part one focused on the more functional process view of the relationships and gives you a closer look an the changes in the SAP Marketing Cloud data model and actual limitations. 

In the next chapter, you will get a deeper understanding of the technical background and integration topics, to implement the Contact-to-Account Relationships.

This article series consist of the following articles: