Account-based marketing (ABM) continues to grow in popularity, and for some pretty valid reasons. Fifty-two percent of marketers practicing ABM have been using this strategy for less than a year, according to a recent study from ITSMA, but 77 percent of marketers surveyed believe it has driven better results for target accounts. Even after investing only a fairly small amount of time, businesses are already seeing positive outcomes.
One of the first steps in ABM is creating an ideal customer profile (ICP), which consists of the characteristics (firmographic, environmental, behavioral) of companies that make up your ideal target account. These target accounts are the ones you want to turn into customers because they can bring the highest possible revenue to your company.
So once you have an ICP, how exactly do you use that to find your target accounts? You’ll need to assess your total available market and identify the accounts that best fit your ICP. This target account list (TAL) creation process requires quite a bit of leg work, but it’s one of the most essential parts of ABM.
Why you need a target account list
The whole premise of ABM is that you target specific accounts that will be good for your business instead of reaching out to the masses hoping that what you have to offer will resonate with someone. Without creating a TAL based on data, you can almost guarantee you won’t spend your marketing budget in the most effective ways since you won’t be creating marketing materials designed for your ideal customers.
A target account list helps you zero in on a manageable list of potential clients that Marketing and Sales both agree are worth your time. It sets the stage for successful marketing campaigns by giving you real people to reach out to who are a good fit for your product or solution.
“A target account list helps you zero in on a manageable list of potential clients that Marketing and Sales both agree are worth your time.”
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The process: target account analysis
Developing a TAL requires data analysis. You take your ICP—a specific picture of what your ideal customer looks like—and then widen your perspective. Look at all of your possible clients in the world, often referred to as your total available market (TAM). This is obviously an unreasonable amount of accounts to market to. That’s where the analysis comes in.
You need to compare firmographic, environmental, and behavioral data from your ICP to all these accounts to identify which companies most closely match your ICP. These are accounts you’ll want to consider adding to your TAL.
(If you don’t know where to begin with this type of work, don’t worry. You can consult ABM specialists to point you in the right direction or dive into the data for you.)
Once you have a list of possible target accounts based on research, it’s time for Marketing and Sales to collaborate. Your Sales team should be able to offer insights into customer behavior and what tactics have helped close deals in the past. It’s helpful to look at your most valuable and most recent deals, as the tactics it took to close these significant wins will be freshest in everyone’s minds.
You might also consider interviewing the key decision-makers within those accounts to see what pieces of content and strategies resonated best with them and helped move them along on their own buyer’s journey. This information can add key real-world insights to your data and also help you pinpoint your most important and influential pieces of content and strategies.
Marketing and Sales should then work together to settle on a list of target accounts that you believe deserve your time and budget. By agreeing on this list as a group, you’ll ensure everyone is on the same page as your plan the next steps for your ABM efforts.
What to do with a target account list
You’ve compared your ICP to the world of possible customers, gotten input from your teams, and landed on a list of companies you want to target with marketing and sales efforts. This is great. You have one of the most fundamental parts of ABM complete, so when you actually start executing a campaign, you have a strong foundation.
With your TAL, you can:
- Conduct research about people at specific companies who you could reach out to.
- Develop content tailored to particular companies and industries.
- Dedicate more time to people you actually want to convert, and who are more likely to do so.
- More easily align Marketing and Sales efforts.
You could take your list and start making plans for creating or repurposing content, but there’s really another step you should take first: account tiering. This step of ABM gets even more granular, dividing your TAL up into multiple tiers based on which accounts are most desirable.
As you can see, ABM really does help you focus on the potential accounts with the highest propensity to close. Tools like a TAL allow you to narrow your market, look at specific companies, and even reach out to specific people. Developing this list might feel a little daunting, but you won’t regret spending time on this process.
If you have any questions about developing a TAL, get in touch. We’d be happy to discuss your ABM strategy with you!