PRACTICAL GUIDE TO ABM: Account Selection
AN ABM PRACTICAL GUIDE
Account Selection & Prioritisation
DEFINING YOUR TARGET
Ideal Customer Profile
Ideal Customer Profile
Before you can start your account selection process, you will need to define your 'ideal customer profile', as you will use this to identify the accounts that are suitable for your ABM programme.
There are several parts to building your ideal customer profile:
Firmographics: basic data for the account
no. of employees
Technographics: the technology requirements for your ideal accounts. What technology or software should the the ideal account be running (e.g. servers, marketing automation platform, CRM or specific software solution).
Sociagraphics: the account’s issues and challenges, their priorities and the opportunities related to the ideal account and account intent (behavioural data related to accounts - see next chapter).
Sales can provide you with a lot of the information you need to define your Ideal Account Profile - this is why Sales & Marketing collaboration is so important.
Ideal Customer Profile Template
Use this simple template to create your Ideal Customer profile:
Total Addressable Market
Now that you have defined your ICP, you can now accurately determine your Total Addressable Market (TAM).
The Total Addressable Market is the list of all the accounts that match your Ideal Customer Profile criteria.
Building your list can be done through a combination of the following:
- Sales collaboration - get a list of target accounts from your sales team
- Partner or shared list - if you work with partner organisations, sharing lists can be an extremely effective way of building out your target list
- Online research - researching online is a slow, laborious but cost effective route to finding accounts. LinkedIn is a great source of free account data
- Third Party data - data vending solutions like Leadiro, DiscoverOrg or Zoom info are an expensive but very effective way of identifying accounts (more on this in the next chapter)
As ABM is highly targeted, your TAM list will almost certainly not be your final ABM programme list. The next step will be to segment and prioritise the TAM list.
Technographic data is particularly powerful for technology brands selling into accounts who have friendly or competitor solutions running. Data vendors and Account Intelligence solutions like DiscoverOrg ($$$), ZoomInfo ($$) or Leadiro ($) are a very useful source of technographic/install-base data.
Install Base & Intent Data
One of the core principles of ABM is to focus your approach on quality targeting vs. sheer volume. This will allow you to be more relevant, resonant and valuable to the audience making them more likely to engage with you.
One of the most effective way of filtering your list down to your ideal target accounts is to use account intelligence, such as Install Base and Intent.
Install Base refers to the technology, hardware and software, a company may be running. As mentioned in the previous chapter, technographics are an important part of the Ideal Customer Profile.
Uses of Install Base Data:
- Account prioritisation: establishing complementary or competitor solutions can identify accounts with higher propensity to buy
- Personalisation: install data allows the personalisation of messaging based on particular product challenges or insights
Example of Install Base Filtering: ACME Online Accounting Software
As a technology requirement, ACME might have specified the ideal customer must have Sage (a competitor accounting software) in place. To further filter/prioritise the accounts list, ACME may now want to focus first on those target accounts that have a particular Sage solution in place (e.g. Sage 100).
This will allow ACME to tailor their messaging to address some of the challenges of the specific competitor product and/or focus on the differentiators that their solution offers in comparison.
Although the accounts in the Total Addressable Audience meet all your criteria, they may have no interest in your solution or product or have no buying intent. This is where Intent Data can provide a powerful filter for your list.
Intent data, as the name would suggest, is data that suggests (or predicts) the possible interest (therefore buying intention) accounts or individuals may have in a certain solution or product.
There are two types of Intent Data:
1. Internal intent data is the activity a company captures on its website via tracking and IP identification. Add to this scoring models and this type of data helps identify which prospects are in-market and ready to buy.
Example: a visitor to your website has been identified as coming from Company X, they have visited the solution page several times and have downloaded a whitepaper and attended your webinar. It might be safe to assume they are interested in your product.
2. External intent data is determined by behavioural signals on third party websites and social networks. Data from these sites show an account's (through IP recognition) or an individual's (through cookies and registration) interest. When these interest 'surge' for an account, it would suggest suggest there is a strong
Uses of Intent Data:
- Account identification: using intent data list from third party providers can identify net new prospect accounts
- Account prioritisation: knowing whether there is an interest at an account level for a certain solution could demonstrate a higher propensity to buy
- Content strategy: knowing the topics that account are interested can help focus your content assets
- Nurture: behavioural data can help you identify interested prospects in your database and focus nurture efforts
Recommended Data Providers
Account intelligence & Contact Data:
A SCALEABLE APPROACH
Minimum Viable Audience
When you seek to engage with everyone, you rarely delight anyone.
Now that you have your list of target accounts, it is tempting to go after them all. However, this is rarely the best approach.
The key to ABM success, is the ability to hone in on the individual accounts and micro-personalise the content to as few accounts as possible in order to make your message more relevant, resonant and valuable to the audience. The smaller the batch of accounts, the more personalised you can get, the more effective the message will be and the higher the success rate.
Another reason not to go all out, especially if you are dipping your toe in the ABM water for the first time, is the need to test your approach before committing to much budget.
Minimum Viable Audience
The best way to start any ABM programme is to focus on the least number of accounts that will still allow you to generate return on investment (minimum viable audience or MVA).
Starting with an MVA allows you to focus on a smaller number of key accounts, personalising the approach, messaging and content to the highest level and thereby maximising the potential impact of your campaign.
Once you have proven success, you can either create MVA batches, adapting the personalisation to each batch, or scale the programme (if you have enough accounts with the same characteristics).
What constitutes the MVA number will differ for every organisation and product, as it will depend on the average customer value and your marketing budget.
Advantages of MVA approach:
- Allows you to focus your messaging to the highest level, maximising impact
- You can test your approach and adjust where necessary with minimal risk
- More manageable in terms of execution
- You can scale or replicate your approach to other MVA batches
- You don't commit too much of your budget before know whether your approach will be successful
Effective account selection and account prioritisation are vital components of successful account-based marketing programmes.
ABM is all about doubling down on a few key accounts and delivering relevant, resonant content that adds real value to the audience.
Making sure you have select the right accounts for your organisation and focusing on the ones that have the highest propensity to convert, will deliver the highest return on investment.
ALIAS was founded to support enterprise businesses with their account-based marketing programmes. We work with some of the world's best-know technology and telecommunication companies building customer curiosity, confidence & revenue through account-based marketing.
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