Everything Starts with the Right Target Accounts

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Marketing Director

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Target Account Selection For Your ABM Program

Experienced B2B Marketers know that proper target account selection is the cornerstone of any successful ABM campaign. It is de facto, the first move to make when planning an ABM program. Still, many marketers struggle with the process and go down the wrong paths. Well, choosing your target accounts doesn’t have to be complicated, and below is a simple 3 step process to help you get it right.

Before getting into it, we need to address a burning question: who takes ownership of selecting the target accounts? We believe that great account-based marketing needs full organizational alignment and while marketing should own the process, Sales need to be tightly involved. Both need to work together and decide on which accounts will generate the best return on marketing investment. The key here is to leverage the intimate account knowledge salespeople have acquired over time and combine it with the appropriate data & insights marketing can provide.

Step 1: Start Off with Your Biggest Key Accounts

ABM programs work best when they are laser-focused on a finite number of high-value accounts. Some ABM vendors like to talk about “ABM at scale” to target thousands of accounts, including existing and net new accounts. That may seem exciting for mid-market tech companies looking for a “silver bullet” marketing strategy. But for mature manufacturers looking to grow through account expansion, it’s best to start with the low hanging fruit within their top 20-100 existing key accounts. Keep it simple. Forget about Ideal Customer Profiles and Personas – just ask Accounting for the list of accounts sorted by revenue or gross margin contribution.

Step 2: Prioritize Accounts Based on Anonymous Website Activity

With new privacy regulations and the end of third-party cookies, using third-party data sources to prioritize accounts “in market” is not a viable option anymore. Anyway, in our experience, third party intent data goes stale very quickly and is never as accurate as first-party data.

First-party data trumps 3rd party data most of the time. Now you can leverage recent IP based technologies to “de-anonymize” key account buying group engagement data across your own digital assets, including websites, email, LinkedIn and ads. The ability to track and prioritize key accounts based on anonymous website research provides you and your sales teams with a competitive advantage.

Below is a snapshot of Jabmo’s Account Selection Tool, which empowers our clients to see which of their key accounts already engage with their website content and their respective intent level, derived from our proprietary machine-learning algorithms. You can use this competitive intelligence to either double down on your most engaged key accounts or inversely target key accounts that are not yet aware of your products & services. The same goes for distributors and channel partners.

Target Account Selection - Website Visitor tracking
De-anonymize target accounts visiting your website.

Step 3: Rope in Sales

Getting Sales involved in target account selection early on is important because they will provide valuable, field-based input about their key accounts that the ABM program should include. Their intimate knowledge & understanding of their accounts makes account selection and prioritization all become more real. Simultaneously, this earns sales buy-in and lays the ground for better alignment, trust, and ROI tracking down the road.

“You can’t just wish collaboration to fruition; you should stand up standard operating procedures that allow for sales’ input on ABM planning and execution.”

Rick LaFond Sr Principal, Advisory @Gartner

Looking Ahead

Nailing your target account list is the foundation for a successful ABM program launch. We like to say that account selection, prioritization, and data quality counts for about 65% of the success of an ABM program -followed by 35% for creative and messaging.

As you use ABM to drive your target account buying groups through the buyer journey, keep sales involved to share your customer intelligence, and get their feedback from the field. Once you start to see an uplift in both marketing and sales activity with your initial target account list, you can start working on selecting additional accounts to expand your ABM program and drive more growth.

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