According to a recent study by 6sense, “nearly 60% of the organizations that claim to be ‘account-based’ are still mostly focused on generating MQLs, despite the role ABM strategy plays in their marketing mix.” This is the reason many of our clients come to us to help them form an actionable strategy AND execute it. The first step in this process is to do a thorough assessment of how prepared your organization is for ABM to identify where we can help you win immediately and over time. One of the top areas in which our clients need assistance is building an effective target account list with the right tiering and segmentation.
ABM is generally thought of as a multi-layered pyramid, each tier targeting fewer accounts as you move up the pyramid, with increasingly specific marketing activities. This is a very different strategy from Pursuit Marketing in that it only occurs at the small tip of that triangle and only focuses on a small number of strategically important accounts at just one point in their journey.
Tiering and segmenting your audiences properly will help you move to a multi-layered ABM methodology, for a more efficient and integrated way to structure your ABM programs.
When you segment account lists, you want to focus on the characteristics that indicate an account will respond faster and with an increased likelihood to engage with your campaigns, solutions, or messaging. Account segmentation is all about projecting when they might respond to you, how quickly, and how well they fit your ideal customer profile. To build and vet this list you should ask the following questions:
- Are they the right fit? What characteristics does the account have?
- Are they showing the right behavior: What is the account activity across various channels?
- Are they demonstrating intent: Is the account showing intent to purchase? (i.e. a demo)
- Do they have the right needs: What are the account’s pain points? How can your company fit those needs?
Three essential (and specific) segmentation inputs for success as you further build this list and assess ideal customers:
- A report of opportunities that closed within the last 12 months to cross-reference with your ICP
- A well-developed ICP, containing a robust list of firmographic attributes to compare to the accounts that closed most quickly. This allows you to hone in on the accounts that are most valuable for your TAL.
- A gut-check session with your sales team
- Make sure the list reflects what they are seeing, explain the logic for list creation and ask for input on how to further refine
Ultimately, you want to structure your tiers based on the accounts that have the potential to drive more revenue or strategic value for your business. Account tiering uses technology, data, and research to prioritize your top accounts. Most B2B companies find that a 3-tiered system works best. Here is how we recommend our clients think about it:
- Tier 1—or high-priority accounts—are perfect, ideal customer profile fits, similar to your highest value customers. Tier 1 also includes logos with strategic value. We refer to these as 1:1 campaigns and each one gets deep research, a customized plan, personalized content, bespoke campaigns, and a lot of 1:1 attention. You should have 10-20 accounts on this list and will need Sales, Marketing, and Executive support.
- Tier 2 accounts—medium-priority—are ideal customer fits but have a lower lifetime value. We refer to these as 1:few campaigns. Sometimes called ABM lite, these accounts won’t get completely customized content but they should still get highly relevant touches based on their industry and persona. You will typically have 250-500 accounts on this list and they will require some sales involvement, but primarily rely on marketing support.
- Tier 3—lowest priority accounts—fit most but not all ideal customer criteria. They’re worth pursuing but typically not worth investing significant resources in to win their business. We refer to these as 1:many—they require traditional programmatic marketing with account-level targeting. Instead of scoring leads, you track account-level engagement. These lists can have thousands of accounts and will need only marketing support.
Want to learn more about ABM? Drop us a line — we’d love to hear from you.