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How to Identify & Tier Target Accounts for Account-Based Marketing

Author Shauna Ward Category Account-Based Marketing

How to identify and tier target accounts for account-based marketing

What is a Target Account?

Simply put, target accounts are companies that you want to turn into customers.

When you’re doing account-based marketing (ABM), you focus the bulk of your energy and resources on best-fit accounts that have the highest revenue potential for your business. These target accounts require focused outreach from your sales and marketing teams in order to turn them into lifelong customers and advocates for your business.

So, how can you decide what companies to target, which to prioritize, and how many resources you’ll dedicate to moving them through the sales cycle?

How to Identify Your Target Accounts for Account-Based Marketing

Identifying your target accounts is a little like looking for Waldo. It’s not an easy task as is, but if you don’t know what Waldo looks like, it’s downright impossible.

Where's Waldo?

Seriously…where’s Waldo?

Before you identify your target accounts, you have to know who it is you’re looking for. The best way to do this is to develop an ideal customer profile, or ICP.

An ideal customer profile is a description of the company — not the individual buyer or end user — that’s a perfect fit for your solution. Use the Defining Your Ideal Customer Profile Worksheet to clearly articulate what your best-fit customer accounts look like.

Defining your ideal customer profile ICP worksheet

Download the worksheet to get started

After you know what “Waldo” looks like, it’s time to start searching for him! With the help of technology and some manual sleuthing, you can identify a master list of target accounts that you want to turn into customers. Check out this list of strategies to identify a list of accounts you can use as a basis to launch target account marketing campaigns.

5 Ways to Identify Target Accounts for ABM

1. Leverage your ABM tech stack.
Use any of the identification tools in the Terminus Cloud for ABM to discover accounts that match your ICP. You can also use predictive tools to determine which accounts are in-market and when they’re likely to make a purchase.

2. Mine your database.
Your CRM and marketing automation platform are full of undiscovered insights! Leverage the data you already have at your fingertips to find prospects, opportunities, and even current customers that offer the best revenue potential.

3. Look at your competitors’ customers.
You can automate this process using tools like iDatalabs or HG Data, or you can do manual research using LinkedIn groups, review sites, and other online communities.

4. …and your customers’ competitors.
Business insights platforms like Owler can give you a great overview of any business, including a list of their top competitors. Take a look at your best customer accounts’ profiles, and mine their list of competitors for accounts that fit your ICP. Then, you can reach out to these competitors to highlight benefits of your solution that they are missing out on.

5. Set up job alerts.
If you sell to an emerging category, keep an eye out for potential new business by subscribing to job alerts using your buyer personas’ titles and other keywords. That way, you’ll know when a company is likely to be in-market for your solution.

How to Tier Your Target Accounts

Okay, you’ve got a list of target accounts. Now what?

Tiering your list of dream accounts allows you to prioritize your audience based on the campaign you’re running. Chances are, you won’t engage all of your target accounts in the same campaign. In fact, you shouldn’t because it can overwhelm your sales reps, water down your messaging, and funnel too many resources to the wrong accounts.

Account tiering refers to using technology, data points, and good old-fashioned research to prioritize your dream accounts. Most B2B companies find that a 3-tiered system works best. In this system:

  • Tier 1 accounts are perfect ICP fits, similar to your highest value customers. Tier 1 also includes logos with strategic value.
  • Tier 2 accounts are strong ICP fits but have a lower lifetime value.
  • Tier 3 accounts fit most, but not all, ICP criteria. They’re worth pursuing but typically not worth investing significant resources to win their business.

Not all accounts are created equal. You should allocate more resources to accounts that have the potential to drive the most revenue and/or strategic value for your business.

Real-World Example: How Invoca Tiered 4,500 Target Accounts

Let’s look at a real-life example of account tiering. Invoca is a call intelligence platform whose marketing team, headed up by VP of Marketing, Julia Stead, takes a programmatic approach to ABM. In other words, they use MarTech to target and engage a large number of accounts that fit their ICP. Read on to learn how.

Selecting Their Target Accounts Using Marketing Technology

Julia explains, “We started off using a combination of different tools that allow you to come up with great lists of accounts based on different filters like company size, industry, all kinds of different data points.”

In addition to firmographic data, the Invoca team layered on other data points that matter to their business, such as:

  • How much is each account spending on paid search?
  • How much web traffic versus mobile traffic does each account get?

Tools Invoca used to identify and tier their target accounts include:

  • Datanyze – The leader in technographics, offering real-time insights based on a company’s technology choices and buying signals
  • SimilarWeb – A digital market intelligence company offering competitive intel, targeted list building, and more
  • InsideView – A market intelligence platform that helps identify target accounts and key decision-makers at those companies
  • EverString – A self-service AI platform that identifies companies based on firmographic and technographic data, keywords, lookalike data, and more
  • LinkedIn – Great for validating information from third-party providers because of the self-reported nature of LinkedIn data

Tiering Their Master List of Target Accounts

Technology was instrumental in identifying Invoca’s target accounts, but prioritizing them required some manual work.

“Given the nature of our business,” Julia shares, “we felt that a human touch was needed to really identify our top tier of accounts. Just because they have this technology profile does not necessarily mean they’re a good fit for Invoca. A really key piece for us is, do they care about phone calls? Do they have a 1-800 phone number on their website? Do they have a call center? These are all attributes which aren’t necessarily available to us through predictive tools and different data filters.”

She continues, “We had a special ops team that included leadership from marketing and sales go through and handpick our Tier 1 accounts. For the rest — our Tier 2 and Tier 3 — we relied on the automated data and bucketed them based on how many of our target attributes the account had. From there, we passed these lists on to our sales reps and had them pick ten or 20 focus accounts.”

How Invoca tiered target accounts for account-based marketing

With a master list of approximately 4,500 target accounts, Invoca
divided their accounts into three tiers based on priority

Turn Your Target Accounts into Customers

You’ve identified and tiered your target accounts. Now it’s time to engage them with target account marketing! Get resources for kicking the buying process into high gear (including more worksheets and real-world examples) in the Blueprint to Account-Based Marketing Campaigns. Download the e-book now.

Download the Blueprint to Account-Based Marketing Campaigns e-book

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