Ask ten different account-based marketers their preferred method for finding accounts and you’ll likely get ten different answers. There’s no standard approach to this stage of the ABM process. But it’s easily one of the most vital. And if you can access leads and accounts unavailable to your competitors you’ll give yourself a big advantage.
Successful account identification is based on a clear understanding of your ideal account. This is usually in the form of an ideal customer profile (ICP) based on detailed firmographic data. Compiling an ICP is the first step of any ABM campaign. But once you have a complete picture of your ideal account, what’s the next step?
In this article we’re going to look at eleven different ways you can put together a raw list of target accounts. You’ll probably find that only a handful work for you. The key is to find those methods that deliver results and go as deeply as possible. At Albacross we only have a handful of account identification strategies, but we leverage them as much as we possibly can.
1. Leverage existing accounts
Your existing accounts are potentially the strongest source of leads available to you. You already know that the companies with whom you have accounts are both willing and able to pay for the services you offer. You also have a detailed understanding of their unique needs, how the company is structured and an entry-point to key decision makers in the form of your current clients.
This is particularly true if you hold accounts with large companies with multiple departments that don’t necessarily share standardized operating processes. It’s important to remember, however, that even requirements within a company can vary. You should always supplement your current picture with additional research.
2. Realise the power of identification tools
There are a host of predictive tools that can use the firmographic data outlined in your ICP to identify companies that are a match for what you offer. These tools represent one of the best ways to pinpoint companies that would likely show a strong interest in your products and services or are actively searching for a solution.
Data companies like Bombora or Discover.org, for example, provide search tools based on the accumulated data of thousands of B2B companies. If you’re new to this method of prospecting then it’s worth checking out some of the different data companies to see if they’re a fit for your particular industry and client type. Data can vary somewhat so finding a good provider early on can prevent future issues from arising later down the line.
3. Mine the competition
There are two dimensions to competitor research. On the one hand you can look directly at your competition’s customers and target them with a more desirable offer. On the other, you can also identify your customers’ competitors and target them. Both strategies are effective at shedding light on potentially valuable accounts. One of the great things about this approach is that it relies on information you already have, which acts as a springboard into more detailed research. You already have a deep understanding of your existing accounts and should also be aware of your competition.
But how do you identify your customers’ competitors and competitors’ customers? Online tech and big data comes to the rescue again. Tools like SimilarWeb and Social Mention essentially allow you to spy on your competitors and use your own customer data to find similar companies.
4. Identify accounts visiting your site
It sounds obvious to say that visitors to your site make up a pool of potential targets. What a lot of marketers assume, however, is that these visitors need to convert to leads before they can be considered. If an individual doesn’t hand over their personal details then there’s no way of reaching them, or so the reasoning goes.
Albacross’ Website Tracking tool is one example of software that overcomes this problem. Our app allows you to identify which companies are visiting your site irrespective of whether or not they hand over any information. You can then filter results based on your ICP, find their contact details and pitch them.
5. Don’t get rid of those old email addresses
You may have an existing set of target accounts that you intend to discard based on outdated contact information or firmographic data. It may simply be a matter of resource-allocation, where the investment required to correct this data is too costly, or it may be that the appropriate data isn’t available.
“Data cleansing” is a process by which corrupted or inaccurate data is corrected. Third-party companies that provide this service are able to take a database, pinpoint incorrect data and replace it based on their own extensive datasets. For example, they might analyze existing contact information, replace any missing email addresses and maintain the health of that database going forward.
6. Stay up-to-date with new companies
Startups can often be a source of viable target accounts for ABMers. If your industry is characterised by lots of new and emerging companies then it may be worthwhile to allocate resources to keep up-to-date with new players on the scene. This is particularly the case if you are operating in a market that deals with technology or is experiencing fast growth.
Another point worth mentioning is that startups usually have an acute desire to build a powerful tech stack. It’s also invariably easier to pitch them because, as emerging players, they understand the need to develop competitive advantages. Your job is to simple: offer one to them.
7. Follow industry influencers
Industry influencers often have large, accessible followings that can be mined for leads. We’re not talking about big companies here, but rather thought-leaders and media publications. They are the places that your potential customers go to learn about and stay up-to-date with what’s going on in the industry.
You might be surprised at just how accessible this data is. There are a host of apps, like BuzzSumo, that provide you with information about followers of well-known brands and individuals on social media. Facebook Audience Insights is another example of a source of data that is open, accessible and also completely free.
8. Trust your reps and salespeople
Despite the powerful tech and huge quantities of data available to account-based marketers, sometimes there’s just no alternative for old-fashioned insider knowledge. Of all the strategies on this list, we think that this is the one non-negotiable. It’s crucial that you extract all the insights you can from your sales and marketing teams.
At Albacross we’re big believers in the power of new tech as a key driver of results for account-based marketers. But we also understand the value of well-informed employees with their fingers on the pulse of the industry. That intuitive sense of the market can’t be replaced by any technology, no matter how good it is. When designing your marketing plan, make sure that you ingrain processes that monopolize on the expertise of your team.
9. Consider offline methods
Account-based marketing is very much in the spotlight at the moment. The technology needed to make it a viable marketing avenue simply wasn’t available several years ago. Processes involving data research, predictive analytics, automation and scalable outreach (to name a few examples) are all prerequisites of successful account-based marketing.
It’s important to remember, however, that significant numbers of companies simply aren’t part of the online ecosystem. This is particularly the case if you are responsible for running a local business. Sometimes the best method is simply to get out the local industry directory and tick off the entries. It’s easy to get lost in the maze of online tools and tech, but don’t forget that offline methods can still be a tremendously rich source of leads.
Which leads nicely onto the next point…
10. Understand the growing power of online tech
The growing popularity of account-based marketing is due to the availability of online tools that make running campaigns easier and more viable than ever. Prior to this, the means to effectively launch and scale an ABM strategy simply didn’t exist, meaning that companies by and large focused on other methods.
Nearly all of the suggestions on this list involve new tech. If you can structure your ABM processes such that your tech stack is constantly re-evaluated and updated based on current technologies then you’ll be ensuring that you stay ahead of the curve. If you’re open to new tools and ideas then you’ll naturally come across alternative methods to acquire high-quality leads.
11. Offer referral incentives
Do you have a referral programme in place?
If the answer is no, then you could be leaving a valuable leads on the table.
Many of your current clients are likely well-connected, vocal on social media and not averse to the odd reward here and there. They represent a gateway to a large group of people, in the same or similar industries, who share many of the same problems.
Leads will still need to be evaluated in light of your ICP but the level of investment required to generate referrals is minimal. One or two accounts will probably justify any extra spend.
Finding your lead-gen mix
Everybody’s lead-generation mix is different. If you’re just getting started with ABM then you now have all the information you need to start piecing together a viable account identification strategy. Once you find a set of techniques that work for you, it’s simply a case of refining and scaling them as much as possible.
If you’re already running campaigns then we hope you have some new ideas to test. Many of these tactics work alongside existing methods and can be used to improve and streamline your current approach. A referral programme slots nicely into most marketing systems, for example.
In either case, we hope identifying target accounts won’t be an issue for you in the future. Now, time to find some accounts.