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Account-Based Marketing Updated on: May 17, 2023

ABM basics: Building effective ABM lists

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Account Based Marketing is a B2B marketing strategy that aims to deliver a personalized experience to a list of specific target accounts. ABM is an acknowledgment that you have a finite amount of marketing resources and you want to invest these resources in the right accounts for the highest chance of success. Therefore, the foundational component of your ABM strategy is to create the right list of target accounts with the right data indicators to run your programmatic, lite, and strategic ABM programs.

Where do I start? 

Your first step in the creation of your ABM list of target accounts consists of defining your ICP which we have examined in depth in this blog post. In short, here are the five core components that will make up your ICP:

1. Firmographics

Firmographics are characteristics of the companies where your customer personas work. 

2. Technographics

The technologies your ideal customers use to run their organizations.

3. Geographics

The location(s) of your ideal customers. 

4. Demographics

These are the characteristics of the specific people that interact with your team. 

5. Job-to-be-done

What your ideal customer wants to achieve and how you can fit their needs. 

This step is crucial for a successful ABM strategy as you need to know who you are going after clearly. Particularly when it comes to ABM, keep in mind that the more quantitative and specific the filters you select here are (eg. company headcount, job titles, location, etc.) the easier and faster it will be for you and your team to quickly and easily segment potential prospects. For more on this and other tips about what people get right and wrong when creating their ICP, see our blog on nailing your B2B SaaS ICP.

Once you are done defining your ICP, it should give you a clear picture of who you need to target and help you on the next big step in your campaign planning: list building.

How to build your ABM lists

Once you have defined your ideal customer profile and derived from it your buyer personas, you can proceed to build a list. There are two methods you can use to get a list of prospects: you can buy it or scrape it by your own means.

Let’s dive into the logistics of list building; every list building has a cost associated with it, be it by paying personnel to create it, a third-party extraction service, or buying it from a provider. The first two methods might take some time as building lists can become a bit complex and time-consuming, and the cost can be a bit unpredictable as you’d usually have to invest in scraping tools; the latter might be a bit more predictable as you typically have to pay a flat fee for the list, but there is no real way to know if it’s a good deal compared to doing it yourself.

Buy a list or DIY?

If you resolve to buy, be it because you don’t want to wait or are unable to get someone to do it, it’s imperative to ask your provider about the data source, when was the list updated, and how reliable are their sources, you’d also want to request the biggest list — within your ICP and personas — they can provide you with, as this will help you do filtering down the line and it’s always better to have more data to work with than to miss data.

On the other hand, if you decide to get a list by your own means, the first thing you want to get is a list of target accounts — accounts that fit your ICP — and then you’ll be using that list to build your list of prospects — prospects that match your personas — with the number of data points you consider convenient, the ones that are usually enough for an email campaign are:

  • Full Name
  • Email
  • Title
  • Company
  • Persona

You can choose to expand your data points depending on the campaigns you plan to run, as different campaigns will require different information; if you are running a campaign with multiple channels, you’ll have to adapt your list to what you’ll need by adding phone numbers, Linkedin URLs, physical locations, etc.

Finally, you want to make sure to extract valid email addresses. There are several tools that can extract them for you already verified, or you can use email verification services to have an idea of which emails are worth using. Sending emails without verifying them first is a sure way of getting your domain blacklisted and just wasting time and resources.

ABM list maintenance

Even after you've gone through the often lengthy and tedious process of creating your lists, keep in mind that they will need to be periodically updated, usually within a couple of months, as people regularly change positions and companies, especially within the B2B SaaS sector. This also means that from the time you extract a list of leads, to the time you contact them, they might not be there anymore; this is not an infrequent issue so be prepared for a small number of these incidents.

Now that you have your segmentation, and your lists ready, it's time to put your targeted messaging guide (you can use our messaging framework template to create your own if you don't have one yet) to use to create some audience-focused ABM messaging.

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