If you are working in marketing for technology companies I bet you are quite familiar with ABM and B2B abbreviations and use those concepts on a daily basis. And I also bet that if you are new to account based marketing practice you are probably interested about the TAL acronym and its meaning.
Technology businesses operating in a B2B (business-to-business) environment are successfully adopting account based marketing (ABM) methodology, as this helps them to effectively achieve their marketing goals in quite special and narrow (in terms of target audience) markets.
What is account based marketing (ABM)?
To define an ABM approach I would like to outline three essential features that make it of high value for B2B:
- Marketing efforts are focused on a set of predefined target accounts
- Personalized campaigns are tailored to each account based on thorough research
- Activities are performed jointly by sales and marketing
Account based marketing is most often the right choice for B2B technology companies as they provide niche products and services with a limited and quite precisely defined target audiences interested in, plus the decision making process usually involves far more than one person.
But what is TAL?
Targeted accounts list (TAL) is a list of accounts you identified as worth your marketing efforts within an ABM framework. This is a list of companies, having a bunch of personas (usually C-suite and stakeholders) mapped to particular company (account), who have a high chance of buying your B2B related products or services.
Why building a quality target list provides you with nearly 50% of success for your account based marketing efforts?
There are three main aspects of a successful ABM touch that fosters a fruitful relationship with the company’s representative and builds an advocacy for your brand when the buying decision is being made.
- Touch the right persona
- At the right time
- Delivering relevant message
- In the right form
So, a high-quality TAL makes it for both the right persona and the right time if properly created and based on thorough marketing research.
How to build a high-quality target accounts list (TAL)
Businesses who’ve already adopted ABM on a substantial level and scaled their demand gen and lead gen campaigns applying an appropriate mar tech solution, have an option for target list prospecting happening automatically with the help of advanced marketing software. But what if you lead an ABM pilot campaign and your goal is to test ABM approach in your niche and promote your ideas to C-suite managers? Or when your company is in the early stage of ABM adoption and you didn’t come up with an expensive mar tech software purchase but want to support the initiative of ABM in your team?
I would like to share the ways to identify companies and personas to include in a TAL I’ve tested myself when I was launching a pilot ABM campaign for a software development company. The company offered professional services related to a highly gaining container orchestration system (cloud native development tool). The platform was becoming extremely popular with a solid list of promising benefits, but was quite complicated and challenging to adopt, forming a business opportunity for consulting, support and professional services around it.
Let’s get started discovering those valuable sources of accounts for your ABM efforts.
1. Job boards
When an enterprise plans to adopt a new technology, change a vendor or roll-out a new project quite often it needs new employees with particular expertise to carry on the process. That means it’s quite fair to track job boards on vacancies requiring particular technology or product skills (technology your company helps to implement or product your competitor handles). Analyze job descriptions and employers and include companies that fit your target accounts criteria to the list for account marketing. In other words, job boards ideally help to research companies stacks.
The company I was working at offered professional services around a new progressive technology system for cloud native development, and we generated a bunch of quality leads targeting companies that were extensively hiring this particular technology system engineers and devops.
2. Identify anonymous traffic
Content marketing is one of the most effective digital marketing strategies for technology businesses. It often brings around 80% of your overall traffic, and marketers strive to get most of it in terms of brand and services promotion and conversion.
One of the greatest ways to build a high-quality target accounts list for an ABM campaign is to de-anonymize all those valuable visits / web traffic you gain as a result of your content marketing efforts. The visitors of your blog who come and read the useful content you generate are a true goldmine as your ABM targeting if properly identified (unlocked with “company and IP address” information provided by 3rd parties). You can even identify the stage of technology adoption and make some assumptions on current challenges a company faсes through segmenting unlocked visitors by posts and topics they read.
There are several web services that help to unveil your blog audience. Personally I used Albacross and it turned out to provide quite accurate results.
3. Lead magnets
Lead magnets should be an essential part of your content marketing strategy, helping you unlock prospects and convert them into leads.
The best part about lead magnets is that when you capture leads through content assets, you get fresh emails along with details on a prospect’s company and job role, and have an option to contact them directly with a personalized offer.
Filter your gated content lead personas removing students and junior members, visitors from countries you don’t target to, companies that don’t fetch your buyer persona profile, make sure you have C-level employees and management responsible for decision making included, and that’s a good draft of your account based marketing target list.
4. Events and webinars
Hosting events and webinars with a face-to-face content delivery opportunity helps to get your audience data the same way as with lead magnets, and you can use it to build a TAL too.
Remember, a person coming to your technology, tool or platform related event is an employee of company X and he’s a vivid evidence that company X is planning something about the technology, tool or platform you are talking about or already implementing. Adjust the agenda to capture the leads on a particular adoption stage.
Do not forget to make sure your content is of sufficient quality, and it’s something worth sharing identity and making time in a busy schedule.
5. Training / Courses
When a Fortune 500 company plans to implement a new complex technology, platform or approach for sure they’ll start with consulting and training for managers, teams and departments.
One of the ways to catch big fish companies is to come to the arena as a training partner, and then get an opportunity to discuss future business plans and your possible collaboration.
In some cases that’s a good option to launch an on-site training product or an online academy, that will generate you data for ABM campaign targeting and bring / nurture quality leads.
Hanging on niche technology communities helps to get valuable insights related to your business and prospects.
You’ll see from the inside part who else is working in your niche, what they are working on, what challenges they face, and come up with ideas on your business development, partnership opportunities, and accounts to focus on in your marketing strategy.
7. Existing clients
Every marketer knows that it’s easier and cheaper to sell to an existing client than to a new one.
So your existing clients should also sit in your ABM target accounts list. Sure, not all of them, but your customer base is obviously a good source to dig for prospects to touch through ABM.
You shouldn’t consider the ways I’ve described in the article as a “step-by-step guide” to build a target accounts list for an ABM campaign, it all depends a lot on niche, products and audiences, but I hope sharing my experience will help you come up with new ideas and find some useful tips on what you are planning or already doing.
Remember, when launching your pilot ABM campaign and struggling with your initial TAL, try to use a bunch of sources, so later you have an option to compare results and define your high-performing gems. There will always be those of exceptional quality and those that are not performing as expected, and also sources may decline in time, but you should never stop analysing and looking for insights, approaches and tools to improve your ABM TAL.