If you’re developing an Account-Based Marketing (ABM) strategy in 2017, you’re in good company. Thousands of companies are focused on ABM this year. That’s because it’s an informed way of analyzing success you’ve had with existing customers and makes future marketing efforts more successful. But you might not know where to start.

Let’s break down your ABM plan into five simple steps that will get you off the ground in no time. Whiteboard Wednesday to the rescue!

Watch the Video


1. Analyze Customer Base

Who are your best customers right now? To identify best-fit candidates for your future ABM campaign, pick your favorite top-performing existing customers. Reach out to your Operations or Finance team and ask for help objectively choosing your top 20-25% of customers. Compare characteristics including retention, revenue, and profitability.

2. Identify

Now that you have a manageable number of customer accounts that you’d like to replicate, look for what separates them from everyone else. What do they have in common? It might be:

  • Revenue base: Where do your best customers earn most of their money?
  • Industry base: Are many of them in IT? Retail? Fabrication?
  • Technographic characteristics: What server-side applications do they use? How about their browsers, OS, and collaboration tools?

That last point leads to an “Aha!” for a lot of our customers. Technographic insight is important for several reasons: First, if your offering integrates easily with your client’s tech stack, it’s more valuable to them. And second, technographic information can offer a lot of insight into the values of your target companies: Do they prioritize user experience? Are they early tech adopters? Do they rely on legacy systems supported by workarounds?

Once you’ve analyzed best customer characteristics and identified commonalities, it’s time to find lookalike companies. Only now you know what to look for … and it might not be what you expected. Revenue might not be the most important data point after all; or perhaps you have an opportunity in an unexpected industry. Pinpoint 5-10 vetted characteristics, and use those to create a list of prospective companies.

Finally, you’ll need the names and contact information of appropriate people at those companies. If you’re selling to sales or marketing, find the appropriate contacts within those departments.

3. Expand Intelligence

Now you have a list—great! But if you’re like a lot of DiscoverOrg customers, your list may be long: maybe 3000 companies and 10k contacts. That’s too long for account-based marketing.

It’s time to hone your company insight with any account intelligence you have: Are any companies on your list going through a funding event, such as an acquisition or a round of funding? How about recent executive moves?

Similarly, consider your contacts with this in mind. What’s their responsibility? How are they positioned within an org chart structure?

4. Rank Accounts and Contacts

Continue narrowing your list by ranking prospects. Consider focusing on a specialty, or by likelihood of a sale. Who is most likely to buy or engage with you?

At DiscoverOrg, we like to use a 5-star rating. Within your list, rate contacts on a list of 1 – 5, and create a list of only 5-star accounts and contacts.

Our mantra is build, test, refine. This part of account-based marketing strategy can be repeated. While volume isn’t usually a problem in ABM, you can take this list back to Step 2, and your new 5-star contacts might have a fresh set of characteristics in common that could lead you to a whole new industry.

5. Engage

With a highly refined list in hand, it’s time to engage. Ad retargeting, email campaigns, direct mail, and phone call campaigns can all be part of account-based marketing strategy. Now that you know what characteristics your blockbuster prospects share, you can get personal.

The best-laid ABM plans must start by identifying, vetting, and ranking contacts based on data first. Without a highly vetted list, your account-based marketing strategy will fall short—so start with a plan!

[cta id=”12234″ color=”green” size=”full” align=”center”]


Let us know when you’re ready to start winning.



Cheer up. Check out the industry’s most reliable B2B contact data.


Katie Bullard
About the author

Katie Bullard

As Chief Growth Officer (CGO), Katie brings 15 years of marketing, product, and strategy experience in global, high-growth technology businesses to her role at DiscoverOrg. She has a bachelor’s and masters degree from the University of Virginia.