How to Choose the Right TAL for Your ABM Marketing Campaigns

Odds are if you’re reading this article, you are probably looking to start, or maybe have already started, running an ABM marketing campaign. For that, you need a target account list (TAL).

For so long, the funnel has ruled marketing strategies. Businesses took the “spray and pray” marketing approach by blasting out their message to users without much consideration of who they are or where they are in the buying journey. 

ABM takes a more focused approach. Yet ABM-ers can also fall into this trap if they don’t take time early on to identify the right accounts for their TAL. By doing so, you can better qualify your audience, personalize your content and improve your campaign’s chances of success. 

Need proof? According to one study, target account deals are 2.3X bigger than deals resulting from other channels. That’s why we’re here to help you create and maintain a strong TAL.

What Is a Target Account List?

A Target Account List as defined by DemandBase is:

The list of accounts and companies that are most likely to buy from you. This is who sales and marketing will focus their outbound efforts on, in order to bring as many of them into the funnel as possible. This list allows you to focus efforts where they will do the most good.

The importance of a well-crafted TAL lies in that last sentence. By picking the right list of accounts for your ABM campaigns, you are ensuring that no efforts are wasted on marketing to prospects who aren’t ready to receive your message. Plus, you’ll have all the details you need to put your audience first and create relevant content. 

Putting your audience first is essential to any marketing program, but especially to an ABM marketing campaign. Read more in our complimentary ebook, Audience Fir$t: The Proper Way to Execute ABM Campaigns That Pull Buyers Through Your Funnel.

How to Choose Your Target Accounts

As a B2B marketer, you may be used to proving value based on MQLs or form fills, handing them off to sales, and going back to generating inbound leads without ever following up on what those leads did for business.

When it comes to ABM, it’s time to close the loop. The siloed approach that has kept sales and marketing separated can no longer exist with ABM. In fact, you may have already found that collaboration is essential for kicking off your ABM program.

So many marketers’ first instinct when strategizing for ABM is to ask sales for their current target account list. While this cross-team communication is essential and can definitely be helpful in the beginning stages of an ABM campaign, it’s important to do your own research and data analysis to qualify the sales team’s list. There is a big difference between who you think you should market to and who is actually qualified and ready to be marketed to.

To do this, explore your CRM history. See what kinds of companies in the last 12 months have closed business. Review firmographic and demographic information of recent customers, ensuring they align at an ICP (ideal customer profile) level and TAL level. If the current sales opportunities and TAL match what you find, good. If not, explore ABM technologies that can assist in TAL creation.

ABM software like DemandBase and 6sense can also give you insight into what accounts are engaging with your web content, researching relevant keywords across the web and interacting with your evergreen, non-ABM marketing campaigns.

So How Big Should My TAL Be?

When you start to investigate possible accounts to go after, whether based on your CRM data or ABM software, it can be overwhelming. There is an endless number of businesses you could market to, but with an ABM campaign there are likely only a few dozen to a few hundred businesses you should be reaching.

Every company will have a different ideal TAL size, depending on how many sales reps or BDRs you have on staff. Do you have a regional focus? What about a tiered approach based on vertical or ICP? Is your marketing technology equipped to monitor and automate communication with these prospective clients? These are questions to consider when building out your TAL.

Ideally, you should start smaller and scale once you’ve mastered the art of ABM and seen success. Reverse the “spray and pray” approach by personalizing your ABM marketing campaigns to ensure higher account engagement and build long-lasting relationships.

Keep Your TAL Fresh to Stay On Top

As with any element of an ABM marketing campaign, iteration is essential. Analyzing your TAL’s performance and optimizing it to maintain success must be as much a part of your campaign as managing PPC or testing email subject lines.

If your sales team is finding some accounts stale or out of date, stop marketing to them. This is where the sales/marketing collaboration continues to be important. 

Similarly, if you know that an account has moved successfully down the sales funnel, move them to a new list that offers content related to their stage. It doesn’t do any good to continue to serve top-of-funnel content to a prospect in conversations with your sales team. Free up space on your TAL to go after new, fresh accounts while still monitoring the success of accounts gained from your marketing efforts. 

With all these things in mind, it's time to start building your target account list.