Divide & Conquer: How To Strategically Segment Your Accounts For ABM Success

In recent years, account-based marketing (ABM) has taken the world of B2B marketing by storm. And with 87% of B2B marketers agreeing it has the best ROI of any marketing initiative, it really is no surprise. So, how can you get involved with this show-stopping strategy?

The first step of any B2B ABM campaign is to define your target accounts. When doing so, you should think about your overarching business objectives along with a list of personnel required to coordinate your campaigns. When selecting your target accounts, it’s good practice to begin by asking your sales team to create a list of the prospects they believe will be of most value and then get your strategy team to review this.

If you are at a loss with where to begin when defining your target accounts, it’s best to start by devising an ideal customer profile which includes things such as:

  • Industry
  • Location
  • Budget
  • Job Titles
  • Objectives
  • Pain Points
  • Influencers

Whilst defining your target accounts is important, it’s only half the battle: the most successful ABM campaigns are those which involve strategic audience segmentation. When done effectively, strategic segmentation will allow you to optimise your ABM campaigns by delivering a unique and personalised experience for each target account.

So, time for the (potentially, multi) million-dollar question: how can you effectively segment your target accounts?

Start with sales segmentation

Whilst there are many options when it comes to segmentation, it’s generally best to follow the approach used by your sales department. This usually involves categorising accounts based on their size and purchase stage and allows both the sales and marketing teams to align their efforts and combine their different strengths and resources to create an unbeatable experience that meets all the requirements set out. 

Why size matters

With the typical B2B company involving an average of 8.2 stakeholders in the sales process, you can only imagine how many are involved with larger clients – spoiler alert: it’s a lot. And the more people that are involved, the more you need to do to impress. There’s a reason so many people are involved within the sales process: they will be spending huge amounts of money, which means they expect nothing less than perfection. 

By segmenting your accounts based on size, you will be able to determine a suitable amount of time and resources to allocate to each group. Remember: the bigger the account, the more personalised their experience should be. After all, there will be a lot of minds involved, so you can expect to come across unique problems that require tailor-made solutions. Oh, and don’t expect it to be a quick process either; you are expecting these businesses to make a big commitment, so it’s only fair you allow them enough time to research and push back if they feel uncomfortable about anything – no matter how small. 

On the other end of the spectrum are your smaller target accounts. These tend to involve fewer stakeholders and require much less attention. Due to the nature of these accounts, the sales process tends to progress rather quickly and you’ll generally be able to get away with a lot less personalisation. If you segment these accounts effectively, you can produce one set of copy, assets and CTAs and distribute them to hundreds (or even thousands) of accounts. At the end of the day, they expect to receive relevant (for example, industry-specific) but not customised content. 

In the middle of the two, you have the mid-sized accounts. These will require a blend of the above, with much of their content being personalised at scale but with a few custom solutions offered at relevant points within their sales journey. 

The significance of the sales stage

Your prospects will have different priorities and needs depending on the purchase stage they are at. In the very early stages of their journey, they will be searching for solutions. Looking for businesses who show an awareness of their problems and an understanding of how to solve them. 

ABM segmentation - importance of customer journey

In the next stage of their purchase decision process, they will be looking to rationalise their decisions; it’s here that you need to present a powerful value proposition and a clear cost-benefit analysis that works in your favour. The goal is to provide so much reassurance that they feel confident enough to forget about other options. 

And of course, the hard work should never stop: your customers require regular advice to help optimise their solution and get the most out of your partnership. You need to focus on offering a unique and memorable one-to-one experience to ensure you build strong relationships with each account to avoid losing any clients to your competitors. And it works both ways: the more your clients trust you, the more likely they are to make additional purchases recommended by you. 

Other segmentation strategies

If the size/ purchase stage model isn’t for you, here are a few other strategies to try:

  • Intent 
  • Engagement 
  • Industry 
  • Location

So there we have a brief introduction to the first step of ABM – and arguably the most important. If you are interested in learning more about account-based marketing, be sure to check out our blog post with the top three tips you need to know to make your strategy a success