How Marketers can Leverage Marketing Automation for Account-Based Marketing

» 9 min read

Tara Petre new perspective image

By Tara Petre

Vice President, Sales and Marketing Automation

If you’re a B2B marketer, chances are you’ve already been engaging in discussions about Account-Based Marketing (ABM) within your organization. According to HubSpot, 67% of brands are already leveraging some form of ABM today. Other marketers argue that while ABM has certainly been trending in recent years, it’s really just about getting back to the core concepts of focused and personalized marketing.

Whether you think it’s buzzworthy or a nice rebrand for a tried-and-true approach, we’ve got some tips for you and how you can use your core Marketing Automation functionality to support your ABM efforts.

First things first…

Before we talk tech, it’s important to note that the number one prerequisite to deploying an ABM strategy is organizational alignment. A successful ABM strategy may require buy-in from your Marketing teams, Sales teams, Product teams, and even your Finance team. You should work with department leadership to identify your stakeholders and influencers across these departments and consider a collaborative workshop series to align on goals, pain points, timelines, and priorities.

Define your ICP and reinforce it throughout your global processes

Your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) may be something best identified between your Marketing Automation and CRM system, especially in the case where a major strategic shift isn’t taking place. Searching for more prospects that look like your best customers? Luckily for marketers, most marketing automation & CRM systems have the ability to identify commonalities in top customer accounts.

Once you’ve identified your ICP, you can begin structuring your accounts into tiers. Although it may be tempting to pursue thousands of accounts that meet most of your ICP criteria, the more target accounts you have, the fewer resources you’ll be able to dedicate to each account. With that in mind, consider how you’ll categorize your tiers. Some businesses have a simple tier 1-3, others create sub-segments by vertical or to distinguish up-sell/cross-sell vs net new accounts. Each approach has its benefits, but if you’re new to ABM, consider keeping it simple until you’ve proven the value of your ABM approach.

According to Terminus, a simple 3-tiered approach is suitable for most B2B companies. In this system:

  • Tier 1 accounts are perfect ICP fits, similar to your highest value customers and includes logos with strategic value.
  • Tier 2 accounts are strong ICP fits but have a lower lifetime value than tier 1.
  • Tier 3 accounts fit most, but not all ICP criteria. They’re worth pursuing but typically not worth investing significant resources to win their business, as you may invest in a tier 1 or tier 2 account.
3-tiered approach

Calibrate your marketing and sales process to targeted accounts

Once you’ve defined your ICP and account tiers, consider revisiting your global processes to ensure they support and align with your new vision for targeted accounts. Examples of processes you’ll want to revisit include:

  • Demographic Scoring & Lifecycle – Consider fast-tracking members of your targeted accounts or increasing demographic scores to allow them to naturally progress at a higher velocity.
  • Lead Assignment – Many sales teams first route leads to an inside sales representative to validate a prospect’s budget, authority, need, and timing before passing to a member of your outside sales team. This process often referred to as establishing BANT, may need to allow for exceptions in the case of targeted accounts.
  • Global lists – Now that you’re increasing focus on targeted accounts with more highly personalized content, you will want to revisit any global or templated audience lists that would overwhelm your top prospects with content directed toward your more general audience. Without revisiting your lists and marketing calendar, you’ll unintentionally inundate your target accounts.

Activate your personalization strategy within your platform

Now that you’re using your marketing automation platform to determine who to target and you’ve primed your instance for your new account-based marketing strategy, you’re ready to start thinking about creating a channel and personalization mix around each tier of accounts.

At this phase, you’ll start to use your marketing automation and analytics platforms to evaluate channel performance and attribution to understand how to successfully engage your targets based on what’s worked in acquiring your best customers. To determine the channels best suited for your new target account tiers, consider mixing in some new approaches with your tried and true channel mix. These new channels may be more difficult to scale and have a higher cost per lead but may be perfectly suited for your top-tier accounts. High-touch direct mail and interactive virtual or in-person events both are great examples of strategies that will help you stand out with target accounts.

Create reports, dashboards, and subscriptions

Using your Marketing Automation platform, you may have capabilities that allow you to build powerful analytics that give insight into target account activity, penetration, and propensity to buy. Use this information to understand how target accounts may interact differently regarding your content, outbound sales tactics, and lifecycle process. Target account trends you may notice include:

  • Longer sales cycle
  • More influencers and buyers involved in the sales cycle
  • Less likely to interact with mass marketing tactics

As you learn more about your target accounts, it’s time to prove the value of your ABM program. Consider using these reports to tell that story:

  • Engaged target accounts
  • Target accounts with opportunities
  • Pipeline and revenue attribution by target account
  • Lifecycle conversions by target account
  • Web traffic by target account
  • Goal & form completions by target account
  • Account penetration by target account

Wrapping up

Now you know how to use your marketing automation platform to identify and tier accounts, customize your sales process, activate your personalization strategy, and report on the results. Interested in learning where you stand when it comes to marketing technology maturity? Take our assessment to get your free maturity evaluation!

About TA Digital

TA Digital is the only global boutique agency that delivers the “best of both worlds” to clients seeking to achieve organizational success through digital transformation. Unlike smaller, regional agencies that lack the ability to scale or large organizations that succumb to a quantity-over-quality approach, we offer resource diversity while also providing meticulous attention to the details that enable strategic success.

Over the past 20 years, TA Digital has positioned clients to achieve digital maturity by focusing on data, customer-centricity, and exponential return on investment; by melding exceptional user experience and data-driven methodologies with artificial intelligence and machine learning, we enable digital transformations that intelligently build upon the strategies we set into motion. We are known as a global leader that assists marketing and technology executives in understanding the digital ecosystem while identifying cultural and operational gaps within their business – ultimately ushering organizations toward a more mature model and profitable digital landscape.

Recognized in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2019, 2020 and 2021 Inc. 5000 list as one of the fastest growing companies in the United States, TA Digital is pleased also to share high-level strategic partnerships with world class digital experience platform companies like Adobe, SAP, AcquiacommercetoolsSitecore, and Elastic Path.

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