Account mapping is a critical first step in defining your Account Based Marketing strategy. A misstep during this crucial stage may doom your campaign from day one. And the really terrible thing is, you may not even know until it is too late.
At PFL, we’ve been running ABM campaigns for years and we’ve made a lot of mistakes — and successes! — along the way. Here’s what we’ve learned about how to get map an account properly.
Good Data = Great Account Mapping
The quality and quantity of data you have at hand will have a dramatic effect on how easily and accurately you can map an account for an ABM campaign. Bad data can cost you – and it costs a lot!
Data goes bad because it ages out. Contacts within an account move on, get promoted, or their teams are quietly shut down. Organizations can move too. Changing physical addresses really throws a wrench into our tactile marketing approach. Account mapping with bad data will set your campaign up for failure.
The best way to avoid bad data is to know your ideal customer. Once you have a handle on the customers you want to target, you’ll be able to target them with laser-tight focus.
Here are some tips to keep your data well-maintained:
- Keep a regular schedule to check up on your contact data. Data has a short lifespan.
- Automate, automate, automate. Dig into your marketing automation platform, your CRM and anything else you can get your hands on, so you can automate as much of this process as you can.
- Roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty. You can’t automate away every problem, so be sure to build in time and resources to do some manual data-cleaning.
- Define user roles within your organization – don’t give everyone admin access to your data. That’s a catastrophe waiting to happen.
Map Formal Structures within the Account
There are two structures within your account: formal and informal. Both let you understand how decisions are made within your target account.
By understanding how teams are formally organized in your account, you can understand how they buy, how long their buying cycle takes and who makes the ultimate decision to purchase. You build the baseline for how you’ll target contacts within the account.
Get a List of Contacts
Get a list of all of the contacts within your account that matter. For instance, if you’re targeting an enterprise like Dell, the full account has thousands of contacts – most of them don’t matter and only make account mapping more difficult. Learn which titles and departments influence the buying decisions that affect you. Acquiring contacts costs money (or takes time), so the more fine-tuned you can be up front, the better.
We start by buying lists from ZoomInfo.com. We’ve found ZoomInfo to be a great starting point, but they aren’t cheap. Contact info sourced by a third party like ZoomInfo is always going to be subject to bad data, but we’ve found a solution for that: LinkedIn Sales Navigator.
People maintain their own LinkedIn profiles – if they leave a company, get promoted or change status in any way they’re likely to update that info very quickly. Right now, there are few sources that have a more accurate view into contact level data than LinkedIn, so we use Navigator to cross-check our ZoomInfo leads.
Understand the Decision Flow in Your Account
Figure out who’s in charge by mapping out a reporting hierarchy. This will let you break an account into the two big groups you need to target: decision makers and influencers.
Start with job titles, but start to build a web that spans across teams and projects. DiscoverOrg is a great solution for helping map these connections. It is important you know how a decision gets made – at least on paper. In the next section we’ll show you how to prepare for how decisions get made in the real world.
Map the Informal Structure within the Account
This is a more subtle way to approach account mapping, but it’s even more important. The informal structure of your account will show you how people influence each other. Understanding this web of influence is critical to driving your message home with different ABM plays. Sometimes the informal structure isn’t the same as the formal structure.
Getting this structure mapped is not going to be simple, and it will require a lot of manual effort. Before you dig into this tactic, make sure the account is worth the effort. Are they a strong fit for your ICP? What’s the cost of not landing this account? Get serious before you get informal and when you’re ready, ask yourself the following questions to develop your informal account map.
- Are there contacts that could be powerful influencers but are remote employees? Check their address. If they’re a remote employee, they may not have the same traction on a daily basis as other influencers, even if your formal structure says otherwise.
- How long has an employee been with an account? Newer contacts may not have much influence within their teams, even if their titles suggests otherwise. Some accounts; however, may give new employees a lot of leverage. Don’t forget how tenure works with a boss as well. If your target influencer just got a new manager, they’ll likely need a lot of help convincing their boss you’re necessary.
- How are different divisions in an account working together? Are they competing for resources? Are they sharing resources? Get the pulse of cross-functionality within the account.
Decision aren’t made in a linear way in most accounts, so you need to understand both the formal and informal structures that you’ll face. The bad news? Account mapping is time consuming, expensive and frustrating. We’ve linked to some good tools that can help, but there’s no simple answer out there, at least not yet. The good news? You’re dealing with humans. The informal structures that are so hard to map out mean you can make an impact with a great campaign.
For us, leveraging that informal structure with the human touch of tactile marketing has worked the best. That’s the service we offer to our clients and they’ve seen great success as well. If you want to see more ABM tactics, check out our Account Based Mail book.