B2B Marketing

The ABCs of ABM (Account-Based Marketing): Building an Account List

June 8, 2020  |   Rene Asis

Unlike digital marketing for B2C audiences, B2B requires data on an account level. B2B marketers looking to activate account-based marketing campaigns, or ABM, need a deeper understanding of the sales pipeline, account attributes, and engagements as prospects move through the marketing funnel and into the sales cycle.  

What Exactly Is ABM (Account-Based Marketing)? 

ABM is a strategy leveraged by B2B marketers that focuses campaign efforts on reaching one or many key accounts or companies. Although ABM has been around for decades, it has dramatically evolved from its initial roots of cold calls and snail mailing target companies.

Most B2B advertisers run their digital campaigns directly on marketing platforms. However, ABM requires the ability to target and measure by accounts and the majority of these platforms cannot natively recognize engagement at a company level.

ABM requires coordination across company departments, especially alignment between marketing and sales, as well as with the teams that manage the data and technology. In this first of a series of posts on the fundamentals of ABM, we’ll focus on getting started with account lists. 

How Do You Get An ABM Account List?

Account lists are the foundational first step to any ABM campaigns. Generally, there are three paths to acquiring or developing your account list: via your CRM, from your central analytics team, or from B2B data partners and platforms. 

Path One: Account List from Your CRM


Depending on your role or the types of campaigns you’re responsible for, the best route to getting an account list is from your customer relationship management system, or CRM. Typically, these account lists will include all the information entered about a prospect, including product/service interests, the opportunity stage, and more. Be prepared, it could take weeks, if not months, to properly calibrate the list of accounts within your CRM. Given the various team stakeholders, it’s important the lists are reviewed to ensure the most accurate and updated information. 

Path Two: Curated List from Sales and Marketing Operations

While this route of obtaining account lists is the most common for advertisers today, it also requires coordination amongst sales, marketing, and media teams for any campaign activations. The team analyzes where accounts are in the path to purchase, based on respective interactions, to see how interested prospects may be in your products. This can become a sophisticated and detailed process, with insights derived from a multitude of sources like CRM, web, and email.

In combining account lists obtained from CRMs with those created by marketing analytics and sales, it’s important that the combined account list contains: 

  • Basic required data: account and company name, company domain, and the CRM ID
  • Enhanced data: Account ID or DunsID, the role of the audience under the account, product interest, and account group or segment

Path Three: Creating a List Based on Intent Signals

The easiest way to create an account list that can be used almost immediately is by obtaining it from a company that provides intent signals. Companies like Bombora and Dun & Bradstreet today can create an account list based on a set of key phrases or topics of interest, pinpointing accounts with an intent to purchase.

Other Considerations in Creating an Account List

Once you’ve obtained the list of accounts, make sure you evaluate the list to ensure those you’re targeting for your ABM campaigns are still relevant. Some areas to consider:

  • Is the account still in the market for your products or services? Data points and insights on interest level are part of a research phase of your account curation, and can either be purchased or researched with your sales team to sync on the latest conversations.
  • Which stage or opportunity phase is the account in? Knowing which stage of the buyer’s journey an account is in allows you to calibrate the type of marketing outreach and messaging you provide to the account.
  • Which type of accounts are you using? Different tactics and channels are appropriate depending on the account group or segment. Different data is available for almost any situation. 
  • Which channels will you activate these accounts in? Not all platforms accept account names directly or can build a relevant audience.
  • What are the naming conventions? Ensure your account lists use accurate naming conventions. One typo could change your overall reach when pushing your audiences into activation.

Ensure the account lists you obtain are kept up-to-date with where accounts are in the marketing funnel or sales cycle. Consider how to automate your lists and the audiences created, making updates easier and faster. 

When building your ABM program, ensure you have the basics of your account list solidified. Whether your campaign is enterprise or SMB-focused, LiveRamp’s Data Marketplace has privacy-first data partners to meet your ABM campaign needs. Our Audience Solutions team can also help you tailor your audience segments by building custom audiences for ABM. Reach out to info@liveramp.com to learn more.