Target Account Lists for Audience Targeting

There is a famous quote in the marketing industry “I know half of my marketing is working, I just don’t know which half”. This speaks to a pre-digital, Mad Men-esque era when advertising budgets were spent largely on campaigns with an understanding that there would be no reliable way to prove return on investment. 

Fast forward fifty years and that statement couldn’t be further from the truth. Whilst each company has its own challenges understanding the complexities of marketing attribution (so which campaign exactly did that opportunity originate from?), there is a lot more confidence in the digital world that marketing spend is reaching the right people and producing results. A big part of that is down to targeting.

Since the early days of the Internet the architects of the online world have recognised the opportunity that digital technology presents as far as identification and tracking are concerned. Putting the privacy debate to one side for a moment, there is no doubt that a company looking to promote itself today stands a far better chance of reaching its target prospects with its marketing messages, and can do so in way that significantly reduces the budget needed. Not only that, but with the right measures in place there is a very high chance that every pound of marketing spend can be tied back to results and used to calculate a return on investment.

Probably the most potent example of the Internet’s ability to identify users is with B2B advertising. Certain advertising platforms will allow advertisers to upload a list of the exact companies they want to target and run campaigns to those companies and only those companies. Layer other criteria such as job function or seniority on top of the company list and before you know it you are running ad campaigns to an extremely tight list of individuals who you yourself have more or less hand picked. This approach can be highly effective in creating brand awareness amongst your target audience and generating highly qualified leads at an acceptable cost.

In a separate blog post we talk about the importance of having an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP). The ability to run highly targeted campaigns as described above is dependent on the step in the process that follows the definition of an ICP: Creating a target account list. If creating an Ideal Customer Profile is about identifying the types of company that will provide long term value to your business, creating a target account list is about naming the exact companies that will become the focus of future sales and marketing activity. Once you know exactly who your sales team will be focussing their efforts on you can align marketing spend and messaging accordingly and produce highly impactful campaigns.

The modern world is a double sided coin. On one side there is noise as the internet has opened up new possibilities for companies of all sizes to promote themselves and everyone has jumped on board and created the attention economy. The other side is opportunity – the opportunity to reach very specific groups of individuals at a relatively low cost and expose them to your brand and messaging. This opportunity did not exist fifty years ago, but with the right processes in place it’s there for the taking for anyone who wants to seek it out.

Simon Plews

Simon is an experienced marketer who spent 15 years working client-side for some of the world’s leading tech brands including Adobe, Oracle and McAfee. He now provides marketing consulting and campaign management services for fast growing B2B tech companies and ambitious start-ups.