Account-based marketing (ABM) has transformed the way businesses target and engage with high-value accounts. Grasping the key terms in ABM is essential for executing a successful and personalized marketing strategy.

Key ABM Terms You Should Know:

  • Account-Based Marketing (ABM): A focused strategy targeting high-value accounts through personalized campaigns.
  • Account Intelligence: In-depth knowledge of a target account, incorporating Fit, Intent, Relationship, and Engagement (FIRE) data.
  • Account Lifecycle: The progression of account engagement categorized into Acquisition, Acceleration, and Expansion phases.
  • Account Tiering: Prioritizing target accounts based on potential revenue and strategic value into three tiers.
  • Average Contract Value (ACV): The mean annual revenue from customer contracts.
  • Buyer Persona: Profiles guiding teams through the customer lifecycle, highlighting buyer habits rather than personal traits.
  • F.I.R.E: A model to identify target accounts by Fit, Intent, Relationship, and Engagement.
  • Ideal Customer Profile (ICP): A detailed description of a company that’s a perfect fit for your product or service.
  • Intent Data: Insights into a company’s product or solution research activity on third-party sites.
  • Land and Expand: A strategy of growing business within an account post-initial sale.
  • Marketing Qualified Account (MQA): An account showing significant engagement indicating potential sales readiness.
  • Outbound Marketing: Proactive strategies initiating discussions with target accounts.
  • Pipeline Acceleration: Increasing the speed at which an account progresses through the sales process.
  • Target Account List (TAL): A curated list of accounts the company actively seeks to do business with, based on FIRE data.
  • Total Addressable Market (TAM): The overall market opportunity for a product or service.

25 Most Common Account-Based Marketing Terms

As account-based marketing grows in popularity, it seems the number of ABM-related terms grows along with it. If you’re relatively new to account-based marketing, you may find yourself overwhelmed by all the acronyms, terms, and phrases that are thrown around.

To get you up to speed on account-based lingo, we’ve compiled a glossary of common ABM terms you need to know before you launch your own ABM program.

1. Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

Account-based marketing is an end-to-end go-to-market strategy designed to focus a majority of marketing, sales, and success effort on the pre- and post-sales accounts with the highest likelihood of closing, through data-driven targeting and personalization programs at scale.

Put simply, it’s a much more targeted, personalized, and proactive marketing strategy that focuses on your best-fit accounts.

2. Account Intelligence

Account intelligence is the overall knowledge you have of a target account, meaning you understand who they are and what they really want and need.

It goes deeper than top-level insights and often requires the assistance of third-party data providers.

Gathering account intelligence typically involves a four-pronged approach of Fit, Intent, Relationship, and Engagement (FIRE) data, which will be outlined in more detail later on.

When marketing campaigns are built with limited intelligence about the target account, you typically fail to strike the target.

3. Account Lifecycle

The account lifecycle is the ABM version of the buyer’s journey. And while the buyer’s journey (Awareness, Consideration, Decision) is very lead-focused (with a focus on the individual), account lifecycles take into consideration the entire buying committee.

It includes three overarching phases: Acquisition, Acceleration, and Expansion. Within those phases are seven distinct stages:

  • The Acquisition Phase: efforts made to bring net-new accounts into the pipeline with the goal of driving meaningful engagement
    • Pre-Targeting
    • Account Nurture
  • The Acceleration Phase: accelerating the engaged accounts in your pipeline or re-engaging cold opportunities to bring them back to life and ultimately close deals
    • Pipeline Acceleration
    • Dead Opportunity Win-Back
  • The Expansion Phase: directing resources toward increasing customer retention rates, expanding opportunities with those customers and exploring cross-selling and upselling opportunities when it’s time for them to renew
    • Retention
    • Cross-Sell and Upsell
    • Land and Expand

4. Account Tiering

Account tiering is a common practice that refers to the process of segmenting your target account list based on priority and revenue opportunity.

Tiering your accounts involves using technology, data points, and good old-fashioned research to prioritize your dream accounts.

Typically, account-based marketers leverage a three-tier system:

  • Tier 1 accounts are perfect ICP* fits, similar to your highest value customers. Tier 1 also includes logos with strategic value or accounts that show high fit, intent, and/or engagement.
  • Tier 2 accounts are strong ICP fits but have a lower lifetime value.
  • 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 (either because they don’t match the ICP criteria or they’re not showing intent or engagement).

*We’ll be defining ICP later!

5. Average Contract Value (ACV)

This one is pretty self-explanatory – your ACV is the average annualized revenue per customer contract.

6. Buyer Persona

Buyer personas are overviews of the people you engage with directly during the sales process. They are used to guide your sales, marketing, and customer success teams throughout the buyer and customer lifecycle.

Think of a buyer persona as a “composite sketch” of your customers.

Unlike traditional lead-based advertising, in account-based marketing, you don’t need to focus as much on the minutiae of the individual person’s character traits. Instead, you need to focus more on their buying habits.

Many argue that buyer personas are rendered obsolete in ABM, but that’s not the case – while your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) is crucial, your buyer personas help to support the messaging you’re distributing to the accounts that fall into your ICP.

After all, everyone brings a different perspective to their account lifecycle, and it’s important that you’re aware of who you’re marketing to in your accounts.

Cookie-based targeting allows you to serve personalized ads to different personas (think job title or department) within a target account by serving ads based on cookie data.

Unlike retargeting ads, which require a person to visit a page on your company’s website, Terminus is able to collect cookie data on target accounts before they ever visit your site – this is what we call proactive targeting, and helps you stay one step ahead of the competition.

8. Engagement Data

Engagement is any interaction that a person – known or unknown – has with your company, online or offline. Engagement data, therefore, is a measure of this level of interaction.

However, different companies measure engagement in different ways – it can be hard to quantify quality vs. poor engagement, so we recommend defining what meaningful engagement means in your organization before you start measuring and making decisions based on account engagement.

Here’s what a simplified layered model for meaningful engagement might look:

# of total website visits from # people
# of visits to high-value webpages from #people
# of content downloads from #people
# of email opens from # people

9. Firmographic

Firmographics are the attributes account-based marketers (and B2B companies in general) use to segment their target market in order to discover their ideal consumers.

Common firmographics include:

  • Industry
  • Revenue
  • Company Size
  • Geography/Location
  • Account Lifecycle Stage

10. Fit Data

Fit data, again, is pretty self-explanatory – it’s a measure of how well a company “fits” your ICP.

Fit data relies on advanced firmographics technology used, recent founding, and conferences attended by employees.

Leveraging advanced firmographics to measure fit enables you to get way more targeted with your marketing and sales campaigns.

11. F.I.R.E

FIRE is an acronym that refers to the four-pronged model of ABM success:

  • Fit: knowing your target accounts
  • Intent: knowing which of your target accounts are actively researching or buying your product/solution so you can prioritize these accounts
  • Relationship: knowing which accounts have the deepest relationship with your company
  • Engagement: creating engagement with the right people in the right accounts

12. Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

An ideal customer profile is a description of the company — not the individual buyer or end user — that’s a perfect fit for your solution.

Your ICP should focus on relevant characteristics of your target accounts, such as:

  • Industry/vertical
  • Employee headcount — companywide and within key departments
  • Annual revenue
  • Budget
  • Geography
  • Technology they use
  • Size of their customer base
  • Level of organizational or technological maturity

13. Intent Data

Intent data shows you what companies are researching on third-party sites, not your sites.

Intent signals help your sales team determine what an account is interested in before they come to your website, giving them the visibility they need to tailor their strategies and further personalize their outreach.

Intent data relies on third-party data from platforms like Bombora or G2Crowd.

14. IP Targeting

IP targeting is based on the actual physical address of where a company is located.

An IP address (Internet Protocol address) is the unique numerical label assigned to every device that communicates on a computer network within an organization.

While cookie-based targeting helps you get more granular with your targeting, IP targeting (which Terminus offers!) can help you get in front of more people worldwide (as many countries prevent marketers from leveraging cookie data in their targeting because of GDPR regulations).

15. Land and Expand

“Land and Expand” is a sales strategy in which you close a small deal with a target account and then work to sell upsell or cross-sell within the organization to gain more traction and revenue.

16. Marketing Qualified Account

A marketing qualified account (MQA) is the ABM equivalent of a marketing qualified lead. Just as an MQL is marked as “ready to pass on to sales”, an MQA is an account that’s shown a high enough level of engagement to indicate possible sales readiness.

17. Outbound Marketing

Outbound marketing is a more proactive marketing strategy in which a company initiates (or attempts to initiate) the discussion with a target account instead of waiting for a contact in a target account to raise their hand (via traditional inbound methods, like a form fill).

18. Pipeline Acceleration

Pipeline acceleration (as a goal) is the act of increasing the speed at which an account moves through the account lifecycle. This typically involves an acceleration campaign, where marketing and sales work together to move accounts through the sales process.

19. Play

An ABM play is a defined set of steps that marketing and sales will do when an account does a specific action.

This action triggers the execution of any goal-oriented activity – for example, when an account shows an increase in engagement, a marketing team will create a one-to-one ad for that company and the sales rep will send a piece of direct mail.

20. Relationship Data

Relationship data is the means of identifying and quantifying the entire network of relationships that your employees have within an account.

Relationship data helps you gain insight into the quality of relationships and engagement within your target accounts.

21. Tactic

The formal definition of tactic is, “an action or strategy carefully planned to achieve a specific end”. Within the context of ABM, a tactic is basically a strategy you use within a marketing campaign.

Tactics help you reach and engage their target companies and expand your funnel.

An example of a tactic might be:

  • A piece of direct mail
  • A nurturing email
  • A new eBook
  • Mentioning/interacting with target accounts on social media

22. Target Account List (TAL)

Whereas your Total Addressable Market (TAM) is all the accounts you could sell to, your Target Account List (TAL) is a list of all accounts you want to sell to right now.

You can build out a list of your target accounts using the FIRE (Fit, Intent, Relationship, Engagement) data we’ve defined above.

23. T.E.A.M

TEAM is the proprietary framework Terminus uses to execute ABM programs.

It’s a comprehensive framework that drives successful, account-centric programs where marketing & sales act as a unified team.

The TEAM framework addresses the core functional areas of a modern B2B marketing organization: targeting, engagement, activation, and measurement.

Here’s how each fits into a successful ABM strategy:

  • Target: Align and operationalize marketing and sales efforts around a unified target account strategy
  • Engage: Create and orchestrate programs and campaigns with your ideal customers
  • Activate: Alert and enable sales when their accounts show intent or engagement to win more deals by using account level engagement data and AI
  • Measure: Prove the success of your ABM program, see how ABM is driving pipeline, revenue, velocity, and deal size for all of your account lists

24. Technographic

At its most basic, technographic data are insights into the technology an organization or its employees use – otherwise known as their tech stack.

25. Total Addressable Market (TAM)

Your Total Addressable Market is the total available opportunity for your product or services – essentially, it’s everyone you could sell to.
The basic calculation for your TAM:

average revenue * number of customers for the entire segment of the targeted market

Wrapping Up

Now that you’ve got a solid grasp on some of the most common ABM terms, you can start diving into more technical material and find ways to design, launch, and maintain your own ABM campaigns!