9 ABM terms you must know to try ABM today

9 ABM Terms Blog Header

What’s the difference between a true and a total match rate?

What’s a demand unit—and how do you close more deals with them?

What’s better, cookie-based or IP-based targeting?

With resources spread far across the internet, it can be hard to thoroughly understand the nuances of account-based marketing. So in our latest guide, The Pocket Guide of ABM Terms and Strategies, we’ve compiled 23 short, easy-to-understand explainers of the most important ABM terms and strategies.


Here are 9 terms to give you a quick preview of what you can expect to find in the Pocket Guide:



While you should be running ABM for all target customers, you shouldn’t necessarily be using the same account-based plays/tactics for each. It’s important to tier your target account list. This will help ensure you spend the appropriate amount of marketing effort based on the returns you expect from each prospect.

Tier 1 targets are typically referred to as your “whale accounts.” These are usually enterprise or high-spending customer opportunities who can make a huge impact on your revenue. These customers can take 6, 12, or even 24 months to close.

Tier 2 targets are medium-to-large customers who contribute a sizeable amount to your revenue. These accounts are the sweet spot to start with for your first ABM efforts.

Tier 3 accounts are companies that contribute a smaller amount of revenue to your bottom line. They are still worth going after, but they usually don’t bring in enough revenue to merit a full ABM campaign. However, they may still warrant an automated ABM approach.


Tier 2 is a great place to start with your first ABM campaigns for two reasons. First, ABM campaigns take more resources to execute, so starting with Tier 3 probably won’t bring in enough revenue to justify a large spend. Second, Tier 2 accounts won’t take as long to close as your Tier 1 accounts, giving you the opportunity to get insights and learn more quickly.


Total addressable market (TAM)

Your total addressable market is the complete universe of companies that could benefit from your product or service. A common mistake that marketers make is taking an account-based approach to their entire TAM.

Because ABM takes more time and effort than traditional demand-gen marketing, it’s important to be selective with which accounts or types of accounts you choose from your TAM to be in your ABM program.


Owned accounts

An owned account is any account that has been assigned to your sales team to work. Since all accounts in an ABM program should be owned accounts, most marketers refer to them simply as accounts.


Named accounts

This is one of the most commonly misunderstood ABM terms. In simplest terms, a named account is an owned account that has been specifically hand selected. These hand-selected named accounts are companies that you already know you want to secure and can be thought of like guests on a VIP invite list to a party. For example, if someone fills out a lead-gen form and is routed to your sales team, they become an owned account, but they aren’t a named account because they came to you; you didn’t go to them. The terms “named accounts” and “target accounts” are often used interchangeably.


Buyer persona

Nearly all B2B deals involve multiple stakeholders to make a purchase. These stakeholders can usually be split into decision makers and influencers. Most B2B sales reps spend the majority of their time targeting the decision maker, but what they don’t realize is that there’s an entire team around the decision maker that is influencing the purchasing decision.

One of the biggest strengths of ABM is that you can target both the decision maker and the influencers in order to win over the full team and accelerate the time to close.  Using account and contact-level targeting and account based marketing software, you can deliver different marketing messages to each persona that appeal to their individual needs.  To learn more about Persona-marketing you can view our webinar: Advanced Persona-based Marketing


Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

An ideal customer profile is sometimes confused with a persona. An ICP in a B2B context should refer to the type of company that’s the best fit for your product of service. Personas, on the other hand, should refer to the people on the buying committee of that company.


Demand unit

A Demand Unit is a term popularized by SiriusDecisions that simply refers to the buying committee within an account. SiriusDecisions defines a Demand Unit as “a buying group that has been organized to address a need the organization is challenged with.” There can be multiple Demand Units (buying committees) within a single account. For example, if you sell productivity software, your product is suitable for the IT department, the marketing department, and the sales department within a company, so you might need to sell to multiple Demand Units within that one company.


Total match rate

Definition: The total number of cookies found for the email addresses uploaded into your ABM platform.

If there is one ABM term that is most crucial (and most misused) it would be “Match Rate.” Your Total Match Rate can best be thought of as your total reach. Once you’ve uploaded your list of emails (i.e., contacts) into your ABM platform, the platform will tell you the total number of devices (i.e., cookies) it has found in its data set that correspond to those emails.

This metric is useful to get a general idea of how many devices you’ll be reaching, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

For example, if you input 10 emails and the ABM platform says it has found 15 cookies, what does that mean?

Intuition would tell you that you’ve found matches for all 10 emails, right?


As is often the case, people nowadays have multiple devices that they log in to with the same email. So, for the example above, the ABM platform might tell you that it’s found 15 cookies (i.e., devices) for the 10 emails, but that could correspond to three people who have five devices each. Meaning seven of those emails didn’t match any cookies at all.

Note: Cookies also apply to browsers. So if someone uses both Chrome and Firefox, they’ll have two separate cookies associated with their email, even though they’re just one person using the same computer.


True Match Rate

Definition: The number of contacts that were matched to at least one cookie

True Match Rate is a much more accurate representation of how strong an ABM vendor’s data set is. True Match Rate will tell you the total number of people you can target based on the emails you’ve entered.

True Match Rate doesn’t count if someone has 2 or 3 devices, it only counts people.

For example, if this were a game and we gave a point for each time you found a person, it wouldn’t matter if you found a person with 1 device or a person with 5 devices. Both matches would only earn you one point.

This is a very useful metric because at the end of the day you want to know how many people you’ll be reaching with your B2B ads.

Combining Total Match Rate and True Match Rate is a great way to understand how strong an ABM vendor is in terms of raw data. If they score high on both, it means they can match your contacts to both a lot of people and a lot of devices.


Discover 23 ABM Terms and 3 ABM Strategies

If you’d like to brush up on all the most important ABM terms and strategies, be sure to download the full Pocket Guide to Terms and Strategies. Inside we cover:

  • IP-based vs Cookie-based Targeting
  • Intent vs Fit
  • Account Coverage
  • Engagement Metrics
  • Pipeline Acceleration
  • Orchestration
  • Plus 3 Quick-Start Strategies!




About the Author

Caroline Van Dyke, Head of Content

Caroline is a B2B marketer with a knack for building start-up content strategies from scratch. With a passion for crafting the right message at the right time (and a good pun), she leads content for real marketers by telling their real stories. In the rare case she's not busy writing, you can find her consuming true crime podcasts, stand-up specials, and copious amounts of cheese.

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