If business-to-business marketing is anywhere in your wheelhouse, chances are you’ve already heard of, looked into, or implemented account-based marketing (ABM) in your work – and of course, you’re on LinkedIn, right? LinkedIn is where professionals go to market to each other, if you didn’t know, and it’s custom-built for ABM.
But while a good portion of this guide is going to be spent singing the praises of LinkedIn for ABM campaigns, we would be remiss not to mention a few weaknesses that keep LinkedIn from being a truly one-stop shop for your ABM needs.
Moreover, it’s important to remember that even in a digital-first world – in marketing and everything else – one must still touch grass, so to speak, at least on occasion.
While LinkedIn has a great set of tools for ABM (with some areas for improvement) and can even serve as the central platform for your ABM campaigns, you’ll find more success faster by utilizing the platform as one tool among many to achieve a holistic, multichannel strategy. In other words, some old-school, offline ABM will go a long way when added to an online strategy with LinkedIn as the centerpiece.
With those forewarnings out of the way, we can safely say that LinkedIn is guaranteed to be a heavy hitter in your ABM efforts, especially when augmented with off-channel research and outreach.
At LSC Marketing Group, we’ve been staying on top of new trends and developments in marketing for 15 years. We’ve generated a lot of success for ourselves and our clients by integrating LinkedIn with our full suite of ABM solutions. We hope you enjoy this guide to LinkedIn for ABM, and hope you’ll contact us with any questions.
Is LinkedIn a must for ABM campaigns?
LinkedIn, by design, is the closest thing we have to a perfect platform to research and contact professionals – making it an indispensable part of any balanced ABM campaign. While we don’t recommend relying entirely on LinkedIn as your only tool for ABM research and outreach, it can easily provide a solid foundation for all your ABM efforts, online and offline, and at the least should play some role in all your ABM campaigns.
“LinkedIn is a great tool for ABM because of the nature of the platform,” says New York-based digital marketing expert Mark Kaufmann. “People expect social and business connections there, a mix… It’s a place to market to professionals where they are active and providing information about themselves that we can use to market to them.”
LinkedIn gives you easy access to the decision-makers your ABM campaign wants to reach. Its sales platform, LinkedIn Sales Navigator, also provides a variety of powerful tools to assist in every step of your ABM process, from targeting and research to close.
“LinkedIn Sales Navigator is a great [platform] to use for targeting, keeping track of, and engaging with leads,” says Danbury, CT-based Social Media Manager Sarah Camilli. “The ability to integrate CRM contacts is also a plus.“
5 reasons why LinkedIn is great platform for ABM campaigns
1. Directly connect to decision-makers at key accounts
As Mark references above, one of the key advantages of LinkedIn for ABM is the built-in expectation that users will be directly approached with offers relevant to their industry, position, goals, and needs. This expectation (and good research on your targets) makes for a much warmer feel during early engagement efforts, as well as a constant opportunity to foster deeper relationships with continued outreach.
2. Built-in prospecting tools, from targeting to engagement
While LinkedIn’s built-in targeting does get some well-deserved criticism (outlined in more detail below,) the bottom line is that LinkedIn can find you relevant prospects, provide key insights that will help you craft personalized messages, and features a well-rounded set of tools that put your marketing material in front of your target and you in direct contact with them.
3. First-party data helps you get granular and dig deep
LinkedIn’s nature as, essentially, a work-focused social media network means that your prospects often directly provide LinkedIn with the very information you need to craft effective account-based campaigns to market to them. Everything from company to department to title to interests and on-network activity are readily available to inform your ABM tactics for each account.
4. Campaign management tools for segmentation and testing
Like most digital advertising platforms, LinkedIn provides support for multiple campaigns – a must when it comes to ABM, since your content needs to be as personally relevant as possible to the individual(s) being targeted and constantly and seamlessly move them along your funnel, from awareness to close.
5. Always-on analytics provide live feedback and insights
Take the guesswork out of what’s working and what isn’t. Live tracking and analytics are standard across digital marketing platforms these days, but when it comes to ABM, LinkedIn takes the prize for business-related engagement and the actionable data it provides.
What are LinkedIn’s weaknesses when it comes to ABM?
“Although [LinkedIn Sales Navigator] seems like a fairly easy tool to use, it can get tricky, and [it] requires more in-depth knowledge to navigate… especially with the advanced search functionality for industry and working with a CRM integration,” says Sarah.
“Sales Navigator can be a pain,” Mark agrees. “It can be tricky to use all the features, to really take advantage of all the different LinkedIn marketing programs.”
The fact is, LinkedIn Sales Navigator is such a powerful and deep sales platform that even navigating it effectively can require a good bit of practice. One of the frequent complaints you’ll find online is that using it simply takes too much time – time you may find better spent elsewhere.
We’d be glad to provide you with the expertise needed to get the most out of LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Contact us today.
The “advanced search functionality for industry” Sarah mentions above is probably the most widely-maligned aspect of LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and it poses a particular problem for ABM marketers. Most businesses of a certain size these days exist at the intersection of two or more industries – and LinkedIn has still not accounted for this particularly well across their platform.
For example, let’s say you are looking for executives at a specific subset of multimedia companies in New York to approach with a new offering. The seniority level and location will be no problem, you’ll find New York-based executives aplenty. But if you’re looking, for example, to do business with mixed-media companies with a hand in print, TV, and online – or any other business whose description doesn’t fit into a single category – you may run into some problems.
Simply put, the options available for businesses to self-identify their industry are inadequate. For ABM purposes, this makes it so that any kind of search by industry on LinkedIn is likely to be flawed in several ways, both leaving out some suitable leads and providing some or many unsuitable ones. For this reason, we recommend importing contact lists of well-researched, relevant prospects and then using LinkedIn’s tools to find similar ones.
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But perhaps the biggest weakness of relying on LinkedIn alone is that everyone is on LinkedIn these days. And the bigger the fish, the more lines are being thrown its way. That’s why we highly recommend you to get creative, get offline, and go multichannel to really get your targets’ attention.
What’s the best way to integrate LinkedIn with other ABM methods?
As great as LinkedIn is for ABM, it can’t be your be-all and end-all. We strongly recommend utilizing LinkedIn as part of a well-balanced, multichannel ABM campaign that finds any and every opportunity to leave a strong impression on the targets that can make a difference for your business.
LinkedIn is a great platform to find, contact, and nurture prospects as you move them along your ABM funnel. But it many cases it will be a slow process, and there are going to be times when you hit a complete stop. If you only market on LinkedIn, you’re only reaching your prospects when they’re on LinkedIn. If you’re only reaching your targets in one space, you’re not doing ABM right.
Pick up the phone, write a letter, send a gift basket – all the old-school ways to make someone remember you fondly still work, and less people do them now, so they stand out more. Go multimedia, get creative – get weird and get crazy even, if that’s your thing.
The point of ABM is constant outreach with content that resonates with your tightly-focused audience. LinkedIn is a great starting point, and it’s often an easy way to find and reach your audience, but it’s not the only way.
At LSC Marketing group, we pride ourselves on providing our clients with a full suite of marketing solutions, from professional research, to list brokerage, to LinkedIn sales management, to email marketing, to telemarketing and beyond.
If you have any questions about how to make LinkedIn work for your ABM campaigns, or how we can help you take any and all aspects of your marketing efforts to the next level, contact us today.