Reaching prospective customers and generating leads can be tough, especially when it’s been over a year since we were able to have face to face meetings, or attend an in person event.
Digital alternatives, like webinars and online only conferences, have helped to somewhat fill the void, but reaching new prospects that you know your sales team want to talk to can still be tricky.
For B2B marketers, LinkedIn Ads is a great way to find and nurture leads through account based marketing (ABM).
ABM is best suited to targeting larger businesses who you know you want to approach, as well as warming up contacts who are already in the funnel.
What is account based marketing (ABM)?
Account based marketing is a targeted approach to B2B marketing, where the sales and marketing departments work together to identify key companies they would like to win as business.
This means coming up with a list of organisations and decision makers, and delivering the right content to them, at the right time. Segmentation is a crucial part of this, and because of its layered targeting options, LinkedIn Ads is a great platform to incorporate into a wider ABM strategy.
Getting in front of cold leads
It’s important to make a good first impression. But what if your prospects have absolutely no idea who you are? How do you capture their attention?
The key metrics for a ‘cold’ leads campaign are reach, and engagement, particularly when you are selling a product or service with a long lead time. LinkedIn Ads ABM campaigns allow you to directly target the companies you want to do business with, and determine if they are taking any action.
Let’s say you have a business that offers a subscription based SEO tool. The offering has tiered pricing based on the number of reports, users, and features, making it suitable for a one-man band, a mid-sized marketing agency, or a corporate with a dedicated in-house team.
That’s a pretty big target audience. The demographics for each will be very different, and so the messaging and approach needs to be, too.
You know that the corporates will take longer to convert, but that the pay off will be considerably higher if they do. That being said, lots of smaller wins are also great, plus there is the opportunity to upsell as their business scales.
How you set up campaigns to target corporates and SMEs to get the best possible results may vary.
Corporate decision makers ABM strategy
This approach is best suited to corporates or businesses with more than 1,000 employees. You can add up to 250 companies per audience.
Set up a campaign and choose one of the options that appears under ‘Consideration’ – website visits, engagement, or video views. Next, add the list of companies.
If you know the job titles you want to target, add those, too. Note that this may make your audience too small.
If this is the case, or you’re not sure of the job titles, you can use a combination of job function and seniority, plus member skills (if the audience is still too large) instead. This approach can sometimes work better than job titles if you aren’t sure who the decision makers are.
The reason that this approach works best for larger businesses is that the audience size is likely to be too small when targeting businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees – even if you add 250 organisations. Aim for a minimum audience size of 5,000. If it’s too small, add or remove targeting options – you can also change the AND rule to OR to expand the size of an audience (i.e. job title OR member skills can be used together).
SME ABM strategy
This approach is best suited to SMEs or businesses with fewer than 1,000 employees. Again, you can add up to 250 companies per audience.
As before, set up a campaign and choose one of the options that appears under ‘Consideration’ – website visits, engagement, or video views. Next, add the list of companies.
Adding job titles may reduce the audience size too much. In this instance, expanding member skills plus seniority is probably a better approach, as in a smaller business, there may only be one or two people running an entire marketing department.
Tip: Note that it’s almost impossible to target very small businesses (i.e. with fewer than 10 employees) by company name on LinkedIn as the audience size will not be large enough for the campaign to run. In this instance, you can use a combination of company industry, member skills, job seniority and company size to whittle down the list.
Tailoring your messaging
The next step is to write some ad copy that will appeal to your target demographic. Going back to the SEO tool example, think about what matters most to your prospective clients.
This could be feature led:
- Advanced real-time analytics
- Pre-built channel reports
- Customisable dashboards
- API connectivity with hundreds of websites and apps
- Competitor tracking and analysis
- Identify critical issues
- Actionable performance insights
- Unlimited users
- Unlimited crawls
- Unlimited domains and locations
- Unlimited keyword tracking
- Backlink monitoring and reporting
- Dedicated account manager
- 24/7/365 support
- Free trial
- Prices from £X per user
- 20% discount on annual subscription
Or results led:
- Increase ROI
- Increase traffic
- Increase sign-ups
- Increase revenue
- Increase organic visibility
- Increase leads
- Increase purchases
Try running a few campaigns – for example, one that focuses on features and one that focuses on results – with around 5 different ads for each campaign. As well as very direct ads that are designed to get people interested in the product or service, you can also introduce content that proves results such as case studies, guides or whitepapers positioning your company as an industry expert, or videos explaining who your company is and how its proposition can help.
For SMEs, the features/results will probably be quite similar to corporates, however, cost is more likely to be a factor, so including pricing, or letting them know they can have a free trial/cancel at any time may help to sway them. The lead time may be shorter if offering a lower cost solution or a free trial, but introducing softer content that is not as sales driven can still be beneficial.
The most important thing is to test ad copy on a regular basis. However, before assessing the performance of ads, it’s recommended that there have been more than 25,000 impressions per campaign before making any changes. A CTR of more than 0.45% is considered above average for LinkedIn Ads, so aim to beat this. For video ads, aim for the majority of users to watch more than 50% of your video.
Tip: For video ads, keep it shorter than 45 seconds when possible, include subtitles, and get your point across as quickly as possible.
Warming up leads
You may already have a list of companies and people that your sales team is already speaking to. Now they know who you are, how can you keep front of mind?
As prospects move along the sales pipeline, ensure that the marketing team is aware so that if necessary, further segmentation of the ABM lists can be made to deliver even more targeted content.
As well as continuing to test out different campaigns with your audiences, there are loads of great ways to retarget prospects using LinkedIn Ads.
The LinkedIn Insights Tag needs to be installed to track conversions, but it can also be used to build remarketing lists of website visitors. You can choose to target all site visitors, or specific pages.
Once this is set up and a campaign has been running for a while, you can view the demographics report to see if any of the companies on your ABM lists have taken action after seeing a remarketing ad.
Tip: If you want to identify a super-engaged list, you can use a website remarketing list on a video campaign, and then once it has been running a while, set up a further campaign that targets the users who watched that video. These users are further down the funnel, so try introducing more direct, sales driven ads in the mix to test whether they are ready to convert.
There are also Conversation Ads to consider if you have a big list of leads and this can take some pressure off of the sales team by popping into the messages of decision makers without them having to do it manually. Personally, I’ve not seen great results, but they may be worth testing.
What kinds of results have you seen from LinkedIn Ads? Let us know if they work for you (and if they don’t, get in touch with us)!