LinkedIn Product Announcements

LinkedIn Marketing Campaign Analytics assist with bid decisions.
LinkedIn Marketing Campaign Analytics assist with bid decisions.

LinkedIn recently began supporting video uploads which begin playing silently when they appear in members’ feeds.  Videos may run up to ten minutes, though LinkedIn recommends lengths of fewer than five minutes.  As with LinkedIn posts, members will also receive analytics on views, likes, shares, and top viewing markets.  The new feature provides B2B marketers with a business focused platform on which they can post corporate announcements, executive thought leadership pieces, and corporate event videos.

Business Insider found that LinkedIn is considered the most trustworthy of the social media platforms with people deeming it best at protecting privacy (55%), least likely to display deceptive content (55%), and safest network for posts and participation (43%).

LinkedIn will also be passing along viewer details such as employer and title for the top viewers.

“Analytics about where video viewers work and what they do present substantial opportunities for networking, recruiting, generating sales leads, and so on. For example, executives can announce a new product or service and then dive into their audience analytics to build up a list of prospects; opinion leaders discussing a pressing trend will have more tools for growing their followers; job-seekers can post videos with an eye on courting recruiters or a company’s attention, or vice versa. All these scenarios pave the way for LinkedIn to upgrade free members onto premium tiers, where more advanced customer relationship management (CRM) tools are available.”

  • Robert Elder, Business Insider, “LinkedIn Video Sharing Could Be a Revelation”

Video should help address user engagement issues.  As of Q3 2016 (their last public quarter), only 23% of users engaged with the platform each month, resulting in an average daily engagement of only two minutes.  Consumer platforms have much higher daily engagement rates with Snapchat at thirty minutes and Facebook at fifty.

In other news, LinkedIn released a Windows 10 live alerts app which displays new messages, trending stories, profile views, and other LinkedIn-related alerts.  The service supports 22 languages.

LinkedIn also released a set of enhancements to its Advertising platform including expanded demographic data, campaign recommendations, and additional metrics.  The Campaign Manager now displays LinkedIn accounts which responded to campaigns.  Website Demographics tracks website visitors via a lightweight JavaScript tag.  Brands can segment website visitors and create campaigns via job title, industry, job seniority, job function, company, company size, location, and country.

Thus, firms can identify unexpected visitor segments.  “With these insights, you can craft new marketing content designed to better resonate with that audience,” LinkedIn stated.

Campaign insights are also displayed as new hover cards which provide budget and performance data for other advertisers and recommends how to boost performance.

New metrics include Sponsored Content shared by members, details on social actions, and better file export and data options.

“The three new advertiser data tools optimize your use of LinkedIn ads, making sure you have maximized social ROI,” observed Francis Rey in SocialBarrel.   “Sponsored Content continues to drive most of the company’s ad revenue. With more than 500 million professional members on the platform, LinkedIn already filters a unique audience for your business. You only need to tap into it and take advantage.”

Rey also noted that “While Facebook is still beyond reach in social ads, the social network caters to all audiences. Meanwhile, LinkedIn focuses on professionals, with an entirely different purpose.”

Quora: How do I do marketing using LinkedIn?

Here is how I answered the following question on Quora: “How do I do marketing using LinkedIn?”

I would use LinkedIn in the following ways to promote my company:

  • LinkedIn has a set of marketing services which allow you to build targeted campaigns by both firmographic (size, industry, location) and biographic variables. This is probably the most granular B2B advertising tool out there. The Campaign Manager also provides a set of analytics around viewing and impressions. Pricing is either CPC or CPM (impressions or clicks). Here is a quick description of their advertising formats: 
LinkedIn Marketing Formats
LinkedIn Marketing Formats
  • LinkedIn can be used to promote your own content as posts, whether it be white papers, product descriptions, case studies, blogs, or articles. If you mention a partner or customer, make sure to link to them and have their marketing departments like the content. Where possible, include some copy from the content or description of the content along with a visual (LinkedIn will grab a visual from the source if there is one available).

    Do not overly self-promote. Your content should lean towards thought leadership not corporate promotion. Of course, if you launch a new product, write about it. But LinkedIn is not the place for deep feature dives or long discussions of your value proposition. And please, not another What does [this character from Game of Thrones] teach us about [some aspect of business]. This type of coattail riding is generally full of clichés and stretched analogies. Originality, Professionalism, and Readability are key on LinkedIn (a good graphic and headline don’t hurt).

  • LinkedIn supports its own set of articles, but I’ve had more luck blogging on my site and then writing posts that link to my blog. You should test both approaches to determine whether LinkedIn articles work for your company.

  • Have your employees like content so that it is seen by your prospects and customers in their feed. 
  • Fill out your company profile. Many vendors rehash their website and Facebook profiles, but I would try to differentiate the copy between these three sites. For B2B companies, the website should be corporate, Facebook a bit cheeky, and LinkedIn professional, but lighter than your website. Keep in mind that LinkedIn is used by both prospective employees and customers so you want to be speaking to multiple readers. 
  • Evaluate Sales Navigator for your sales reps. This service does not allow you to download lists of companies and contacts, but it allows you to build and maintain lists of accounts and leads which are stored in Navigator (these lists can be built individually, via prospecting, or via CRM downloads). Sales Navigator also supports CRM viewing of company and contact profiles, InMails (direct messages with prospects outside of your current connections) and PointDrive, a custom website link that allows sales reps to forward attachments (collateral, price documents, videos, PowerPoints) as embedded content with descriptions. PointDrive provides analytics on what content has been consumed and tracks whether the document has been forwarded to others. 

Keep in mind that LinkedIn’s audience skews older and more professional than Twitter and Facebook.

 

LinkedIn Sales Navigator in Hubspot CRM

Sales Navigator contact intelligence and functions within Hubspot CRM
Sales Navigator contact intelligence and functions within Hubspot CRM

LinkedIn Sales Navigator is now delivering company and contact intelligence within Hubspot CRM. Along with firmographic and biographic information, Sales Navigator for Hubspot CRM displays related leads, mutual connections, and common interests.

LinkedIn intelligence is displayed within left-hand sidebar squares. By clicking on the contact square, users have access to a richer profile along with three tabs (see image above):

  • Icebreakers: shared connections, experiences, and interests, plus a link to the lead’s recent activity stream.
  • Get Introduced: quickly ask a mutual connection for an introduction.
  • Related Leads: find other leads at the same company, and quickly save them to your Sales Navigator leads list.

Company profile tabs also support three functions:

  • Recommended Leads: Identifies those in the organization that share connections or interests
  • Connections: Current and potential connections
  • News: Recent news and posts

Hubspot customers must separately license Sales Navigator to receive LinkedIn intelligence. LinkedIn content is view only within Hubspot. Users cannot upload content to Hubspot CRM.

LinkedIn rolled out an extended version of Sales Navigator for Microsoft Dynamics called the Microsoft Relationship Sales Solution on July 1st.

LinkedIn Acquires Heighten for SalesTech Tools

Heighten Homepage Announcement (Post-Acquisition)
Heighten Homepage Announcement (Post-Acquisition)

LinkedIn acquired Redwood City SalesTech vendor Heighten and plans to integrate its technology into Sales Navigator. LinkedIn is looking to leverage feature sets around sales process tracking, pipeline reporting, and note taking. Last summer, LinkedIn acquired sales content sharing vendor PointDrive and recently completed the PointDrive integration into Sales Navigator.

With the announcement, Heighten immediately took down its website, but Doug Camplejohn, Head of Products for LinkedIn Sales Solutions, provided the following feature descriptions:

The sales process tracking feature allows reps and managers to take their sales playbook binder off the shelf and put it into software, making it easier to see actions and content relevant to each pipeline stage.

The sales pipeline reporting feature lets managers and reps see their current opportunities in a more efficient way, and update key opportunity fields like amount, close date, stage and next steps on a single screen, with all changes automatically written back to CRM.

Finally, the intelligent notepad makes it easy for reps to take free-form notes and rapidly move information back into their CRM system with a single click. It also gives them instant access to key deal content such as person and account profiles, collateral, and competitive battle cards. This feature brings note taking into the context of a specific sales opportunity, reduces the heavy lifting involved in CRM data entry, and gives sales reps insights on-command

It is unclear, however, which of these capabilities will be integrated into Sales Navigator. “Over the next few months, we will be evaluating which of Heighten’s features we’ll be bringing to Sales Navigator,” said Camplejohn. “I’m also excited by the caliber of talent that Heighten brings to LinkedIn.”

Heighten has a staff of ten.

“The Heighten intelligent workspace is truly unique in its ability to bring together all of the key systems salespeople rely on — CRM, calendar, email, social and delivered — in an innovative, intuitive, and user friendly way,” blogged Heighten CEO, Luke Braud. “This approach to sales productivity is a natural extension of LinkedIn’s goal to make Sales Navigator the best version of LinkedIn for Salespeople, the System of Engagement, and ultimately influence every relationship‐based sale for our customers.”

Heighten received $7.36 million in venture funding last September. The acquisition price was not disclosed.

Quora: How do I obtain the necessary information for a B2B competitive analysis?

I answered the above question on Quora, but I thought it was worth posting the answer on my blog as well.

B2B is a broad category, so I will be providing a high-level process:

  • Start with the open web — the company website, corporate blog, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Vimeo, and SlideShare.
  • Jump to the LinkedIn and Twitter pages of key executives.
  • Continue with third-party review sites such as TrustRadius, G2 Crowd, Glass Door, and Quora. Also compare web (Alexa, SimilarWeb) and social media activity (Owler) of the company vs. its top competitors.
  • If a US public company, obtain their 10-K, 10-Q, Annual Report, Proxy, and 8-Ks. Also, review all material on their investor page and look for Fair Disclosure Earnings Transcripts (Seeking Alpha, NASDAQ), investor presentations, financial models, etc.
  • If a US or global public, analyst reports are often available subject to a one week embargo. Vendors with analyst reports include D&B Hoovers, Factiva, Zacks, FactSet, Capital IQ, and Investext. Reports with fewer than five pages tend to only look at the stock, and provide little in the way of detail. Particularly good are the Initiating Coverage reports as they often entail an overview of the business.
  • If a US or global public, review the synopsis of material events going back over a decade. Significant Developments are available from Reuters, Factiva (Reuters), D&B Hoovers (Reuters), Capital IQ, and FactSet.
  • If a European private, they are likely to have filed financials, directors, and shareholdings with a local registry. You can obtain these through D&B Hoovers, Bureau van Dijk Orbis, or local registries.
  • Major companies are profiled by MarketLine and Global Data. Check to see if they or key competitors are profiled. Industry vendors also profile companies and products within their target segments.  These profiles include SWOTs, company histories, market shares, and overviews of key products and segments.
  • Determine the firm’s list of competitors. If it is a public company they will list this in a proxy. If it is a private company, refer to Hoovers, Global Data, or Marketline.
  • If you are looking for technology employed, refer to Datanyze, HG Data, BuiltWith, DiscoverOrg, or RainKing.
  • Review all news for the company. The open web thins out quickly, so you are best off using an archival service such as Factiva or LexisNexis
  • For Intellectual Property and Legal, use LexisNexis or Westlaw. You can also search the USPTO site for trademarks and patents.
  • Check research from industry vendors. Most focus on only one or a few sectors (e.g. Gartner, Forrester, and IDC for Hardware and Software). A few provide higher level market overviews at the country or global level which include national or regional market shares, forecasts, and mini-profiles of the top 3-4 competitors in the market:
    • MarketLine (country and global)
    • Euromonitor (country or global)
    • BMI (Emerging Markets)
    • Freedonia (US)
    • IBISWorld (US, China, Australia, Global)
  • A few US industries are required to file with state or federal agencies. These include banks (FDIC), insurance (states), and nonprofits (990 forms with the IRS).
  • Larger companies file ERISA forms (5500s) annually with the Department of Labor. This filing covers benefit plans so is useful for direct research on a company and plan advisors. Judy Diamond offers a freemium service (FreeErisa) for ERISA filings.
  • If the firm has PE or VC funding, refer to Crunchbase, DataFox, Mattermark, PrivCo, or other vendors that collect this detail. Crunchbase and Owler provide this information for free.
  • Setup news alerts on the company and competitor you are evaluating. This can be done via Owler, Contify, InsideView, D&B Hoovers, Factiva, and LexisNexis.
  • Obtain a credit report (D&B, Experian, or local credit company if overseas)
  • Research the company family tree and review major subsidiaries and recent acquisitions. Global Family Trees are available from D&B Hoovers, Bureau van Dijk, and InsideView (parents and subs only). Public companies also list their subsidiaries in their 10-K (Note 21).
  • M&A research can be performed with Zephyr (Bureau van Dijk), Mattermark, FactSet, Capital IQ, and other vendors.

This is a quick overview for secondary research.  For primary research, reach out to customers, partners, and former employees.  They can be identified via Case Studies (generally fans so don’t be overly reliant on them), customer references on site, TrustRadius, G2 Crowd.  Former employees can be determined via LinkedIn.  Partners are generally listed on the company website.

One area that is particularly difficult to obtain is pricing data.  Some B2Bs are transparent while others publish virtually no details, particularly if they have complex product lines and pricing.  Don’t be surprised if you find little in this area beyond “Pricing begins in the five digits” for many vendors.  Pricing details may require primary research and this will provide data points, but not full price lists.

If you are performing regular competitive analysis work, consider joining SCIP (Strategic & Competitive Intelligence Professionals).

Feel free to add additional tips in the comments.

 

LinkedIn Hits 500M Members

LinkedIn hit the half billion member mark, continuing its pace of adding 50 million members every nine months.  LinkedIn also supports ten million job listings and over nine million company profiles.  Members continue to post 100,000 articles per week.  However, the active monthly user rate remains around 25%.

In comparison, Facebook has 1.8 billion members and Twitter has 328 million.  The top five countries are the United States (138 million), India (42 million), China (31 million), Brazil (29 million), and United Kingdom (23 million).

LinkedIn published connection data by country and region for the first time with the top five most connected countries (i.e. average member connections) listed as the UAE, Netherlands, Singapore, UK, and Denmark.  UAE profiles average 211 connections.  By metro area, London leads in average connections with 307 per member followed by Amsterdam, San Francisco, Jakarta, and Milan.  Staffing and recruiting is LinkedIn’s most connected industry (unsurprisingly as the firm’s largest revenue source is their Talent Solutions products), and human relations its most connected job function.

LinkedIn connectivity rates by job function and level indicate a strong focus on staffing, consulting, and PE/VC roles.
LinkedIn connectivity rates by job function and level indicate a strong focus on staffing, consulting, and PE/VC roles.

LinkedIn connectivity rates by job function and level indicate a strong focus on staffing, consulting, and PE/VC roles.

The top five industries are all highly networked occupations including staffing and recruiting, VC/PE, human resources, management consulting, and online media.  With respect to job functions, product management was the number two most connected occupation after human resources.  It was surprising to see that sales reps did not even make the top five (outside of Business Development which is a senior level mix of partnership, licensing, and relationship management), but product managers had very high connectivity.  Of course, the sales function would span both junior and senior sales reps along with business and consumer sales, while product management consists of more mid and upper-level management.

“The impact of half a billion professionals connecting and communicating is very real, and very accessible to anyone who wants to take part today,” said Aatif Awan, LinkedIn’s VP of growth and international products.  “We’re excited to think about the potential of what a highly connected global community of professionals can do, and the value that is created for every member of the global workforce.”

LinkedIn, which is operated as an autonomous division within Microsoft, has over 10,000 employees.

Microsoft Relationship Sales Solution

Microsoft Dynamics - LinkedIn Sales Navigator Team Lead and Contact widget display.
Microsoft Dynamics – LinkedIn Sales Navigator Team Lead and Contact widget display.

Microsoft announced Relationship Sales, a bundled version of MS Dynamics for Sales Enterprise Edition and LinkedIn Sales Navigator Team.  The new bundle will be available for sale on July 1st.  The service is priced at $135, which is “about one-half the cost of competitive solutions in the market,” according to Microsoft EVP, cloud and enterprise group Scott Guthrie.

LinkedIn also announced a set of insight enhancements for its MS Dynamics connector. Insights help sales reps by

  • Leveraging signals across email, CRM and LinkedIn to get contextual recommendations for the next best action within Dynamics 365 for Sales, facilitating introductions directly through the company’s network and sending InMail, messages and customized connection requests.

  • Engaging buyers with tailored content throughout the account lifecycle and getting account and lead updates, including news mentions and job changes.

  • Building strong relationships with existing contacts through access to LinkedIn profile details including photos, current roles and work history.

The new service displays company and contact intelligence across Account, Contact, Lead, and Opportunity records.  Insight features include icebreakers, TeamLink introductions, Lead Recommendations, and LinkedIn intelligence.  Daily synchronization ensures that active accounts and contacts are shared between the services and that Sales Navigator activities (e.g. InMails, messages, notes, tags, and call logs) are uploaded to Dynamics 365.

“Sales Navigator with Dynamics 365 will dramatically increase the effectiveness of salespeople by tapping into their professional networks and relationships, giving them the ability to improve their pipeline,” said Guthrie.

“Microsoft has been focused on integrating its acquisitions and the LinkedIn to Dynamics 365 [to] Office 365 is the latest [iteration],” said Constellation Research Principal Analyst Ray Wang.  “Customers already use these three products in disparate fashion spending time doing arm chair integration. What they’ve been looking for is the ability to take the data and insights in these three products and put them to work.”

Wang believes that cross-platform functionality can be quite useful.  For example, “How do you find out who knows whom inside a company? Traverse your Office 365 data, your [Dynamics 365] CRM database and your LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and you realize Joe and Abdul have known each other since university days. Let’s put Abdul on the sales call.”

As LinkedIn member content is view only, Relationship Sales does not provide any member content enrichment or data maintenance.  Thus, Relationship Sales would need to be used in conjunction with other services such as Insights Enterprise (InsideView OEM with MS Dynamics) or D&B Hoovers for CRM to obtain a full sales intelligence and data maintenance solution.

Microsoft Dynamics - LinkedIn Sales Navigator Team Account widget display.
Microsoft Dynamics – LinkedIn Sales Navigator Team Account widget display.