The following is a Quora post answering the question, “Does LinkedIn Sell Your Info?”
This is likely to fall into a semantics question. If data is employed in the aggregate and your personally identifiable information is not disclosed, then I would argue that your information is not sold. Likewise, if you are presented an ad because your LinkedIn profile conforms with a target audience definition, your data is also not being sold.
I can’t answer for LinkedIn Recruiter, but can answer in the Sales and Marketing context.
LinkedIn offers a sales product called Sales Navigator. Users can view company and contact information on Navigator just as they can on the free service. It even supports viewing this data within third-party SNAP products. However, Navigator and SNAP are view only. Sales reps cannot download your profile or sync it with any of their partner platforms. They also restrict display of your email and phone information to your direct connects as well as other content you flag as restricted.
LinkedIn Marketing sells advertising on LinkedIn and Bing based upon your profile attributes. Advertisers define their target audience across a broad set of firmographic, career, and location variables, but these segments are not provided directly to the marketer. Instead, they are used for advertising display. Thus, your data isn’t sold, just your eyeballs.
LinkedIn treats its member’s data with respect. Microsoft, its parent company, has called for a US version of GDPR, the European data privacy standard. CEO Satya Nadella stated that “privacy is a fundamental human right” on an April 2018 earnings call and said that the firm has implemented an “end-to-end privacy architecture” which is GDPR compliant.
LinkedIn rolled out its Q4 Sales Navigator release in November, but I failed to blog about it. (Q1 will be covered next week in this blog.) The release contains several nascent initiatives including custom lists and the collection of “Reports To” data to assist with organizational mapping. Other feature sets include three new alerts, an improved accounts center, PointDrive activity logging, and additional SNAP connectors.
beginning to collect data around who reports to whom. As sales reps or
others learn about reporting relationships, they can add them to executive
profiles. The data is then shared across the LinkedIn contract with
co-workers but not more broadly. Following after last quarter’s support
of buying committees, it is evident that LinkedIn is looking to infuse
additional project and reporting relationships within Sales Navigator.
laying the foundation for full-blown org charts by adding a new “Reports To” field
on the Lead Page,” blogged Head of Products for LinkedIn Sales Solutions Doug
Camplejohn. “Once you learn who someone’s manager is, you can add that
info to their page by searching for a name or browsing our recommendations. Any
additions you or your colleagues make will only appear to those in your
company’s Sales Navigator contract. So, the next time you or a team member
looks that lead up, you’ll see who they report to, who added that connection,
and a reporting history.”
number of custom lists of accounts or leads may be built within the LinkedIn
desktop or mobile app. Users may post notes on saved leads or accounts and
filter the lists by people who have changed jobs in the last 90 days, people
who have posted on LinkedIn in the past 30 days, companies who have had senior
leadership changes in the past 3 months, etc.
LinkedIn does not yet support custom list uploading. Custom Sharing is part of the Q1 release.
LinkedIn added three new alerts:
Someone at a saved account viewed your profile
A saved account has just raised funding
A saved lead has engaged with LinkedIn posts from your company
accompany six current alerts:
A saved lead started a position at a new company
A saved lead has a new position within the same company
A saved lead viewed your profile
A potential lead recently joined a saved account
A saved lead has accepted your connection request
A saved lead was mentioned in the news
now included in the main menu bar of both the desktop and mobile editions. Camplejohn
noted that LinkedIn has improved the “signal-to-noise ratio” of its alerts.
our Alerts as a trusted sales advisor tapping you on the shoulder with
information about your saved leads and accounts when it’s most important and
relevant to you,” said Camplejohn.
simplified its admin experience and “made it much easier to do tasks from
assigning users to managing groups.” LinkedIn also unified its
administration module across Sales Navigator, LinkedIn Learning, and LinkedIn
Searching was added to the Sales Navigator mobile app, bringing it to list
building parity with the desktop application. Earlier this year, LinkedIn
enhanced its company and lead profiles, also bringing them to parity with the
“LinkedIn’s recent updates to its Sales Navigator management tool makes it a more robust platform for sales teams. More importantly, the moves to bring more of its desktop features to the mobile app are evidence that LinkedIn finally understands how crucial a mobile experience is when designing a sales tool focused on lead management.”
Amy Gesenhues, MarTech Today
Sales Navigator’s multi-media sharing application, will begin writing activity
history back to Microsoft Dynamics. Salesforce PointDrive sync will come
in 2019. PointDrive presents documents and video to end users as a
landing page and tracks views and shares.
you send that pricing proposal to a prospect in PointDrive and members of the
buying committee engage with it, you’ll be able to see that activity in both
Sales Navigator and your CRM,” blogged Camplejohn.
to expand its SNAP
partnerships, adding Zoom as their first
web conferencing partner. Users can now hover over an attendee name and
view Sales Navigator intelligence including their profile photo, title, and
launched v2 SNAP integrations which provide broader access to Sales Navigator
Salesforce Winter Lightning release, admins will be able to configure Sales
Navigator and add support for Person accounts without having to go to the
This year, Sales Navigator focused on improved functionality and display for accounts, leads, and list building in their mobile and desktop applications; SNAP integrations; GDPR compliance and security; CRM opportunity management and buyers circles; alerting; employment analytics; and PointDrive CRM integration. Details on earlier releases are available in my blog: Q1, Q2, Q3.
While the change is pro-privacy and consistent with GDPR, TechCrunch took a negative view of the new setting.
A win for privacy on LinkedIn could be a big loss for businesses, recruiters and anyone else expecting to be able to export the email addresses of their connections.…[The new option] could prevent some spam, and protect users who didn’t realize anyone who they’re connected to could download their email address into a giant spreadsheet. But the launch of this new setting without warning or even a formal announcement could piss off users who’d invested tons of time into the professional networking site in hopes of contacting their connections outside of it…
On a social network like Facebook, barring email exports makes more sense. But on LinkedIn’s professional network, where people are purposefully connecting with those they don’t know, and where exporting has always been allowed, making the change silently seems surreptitious. Perhaps LinkedIn didn’t want to bring attention to the fact it was allowing your email address to be slurped up by anyone you’re connected with, given the current media climate of intense scrutiny regarding privacy in social tech. But trying to hide a change that’s massively impactful to businesses that rely on LinkedIn could erode the trust of its core users.
TechCrunch overstates the loss. Member control their data, not LinkedIn or LinkedIn connections. Second, there are multiple ways to reach users from within LinkedIn including InMail, messaging, and PointDrive. Unless the email is blocked on the profile, connections still have access to emails from within LinkedIn. Finally, most emails in LinkedIn are personal emails, not business emails (an issue they should address by allowing both and setting privacy and messaging rules around multiple emails), so reaching out to individuals on their emails only makes sense for friends, family, and recruiters on LinkedIn, not businesspeople networking with colleagues and clients.
While LinkedIn wasn’t transparent about the privacy change, it enhanced the privacy of its members. As such, looking for nefarious reasons for the enhancement is a reach.
Oracle recently acquired DataFox, providing them with access to 2.8 million company profiles, including funding and M&A data. DataFox “gives customers real-time insight to know when a business exhibits noteworthy behaviors.”
“The combination of Oracle and DataFox will enhance Oracle Cloud Applications with an extensive set of trusted company-level data and signals, enabling customers to reach even better decisions and business outcomes,” wrote Oracle’s EVP of Applications Development Steve Miranda to customers and partners.
Oracle provides the following deal shorthand:
Oracle Cloud Applications + DataFox = Even Smarter Decisions
DataFox is growing its database at 1.2 million companies annually. The database will deliver real-time insights into its cloud-based ERP, CX, HCM and SCM platforms.
In a bit of extreme puffery, Oracle described DataFox as the “the most current, precise and expansive set of company-level information and insightful data.” Bureau van Dijk and Dun & Bradstreet have 50X the active company coverage including detailed global linkage, risk models, and multi-year financial data. Bureau van Dijk also offers the Zephyr database, an M&A and funding dataset with over twenty years of closed, pending, and rumored deals. Where DataFox may have an advantage is in their focus on mid-size and emerging companies which have been recently funded, but this is a small subset of the company universe.
DataFox will continue to sell and support its products. However, the DataFox roadmap and product line are fluid:
“Oracle is currently reviewing the existing DataFox product roadmap and will be providing guidance to customers in accordance with Oracle’s standard product communication policies. Any resulting features and timing of release of such features as determined by Oracle’s review of DataFox’s product roadmap are at the sole discretion of Oracle. All product roadmap information, whether communicated by DataFox or by Oracle, does not represent a commitment to deliver any material, code, or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making purchasing decisions. It is intended for information purposes only, and may not be incorporated into any contract.”
Along with AI insights, Oracle called out the needs for quality data to back data maintenance, artificial intelligence, and business signals.
DataFox has over 275 customers including Goldman Sachs, Bain & Company, Outreach, Live Ramp, and Twilio.
DataFox raised $19 million in funding. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. In January 2017, DataFox was valued at $33 million by Pitchbook.
Oracle should study Salesforce’s acquisition of Jigsaw (later renamed Data.com) as a cautionary tale. Software companies struggle in selling data files as company and contact data decays rapidly and it is difficult to push data quality above 90% absent large editorial investments. Furthermore, Jigsaw never represented more than 1% of Salesforce revenue so quickly fell off of the company’s internal radar. The firm is now looking to decommission Data.com and asking its AppExchange partners to fill the sales intelligence and data hygiene gap left in its absence. Coincidentally, DataFox is one of Salesforce’s Lightning Data partners.
On the positive side, LinkedIn hit $1.3 billion last quarter and has thrived under Microsoft’s ownership. However, LinkedIn was a much more mature company at acquisition than DataFox with multiple revenue streams and a unique user generated content model. Microsoft has provided LinkedIn with development capital and allowed it to maintain its independence. It has also looked to leverage LinkedIn and Microsoft strengths when building sales and marketing products, instead of simply copying other vendors. For example, Sales Navigator continues to respect the privacy of its members while using aggregated data to provide hiring and employment insights that other companies cannot deliver. Navigator has also added strong messaging tools (chat, InMail, and PointDrive) which work around its lack of company emails. Other innovations include SNAP workflow connectors, its new Pipeline CRM updating tool, and Buyer’s Circle for identifying the buying committee at large firms.
Last month Sales Navigator began rolling out its Q3 release. Amongst the features are a Pipeline Review and Buyers Circle (discussed last Friday), improved Search, and additional SNAP integrations.
Sales Navigator Account and Lead Search have been redesigned for speed and ease. The Account and Lead Search functions and results (see 1 below) are more prominent, offer streamlined search filters (see 2), and deliver simplified save search and alerting processes. Other enhancements include hover cards (see 3) which display company intelligence when mousing over a company name. Hover cards include a Save as Account button.
LinkedIn originally designed their mobile app to complement the desktop service but is working to make mobile a “full-featured Sales Navigator experience.” Last quarter, they focused on Account enhancements and this quarter they brought the mobile Lead experience to parity with the desktop service.
“We will continue to narrow the gap between our mobile and desktop experiences in upcoming releases, and take advantage of the unique characteristics of mobile as well.”
Doug Camplejohn, VP of Product Management at LinkedIn Sales Solutions.
LinkedIn continues to invest in its SNAP partner program. This quarter, Adobe Sign was added as a partner and three partners (Salesforce, MS Dynamics, and SalesLoft) took advantage of their version two capabilities. SFDC and MSD now broadly embed LinkedIn intelligence in Lead, Account, and Opportunity pages. Users may also send InMails from within the CRM.
The next generation SNAP integrations are modular, providing greater flexibility around where content is displayed. New modular features include InMail support and the handling of Potential Profile Matches.
LinkedIn has taken a “Switzerland approach” to its partnerships, working with both Microsoft and its competitors.
The firm reiterated its commitment to data security and GDPR compliance. “LinkedIn maintains ISO 27001 & ISO 27018 certifications, as well as a SSAE-18 certification, SOC 2 Type I report,” noted the firm in its briefing to Admins.
Finally, LinkedIn added an Ideas site to its Sales Navigator Community portal where admins can “submit, vote on, comment on and track status of ideas for how to improve Sales Navigator.”
Last month, LinkedIn rolled out its Q3 Sales Navigator release to admins and trainers. Enhancements include a new Deals feature to assist with pipeline reviews, “Buyer Circles,” an updated search user experience, and revised mobile lead pages. Several partner platforms are also rolling out version 2 of their SNAP integrations.
During pipeline reviews, “managers are really trying to find out what are areas of weakness in the pipeline and how they can help. A lot of times, because the information that’s been put into CRM is incomplete, that can be a challenging conversation,” says Doug Camplejohn, VP of Product Management at LinkedIn Sales Solutions. “The problem Deals is ultimately trying to solve is how do you increase the quality of that data that is ultimately stored in the CRM, and by making it much easier for the rep to quickly see missing points of information as well as to add in what one could argue is the most important information—who are all the people that are involved in that buying decision at the target company.”
LinkedIn noted that pipeline review sessions are often frustrating due to incomplete and out of date CRM information resulting in a “20 questions” session in search of deal risks. The new Deal feature pulls deal and contact intelligence from the CRM and streamlines the update process. Instead of jumping between opportunity records, reps can manage their pipeline updates from a single pane of glass. The update table allows reps to quickly enter deal intelligence including deal size, stage, close date, and next steps with information immediately written back to the CRM.
Deals requires that the Salesforce Admin enable CRM synch. Reps will only be able to view and edit fields for which they have been granted permission and only for Opportunities in their name. Managers will only be able to view Deals for their team members.
Deals includes a Buyer’s Circle feature which helps reps quickly fill gaps in their Buying Committee. “The real power comes when you want to add missing role contacts,” Doug Camplejohn, LinkedIn Sales Solutions VP Products wrote to licensors. “Buyer’s Circle makes it easy to select anyone on LinkedIn and drag them to a role, which, again, automatically updates your CRM. And if that contact is not already in your CRM, Deals lets you create a new CRM contact associated with that opportunity in just a few clicks.”
As LinkedIn does not deliver member-specific details to third-parties, Buyers Circle only uploads First and Last Name, Title, and Company. Other buyer details would need to be keyed in by the sales rep or populated by a third-party enrichment vendor.
Deals is available in Salesforce.com with the Q3 release and will be available in Microsoft Dynamics in Q4.
Deals is part of the Team and Enterprise editions and is based on a Heighten capability “rebuilt from the ground up.” Heighten was acquired in 2017.
“B2B selling is more complicated these days where you often have half a dozen people involved, but they’re not all recognized. A sales rep will put a single contact into the system, and if the deal goes sideways it’s hard to figure out who to contact or how to move forward.”
Doug Camplejohn, VP of Product Management, LinkedIn Sales Solutions
“I think the Deals module is the most interesting part of this release because it offers the biggest benefit,” said Gartner analyst Todd Berkowitz. “If you are in a market like tech or manufacturing or a complicated services deal, the number of people involved keeps going up including those who can influence the deal or an assassin who can kill it. The more information you can provide about all the people involved in the deal, the better. And the way the Buyers Circle surfaces information on people and brings it forward with one click is a real benefit.”
Part II covering additional features such as new SNAP integrations and mobile Lead profiles will publish on Monday.
LinkedIn continues to grow its global membership base at an impressive clip. The firm reached 500 million members sixteen months ago and has added nearly 15 million members per quarter since then, recently reaching 575 million.
North America continues as their most important market with over 150 million members in the United States, 15 million in Canada, and 12M in Mexico.
AsiaPac is also growing strongly with India recently hitting the 50 million member mark and China poised to soon pass the mark (42 million members). China was slower to develop but has grown rapidly since a localized version was launched a few years ago.
In Europe, there are at least 14 countries with one million members or greater. The United Kingdom is the third largest anglophone market with 25 million members. France (16M), Italy (12M), Spain (10M), and Benelux (10M) all represent strong markets.
LinkedIn is relatively underrepresented in the DACH region (Germany, Austria, Switzerland) as it continues to compete against German language professional network XING.
Other Anglophone markets include Australia (9M), South Africa (6M) The Philippines (6M), Nigeria (3M), Singapore (2M), Hong Kong (1M), New Zealand (1M), and Kenya (1M).
LinkedIn has also enjoyed success in Latin America with Brazil long being a significant market (34M). The firm also has a significant presence in Colombia (6M), Argentina (6M), and Chile (4M).
LinkedIn was barred from Russia several years ago.
Monthly active user figures are estimated at around 25% of members.
Membership, segment, and usage statistics for LinkedIn are less available since the firm was acquired by Microsoft in December 2016. Revenue, however, continues to accelerate, growing 37% to $1.464 billion in Q4 2018. Q4 marked the fifth-straight quarter of revenue acceleration.
“This strong engagement is driven by quality of the feed, video, messaging and acceleration of mobile usage, with mobile sessions up more than 55% year-over-year,” said Satya Nadella last month. “We will continue to invest to make LinkedIn the essential platform to connect the world’s professionals and help them achieve more with experiences powered by LinkedIn and Microsoft graphs.”
“We have united the world’s leading professional cloud with the world’s leading professional network and proved that we have an integration model that works, enabling LinkedIn to accelerate growth while retaining its member-first ethos,” continued Nadella.
Congratulations to Outreach (#15) and Drift (#22) for making the LinkedIn Top 25 U.S. Startups list. To be eligible for Top Startups, companies must be 7 years old or younger, have at least 50 employees, be privately held, and headquartered in the U.S. Selection is based upon employment growth, engagement, job interest, and attraction of top talent between July 1, 2017 and June 30, 2018
Coincidentally, I just began covering Drift in my subscription newsletter. They will be covered here in two weeks following my standard embargo. I’ve been covering Outreach for several years.
Outreach is a sales engagement platform that helps sales reps manage their multi-channel communications with customers and prospects. Along with templates and cadence tools, Outreach offers call recording and coaching, analytics, a partner ecosystem, and meeting management. The firm has 285 employees and is looking to double its headcount over the next year following a $65 million funding round. LinkedIn noted that they have 2,400 customers.
Conversational marketing firm Drift landed a $60 million Series C round earlier this year. The funds will be used to quadruple its office space with an expanded presence in Boston and new space in San Francisco. As one-third of their clients are outside of the United States, they plan to open international offices later this year.
The Drift platform removes webforms and offers chatbots for conversational discovery and qualification. “A sale doesn’t get made until a conversation happens. So, with Conversational Marketing, we created a new way of doing marketing and sales that removed the roadblocks and hurdles that can get in the way of someone talking to your business. This creates a better customer experience, makes it easier for people to buy, and ultimately creates a faster path to revenue,” said CEO David Cancel.
Drift supports email sequencing, revenue reporting, visitor id, chatbots, playbooks (templates), reporting, email reply management, and meeting scheduling. A new Conversational Advertising capability provides conversational landing pages instead of webforms.
Drift’s goal is to be the Amazon for Business. “Amazon revolutionized how people buy with the one-click buying experience, and that’s what we all expect online today,” said Cancel. “But when it comes to B2B, the buying process is painful. Companies force buyers to fill out forms and jump through so many hoops just to talk to them, despite the fact that most buying decisions have already been made by the time someone comes to your website. We’re on a mission to build the most customer-centric company in the world and make B2B buying as easy as buying from Amazon.”
SalesLoft added enhanced LinkedIn SNAP messaging tools to its sales engagement services. Sales reps can now send InMails, request connections, submit introduction requests, and conduct research from within SalesLoft and Salesforce. These steps can be built into SalesLoft cadences.
“According to our data science team’s research on derived cadences, more than half of all steps outside of email and phone in SalesLoft cadences are already LinkedIn actions,” blogged SalesLoft Product Marketing Manager Sunshine Levin. “The ability to incorporate LinkedIn Sales Navigator social selling steps from within SalesLoft is important to you, and we listened!”
At SalesLoft’s 2018 Rainmaker event, Doug Camplejohn, VP of Product Management Sales Solutions at LinkedIn, cited LinkedIn research concerning InMail efficacy. While emails have only a 3% response rate, InMails average a 15% response rate. Even more impressive, the best sales reps can achieve greater than a thirty percent response rate.
“LinkedIn-specific steps help salespeople stay focused, do less application switching, and deliver a better sales experience,” said Levin. “The TOPO 2017 Sales Development Touch Report states that more than 80% of sales professionals are leveraging the triple-touch approach of email, phone, and LinkedIn in their sales cadences. Furthermore, over 50% of touches outside of email and phone are through LinkedIn.”
Reps must have active Team or Enterprise Sales Navigator accounts in order to take advantage of this new feature set.
Also new to SalesLoft is a Zipwhip app which allows reps to insert text messaging steps into their cadences. Texts can also be sent and received from a business phone from within SalesLoft. Inbound and outbound messages are grouped into conversations and displayed as part of the contact’s activity feed.
LinkedIn is now the number two social media platform by usage, advertising spend, ROI and analytics tools. Facebook remains number one. “While LinkedIn is often considered a hub for job hunters and corporate recruiters, the platform has also shifted to position itself as a marketing engine in recent years,” said Jerry Ascierto, executive editor of The Social Shake-Up Show. “The recent updates to its ad platform and UI seem to be encouraging brands to increase spend. As a result, more companies are experiencing better ROI from this network than others considered more popular and ‘fun,’ such as Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.”
LinkedIn has benefited from a native video feature that was launched last year and was recently extended to company pages.
LinkedIn’s last official member count was 546 million global professional profiles.
Microsoft Chairman John Thompson said that the LinkedIn acquisition has been “wildly successful” and that Microsoft would be “all in” on a similar deal. Of particular interest are firms that would help connect users to the Microsoft cloud.
Thomson was critical of firms that share or sell user data. “Many of them make money off ads and they have used that as kind of a leverage point,” Thomson told Bloomberg. “At Microsoft, we don’t believe in that.”
While Facebook has taken a series of hits on its sharing of member data, LinkedIn has long protected member data (for example, Sales Navigator does not permit the uploading of member information to CRMs but makes it available for display). What’s more, Microsoft has built GDPR compliance into its product line and set it as a global standard.
LinkedIn celebrated its 15th anniversary last month. “15 years ago, we launched LinkedIn in Reid Hoffman’s living room with the tagline ‘relationships matter’,” said VP of Product Strategy Allen Blue. “I’m proud to say that this mantra still rings true today in both the halls of LinkedIn and on the platform. While the world of work has evolved immensely — be it the tools and products we use, the ways we communicate, and even the jobs themselves — our need to connect with one another to be productive in our careers remains at the core of all we do.”